Google ‘supercar’ and the same few brands will always take up the first few pages of your search, but beyond the big names, there’s a world of variations on the supercar theme that haven’t always translated into mainstream popularity.
The obvious picks aren’t always the coolest, so below is a list of the five best supercars that stray from the norm. Most come from premium or global brands, but none are known for their supercars. Instead, each was brought to life as a high-quality halo product, often sold at a huge deficit to not only beat the quintessentially Italian options, but crush them.
The Maserati MC12 has the bones, heritage and designer to its credit, but somehow it never achieved the fame of the Ferrari Enzo with which it was so closely associated. Perhaps Maserati should have given the Pope one, as the prancing horse did.
Featuring a mid-engined V12 in its longer and wider carbon fiber chassis, the MC12 was created by Frank Stephenson – known for Ford Escort Cosworth, Ferrari F430 and Fiat 500, among others
– and not only took to the streets in limited numbers, but also dominated GT racing in Europe and the United States for years.
The MC12 was also limited to just 50 units in its ‘Stradale’ form, also making it eight times rarer than the Enzo.
If there was an award for the most exquisitely built car of all time, the Lexus LFA could well be it. Not only was this an exercise of putting together a number of pieces that were already on the shelf, but each part of it had to be made from scratch. The stunning 5-litre V10 engine was designed and manufactured by Yamaha, while the carbon fiber chassis was hand-built in a dedicated facility at Toyota’s city headquarters in Japan.
The coolest parts were the A-pillars (the bits of bodywork on either side of the windshield), which engineers insisted on building from a 3D woven piece of carbon fiber. No one in the auto industry had the necessary machinery to produce it, so Toyota created one of only two 3D carbon fiber weaving machines in the world to do this. This level of infinite resource engineering doesn’t exist in the automotive industry today, but one day it will. And because he has a Lexus badge on his nose, he remains a lesser-known icon to the masses.
So technically, the Jaguar CX-75 never really hit the road; the project was ultimately canned due to challenging financial conditions. But the CX-75 did hit the screens, starring in Spectre, and so a few working prototypes were built, one of which was recently sold.
Of course, if he’d hit the road, he’d have had a hard life, given Jaguar’s less-than-synonymous relationship with mid-engine supercars. This is a road it had traveled once before, in the late 1980s, when the XJ220 struggled to sell through its building lots, even though they have since become a collectible in their own right.
That’s a shame, though, because with its stunning Ian Callum and Julien Thompson-designed body, it could also have become an icon over time.
Alfa Romeo 8C
Just as the Maserati MC12 was a new and specialized take on a Ferrari, the Alfa Romeo 8C was a new take on a Maserati GranTurismo. Alfa Romeo shared a basic powertrain and chassis, shortened the wheelbase and gave the 8C stunning new bodywork in both coupe and roadster body styles.
Often overlooked in mainstream circles thanks to a badge more commonly seen on small hatchbacks and compact executive sedans, the 8C wasn’t quite the driver’s car it should have been to drive, but we can’t think of a cooler way. to move than in something so beautiful, with so much drama and attitude.
Porsche 911 GT1
It may be hard to imagine that a Porsche supercar could be overlooked, but like the MC12 above, Porsche’s desire to dominate racing led to the design and limited production of a wide-body car – in this case creating the 911 GT1.
Unlike a GT2 or GT3, the GT1 was not just a 911 with a hot drivetrain or track-oriented updates, but a fully customized mid-engined Le Mans racer that shared little more than its lights, handlebars and vents.
The GT1’s engine was up to Porsche standard, with a flat-six with two turbos, but the double wishbone suspension, sequential gearbox and body were unique. About 22 units were eventually built: two prototypes in the earlier 993 style and then about 20 units with the later 996 conversion to comply with homologation rules.
With so little around, it’s no surprise that these fetch more money than just about any other car with a 911 badge on the back.