One of the great joys in the car industry is when a manufacturer goes completely off script and does something we didn’t see coming. Sure, we love seeing automakers doing what they do best – when they stay on brand. When a company is consistent, they get better. However, when they do go off script the world becomes an even better place for car nerds. These cars caught the auto industry off guard.
Toyota bringing back the Supra isn’t the most surprising thing. What’s surprising is it’s being built by Magna Steyr, the Austrian company that builds the Mercedes G-Wagen and BMW Z4. Did you ever think one of Japan’s most legendary sports car would be built in Europe?
The Phaeton is a big luxury car that shares a chassis with the contemporary Bentley Continental Flying Spur. Considering Volkswagen wasn’t known for selling big luxury cars, seeing this one appear back in 2002 was a bit of a surprise. Of course, it didn’t sell well in the U.S., since people didn’t want to pay Mercedes prices for something with a VW badge, and was removed from the lineup shortly after.
Aston Martin Cygnet
Who would’ve thought Aston Martin, builder of ultra-luxurious sporting GT cars, would end up selling a rebadged Scion IQ? Even more unexpected is the one-off V-8-powered version the company built for the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2018.
Ferrari, maker of some truly fantastic exotic mid-engine sports cars, isn’t really known for practical cars. The FF is a different story. It can comfortably seat four, and thanks to its all-wheel drive system, can cut through any sort of inclement weather.
Even years after it debuted, the Lexus LFA feels like a happy accident. Why would rational, pragmatic Toyota spend ridiculous amounts of money and time developing a carbon fiber V-10 supercar? How did the same people that make the most geriatric cars known to man create something so scintillatingly brilliant?
Why did Lamborghini of all companies beat Hummer to building a military truck for average civilians? It’s not entirely clear, but Lamborghini decided selling this truck to the public was a good idea for some reason. It’s been dubbed the Rambo Lambo.
1965 Ford GT40
Henry Ford II set out to beat Enzo Ferrari at his own game. At the time very few ever believed he’d actually be able to pull it off, since all endurance races had been dominated by European brands. Well, he succeeded! The 1965 GT40 accomplished its intended mission, and to this day it’s still one of the greatest legends in automotive history. There’s even a movie about the rivalry – Ford v Ferrari: the Ultimate Showdown.
In the late 1980s, Honda experimented with economical front-wheel-drive hatches and sedans while also building Formula 1 engines for teams that included Williams, Lotus, and McLaren. Nobody actually expected Honda to venture into Ferrari territory with a road car, but the aim was to exceed the capabilities of Ferrari’s V8 powered models at the time. Whether it really did is debatable, but a legend was built from the ground up. The end result was a more affordable and extremely capable supercar with Ayrton Senna’s name attached at the final development phase.
It’s not often you see crazy designs come to life like this. It’s even rarer to see those cars get put into real, actual production. That’s exactly what happened with the Prowler.
The Saleen S7 is a hand-built, high-performance sports car built by a small Californian high-performance parts manufacturer. The origins of how this car came to be are still a mystery today. Regardless, it was the first fully proprietary car produced by Saleen and became America’s third mid-engine production sports car coming after the Vector W8 and M12.