Home Cars 14 Sports and Supercars Which Never Made It to the US Shores

14 Sports and Supercars Which Never Made It to the US Shores

Vukasin Herbez June 25, 2018

Although China holds a close second place, the U.S. is still the biggest car market in the world. This means all manufacturers want a piece of the action and a slice of the lucrative American pie, no matter how big or small they are. But coming to America and selling cars is not an easy task. There are numerous legal obstacles, safety and crash tests, emissions regulations and homologation processes that can be expensive and long-lasting. This is especially true for those small, boutique manufacturers with limited resources.

That is why there are loads of interesting, rare and fast cars not available to the American buyer. Some companies find it hard to produce at least three cars that will be destroyed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Agency (NHTSA) during the crash test and homologation processes. Others have realized their cars are so obscure, they wouldn`t stand a chance against those more popular American brands. Whatever the reason is, American car enthusiasts are missing out on some cool machinery.

Here is a list of 15 sports cars and supercars that are or were not available on the U.S. market. Some of the cars on the list are over 25 years old. This means you can legally import and register them without the painful homologation process. However, most of the cars are new or current models, so you can either wait 25 years to buy one, or move to Europe or Japan. Keep reading to learn more about these amazing sports and supercars that never made it to U.S. shores.

1. Noble M600

The expansion of supercars in the 2000’s brought many interesting, powerful machines. Most models the car industry has produced in recent years are famous. Car historians and fanatics have documented them and are quite aware of them. However, there are a few models that flew under the radar despite being capable and fast. One of those cars is the Noble M600.

Noble became famous for producing extreme cars using components from other manufacturers. Being a British company, people always saw them as a kit car factory. Although this is not true, it did affect their reputation in the supercar market. But, the M600 model shattered all false prejudices and showed what Noble was capable of producing.

Using a 4.4-liter V8 from Volvo and bolting two turbochargers on it, Noble managed to squeeze 550 or 650 HP in a lightweight, sleek body. The idea behind the M600 was to produce a pure supercar without any unnecessary electronic aids to deliver the purest driving experience possible. This made the M600 a little scary to drive but also an immensely fun, unforgettable experience. Using all 650 HP, the M600 accelerates to 60 mph in just 3.0 seconds and goes over 220 mph.

Regardless of its great looks and performance, mainstream supercars buyers avoided the M600, even though Top Gear featured it in their show, praising its qualities. The M600 is still in production, so if you want to be a proud owner of one of the purest and fastest supercars today, be ready to pay over $200,000 but be aware that the car is not available in United States.

2. Alfa Romeo TZ3 Stradale

You may think it is strange to feature an Alfa Romeo on this list since Alfa is a well-known factory that doesn’t produce supercars. However, there is one Alfa Romeo model that is obscure and rare, so it is fitting for this article. That is the Alfa Romeo TZ 3 Stradale they produced in 2011 in just nine cars.

The TZ name has been present in Alfa’s history since the 1960’s when it produced several sports and racing cars named the TZ 1 and TZ 2. The T stands for Turbulare and the Z stands for Zagato, the famous designer house. To connect with its glorious racing past, Alfa Romeo presented a limited production model in 2011, called the TZ 3 with a Zagato body. The automobile public was surprised when Alfa introduced their new model because they didn’t have the chassis or the engine for such a model.

When Alfa revealed the specifications, the secret came to light. The Alfa Romeo TZ 3 was a previous generation Dodge Viper ACR-X in a track version. Alfa placed the Viper into a Zagato body, leaving the important mechanical components and massive 8.2-litre engine intact. Even the interior was the same, except they switched the badges from Dodge to Alfa Romeo. The TZ 3 had a supercar beating performance with 600 HP, a 3.4 second 0 to 60 mph time and a 200 mph top speed.

Despite the fancy new Italian suit, great V10 engine, perfect driving dynamics and legendary name, Alfa managed to sell only nine of them. Ironically, none of them were allowed in the U.S., even though the mechanics came straight from a U.S.-made car.

