Not every automaker holds itself to a rigid plan of store-and-destroy

Officially, “No,” Or Something choose It

I approached numerous auto companies, through assorted channels, to ask them around their policies concerning concept-car sales, and virtually each and also every time the prize I gained was the same, and also to the point: these vehicles space not for sale.

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There room a number of reasons why automakers aren’t jazzed about releasing principles into the wild. A primary worry is legitimate liability. Back they might look the organization sitting under the bright lamp on a show podium, in reality principles can run the gamut indigenous cobbled-together sheet steel exercises with no interiors whatsoever, to barely-running speculative drivetrain mules, to high-strung, high-maintenance performers that call for a team of mechanics to remain operational.

“Most concepts are no drivable and also don’t have powertrains,” defines Dan Bedore, auto industry veteran and also current PR honcho in ~ Nissan. “Many principles are not even ‘cars,’ and also sit top top plywood and aluminum underpinnings and also feature fiberglass panels that deserve to warp in the sunlight. They really don’t hold up well to hot, cold and humidity — or gravity, for the matter. Companies and also designers would rather no one watch a ide that hasn’t age well, because that understandable reasons, i m sorry is component of why so couple of of them readjust hands.”


It’s therefore that plenty of show cars room either permanently locked far in storage, loaned the end to third-party (or in-house) museums, or even crushed at their end of their tour of duty. The latter is also nearly always the fate the prototype cars, those vehicles made without a serial number prior to the actual production version hitting the streets.

Having stated That, Someone’s Buying

While every one of the above sounds rather draconian, and also certainly provides sense native a letter the the legislation standpoint, it doesn’t specifically apply across the board in the real world. Concepts have to be finding their way to exclusive collectors ~ above a constant basis because that decades, starting back in the ’50s, as soon as companies looking in the direction of the go-go future were particularly disdainful of their own pasts.

The concern is that public accessibility to concepts-for-sale varieties from a closely guarded mystery to a random auction bonanza, with every little thing in in between wearing a unique shade the grey.

“I’ll be moral with you — the method I do it is extremely confidential, and I can’t reveal any of the details,” describes Joe Bortz, perhaps the highest-profile concept automobile collector in the country and owner the the impressive Bortz Auto Collection, which has been a walk concern due to the fact that 1963. “But I have the right to tell you that, in my experience, there’s almost zero opportunity that the median person might directly technique an automaker about buying a concept. The only real opportunity is to buy as soon as that’s currently made it right into private hands.”


Ford, for example, marketed a lining 51 that its concepts ago in 2002 v the Christie’s auction house, v the proceeds going to charity, and more recently let walk of a couple of more prototypes in 2011 with RM. General Motors additionally did something comparable in 2008 with Barrett-Jackson, relocating not just principles but likewise a variety of pre-production vehicles in an effort to thin out inventory and also reduce the costs linked with preserving its collection. “It’s a clever means to take the cars off the books and also do something nice in ~ the same time,” states Bedore.

Sometimes, too, the auctions deserve to lead to unanticipated luck in regards to snagging a principle further under the road. This is what happened to Ken Yanez (who actually functions for special Projects, a firm that frequently builds and also stores one-off vehicles because that Ford), when he choose up the Ford Lightning pole concept.

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“I was at Barrett-Jackson as soon as it was originally sold, and also I observed it driving through the parking lot. We so rarely get to see the vehicles moving when we work-related on them, and I believed it looked amazing,’ that says. “I walked approximately the driver and asked him how much it sold for, and when he told me, i realized ns should have actually bought the car. Three weeks later, mine son uncovered it provided online, and also I gained in touch and made one offer.”


“We get a tiny advance notice, due to the fact that we need to go through the cars, take off any serial numbers that we might find, and put tags on them to say they room not street legal,” the explains. “But there’s often not much lead-up — they simply come and also pick them up.”

Exceptions Apply

While every one of the over might review as a bit discouraging come anyone v concept-car ownerships aspirations, there is hope out there. Not every automaker holds themselves to a rigid plan of store-and-destroy, as I found when speaking v Simon Sproule, vice president and chief marketing officer in ~ Aston Martin.

“We’re reasonably open around selling our principle cars after we no longer have actually use because that them,” Sproule says. “A year, year-and-a-half on the show-car circuit, and also then we’re happy to transfer them to private owners. They’re sold as works of art: there’s a big, special contract explaining that they aren’t roadway legal, etc. It’s a regular thing for us. Most recently, we marketed the concept version of the Valkyrie supercar.”