Vaporwheels: 10 insane cars too ambitious for reality

Vaporware products are the ultimate tease, and companies big and small are guilty of shelling them out. Computer hardware and video game brands are probably the biggest culprits out there, but in terms of big promises with little payoff, the car world is more than well-versed.

We’ve seen it all in the automotive space — flying cars, bizarre concepts, and dubious speed machines (looking at you, Devel Sixteen) — so in celebration, we’re counting down our 10 favorite cars that never were. Hop on board the vaporware express and let’s get started.

10. Terrafugia Transition

Aircraft manufacturer Terrafugia is a constant source of amusement and frustration in our industry, as the Massachusetts firm has been drumming up interest for its unique flying vehicles since 2006. The Transition — a 400-mile roadable aircraft with a steering wheel as well as a control stick  — has been the main lightning rod for Terrafugia over the last few years, but the company’s Jetsons-esque TF-X made waves in 2015 for its semi-autonomous flight capabilities and plug-in hybrid drivetrain.

Why are these unbelievable creations so low on our list? The brand actually appears to be making progress. Terrafugia was granted FAA approval to test its products last year, and a proof-of-concept Transition made a successful maiden voyage in 2009. Initial deliveries are scheduled to begin sometime in the next couple years, but as with most flying cars, we’re not exactly holding our breath.

9. Carbon Motors E7

When the Ford Crown Victoria neared the end of its life in the early 2010s, the law enforcement industry received countless bids from companies looking to supply the next-generation cop car. The menacing Dodge Charger Pursuit and the Taurus-based Ford Interceptor ended up replacing the Crown Vic in most markets, but in 2008, a small manufacturer named Carbon Motors looked to take its place with a car called the E7.

Unlike previous cruisers that were based on existing vehicles, the E7 was a purpose-built courier of justice through and through. Powered by a BMW turbodiesel straight-six, the rear-wheel drive sedan was more fuel efficient than its competitors while still boasting a top speed of 155 mph and a 0 to 60 time of 6.5 seconds. In addition, the E7 boasted a rear crash capability of 75 mph and optional ballistics panels, as well as smart tech options like license plate recognition, 360-degree video recording, integrated infrared, and rear-hinged doors for easier ingress and egress.

The E7’s police career was cut dreadfully short, however. In 2012, the government denied Carbon Motors’ $310-million loan request, and the firm went completely under the following year. If you’re dying for more of the E7 though, there is some good news — the car was featured in the 2010 video game Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, but its in-game specs were appropriately classified.

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