It’s not only the Brits that build supercars which slip under the radar. Over the years, there’s been an array of explosive machines which may not have been able to challenge the establishment in terms of exposure, but were interesting and exciting in their own right. Here we recall a selection of exotica that you may have forgotten about – or simply weren’t aware of in the first place. They may not have the profile of a Ferrari or Lamborghini, but all are worthy of your attention.
Hailing from the unheralded supercar ‘hotspot’ of Slovenia, the Renovatio arrived in 2012 with a carbon-fibre body, 444bhp 4.2-litre Audi RS4 engine, 1,090kg kerbweight and an ambitious price tag of 300,000 Euros (around £260,000). This was good enough for a claimed 0-62mph time of 3.7 seconds and a 193mph top speed. Although only a handful were sold, Tushek wasn’t one of those ‘here today, gone tomorrow makers’. It’s since been renamed as Tushek & Spigel Supercars, relocated to Austria and unveiled the 950bhp, 236mph TS 900 hypercar.
Sounding like an unappealing gig venue in the sort of mythical place Harry Potter might frequent, the Gumpert Apollo was actually a gullwing race car for the road from east Germany that made a dramatic entrance in 2007. It was also fitted with Audi’s 4.2-litre twin-turbo V8 – courtesy of company founder Roland Gumpert, who had enjoyed great success with Audi Sport – available with either 641bhp, 690bhp or 789bhp. Even in its ‘base’ form, it was capable of 224mph and 0-60mph in three seconds, which is impressive stuff – but it couldn’t stop Gumpert going bankrupt in 2014.
Never heard of Sin Cars? Perhaps you should have, because the company started out here in Britain – and actually has a UK URL for its website – before moving to German and then finally Bulgaria. Sin’s R1 launched in 2015 as a 1,250kg two-seater built on a steel tubular spaceframe chassis with a choice of Chevrolet Corvette V8 engines in different states of tune up to 650bhp, with a 755bhp hybrid model also offered. Think of it as a rather leftfield alternative to the Ferrari 488 GTB and you won’t be too far wide of the mark.
Given the appetite for excess in the Middle East, it’s no surprise that the region has spawned its own supercar maker in the shape of W Motors, which launched in Lebanon in 2012 before setting up in Dubai. It produced the outrageous Lykan HyperSport, which featured a 780bhp flat-six engine developed by Porsche tuner RUF that was good for 0-62mph in 2.6 seconds and 245mph. You may well recognize it from 2015 movie Furious 7, but it’s unlikely you’ll have seen one on the road – only seven were made and each cost £2.6 million.
The heart of any supercar is its engine, which makes the Cizeta V16T particularly worthy of note. The extravagant V16T was created by engineer Claudio Zampolli and a group of former Lamborghini employees in a joint venture with music producer Giorgio Moroder – of ‘Together in Electric Dreams’ fame – and designed by Marcello Gandini, who was responsible for Lamborghinis such as the Miura, Countach and Diabo. But it was the transversely mounted 6.0-litre V16 engine, which delivered 540bhp, that demanded attention, propelling the V16T to beyond 200mph. Less than 15 were made between 1991 and 1995, but bizarrely there were reports in January of plans to relaunch the car with an updated engine and carbon fibre tub.
When it comes to cars, Russia is more closely associated with rough and ready Ladas rather than high-performance machines. But that all changed with the Marussia B1 in 2008. A mid-engined two-seater that was intended to rival the Ferrari 458 and Lamborghini Gallardo, it came with three Cosworth engine options – a 300bhp 3.5-litre V6 and a twin-turbo 2.8 V6 tuned to either 360bhp or 420bhp – and kept its weight down to a minimal 1,100kg thanks to the use of carbon fibre panels. Despite welcome exposure thanks to Marussia’s foray into F1, the B1’s time in the limelight was shortlived and by 2014 the company had folded.
You might wonder why there is a Mercedes badge adorning the front of this spectacular machine, when it is clearly not a Merc as we know it. Well, the Isdera Imperator was based on the German giant’s CW311 concept of 1978 and although Mercedes decided not to put the car into production, its designer had other ideas – and so a new supercar was born. It came with a choice of V8 engines that offered up to 390bhp and was capable of 176mph, but was always a niche choice, with only around 30 sold through the 1980s and early 1990s.