8 Volkswagen concept cars the world has forgotten about


After their moment in the spotlight is over, concept cars are often forgotten. But Volkswagen recently revised eight of its concepts from the past 30 years, including some quite unusual that the world has forgotten.

One of the first concepts of the VW retrospective is also one of the strangest. Introduced in 1986, the Italdesign Machimoto was partly motorcycle, partly convertible and partly family car, according to VW. Built on a Golf GTI 16V platform, it painted a roof and doors but featured a steering wheel that could be converted to handlebars.

With a GTI engine producing around 139 hp, the Machimoto was drivable. Passengers were advised to wear helmets.

Volkswagen scooter concept

Volkswagen scooter concept

Also presented in 1986, the Scooter was a 3-wheeler with gullwing doors. Weighing in at just under 1,400 pounds, it was powered by a 40-horsepower engine, which powered the front wheels through a 4-speed manual gearbox.

VW seems to have a penchant for gullwing doors. The 1989 Futura minivan concept had them, as did the 2005 EcoRacer, a diesel sports car with carbon fiber bodywork and a removable roof that allowed the car to be converted from coupe to speedster. This pre-Dieselgate artifact had 136 horsepower, enabling 0-62mph in 6.3 seconds and a top speed of 142mph, according to VW.

For more serious performance, look no further than the W-12 Nardo. This was a complete supercar that VW first showed in 1997, with a 600hp W-12 engine, all-wheel drive and 3.5-second 0-60mph acceleration. VW continued to develop the Nardo until the early 2000s, but it was never meant for production. Instead, it was used to develop the W-12 engine that would enter the Bentley range, as well as some high-end Audi and VW models.

Volkswagen W-12 Nardo concept

Volkswagen W-12 Nardo concept

The 2014 XL Sport offers a somewhat different view of performance. Based on the ultra efficient Volkswagen XL1, had a Ducati twin-cylinder engine which produced 197 hp. This propelled the 1,962-pound Sport XL from 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds and up to a top speed of 168mph.

At the other end of the spectrum is the 2002 Magellan concept, a three-row SUV with what VW calls “2 + 2 + 2” seating. At the time, such a vehicle seemed like a stretch for VW, but Magellan had foreseen the VW Touareg and Atlas.

Speaking of the Atlas, the final concept highlighted here is the Atlas Tanoak pickup, which was unveiled at the 2018 New York International Auto Show. The Tanoak was essentially an Atlas with a bed, similar to how the Honda Ridgeline shares a basic platform with the pilot. VW was mum about the possibility of a production version.


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