From The Machimoto To The Atlas Tanoak: Eight Of VW's Coolest Concepts

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The zany list includes a minivan with gull-wing doors.

Many concept cars that could have gone on to succeed in production form have simply been forgotten for some or other reason. But despite an exciting electric future that includes models like the ID.6 and ID.4 GTX, Volkswagen was feeling nostalgic enough to share eight of its coolest concept cars ever. The first is the 1986 Italdesign Machimoto, which VW admits resembles an amusement test car even more than a regular vehicle. It was a combination of a motorcycle, drop-top, and family car and based on the Golf GTi 16V platform of the time. It made it into numerous Italian movies but not into any dealerships, which is hardly a surprise.

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That same year, VW revealed the Scooter concept. It had three wheels, front-wheel drive, and a two-door coupe body. A notable feature was the gull-wing design of the doors. It only made 40 horsepower but weighed a mere 1,400 pounds.

Before the 1980s were done and dusted, the Futura was revealed in 1989. Known as an IRVW (Integrated Research Volkswagen), it lived up to its name with advanced features like navigation, an electric park brake, and distance sensors. The doors opened upwards and VW says elements of its design could be seen in the production ID.3 revealed decades later.

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The W12 Nardo was a supercar designed to test a new 12-cylinder engine with a W-configuration. With 600 hp, it could reach 60 mph in only 3.5 seconds. Its engine design led to production engines in models like the Passat and Bugatti Veyron.

The next four concepts were the Magellan, EcoRacer, XL Sport, and Atlas Tanoak. The Magellan was part SUV, part truck, and part car and had a 2+2+2 seating layout. It was revealed at around the same time as the first Toureg SUV. The lightweight EcoRacer diesel sports car also blended different body styles. It reached 62 mph in 6.3 seconds.

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The 2014 XL Sport also prioritized efficiency despite its supercar body. It was powered by the most powerful two-cylinder engine in the world and could reach 62 mph in less than six seconds. Finally, there was the Atlas Tanaok concept that appeared at the New York International Auto Show in 2018. This differed from most other concepts here in that it was a dual-cab pickup. Based on an extended-wheelbase Atlas, it could seat five and made up to 276 hp.

These zany concepts are a reminder that even the traditionally conservative VW doesn't always play it safe.

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