I think at some point everyone has dreamed of what it would be like to design, make, and run your own supercar company. After all, Lamborghini and Ferrari did it way back in the day with very limited resources and have since grown into the biggest supercar companies in the world.
For you and I, building a supercar company isn’t exactly feasible considering the money it takes to get started, but for rich millionaires and billionaires around the world, it can be done with the right planning. Unfortunately, building a supercar brand isn’t nearly as easy as you’d think, so I think it’s time we take a look at some of the coolest supercars that shouldn’t have failed.
#1 Dome Zero
What better place to start this out than the Dome Zero, which is the most ridiculous-looking little car I’ve ever seen. For those of you who have extensively played racing games such as Gran Turismo, you might recognize this car and even know a little bit about it.
Dome really started back in 1965 by a gent named Minoru Hayashi who loved racing. Initially, they were just improving upon existing racing machines such as the Honda S600 and S800 and gaining experience on what worked and what didn’t work in racing.
Fast forward to 1975 and Dome was officially formed, and the idea behind it was to take what they had learned from racing and apply it to small batch production cars, and just a short three years after the company was officially formed they had done it.
Well, sort of. In 1978 they created the Dome Zero concept, which was powered by a Nissan L28 engine and made its official public debut at the 1978 Geneva Motor Show, which was quickly followed up by the Dome Zero P2 production car that was debuted in Chicago and LA in 1979.
There was only one problem: the car wasn’t approved by the Japanese government, meaning it failed some sort of safety or emissions testing or one of the many tests that go into getting a car road-ready. Because of that, we never saw the Dome Zero P2 hit production.
Dome the company is still around today, but it’s not exactly clear if they’re doing much of anything anymore.
#2 Cizeta V16T
This next car is another one you might recognize from some racing games and that’s the Cizeta V16T. Unlike the Dome Zero, however, this car actually made it to market with a whopping 10 or so produced. What’s really interesting about this car is that it was developed by a group of Lamborghini employees, and the design itself is partially from the Diablo, as the same designer was employed for the V16T’s design.
The Cizeta company was formed by ex-Lamborghini employee Claudio Zampolli and music composer Giorgio Moroder. This was after Zampolli had left Lamborghini and was running exotic dealerships on America’s west coast, where the music producer Giorgio Moroder ended up becoming a regular customer and that then sprouted into their shared interests and the formation of the Cizeta company.
What makes the V16T so unique as compared to other Italian supercars of the time is the engine. Where most Lamborghini’s and Ferrari’s of the time were using V8s, V10s, and V12s, the Cizeta said f*ck that and took up a notch with a V16 engine.
Normally with engines this large it’s common to see a multi-piece engine block, but in this case, it’s one massive aluminum block. The heads, on the other hand, are a different story, as they’re split in half with gearing to connect them together, so there’s a total of four-cylinder heads. The engine is actually heavily based on the Lamborghini Urraco’s engine, but basically just doubled in length.
When it finally came to market, the Cizeta V16T output 540hp, was capable of over 200mph, and ran 0-60 in four seconds, with a big price tag to match at $650,000. The last car was built in 2003, as the cars are built to order and not manufactured without an order in place. While it’s been almost two decades since the last one was assembled, the car is still theoretically in production and available to order as per the company owner in a 2018 interview.
#3 Vector W8
That takes us to yet another Lamborghini rip-off, well, sort of. This is the Vector W8, and if you ask me, it’s one of the best-looking supercars ever, for the simple fact that it’s sharp, wild, crazy, and flat out doesn’t even look like something that would ever be allowed on the road.
What’s particularly interesting about this car is that it doesn’t have fancy Italian roots like most exotic cars, instead, this one is American. And while you might not think it’s an American car based on its looks, once you look under the hood it becomes very apparent that it’s an American car, as it’s powered 6.0L GM V8 which was modified by Rodeck and equipped with two Garrett turbochargers.
