The mid-’70s were dark times for performance models all around the world. Muscle cars were almost gone, sports cars’ power output was reduced to ridiculously low levels, and performance sedans were virtually extinct. However, in 1974, Mercedes introduced the 450 SEL 6.9.
Continuing on the idea established by 300 SEL 6.3 several years prior, the 6.9 was a bigger, more massive, more advanced model with impressive performance hidden in the formal body. With 268 HP and 405 lb-ft of torque, it was one of the most powerful automobiles you could buy in the mid-’70s.
Lotec Sirius is one of the most obscure European supercars, and Lotec Company produced it in the early 2000s. The prototype caused much attention when it was first shown in 2001, but ever since the news about this crazy supercar was pretty scarce. Some say that only two examples were made, and some say that Sirius never progressed beyond the prototype stage.
However, Sirius is still one of the most powerful and exciting machines out there. The heart is a twin-turbo Mercedes derived V12 engine, which develops around 1300 HP. With a five-speed manual transmission and just 2800 pounds of curb weight, the Sirius is unbelievably fast. The 0 to 60 mph sprint takes less than 3.7 seconds, and the top speed is impressive 285 mph.
In the early 2000s, Steve Saleen decided to branch out and enter the supercar market with the S7 model, a superbly fast, good looking, and powerful exotic model which featured the latest technology and proven V8 power. Saleen invested a lot of time and money into constructing the S7 and even used companies that produced parts for Formula One cars to help him in the development of this car.
The result was a 550 HP Saleen S7 introduced in 2000 and immediately drawing attention from the supercar crowd. The S7’s superb performance, looks, and technology were up to par with the best European supercars at the time. In 2005, the even more powerful Twin Turbo version was released with 750 HP and a top speed of almost 250 mph. The car proved to be relatively successful, even on the race tracks, and Saleen produced a racing version too.
The Ultimate Aero was designed to be the fastest and the most powerful supercar on the market, with engineering representing the perfect blend between racing technology and streetcar design. The first Ultimate Aero models used a 6.2-liter Corvette racing engine with almost 800 HP, which propelled this beast to 238 mph.
But a real treat was introduced in 2009 when the Ultimate Aero TT was released. It featured a turbocharged Corvette mill with 1200 HP and improved suspension, chassis, and aerodynamics. Soon after, the Aero TT broke the production car speed record achieving 256 mph, making it the fastest car in the world. With the price of close to $300.000, only 24 Aeros were built between 2006 and 2009.
You are excused if you don’t know about Venturi, a small French car company which was active in the ’90s. Using components from other car companies and producing its own bodies and chassis, Venturi produced several beautiful and fast cars, raced a lot, and left its mark in the history of obscure supercars with its magnificent 400 GT model from the mid-’90s. Visually similar to Ferrari F40, the Venturi 400 GT also used a twin-turbocharged engine. But in Venturi’s case, it was a 3.0-liter Peugeot V6, which was pumped to produce 400 hp in street trim. In racing trim, it was capable of over 600 hp.
With all that firepower, the 400 GT was capable of accelerating to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds and speeds over 180 mph, which was faster than Porsches or Ferraris of the day. Unfortunately, cruel financial reality caught up with Venturi’s big ambitions, and the company was closed first in 1997 and then again in 2000. Venturi withdrew from racing before that and managed to produce less than 100 examples of the fantastic 400 GT, which has since been lost in corridors of time.
Built by the French AXIAM company in the mid-’90s. The Mega Track was the first and only off-road supercar ever built. You might ask yourself how it is possible to have a supercar that is capable of going off-road. Still, AXIAM managed to produce a vehicle with adjustable suspension, which could be turned from a regular sports car into an SUV in a matter of seconds. The complicated system allowed 8 to 13 inches of ride height, and in just one moment, the Mega Track could become a real offroad beast.
Behind the driver was a massive 6.0-liter V12 engine from Mercedes-Benz, which produced 400 hp and powered all four wheels. The concept had its drawbacks, and the Mega Track was a pretty bulky and big car. It weighed over 2 tons and had a length of over 5 meters, which is more than the Mercedes S-Class.