3. Lister Storm

The Lister Company made their name as a racing outfit and for preparing racing cars for many mainstream manufacturers like Jaguar, Maserati and Chevrolet. But in the mid-90’s, Lister decided to make their own supercar using a highly tuned Jaguar V12 engine. The idea behind the supercar was to introduce a brutally fast four-seater Gran Turismo coupe capable of breaking speed records and transporting its passengers in comfort.

They named their new model the Storm and it came with a V12 engine with 550 HP. The engine displaced 7.0-liters and came from a Le Mans racer. Lister made their own body that featured a wider track to accommodate wider tires. It also had lots of scoops and spoilers for better cooling and aerodynamics. At the same time, Lister offered the Storm as a passenger car at almost $450,000 and as a racing version for private teams.

However, despite having brutal power, acceleration times of 4.0 seconds to 60 mph and over 210 mph, only four customers ordered it. The reasons were simple. The car was aggressive-looking, or ugly as some people said. And despite being a four-seater, it didn’t have a lot of space. As expected, they never homologated the Storm for the U.S. market since Lister realized there wasn’t any potential for significant sales results.

4. Ascari KZ1

Back in the early 2000’s, Ascari was on the verge of becoming the next big thing in the supercar segment. Unfortunately, that didn’t materialize, so all that is left of this interesting venture is the KZ 1 model. They presented the KZ 1 in 2004. It featured cool styling and durable construction with a carbon fiber tub. It also had a S62 V8 engine from the E39 BMW M5 that was good for over 400 HP.

Since the KZ 1 was light and balanced, the performance was great. Acceleration from 0 to 60 was possible in just 4.0 seconds, while the top speed was 200 mph. The specifications and features in popular magazines added to the hype. But then Ascari announced the pricing, and the KZ 1 hit the wall.

Ascari priced this car at a hefty $400,000, which was more than a comparable Ferrari or Porsche, sealing its destiny. They stopped production a few years later after building only 10 KZ1s. As expected, the company was unable to sell cars in America, and they soon went out of business.

5. Porsche 959

The Porsche 959 is one of the fastest, most advanced and technologically complex supercars of the 1980’s. The 959 was a super Porsche in every way, not only by design but also by performance and price. Since Porsche has always been popular in America, it is easy to think every model is sure to be homologated for the U.S. market. However, the 959 was an exception to that rule.

The car was so advanced and expensive for Porsche to build, so the factory decided to not market it in the U.S. Also, the process of obtaining a permit from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was too complicated, even for Porsche. The 1980’s were funny times for Porsche. Despite the popularity of their models, Porsche was in a dilemma as to what path to choose. They had to decide whether to go with the rear engine classic 911 or with the more modern and better balanced 928, 924 or 944?

The odds were against the 911, but it kept selling and winning races, so Porsche decided to introduce one model. It would be a rolling compilation of every technology compatible with the 911. They would build it using their perfect blend of experience from racing and the latest technology, along with turbocharging. They put everything they had into one car, naming it the 959.

Porsche introduced the 959 in 1987. It had a 3.0-liter turbocharged flat-six engine with 450 HP that transferred to all four wheels over an intelligent AWD system. It was the first of its kind. They also equipped the car with traction control, ABS and a host of electronic systems to help drivers.

Although all this is standard in most new cars today, in the 80’s, it was space age technology. The performance of this technological tour de force was astonishing. A 0 to 60 mph sprint was possible in just 3.7 seconds.

6. McLaren F1

It is hard to comprehend, but the legendary McLaren F1 was never officially imported to America. Sure, there are a few examples in the U.S., but they are basically sculptures with no license plates. Now, 25 years after the F1 rocked the world of supercars, you can finally own one of these bespoke sports cars in America and register it, too. This is the last analog supercar and a road trip across America would be an interesting way to introduce this car to the states.

There is so much information about the F1, including the way they designed and produced it. Most car fans and historians believe it changed the supercars’ world forever. McLaren presented the F1 in 1992 and it stayed in production until 1998. During that period, McLaren produced 106 cars, including the GT-R versions, which were highly successful racing models. The F1 featured a bespoke 6.1-liter V12 engine by BMW Motorsport, delivering 627 HP with its six-speed manual transmission.

