Automotive designers in 1999 foresaw a 2009 populated by compressed natural gas-powered cars, huge 16-cylinder engines and crossover vehicles. At least they got one right. Let's hop into the time machine-like lens of hindsight to visit ten concept cars from 1999 and determine how close they came to reality.

The Future Of Cars, Circa 1999S


Name: Bentley Hunaudières
Debuted: Geneva Motor Show
Vision Of The Future: After being purchased by VW and separated from Rolls Royce, Bentley needed a new direction. The Hunaudiéres was named for the straight where the company originally made its name during the 24 Hours of Le Mans race and previews a company interested in making speedy super cars.
Closest Modern Vehicle: The design did impact the look of the Bentley Continental GT, but the W16 engine and overall layout wound up in the Bugatti Veyron.
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The Future Of Cars, Circa 1999S


Name: Buick Cielo
Debuted: Detroit Auto Show
Vision Of The Future: There's nothing particularly exciting about a mid-size five-passenger vehicle, but this Buick had two things going for it: a three-part retracting roof and a shapely, exciting body. It was a youthful approach to the mid-level premium market. Instead, Buick got older and older.
Closest Modern Vehicle: Sadly, the muscular and fresh approach of the Cieolo was watered down into the staid 8th Generation Buick LeSabre.
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The Future Of Cars, Circa 1999S


Name: Jaguar XK180
Debuted: Paris Motor Show
Vision Of The Future: By the mid 1990s the Jaguar's brand one sports tourer, the XJS, was beginning to show its age. The replacement XK-series was a strong evolution of the sporty British concept and the XK180 concept showed off a kitty with even more purr. Inspired by the Jaguar D-Type, the XK180 is a more performance-oriented luxury sports car than anything offered by the brand in recent history.
Closest Modern Vehicle: The 510 HP Jaguar XKR is more powerful than the XK180 concept, but it presents the same image of a cat on the prowl.
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The Future Of Cars, Circa 1999S


Name: Honda Fuya-Jo
Debuted: 1999 Tokyo Auto Show
Vision Of The Future: Tiny, boxy vehicles with a stand-up seating arrangement and kicking sound system define the curiously-named Honda Fuya-Jo. This portable nigh-club was unfortunately never actually built.
Closest Modern Vehicle: The tall-boxy design appears on vehicles such as the Scion xB but nothing quite from Honda. The idea of a night club on the go does show up in the 2009 Kia Soul, which is somewhat boxy and includes LED lights behind the speakers and timed to the music for a disco feel.
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The Future Of Cars, Circa 1999S


Name: Dodge Power Wagon
Debuted: Detroit Auto Show
Vision Of The Future: The Dodge Power Wagon Concept was one of those rare vehicles able to look back and forward at the same time. Named for the WWII-era military vehicle, the Power Wagon takes the concept of tough truck and takes it to ridiculous proportions; Its 7.2-liter direct-injection turbodiesel pumped out a mad 780 lb-ft of torque through the 35-inch tires. Just a few years ago it would be easy to say the vision has been upheld, but the recent impact of gas prices upon the truck market certainly changes things.
Closest Modern Vehicle: Both the Dodge Nitro and current generation Ram share the beefy lines of the Power Wagon concept, but the most obvious connection is the second generation Durango, which shares similar proportions and taillights.
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The Future Of Cars, Circa 1999S


Name: Subaru Fleet-X
Debuted: Tokyo Auto Show
Vision Of The Future: Subaru envisioned a future in which we're interested in fuel economy, lightweight materials, station wagons, but not interested in aesthetic appeal. They were 75% of the way there, at least. While it's true the love of the sporty wagon hasn't faded, automakers are using more lightweight materials in their products, and fuel economy is a huge concern, ugly is still ugly in 2009.
Closest Modern Vehicle: From the belt-line up it would be hard to mistake this vehicle for a 2006-era Subaru WRX wagon. The rest of the vehicle doesn't have a specific modern analog, though Subarea would make a highly-questionable design decision in regards to the B9 Tribeca.
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The Future Of Cars, Circa 1999S


Name: Ford 021C
Debuted: Tokyo Motor Show
Vision Of The Future: Ford's view of the future was to have small, affordable vehicles with a high level of design to appeal to younger, brand-conscious individuals. Instead, they built the Ford 500.
Closest Modern Vehicle: Ten years later and the Ford Fiesta presents a similar concept, if not appearance, to the 021C.
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The Future Of Cars, Circa 1999S


Name: Dodge Charger R/T Concept
Debuted: Detroit Auto Show
Vision Of The Future: The Dodge Charger R/T Concept, with its raked lines and long curving hood, doesn't do much to repudiate the cab-forward design at the center of the Chrysler design strategy for much of the 1990s. Its RWD configuration, on the other hand, represents a major departure for a brand no longer known for making RWD sedans. The CNG powerplant isn't radical for the time, but the V8 was no longer an expected offering from Dodge.
Closest Modern Vehicle: The new Dodge Charger R/T, like all LX-based cars, is a V8-powered RWD sedan. There's no CNG or Viper-like appearance, but the move away from cab forward was at least temporarily successful.
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The Future Of Cars, Circa 1999S


Name: Toyota NCSV
Debuted: Tokyo Auto Show
Vision Of The Future: The NCSV predicts a future where someone would want a vehicle to serve simultaneously as a sedan, coupe and wagon — a crossover if you will. Unlike some of the hideous crossovers of today, the NCSV is surprisingly attractive and features a tough, flat storage area in the rear and monitor screens for both the passenger and driver.
Closest Modern Vehicle: The Toyota Venza crossover and 2009 Matrix are both crossovers offered by Toyota with a similar purpose. The difference is, the NCSV is a coupe and actually attractive.
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The Future Of Cars, Circa 1999S


Name: Honda Spocket
Debuted: Tokyo Auto Show
Vision Of The Future: The Spocket looks like a normal sports coupe until you notice something different out back. It's a truck bed! This little El Camino expressed the idea of combining the fun of driving a car with the need to store outdoorsy equipment. The interior includes seats made from a tough, weatherproof fabric and transmission controls on the steering wheel. It also featured a hybrid powertrain, though this one included two in-wheel electric motors in the rear.
Closest Modern Vehicle: Despite the unconventional nature of this concept, many of the ideas encouraged later vehicles. The durable interior, two-tone paint and low flat floor scream Honda Element. The steering wheel-mounted buttons are found on numerous cars as does the hybrid powertrain. The small truck bed and proportions also suggest the Honda Ridgeline.
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