Supercars are built to represent the ultimate automotive technology. They are impossibly fast and very, very expensive. In short, the stuff that dreams are made of. We all know the big names, marques such as Ferrari, Lamborghini and Bugatti, but at the back of the museum are the supercars that achieved supercar stardom and then faded away. Let’s look at a few that should be part of any conversation concerning supercars.
Aston Martin One-77
Aston Martin has earned its reputation building some of the world’s greatest touring cars. As you know, James Bond drove one. But it had never attempted to compete in the supercar market — until the One-77 was designed. Built from 2009 to 2012, the One-77 was a modern exotic made up of carbon fiber and aluminum. Powered by a 7.3 liter V12 engine rated at 750 horsepower it could blast from zero to 60 in under 3.7 seconds. Production was limited to 77 cars (hence the name), and each cost $1.4 million.
Mercedes-Benz SL73 AMG
Mercedes-Benz made a supercar and few know about it. In 1999, Mercedes’s tuning arm AMG took the S600 and added a 7.3-liter V12 capable of 525 horsepower. They called it the SL73 AMG. The SL73 could do zero to 60 in 4.8 seconds, and had a factory-limited top speed of 155 MPH.
At the 1988 British Motor Show, Jaguar unveiled a technologically advanced all-wheel drive 6.2-liter V12 mid-engined supercar called the XJ 220. With a projected top speed of 220 miles per hour, the XJ 220 could do zero to 60 in a under 3.5 seconds and had a top speed of 213 MPH. Due to a variety of factors, the Jaguar XJ 220 was made for just 3 years: 1992 to 1994.
Yes, “Honda” made a supercar. The NSX shocked the automotive world when it was unveiled at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show. With its stunning good looks, mid-engined 270-hp V6, the NSX was a serious supercar contender. It was so modern and powerful for its time that it ran with Ferrari and Lamborghini’s best for over 10 years. Still, the Honda-built NSX lacked the prestige of the Italian companies, and never quite earned the respect it deserved from the supercar set.
The top-of-the line 850 CSi was more of a gentleman’s supercar that happened to seat four. Powered by a highly-tuned 5.6-liter 376-HP, the CSi was good for a zero to 60 time in under six seconds. Helping us with the research on this article was Coachella Valley of CA, a local Volkswagon dealer in Indio, CA. They told us that the BMW V12 engines of the 1990s are considered to be some of the best engines ever built in Germany.
The Cizeta has the distinction of being the only supercar backed by a Disco legend. The Cizeta V16T began life as the Cizeta-Moroder and was backed by music producer Giorgio Moroder. It used a complex 540-horsepower V16 engine designed and built by Cizeta. By the time the V16T reached production, the it couldn’t pass U.S. safety and emissions standards. The loss of the lucrative American market and the car’s $500K price tag put a tremendous strain on the company, and it folded after producing only 20 cars.
In the 1970s, businessman Gerald Wiegert sought to combine American horsepower with the latest aerospace technology to create an advanced supercar. After a decade of raising funds and showing off his uber-futuristic design, Wiegert’s car had evolved into the W8. The mid-engined car was powered by a twin-turbocharged Chevrolet V8, and featured a carbon fiber body over an aluminum frame. It also had the interior of a fighter jet, with banks of buttons and switches and a cathode-tube instrument panel giving real-time readouts on most parameters. Due to myriad issues, production ground to a halt in 1992 after just 22 cars had been built.
Designed in America and built in Italy around Ford’s 351 Cleveland V8, the DeTomaso Pantera was one of the first mid-engined supercars. Although not ultra-powerful with the stock motor, owners typically modified their Cleveland 351s to put out 400-500 -HP. Long considered to be an “also ran” used Panteras (1971-1992) are an unbelievable supercar bargain.
Cisitalia 202 GT
The Cisitalia company was founded in 1946 by Italian industrialist and avid racer Piero Dusio. In nearby Modena, a man named Enzo Ferrari happened to be forming a similar company of his own. But unlike Ferrari, Cisitalia’s first road cars were international sensations. The 1946 202 GT was a gorgeous and well-mannered road car. Unfortunately, the company was burdened by money woes, and folded in the early 1950s after only 170 202 GTs were made produced. By then, Ferrari’s business had taken off, and it’s steadily grown to the performance car juggernaut it is today.
From massive automakers to small cottage companies, many have tried to break through the established supercar hierarchy and capture the public imagination. For some reason, none of these cars ever quite made the grade. These supercars may not be household names, but they’re some of the most impressive cars ever built.