Ferrari’s F40 will live on in supercar folklore long after all the petrol has run out. People will talked in revered tones about the Bugatti Veyron even when we are travelling in cars that fly. But some supercars are more well known than others and with that in mind I bring you my favourite forgotten supercars. Not all of these reached production but for a brief moment in the past they held the spotlight but most are probably gathering dust in corporate and collectors’ basements right now.
Some time late in the 1960s Mercedes-Benz started to explore several fields, including rotary power, composite materials, air brakes and advanced aerodynamic efficiency. The shape that the groundbreaking work took was the C111. Originally powered by a tri- then quad-rotor set-up the C111 would eventually boast a turbodiesel inline five that took it to several endurance records. Work done on that car’s engine laid the foundation for all Merc’s turbodiesel technology for decades to come and I’m sure I’ve seen those doors on a fairly recently produced Merc sportscar.
Cizeta Moroder V16T
Mention Top Gun to any film fan and they’ll probably think of the hit singles Take My Breath Away and Danger Zone. However, few will know that the writer of those tracks is Giorgio Moroder an Italian composer who once had a foray into the supercar world. In the late 1990s Moroder collaborated with Claudio Zampolli and they built this, the Cizeta Moroder V16T. As it was penned by Marcello Gandini you can see hints of the Diablo in its profile. Power was derived from a V16 (!) motor that was mounted transversely behind the bulkhead. 405 kW may seem paltry now but back then it was more than enough as it propelled the wedgey shape to over 200 mph (322 km/h). Base price in the early nineties was an astronomical $600 000…
Dauer (Porsche) 962
We’ve all dreamed of doing this, having a genuine racecar converted for road use. That is exactly what German firm Dauer did with Porsche’s 962. With support from Porsche Dauer created the 962 road car based cloesly on its Le Mans-winning namesake. The unmistakable silhouette boasts the racecar’s twin-turbocharged flat-six motor. Even in road trim the engine cranks out over 500 kW and 700 N.m of twist. As the gearbox only has five ratios the 962 can hit 100 km/h in first gear just 2,6 seconds after take off. Flat out it is said to top 400 km/h. A few mod-cons have made their way into the road car, including adjustable ride height (thank goodness) and a leather-clad interior. I wonder if I can have one in Martini colours?
The Vector W8 is considered by many to be the first true American supercar. The futuristic (for the time) W8 was produced by US firm Vector, which has quite a checkered past that includes illegal corporate take-overs, endangering a tennis star’s lif and a stint of owning Lamborghini among others. Powered by a twin-turbocharged V8 the car’s test mule ran to over 380 km/h on the Bonneville Salt flats. The car’s creators used the aerospace industry for inspiration, which included a bonded and riveted platform, an aluminium honeycomb floor and screens instead of dials in the instrument cluster.
Isdera Commendatore 112i
Surprisingly, while researching this car I found that one can still buy a Commendatore 112i, supposedly all orders have to be placed directly with the CEO. This model has been in production since 1993 and is (still!) made in small numbers at the company’s German headquarters. Motivation has always come from Mercedes-sourced V12s but the powerplants have been updated over the years to newer units offering more power. The earliest cars developed 300 kW while the current model boasts 426 kW and a claimed top speed of 370 km/h. I wonder how Porsche feels about that nose…
What happens when a superbike manufacturer involved in Formula One decides to build a supercar? Why the OX99-11, of course. With extensive involvement in Formula One, as an engine builder, Yamaha decided to enter the rarefied world of supercar production. The outrageously styled OX99-11 boasted a carbon-fibre monocoque with the motor bolted directly to the rear bulkhead F1-style. That powerplant was a 3,5-litre V12 that revved to 10 000 r/min. Seating for two was pillion-style, with the passenger riding directly behind the centrally seated driver. It remains, to this day, the only car that Yamaha ever produced.
Cien comes from the Spanish word for 100, so it was aptly chosen for the car that Cadillac created to celebrate its centenary. I love rakish cars and the Cien – inspired by the F-22 fighter jet – is about as angular as they come. This techno tour-de-force is built around a carbon-fibre tub which houses a 7,5-litre V12 motor that was good for 560 kW. Sadly Cadillac chose not to produce the Cien using it instead as a precursor to future design direction and it has been confined to a brief celluloid appearance in The Island.
As the Bugatti Veyron continues to fuel bar room chat and posters of the Big Bug clutter the walls of teenage boys this car may be forgotten even before it has its moment of glory. The SSC Tuatara (rolls of the tongue, doesn’t it?) is the US’s answer to the ever-present “world’s fastest car” question. It looks like the bastard love-child of a figher-jet and a Lamborghini Gallardo and promises to go like it, too. Over 1 000 kW is reputedly on tap from the twin-turbo’ed 6,8-litre V8. Tuatara’s creator SSC is targeting a top speed of 442 km/h. Here’s a visual taste of its performance potential. Though the firm reputedly took ten orders for the car at the Dubai International Motor Show (at $1,3m per car x 10 = er,… LOTS) no productions models have yet seen the light of day, or indeed been tested to the claimed performance.
Here are some of my other favourites: