The supercars that no one wanted

The supercars that no one wanted
The supercars that no one wanted

The big-money motors that dared to be different in a bid for fame and fortune – but were huge flops instead

Building a supercar to rival mainstream names such as Ferrari and Lamborghini is a massive gamble. Big-money cars need big-money buyers to be a success, but if customers can’t be found, the project is a non-starter. Here is a selection of high-end performance exotica whose makers’ dreams turned into nightmares. Some cars you would have heard of, and some will be unfamiliar, but all represent a certain amount of bravery on their manufacturers’ part, for taking on the big boys at the supercar game.

Monteverdi Hai (1970)

A 7.0-litre Chrysler Hemi V8 gave the Hai 450bhp and a top speed of 180mph. Nobody’s really sure whether two or four Monteverdi Hais were built, but its shoddy build quality overshadowed its luxurious feel.

Argyll GT (1974)

An unforeseen global oil crisis put a 10-year wait on production of Bob Henderson’s 1974 Scottish supercar dream. Interest in the Argyll GT waned when he subsequently reduced the 200mph twin-turbo V8 to a single-turbo V6.

Panther 6 (1977)

The Panther 6 had it all; it boasted six wheels, two turbos and an 8.2-litre Cadillac V8 over the back wheels. Two were built; one is still running.

Vector W8 (1977)

Fourteen examples of the 600bhp 6.0-litre turbo V8-powered Vector Aeromotive W8 were bought when it finally went on sale 14 years after it was originally launched with a W2 name. It cost US$450,000 (about £236,000 then) and was superseded by the WX-3 in 1992.

Dome Zero (1978)

Performance freaks hardly mourned the premature demise of the Japanese Dome Zero, whose maker balked at the cost of putting the car through home-market homologation tests. Its 2.8-litre straight-six produced only 145bhp.

Aston Martin Bulldog (1979)

A change in Aston Martin ownership killed off the 700bhp twin-turbo V8 Bulldog, a potential 200mph car for which designer William Towns planned a 25-strong run. One Bulldog exists, in private ownership.

Nissan Mid-4 (1985)

Nissan proposed three mid-engined four-wheel-drive supercars; this 1985 version used a 300ZX engine. The maker touted a 4.5-litre V8 version as well, but a global economic crash meant the 1990 Mid-4 was the last time the project was mentioned.

Kodiak F1 (1987)

Mladen Mitrovic’s 320bhp 5.4-litre Chevrolet V8-powered Kodiak F1 was inspired by the Mercedes C-111, and promised an all-day cruising speed of 170mph. It never made it to the next stage of development; a 5.6-litre Mercedes V8.

Cizeta V16 (1989)

Record producer Giorgio Moroder backed the Cizeta V16, which promised more than 204mph from its 560bhp 6.0-litre transversely mounted V16 engine. He walked away from the project after a three-year gap between launch and production, though.

Jiotto Caspita (1989)

First touted with a detuned Formula 1 V12 engine, the Jiotto Caspita was then downgraded to a Judd V10. No one found out whether it would make it to the promised 200mph mark; it didn’t get past the prototype stage.

Jaguar XJR-15 (1990)

The 450bhp V12 Jaguar XJR-15 was a relative success on this list, as 50 of the 191mph cars were built for a one-model Jaguar Sport Intercontinental Challenge race series. Some road cars were built, too, before the XJ220 supercar arrived.

Maserati Chubasco (1990)

Production turned out to be too expensive for the Maserati Chubasco, which meant the twin-turbo 3.2-litre 430bhp V8 model never got a chance to meet its projected run of 450.

Bitter Tasco (1991)

Designed to take a V8 or V12, or the Dodge Viper’s V10, the Bitter Tasco was built in partnership with British firm MGA Developments. Its originator, Erich Bitter, more usually rebodied Opels. The car never made it past full-size mock-up stage.

Spiess TC522 (1992)

£362,000 (around US$650,000 in the early 1990s) was a lot of money for a carbonfibre-bodied supercar with a 500bhp twin-turbo 5.7-litre V8. Buyers stayed away from the Spiess TC522 in their droves.

Yamaha OX99-11 (1992)

Early-’90s Brabham and Jordan F1 cars donated their 420bhp 3.5-litre V12 to the Yamaha OX99-11. Just three were built, at US$1 million (about £555,000 at the time).

MCA Centenaire (1992)

The MCA Centenaire began life as a $500,000 Lamborghini V12 mid-engined car. It was bought and disastrously relaunched by microcar maker Aixam-Mega as the Monte Carlo shown here. Six examples are rumoured to be left.

Isdera Commendatore 112i (1993)

The Isdera Commendatore’s £500,000 tag would have bought you a 414bhp 6-litre Mercedes V12 engine and 210mph. However, despite the 112i popping up twice, no one actually had a chance to buy it.

Spectre R42 (1993)

Parent company GT Developments went bust after building just one R42 prototype. Then the project was bought by US firm Spectre, which suggested it would build 200 cars a year; it too went to the wall, after just 23 examples were made.

Gigliato Aerosa (1994)

The 300bhp Ford 3.0-litre V6-powered Aerosa was actually Japanese, despite its Italian-sounding name. Gigliato aimed to set up in Britain as a rival to the established Italian design houses, but the project lasted only a year.

Jimenez Novia (1995)

The Jimenez Novia disappeared before anyone could establish whether it could hit a touted 217mph. That’s a shame, because its powerplant – a 4-litre W16 built around four Yamaha FZR1000 superbike heads actuating a single crankshaft – sounded intriguing.

TVR Speed 12 (1998)

Deemed “too fast for the road”, the 880bhp 7.7-litre V12-powered TVR Speed 12 was ignominiously binned by boss Peter Wheeler. Only a handful of examples were built, making it arguably the ultimate TVR.

VW W12 (1998)

There was no lack of public demand for a production version of Volkswagen’s 5.6-litre W12 coupé concept, which generated a roadster edition, but other supercar development within the VW Group soon overtook the project.

Qvale Mangusta (2000)

This Ford-sourced 320bhp 4.6-litre quad-cam V8-powered supercar evolved through three personas: the De Tomaso Bigua, then the Qvale Mangusta and eventually the MG XPower SV. All three could do 150mph.

Laraki Fulgura (2002)

From 2002 to 2005, Laraki showed a new supercar at each annual Geneva Motor Show. The Fulgura boasted a quad-turbo 680bhp Mercedes 6-litre V12, claimed 219mph top speed and cost €500,000. It didn’t sell.

Barabus TKR (2006)

This Manchester-built carbonfibre special from Barabus (not to be confused with Brabus!) had a 1005bhp twin-turbo 7-litre V8 and could hit a claimed 270mph. It’s now evolved into the Keating TKR, which can hit a genuine 260mph.

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