The overall shape and design details that make up cars like the original Mazda MX-5 Miata, Porsche 911, and Dodge Viper are so ingrained in our minds and so integral to the characters of those cars that it’s hard to imagine they look different way.
But they almost made it. Almost every car hits the road after going through a lengthy design process that involves a handful of competing proposals, the winner of which is then sanded and polished before final acceptance. And sometimes these early competing designs are radically different from those we’re all familiar with.
Take a look at these examples of alternative proposals for seven popular cars and tell us if the automakers made the right choice.
Mazda MX-5 Miata
The history of the development of the original NA code Miata begins in the early 1980s when Mazda began exploring the idea of developing a modern version of the classic British sports cars of the 1960s and 70s that had just come out of production.
Related: The NA Miata wrote the book on affordable fun, but at $32,000 it doesn’t look that affordable
But Mazda’s teams worked on three competing proposals: a front-engined, front-wheel drive coupe, a mid-engined coupe (top image), and a front-engined, rear-wheel-drive roadster, which was eventually selected and evolved into another of the 1989 production cars.
The silhouette, side window graphic and beetle-eyed face of the Porsche 911 are as unmistakable as the Nike swoosh, making a clear visual connection to the 356 coupe that the 911 replaced and the Volkswagen Beetle, both of which predated it.
But in the early stages of 911 development in the early 1960s, it looked as if Porsche was going down a slightly different path. The Type 754 T7 proposal had a longer roofline and 200mm longer wheelbase, allowing it to carry four passengers, but Ferry Porsche insisted on a fastback shape, prompting a redesign and a return to a two-plus. two-layout forced .
In our rush to rave about the E30 BMW 3 Series, we too often forget to give credit to its rival Mercedes 190, which is arguably a more sophisticated one with its integrated bumpers and a narrower nose and tail that cleverly concealed those of the car Design had bulk.
The straight line running from nose to tail at waist height was a hallmark of Mercedes design from the 1960s through the 1990s, but these images show that Benz considered the theme for an odd wavy waist and a sloping one give up trunk.
In 1996 the world welcomed the second generation Viper, the big news of which arrived a few months after it was first unveiled in the form of a Viper GTS coupe with a cool double-bubble roof reminiscent of the mighty Shelby Cobra Daytonas of the 1960s.
What we didn’t know at the time was that a small group of renegade Chrysler engineers were working on a mid-engine proposal that repurposed as many of the existing components as possible to form the basis of a third-generation Viper around the turn of the decade . The team reportedly ran a 50-page report to Chrysler President Bob Lutz and design chief Tom Gale, who unfortunately gave the idea a thumbs-down and the metaphorical middle finger to the creative engineers behind it.
Also Read: BMW’s MINI Turns 20 This Week, But This Is What It Could Have Looked Like
The classic Mini was still in production in the mid-1990s when BMW’s Rover Group began seriously investigating how to replace it. Ideas ranged from futuristic monobox cars to ultra-compact city cars, and the competing teams definitely didn’t agree on the packaging or how retro the car should be. Which version of the Mini would you have the green light for?
Toyota Supras of the Mk4 A80 generation from the mid-1990s have fetched some hefty prices in the classic market over the last year or so, but would we more or less be willing to shell out big bucks if Toyota had settled on one of these alternative designs for the production car?
Walk past the “surprised koala” face of Walter de Silva’s early idea for the first Bugatti under Volkswagen and there’s a lot to like, including the C-shaped side vents that made it into the final design for the Veyron (below). have watered down form but were used at full force for the Chiron that followed (bottom image).
Thank you to the excellent @forgotten-concepts Instagram account for making it easier for us to avoid a nasty copyright strike by hosting these images. If you like seeing pictures of weird design studies and dozens more cars that might have been, this is definitely an account worth following.