Curbside Classic (re)Visits The 2008 New York International Auto Show, Part 2

The automotive industry has changed a lot since 2008. Aside from the shuttered brands and cancelled models that were victims of the recession, technological advances have drastically altered how we interact with our vehicles, and even the idea of car ownership itself is changing. What’s next is anyone’s guess, so instead we’ll look back to a time when Breaking Bad had yet to become the cultural phenomenon it is today, and subsequent television obsessions like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones were little more than ideas in their creators minds.


Nissan’s Quest is an also ran in a segment that has seen better days. This concept previewed the Quest that still occupies space at your local Nissan dealership.


The interior may look a little out there, but that steering wheel is very similar to the one found on a number of contemporary Nissan products.


America missed out on a lot of the performance goodies offered across the pond until recently. The GT-R is one such example.


At this point in its life the Maxima struggled to make a case for itself, lacking the performance chops enjoyed by other full size sedans while offering relatively sedate styling. It seems the current generation has fixed those issues, albeit with a polarizing design.


I don’t think this generation Maxima is bad, just boring, and these models looked too much like the Altima.


The crossover era hasn’t produced a lot of true stinkers, but the Cube is one of them, at least in America. Having driven one I can confidently say it surpassed my low expectations, although I bet its not as refined as a Rogue. And let’s be real: it was the styling that killed this thing, not its driving dynamics. Turns out Americans don’t want to drive something that looks like it came straight out of a Japanese anime.


Despite what I just wrote above I do think its a shame the Cube didn’t succeed, as its design was something different.  I’m guessing car shoppers looking for a boxy design went with the more buttoned down Kia Soul.


Chrysler was not doing well in 2008. Less than a year before this picture was taken Cerberus Capital Management took a majority stake in the company amidst a stormy period for both the brand and the company. From what I’ve read the entire company was pretty much dead in the water at this point, with no products in development and almost no funds to accomplish anything.


The Chrysler ecoVoyager was a sign of things to come. I don’t mean bad things – although Chrysler didn’t develop alternative energy vehicles to the extent its American competitors did by the time this auto show rolled around. The new Chrysler Pacifica has a hybrid variant, an encouraging development from a company that historically shrugs fuel efficient products for bigger and sometimes more profitable vehicles. This concept paired a lithium-ion battery with a hydrogen fuel cell setup, which let Chrysler claim a 300 mile range for the concept. That’s still a pretty stellar mileage figure when you consider the 238 mile range of the Bolt.


The 2008 Challenger revived a storied nameplate in a big way, with its unabashedly retro styling and HEMI V8 engines.


Aside from giving Chrysler some performance credibility, the Challenger will soon be the first muscle car to be equipped with an AWD system. With the popularity of products like the Subaru WRX and Ford Focus RS, will the Camaro and Mustang make a similar shift to keep up with the times?


America’s insatiable bloodlust for crossovers means a thoroughly mediocre product like the Journey can still make a business case for itself. I imagine this sells based on price and with heavy incentives because my experience with one of these did not result in my approval of this vehicle. Then again, it is possible its updates have kept it somewhat competitive, as the model I sampled was one of the early ones.


A production version of the NEO concept would have been groundbreaking for electric vehicles: a fully electric performance wagon with 268 horsepower and a 0-60 time of 5.7 seconds. Chrysler’s woes insured this forward thinking car wouldn’t happen, with Tesla having the honor of producing an electric car with tangible performance credentials with the Model S.


This is not your average 300.


The Chrysler 300C Hollywood stretches out the sedan to proportions that make the backseat acceptable for those looking to be chauffeured around.


For some reason this comes at the expense of the driver, who is literally left out in the cold. No wonder this abomination never saw production.


Pretty much all my posts about the NY auto show inevitably reach the point where I lament the lack of changes to the Art & Science design philosophy at Cadillac. Has my stance softened? Yes.


I am saying that because I can’t deny the excellent design of the CTS coupe? Yes.


Kudos to Cadillac for keeping the design of the CTS largely unchanged from the concept.


I wouldn’t call the PROVOQ concept uh, provocative, but this is the design that led to the second generation SRX, which became Cadillac’s second best selling model during its run. The current XT5 further refines the look of this concept.


It may seem like eons ago, but back in the waning days of the Bush administration, the Korean brands lacked the reputation they have today. I used to think the 2011 Sonata was the car that made me realize how competitive the Korean makes had become, but these pictures of the Forte concept prove otherwise.


