I didn’t expect to wake up on this delightful Friday on the East Coast and be met with depressing images of once priceless Nissan concepts rusting away at a junkyard, but we don’t always have control over how we start the day. I guess that’s why they say it’s a bad idea to look at social media the minute you open your eyes.
Nevertheless, that’s exactly what Twitter user RiveraNotario shared on the platform yesterday. The site in question appears to be located in La Vergne, Tennessee, judging from the sign for the scrap metal recycler in the background of one of the photos. Beyond that, we don’t have any other information, including how long the two concepts have been there.
The van in the first image is the 2002 Nissan Quest concept — a vehicle that clearly informed the design of the third-generation Quest that hit showrooms starting with the 2004 model year. This rolling preview bowed at the 2002 Detroit Auto Show, and Nissan managed a respectable job of transitioning some of the Quest’s hallmark cues — like the shape of the grille, positioning of the headlights and the broad, slab-sided greenhouse — into the road-legal production version. I know it’s hard to recall a time when a Nissan Quest could be described as “progressive,” but it really was a clean look for ’04. Even if its dashboard was unintelligibly laid out.
The other curiosity there is the Bevel. In spite of its unibody construction and curvaceous exterior, this 2007 study was actually intended for “45-to-60-year-old males” who consider themselves rather handy, and are always looking for a job to fix. In the modern era of every new truck looking like it’s been designed to eat its competition, this simple, honest shape is bittersweet to behold. No carmaker today would dare attempt to sell a vehicle so pleasantly, optimistically utilitarian.
Both deserve a fate better than wasting away among driven-into-the-Earth Corollas, Caprices and F-Series trucks, but the harsh reality is that not all concepts are spared from the crusher in the interest of preserving automotive history. Even the ones that are sold off by the carmaker in question are often hobbled for legal reasons.
Last year I had the pleasure of speaking to Chris Theodore, one of the primary minds behind Ford’s 2004 Shelby Cobra Concept, who bought the very concept he helped design at auction in 2017. Before sending it to the block, Ford welded the driveshaft inside the torque tube and even grounded down the bolts that held the service plate to access it. Dearborn wanted to ensure “Daisy,” as Chris nicknamed it, never saw the road again. It was only thanks to the his connections and lengthy career at the Blue Oval that he was able to get all of that damaging work reversed.
So, as we reflect on the terrible end these bygone visions of the future have been subject to, let us vow never to forget them. Not every concept car gets to live on in a well-lit, climate-controlled coffin.