Road versions of the F1 had an interesting, three-seat configuration. The driver’s seat is in the middle of the cabin and the steering wheel is in the center of the dash. The initial testing, racing success and overall excellence of the package declared the F1 one of the best, if not the best supercar of all times. The price of the F1 was around one million dollars when new, but perfect examples trade hands for 10 to 15 times as much right now.

7. Audi RS6

When you see the RS badge on an Audi, you know that a special car is in front of you. Since the legendary RS2 from the early 90’s, Audi has been producing crazy fast wagons in the A4 and A6 range. They equip them with the most powerful engines the company has, along with the renewed Quattro all-wheel drive for enhanced traction and performance.

Unfortunately, the RS wagon range is not available in the U.S., but it still deserves a place on this list for the sheer beauty, power and craziness of the package. You may wonder why there is a four-door station wagon on a list that consists of only sports and supercars. However, with 605 HP and 3.9 seconds to 60 mph, the current Audi RS6 is faster than many supercars.

It also more practical, as well. That is why it is a shame they didn’t homologate this wagon for the American market. Most car enthusiasts feel that a company like Audi could easily do so if they wanted to.

8. BMW Z1

Before roadsters like the Z3, Z4 and cool, limited production Z8, BMW introduced a strange-looking but interesting Z1. The car was advanced for the times and in 1989 there was nothing similar on the market. The Z1 was a sleek roadster with uncharacteristic styling, plastic body panels and unusual sliding doors, which disappeared in its rocker panels when open. Technically, you could drive the BMW Z1 with the doors down.

BMW built the Z1 on special chassis featuring a new rear suspension setup. The power came from a well-known 2.5-liter six-cylinder engine with 168 HP which produced decent performance. The other interesting feature were the plastic body panels bolted onto the chassis. Z1 owners could buy different color panels and attach them to the car at will. Owners could change the paint of the car just by adding different colored doors and fenders, as well as a trunk or hood.

In production until 1991, BMW made 8000 of Z1 roadsters. The factory never tried to homologate the Z1 for U.S., market possibly because of its unusual doors. They realized the NHTSA will never approve this feature for safety reasons.

9. Mitsuoka Orochi

One of the world`s most obscure supercars comes from Japan in the form of the Mitsuoka Orochi. It is a groovy-looking two-seater with Lambo doors and a controversial design. The Mitsuoka company was famous for building restomod cars based on regular models. But in 2006, they decided to enter the supercar market with the highly exclusive Orochi. Mitsuoka named it after a mythical Japanese dragon with eight heads, which influenced the design of the car.

They based the Orochi on the Honda NSX platform, but powered it with a Toyota 3.3-liter V6 engine with 240 HP. The horsepower may not sound like much, but in a car so light and nimble, the performance is satisfying. They never intended to sell the Orochi outside of Japan or in some selected Asian markets, especially not in America. This is because they only produced the car in a right-hand configuration and Mitsuoka is not interested in foreign buyers.

10. Bristol Fighter

Bristol Cars is one of the craziest companies in the world. And not just for their models, which are quite strange, but for their business policy. The company barely made any money for decades and operated only one showroom. They only sold one or two cars per year and refused to modernize their lineup for decades. However, they somehow managed to survive.

In 2004, Bristol decided to introduce a new model with uncompromised performance and a fresh design. That is how the Bristol Fighter was born. They custom-made the chassis with a special body featuring gullwing doors and a long hood. The design of the Fighter has no resemblance to other Bristol cars, but it carries the tradition of using Chrysler engines. This sports car has an 8.0-liter V10 from the Dodge Viper rated at 525 HP.

With a 0 to 60 mph acceleration time of around four seconds and a top speed of over 200 mph, it was one of the fastest cars when they introduced it. However, Bristol’s business policy and their refusal to make and sell many cars caused the company to close in 2011. Allegedly, they made only 13 Fighters, none of which they ever imported to the U.S.