Total power output was rated 625hp and 650lb-ft of torque at just 8psi of boost pressure, however, boost pressure was driver-adjustable from 8 to 14lbs of boost, with power output peaking out at 1200hp when boost was cranked up. Unfortunately, that awesome engine package was backed up by a rather underwhelming three-speed GM transmission that was previously found in the front-wheel-drive Oldsmobile Toronado.
While the design was incredible, the engine was extremely powerful and capable, very few of these cars were ever produced, with around 19 units ever being built. It’s cool to see an American supercar have its moment in the light, but ultimately this car wasn’t actually that good at being a car as per the reviews from back in the day.
#4 Consulier GTP
That takes us up to the next car which I’ve always personally been very fond of, and that’s the Consulier GTP This company was started by a bond trader named Warren Mosler, and as you may have guessed from his last name, this is the same guy behind the Mosler MT900, but before Mosler was Mosler, it was Consulier Industries.
What makes the Consulier GTP such an interesting vehicle is that it was literally the first-ever “production” car with no structural metal, instead, it featured a full fiberglass monocoque chassis, which made it insanely lightweight, around 2,200 lbs. For reference, that’s similar to something like a Honda CRX, although I’d have to argue the CRX is the better looking of the two.
Regardless of the GTP’s very strange appearance, it was built to perform with a Chrysler Turbo 2.2L under the hood that was sourced from the Dodge Daytona. In fact, the performance of this car was so ridiculous that it was banned by the sanctioning body IMSA in 1991 for basically winning too many races.
Mosler knew this and even set out a $100,000 prize to anyone who could race a street-legal production car around any racetrack in America and beat the Consulier, and not too surprised no one was able to get the cash. With a zero to sixty in around five seconds, and a 13.9 second 1/4 mile, this car was well ahead of its time considering it came out in 1987.
#5 Lotec C1000
That takes up to the Lotec C1000, which wasn’t a “production” supercar of any sort considering it was a one-off build, however, it probably could’ve been pretty successful if it was produced at scale for the simple fact that it nearly had a 1 to 1 kilogram to horsepower ratio, something that Koenigsegg pursued with their One:1 car, except the C1000 nearly did it all the way back in 1995.
This whole car started as just an idea from one extremely wealthy business from the United Arab Emirates contacted Lotec and he commissioned them to basically build him the fastest car in the world. Talk about a flex. About 3.4 million dollars later, one man officially had the most ridiculous car ever.
The car was designed and built with a full carbon fiber body and chassis to keep the weight insanely low at just 2,381lbs, which is even more insane considering the massive 5.6-liter V8 from Mercedes in the back of it. Of course, a N/A 5.6L V8 isn’t enough for a car this insane, so they strapped two Garrett turbochargers to it to produce an insane 1,000 horsepower.
With that kind of insane power-to-weight ratio, this car was supposedly able to run 0-60 in around 3.2 seconds, with a claimed top speed of 268mph, which is insane by today’s standards, let alone 1995 standards. Hell, the McLaren F1 didn’t run 240mph until 1998, which was three years after the Lotec C1000 was built.
Because it was a one-off car, there is quite literally only one in the world, but regardless, it would’ve been
awesome to see a car this insanely light and powerful go into production, especially during the 90s when really nothing else had that kind of power to weight ratio.
#6 Lister Storm
That takes up to what is probably the ugliest car on the whole list, the Lister Storm. While technically this car never died because you can supposedly still order one and they’ll build it, it’s so ugly that no one has ordered one since 2007 when the last two orders were put together as per Lister’s claims.
Lister initially started as many of these supercar companies do, which is by modifying existing cars to make them faster. For Lister, in particular, they built their company on modifying high-performance Jaguars by building crazy 7.0L 600hp engines, which that engine then later became the basis for the Storm supercar.
It’s pretty crazy that they had the funds to develop a full-road car considering they were making their money from modifying Jaguars, which isn’t a particularly big market. But regardless, they did. Their Storm supercar featured an aluminum spaceframe chassis around the aforementioned massive and very powerful V12 engine with a 6-speed Getrag gearbox behind it.