The British sports car company TVR was known for producing a series of capable coupes and power roadsters but never a proper supercar. In the late ’90s, the company’s management decided to present the ultimate version of their popular Cerebra coupe called Speed 12.
The Speed 12 was a brutal and extremely powerful supercar, practically a race car for the street. It had a 7.7-liter V12 engine with around 1000 HP, but the exact number was never published. The car was designed primarily for racing, but its racing career was short and not very successful due to the changing of rules.
When it was first introduced in 1988, Cizeta-Moroder V16T had the potential to become the next big thing in the world of supercars. The car had it all, celebrity endorsement, Italian background, famous constructors, exotic name, and technology. This obscure beast’s main feature was a monstrous V16 engine made out of two flat-plane crank V8 units and mounted transversely behind the cabin.
The V16 engine had six liters of displacement and delivered 560 hp, which was an excellent number for the late ’80s. The performance was equally impressive, with a 0 to 60 mph time of just four seconds and a top speed of over 200 mph. Even today, those numbers will draw attention from the supercar crowd. The base list price was close to $300,000, and the production stopped after only 20 examples, which is why they are an obscure sight today.
Monteverdi was a Swiss luxury car brand active from 1967 until 1984. Over the years, Monteverdi produced many premium models that were marketed as cars with “German quality, Italian design, and American power.” This was a winning combination, and Monteverdi cars featured Chrysler’s engine to produce effortless performance, speed, and raw power many European manufacturers of the period lacked.
The most extreme Monteverdi model was Hai 450 from 1970, which featured an entirely new chassis and body as well as the famous Hemi 426 V8 engine in the back. Monteverdi wanted the most powerful engine Mopar had to offer, and in 1970, that was the mighty Hemi. The car was called “Hai,” which is a German word for a shark. The 0 to 60 mph time took only 4.5 seconds, making it the quickest car of the era.
Maybe not as known as Ferrari or Lamborghini, De Tomaso is another legend of the Italian sports car scene from the ’60s. Started by Argentinean Alejandro De Tomaso, the company first started as a racing car outfit. Still, it soon moved to sports car markets with a lineup of successful modes that featured Ford’s small block engines, 5-speed transaxle gearbox, and aggressive design.
The first car was De Tomaso Mangusta, which was introduced in 1967. Yet the Pantera introduced in 1969 proved to be far more successful and popular, even though it shared a lot with the Mangusta. The key to Pantera’s success was the fact that Alejandro DeTomaso got the deal with Ford Motor Company, which meant that De Tomaso products were to be sold officially in America through the Lincoln-Mercury dealership network. Ford provided the engines, and De Tomaso did the rest, and Pantera was a home run for this small company. When production ended in 1989, De Tomaso built over 7000 Panteras. Even Elvis Presley owned one.
Bristol Cars is one of the craziest companies in the world. Not for their models, which are quite strange, but for their business policy. The company was barely making money for decades, operated only one showroom, sold only 1 or 2 cars per year, and refused to modernize its lineup for decades. However, they somehow managed to survive. In 2004, Bristol decided to introduce a new model with uncompromised performance and fresh design, and that is how the Bristol Fighter was born.
The chassis was custom made with an impressive body that featured Gullwing doors and a long hood. The Fighter’s design has no resemblance to other Bristol cars, but it carries the tradition of using Chrysler engines, and this sports car has an 8.0-liter V10 from Dodge Viper rated at 525 HP.
If you are into domestic performance cars, you certainly know about Hennessey from Texas. In the last few decades, they have been one of the biggest names in aftermarket muscle and performance car parts, conversion kits, engines, etc. And since 2011, they are also supercar manufacturers with the Venom GT.
Venom GT is not 100% American car but kind of a British-American hybrid. It is based on the Lotus Elise but significantly modified, widened, and stretched with different suspension, brakes, design, and drivetrain. Practically everything is new and different from the original car. The power comes from a 7.0-liter LS2 V8 engine with three power levels – 800 HP, 1000 HP, and 1200 HP.
The Venom GT was available as a coupe or convertible, and it held the world record for the fastest production car from 0-186 mph (0-300 km/h) with an average time of 13.63 seconds. Its production ended in 2017 after 13 cars were made.