Hyundai and Kia weren’t on my radar because their designs were pretty ho-hum up until this point. Peter Schreyer has done wonders for both brands. I guess you could say his departure from VW was a real “Koup” for the company.


The recession claimed the lives of numerous brands and models, with one standout example being the Pontiac G8 ST (that’s ST for “sport truck”) and its wagon counterpart.


I’m guessing Ford was grateful that this never saw the light of day so that they could freely use the ST for the performance model of the Focus. Although Focus SVT could have probably worked, as it had precedent.


Would the G8 ST have been successful? Given the low sales figures of the sedan I’m going to go ahead and say no. The debut of the Ford Raptor demonstrated the business case for performance pick up trucks, especially ones with four doors and four-wheel drive. Both things absent on the G8 ST.


Even the G8 sedan struggled to find an audience, and its successor, the Chevy SS, was recently cancelled due to mediocre sales.


Buick has put out some pretty enticing concepts since this Riviera concept went public. Apparently General Motors is developing an upscale Buick sub-brand called Avenir, which is French for future. Will we see something like this under that moniker? Or will it be another Denali high end trim level with zero unique products?


That front end is a bit much, but it did preview the front end of the Epilson II based Lacrosse, which debuted as a 2010 model year vehicle.


Ford recently revealed their plans to debut a hybrid F-150 by 2020. The Denali XT Hybrid concept is proof that other automakers were thinking along similar lines at some point in their product planning. Although as we found out, GM’s hybrid SUV variants didn’t exactly set the world on fire, so the jury is out on the viability of true gas-electric trucks.


The same rear wheel drive platform that underpinned the G8 and Chevy SS provided a basis for the GMC truck concept, which is surprising because this thing looks absolutely massive. 


Before the name was slapped on a subcompact crossover, the Renegade moniker was used for this hybrid vehicle that sported two electric motors and a 1.5 liter diesel engine.


The first hybrid Jeep was never even considered for production, although with news of a hybrid F-150, will a hybrid Wrangler be far behind?


At some point Mitsubishi was working on the i-MiEV Sport. Either that or this concept was vaporware from the very beginning.


This is pretty much the i-MiEV that we actually got, more or less.


This may not look like any recent Mitsubishi product from the rear…


…but from the frot its clearly a concept for the Outlander, a vehicle that Mitsubishi is likely grateful for having around as crossovers gained in popularity.


The R1e was an electric version of the R1, a Japanese kei car. Somehow the little car had enough room to store a battery pack capable of giving the tiny hatch a 50 mile range capacity.


The Impreza has never looked very attractive to me, and I say this in reference to pretty much all the different variants over the years. The exceptions are the third generation hatchback and the current generation of the Impreza in both sedan and hatchback configuration. Bonus points to Subaru for this nice blue.


With sales of mid-size sedans on the decline its no wonder that the CC was recently cancelled. Although early reports suggest its successor will go even more upmarket for reasons only Volkswagen executives can explain.


Routan! Volkswagen’s strange agreement with Chrysler resulted in this rebadged Caravan that sold exceptionally poorly. Probably because you could get the same exact thing at a Chrysler dealership for less money. The Routan was never equipped with Stow ‘N Go seating either. Production ended in 2013, which means the upcoming Atlas will be the first three row vehicle available from Volkswagen in almost four years.


Concept cars tend to excite enthusiasts quite a bit, and for obvious reasons. Good designs generate a lot of buzz and anticipation for the real thing. Unfortunately, there are times when a concept accomplishes its mission so well that expectations for the production model become wildly unrealistic, which ultimately leads to a great disturbance in the Force when the actual vehicle is revealed, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.


Two years ago Subaru unveiled concepts for the Impreza and its WRX variant that were incredible, and I succumbed to the false idea that they faithfully represented what would eventually show up in Subaru showrooms. The only other time I remember being so thoroughly swayed by a concept was when my eyes met these wonderful Kizashi prototypes.


Even the sedan was exciting, and it certainly predicted the era of big grilles.


Yup, that is one gaping maw.


The production model was still attractive, although its looks were so similar to the Jetta that you’d think it was a result of badge engineering.  dscn0357

Unlike that pathetic Yaris Mach 5 imitator, this recreation of the most famous car from Speed Racer is the real deal.


I’m not sure if this is the Mach 5 that is street legal, but even if it isn’t I’d still say its impressive.


And last but not least, I’ll show you something that is just as unrealistic today as it ways 9 years ago: a flying car!