The styling of the Storm supercar is, well, pretty bad. Quite frankly it’s a hideous car. Nevertheless, it featured some excellent engineering with aluminum and carbon fiber panels, a strangely low hood for a front-engine car, and a supposed top speed of over 200mph.
Initially, they only built four road cars at nearly $270,000 or £220,000. After the road cars were assembled and sold, Lister then built six cars to compete in Le Mans racing and GT racing. Unsurprisingly, the early years of their racing weren’t very successful, as the McLaren F1, Porsche 911 GT1, and Mercedes CLK GTR were nearly unbeatable at that time. But, once the rules changed in 1999 banning purpose-built race cars, Lister did see some success and won the FIA GT championship in 2000. To be fair though, the rest of the field was mostly Dodge Vipers.
The road cars were pretty far off from the race cars though. They were known for being pretty heavy, mostly from a super luxurious interior akin to something like an Aston Martin. Because of their low volume production, only three remaining Lister Storm road cars are known to survive.
#7 Caparo T1
For those who have dreamed of basically having an F1 car on the road, well, your chance came and went in the form of the Caparo T1. The company behind this car, Caparo Vehicle Technologies, was founded by a group of engineers who previously worked on the McLaren F1 road car.
Their idea was to take what they knew as engineers and fans of Formula One racing and combine it all to make what would effectively be the closest thing to a road-legal Formula One car the world had ever seen. And you’d think that something this close to a legitimate race car would sell like crazy, but unfortunately, it just didn’t happen.
The plan for Caparo was to produce around 25 cars per year and sell them, rather than building them order as many other small supercar manufacturers were doing. Unfortunately, they only ended up selling a grand total of around 15 or 16 of these little cars, and by 2015 the company had basically fallen into shambles, with the company owner showing up dead in a reported suicide.
Regardless of the unfortunate ending of Caparo Vehicle Technologies and their company owner, the T1 was an absolutely insane performer. It packed a surprising punch for such a small vehicle, with a 575-hp, 3.5-liter V8 that revved over 10,000 RPM, with a carbon-fiber, two-seat chassis that weighed barely more than 1000 lbs. It also featured pretty insane F1-style aerodynamics that generated as much as 1500 lbs of downforce at 150 mph, which is partially what allowed it to pull upwards of 3G of grip.
All that performance lead to its Top Gear showing, where it absolutely destroyed everything else they had ever tested on that track by a wide margin, although during the process it had quite a few little issues, including the floor falling off.
#8 Yamaha OX99-11
You know that one company that is well known for selling things like Pianos and sound equipment, while also selling motorcycles and helping automotive manufacturers develop their engines? Yup, that company, Yamaha. Well turns out, they experimented with developing their own supercar in the 1990s, which was the OX99-11, a pretty terrible name for a supercar.
This is another car on the list that was heavily inspired by Formula One racing and was really an experiment from everything Yamaha had learned in Formula One racing, which back then, they were the engine supplier for the Zakspeed team, but they wanted to do more than just racing, so Yamaha set out to develop a car with any price tag they wanted.
By 1991, Yamaha had produced a singular OX99 engine and after going through two different designer slash builders, Yamaha eventually took over the project and brought it in-house to their own Ypsilon Technology company. Because they wanted the car to be a two-seater, but with a narrow cockpit, they ended up with this incredibly funky tandem-seat layout.
In total, a whopping three units were built. It features a crazy and rather ugly design with aluminum panels atop a carbon-fiber tub. The 3.5L V12 F1 engine in the back was detuned for road use, but it still outputs a very respectable 400hp and it weighs 2500lbs, which a claimed top speed of 217mph which I really have a hard time believing would be possible with such a low power output.
Unfortunately, the whole project was eventually canceled and scrapped, as it become too expensive with no apparent upside or clear path to actually selling these vehicles.