11. TVR Sagaris

The TVR Sagaris is one of the cars most people are truly fond of, so it is a terrible shame it never came to America. TVR introduced it in the early 2000’s. It was an exciting, innovative design from a company known for brutally fast and sleek sports cars. Propelled by TVR’s own 4.0-liter high revving six-cylinder engine with 406 HP, the Sagaris was lightning quick. It had acceleration times of 3.7 seconds to go from 0 to 60 mph and 185 mph top speeds.

But the coolest thing about this crazy sports car was its design. They named it after a battle axe from Greek mythology, and the Sagaris was simply hard to describe. There are few cars that have such an aggressive design yet still manage to look elegant and fast, even when standing still. TVR’s management was under scrutiny for not equipping the car with standard safety features like ABS, stability control or even airbags. This caused problems with car buyers on several European markets.

The head of the company explained that such devices promote overconfidence with drivers and TVR wanted to provide the purest driving experience possible. Needless to say, this policy didn’t attract many customers, even though the car was fantastic. Also, a lack of safety features kept the Sagaris from entering the U.S. market.

12. Isdera Imperator 108i

Isdera is a small, ultra-exclusive manufacturer of supercars in Germany. Eberhard Schultz, an ex-Mercedes engineer, founded the company in 1969. Over the years, Isdera produced only a few models, all of which used many Mercedes parts, engines and components. Over time, the company became famous for its exclusive production approach.

They introduced the Imperator in 1984. It remained in production until 1993 during which time they produced 30 of them. The car included spaceframe construction with a plastic body and Gullwing doors, which was everyone’s favorite supercar detail. Behind the driver was a Mercedes V8 engine with 5.0 liters of displacement. Over the years, Isdera installed bigger engines with 5.6 and 6.0 liters of displacement that Mercedes produced.

The performance was respectable with 5.0 seconds up to 60 mph and top speeds of over 170 mph. The design had the characteristic wedge shape and another interesting feature – a periscope rearview mirror which was and still is a rare solution in car design. Despite the interesting look, exclusivity, and performance, Isdera didn’t homologate the Imperator for the U.S. market. They sold the car only in Europe and the Middle East.

13. Lotec Sirius

The Lotec Sirius is one of the most obscure European supercars produced by the Lotec Company in early 2000’s. The prototype caused much attention when they first presented it in 2001. But ever since, the news about this crazy supercar has been scarce. Some people say Lotec made only two examples, while others say the Sirius never progressed beyond the prototype stage.

However, the Sirius is still one of the most powerful, interesting machines out there. The heart is a twin-turbo Mercedes-derived V12 engine which produces around 1,300 HP. With a five-speed manual transmission and just 2,800 pounds of curb weight, the Sirius is unbelievably fast. A 0 to 60 mph sprint takes less than 3.7 seconds and the top speed is an amazing 285 mph.

14. Axiam Mega Track

One of the most interesting, rarest supercars that never made it to U.S. shores was the French Mega Track. The Axiam company built it in the mid-90’s and the Mega Track was the first and only off-road supercar ever. So, how is it possible to produce a supercar capable of going off-road? Axiam managed to produce a vehicle with an adjustable suspension that owners could transform from a regular sports car into an SUV in a matter of seconds.

The complicated system allowed 8 to 13 inches of ride height, but in just one moment, the Mega Track could become a true off-road beast. Behind the driver was a massive 6.0-liter V12 engine from Mercedes-Benz. It produced 400 HP and powered all four wheels. The concept had its drawbacks, though. The Mega Track was a heavy, big car. It weighed over two tons and had a length of over five meters, which is more than the Mercedes S-Class.

The Axiam company, known for producing small micro cars and various automotive industry components, didn’t have the time or interest to further promote the Mega Track. They ceased production after building only five or six Mega Tracks, depending on the source.

These are the top 14 sports and supercars that never made it to U.S. shores. Perhaps someday, they will make it, but for now, you will have to move to overseas to drive one of these road beasts.

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