A Saturday Special – Concept Cars at the L.A. Auto Show

Concept Cars Not Far From Fantasyland

By Ron Amadon

Okay, these vehicles may never see the light of day in a dealer’s showroom, but we are now roughly a month away from all the fun of Christmas, so let’s fantasize a bit.

A horde of journalists from all over the world, (I hope some were from Buffalo), witnessed the hoopla that surrounded the dream cars unveiling just a short run up the 5 from Disneyland.

Chevrolet Chaparral 2X Vision Gran Turismo Concept

An eye catcher was the Chevy Chaparral 2X Grand Tursimo that its maker said “celebrates the future of automotive design and innovation.” You won’t see one on the road but you can drive it, sort of. Chevy was playing games with us on this one, since it was invented for the PlayStation 3 racing game, Gran Turismo 6. “Audacious and ambitious” GM said, and I agree.

Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Concept

In the real world, you are much closer to one day driving the Colorado ZR2 concept. This one is designed for those who want to take their midsize truck off road and for GM to showcase the 2.8-liter Duramax diesel engine that will arrive in the Colorado lineup later next year. It is four inches wider than the production truck with increased approach and departure angles, something that comes in mighty handy when the pavement ends. There are flip out aluminum tow hooks and the front fascia incorporates a built-in winch. It rides on 18-inch wheels with electronic locking front and rear differentials. Will it ever hit the market? My bet is yes with a toned down appearance. One must remember that Chevy introduced the ZR2 in 1994 in the S-10 pickup.


If you are rich enough to afford a Bentley, you want the very finest materials, somewhat audacious style and lots of power. That brings us to the Bentley Grand Convertible that its maker subtly proclaims “redefines the luxury of open-air driving.” Added Chairman and CEO Wolfgang Durheimer, “We will ensure that this car – if it reaches the roads – will be a highly exclusive, extremely limited collector’s piece.” A 6.7-liter twin turbo V8 with 530 horsepower and 811 lb-ft of torque hides under the hood. Fourteen naturally tanned leather hides merge together with diamond quilting to cover the seats. The tonneau that covers the retracted convertible top features the largest piece of wood veneer ever applied to a Bentley with mirror-finished and dark stained Burr Walnut “fashioned entirely by hand.” My guess is Bentley will produce this car and it will be expensive, but that’s just me going out on a limb.


Very different was the updated Toyota i-Road concept that combined “the convenience of a motorcycle with the comfort and stability of a car.”  Well it could catch the attention of passersby. This latest version of “urban transport” is less than three feet wide with a turning radius of three feet or so. It seats two, is electrically powered, with a range of 31 miles, and is currently being tested on the streets of Tokyo.

Autodesk VRED Design 2014 SR1

Making its North American debut at Volkswagen was the GTI Roadster concept powered by a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 rated at 503 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque. It is matched to a seven-speed DSG dual clutch automatic with a top speed just a notch under 200 mph. However, it is highly unlikely you will ever see one on the street since designers were given free rein to come up with a real life version of a car originally conceived for a video game. So there are a lot of real world items, such as safety equipment, that are missing. But as I said at the outset, this is a day for fantasizing, and as the Christmas catalogs roll in, a perfect time of the year to do it.



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