#9 Venturi 300 Atlantique
Moving to a different vehicle that actually made it to production, let’s take a look at the Venturi 300 Atlantique, which is a gem of a French supercar and had it actually succeeded in the longterm, could’ve turned Venturi into something bigger, but considering it’s on this list, we know that it didn’t even make it that far.
Venturi was founded in 1984 by a pair of French engineers who wanted to build cars to compete with companies such as Aston Martin, Ferrari, Porsche, and so on, but they wanted to distinguish their cars from the other supercars on the market with their french touch. By 1987 they had the Venturi sports car, which at the time, was a pretty impressive car, although nothing close to some of the other supercars we’ve gone over in this article.
This car, as the name implies, is an evolution of the original Venturi. Interestingly enough, this little mid-engined French car features a turbocharged PRV V6 engine, which is an engine platform that was jointly developed by Peugeot, Renault, and Volvo. With that, it outputs a whopping 281hp.
Now you might be thinking that 281hp isn’t a lot, and you’d be right to say that because it’s not a lot, but this isn’t the top-speed type of supercar, rather it’s something more like the Lotus Esprit.
A grand total of 57 units of Venturi 300 Atlantique turbo were produced, and although it’s pretty rare, it’s actually relatively cheap for a rare supercar with them popping up around $90k to $100k.
To be fair though, total Venturi sales reached nearly 700 units, and the company is still around today, but now they’re much more involved in electric powertrain, battery technology, and so on.
#10 Marussia B1
And for any Russian viewers out there, you might be familiar with this car, which is the Marussia B1. Marussia was founded in 2007 and their B1 supercar was launched in December of 2008, and what makes this vehicle special is the fact that it’s the first Russian supercar ever. The B1, in particular, was their first car and the first of the B-series cars which only consists of the B1 and B2.
Strangely enough, the B1 and B2 are mechanically nearly identical, sharing the same engine, transmission, chassis, suspension parts, and so on, but from the outside, you’d honestly have no idea. The B1 looks like some sort of terrible Lamborghini rip-off, while the B2 looks like a uniquely designed car.
Under the hood of the B1 is an engine from Cosworth, which is either a 3.5L or 2.8L V6, depending on the options you pick, with power ranging from 360hp up to 420hp. And they were able to develop all of this off of their experience in F1 racing, with an aluminum and carbon fiber shell.
The idea behind the car was to focus on weight and handling over raw power. And while that’s great in practice, the car ended up at 2400lbs, which is light for today’s standards, but definitely on the heavier side as compared to other cars we’ve looked at so far.
Unfortunately, the company was eventually broken up and there have been zero talks of them making a comeback in the world of road cars or F1 racing.
#11 Isdera Imperator 108i
I saved this car for last, as in my opinion it’s the funkiest looking car on this list and that’s the Isdera Imperator 108i, which is a German supercar based on the designs of a Mercedes-Benz concept. More specifically, it’s basically a copy of the Mercedes-Benz CW311. Isdera the company was founded by Eberhard Schulz, who was working for Porsche at the time as a design engineer.
After Mercedes had unveiled the CW311 but never produced it, our boy Eberhard started his own engineering company, which was Isdera, and his plan to produce the CW311 since Mercedes didn’t plan to.
As compared to the CW311 from Mercedes, the Imperator 108i changed very few things, but most noticeably switched out the flip-up headlights for fixed headlights and swapped the taillights for a different set from Mercedes.
Under the hood was Mercedes’ 5.0L M117 V8 engine, but it later featured the 5.6L and then 6.0L AMG engines. By 1991, the car went through an update that actually brought back the flip-up headlights, and don’t get me wrong, flip-up headlights are very cool, but this is the only example I’ve ever heard of where a manufacturer started with fixed headlights and then updated to flip-up headlights. Weird.
Regardless though, production ended in 1993 with a grand total of 30 cars produced. Isdera went on to produce other vehicles and as of 2018 they’re mainly targeting the Chinese sports car market with their newest cars, which might I add, are very good-looking cars and I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing them here in the states.