8 of the Coolest Cars You’ve Probably Never Heard of

Car collectors, design geeks, and lovers of beautiful things unite! Let us take pause from our current subcompact SUV fixation and appreciate some of the rarer gems that have graced the automotive world. From vintage stunners, futuristic oddballs, and sexy speed demons, here are eight of the coolest cars you’ve never heard of. 

Jaguar XJ220 1992–1994

With devastating good looks and impressive aerodynamics, the XJ220 was the first production supercar built by Jaguar. The elegant British auto brand really went for it when they equipped the XJ220 with a 6.2-liter V12 mid-engine and four-wheel drive, making it the fastest sports car of its day (clocking 217 mph). XJ200 is a 90s child but still looks modern—though with just 282 units produced, it’d be quite a feat to see one in the flesh (er, aluminum) let alone park one in your garage.

Isuzu VehiCROSS 1997 – 2001

Isuzu VehiCROSS 1997 - 2001
Source: Johnnyapollo at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

As the new millennium approached, Isuzu embraced the wacky with the VehiCROSS, a two-door, trucklike SUV.

People thought it looked weird and well, they were right—but we have to admit it’s pretty cute. It’s compact, but the VehiCROSS packs a decent off-road punch thanks to a V6 engine and a Torque-On-Demand (TOD) four-wheel-drive system that was quite innovative at the time. If you don’t mind higher mileage, a VehiCROSS could be yours for around eight grand.

BMW Z1 1989-1991

BMW Z1 1989-1991
Source: Lothar Spurzem, CC BY-SA 2.0 DE, via Wikimedia Commons

Quirky and cool in all the right ways, the BMW Z1 wasn’t sold stateside, but the Europeans were all about this early Z Series roadster. What keeps people talking about this car over 30 years after its discontinuance is its slide-down doors that can disappear right into the steel chassis—a feature truly unlike anything else we’ve known car doors to do.

The Z1 was not a commercial success for BMW, but its cult status has made this sporty little guy hard to come by. These days, the rare Z1 mostly sells at posh auctions in Western Europe.

Lucra LC470 (2012-2019)

Lucra LC470 (2012-2019)
Source: 7mackymaravilla, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Luke Richard’s Californian car company Lucra began production in 2010, hand-building sports cars so swanky you’d swear they came from Italy. Lucra’s real standout is the gorgeous LC470, a highly customizable racer that featured three V8 engine options and movie star looks (it had a star turn in Fast and Furious6). LC470s are the epitome of rare, but if you’re lucky enough to come across one, it can be had for upwards of $150,000—not bad for a supercar.

Austin-Healy 3000 (1959-1967)

Austin-Healy 3000 (1959-1967)
Source: Elise240SX, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you love retro cars, the Austin-Healy 3000 is a total head-turner. In true British fashion, the Austin-Healy 3000 is sensible-looking yet sporty—-the kind of car that can tear down the race track without compromising an ounce of class. Vintage Austin-Healys still have a presence on the used market, running the gamut of styles, colors, and price tags. 

Lancia Bertone Stratos HF (1973-1978)

This Italian showstopper was one of the most successful rally cars of its time, taking the top spot at the World Rally Championship three years in a row. Rare, neon-colored, and reaching a top speed of 200 mph, the agile Stratos HF (which stands for high fidelity) stood apart from what people were accustomed to seeing on the racetrack. Stratos HF can credit its uniqueness to the vehicle it was based on: the Lancia Stratos Zero, a concept car from 1970 that looks insane—but awesome.

1959 Cadillac Cyclone XP-74

America’s mid-century fixation with The Space Race is an obvious inspiration here, but this incredible concept car from Cadillac really could see into the future. The 1959 Cyclone XP-74 was equipped with a radar-sensing warning system that detected and analyzed objects on the road ahead, as well as a sensor on the console that closed the convertible’s bubble top when it detected rain. Just one of these forward-thinking cars was ever made and is currently part of the General Motors Heritage Collection.

2019 Bentley EXP 100 GT

To commemorate Bentley’s 100-year anniversary, the British luxury brand created the all-electric 2019 EXP 100 GT, a concept car to model what a grand touring could look like in 2035. With a body reminiscent of sculpted liquid metal, sustainable features like Adaptable Biometric Seating, and smart technologies incorporating therapeutic fragrances with light technology, the EXP 100 GT is like nothing you’ve seen yet. Bentley never announced official plans to sell this jaw-dropper to the masses, but after its unveiling, some enthusiasts speculated it could carry a price tag of $1.9 million

Written by: Mary K. Cahill

References

Bentley EXP 100 GT – the future of Grand Touring |Beyond 100 | World of Bentley. (2019, July 10). Bentley Motors. Retrieved January 12, 2023, from https://www.bentleymotors.com/en/world-of-bentley/beyond-100/exp-100-gt-concept.html

D, N. (n.d.). 1959 Cadillac Cyclone XP-74 | SuperCars.net. Supercars.net. Retrieved January 12, 2023, from https://www.supercars.net/blog/1959-cadillac-cyclone-xp-74/

Hunt, N. (2022, November 1). The Lucra LC470 Is The Affordable Hand-Built American Sports Car You’ve Never Heard Of. HotCars. Retrieved January 12, 2023, from https://www.hotcars.com/lucra-lc470-american-sports-car-youve-never-heard-of/

Lancia Stratos – world’s coolest cars. (n.d.). Auto Express. Retrieved January 12, 2023, from https://www.autoexpress.co.uk/best-cars/102000/lancia-stratos-worlds-coolest-cars

Njuguna, M. (2022, April 25). This Is How Much A 1990 BMW Z1 Costs Today. HotCars. Retrieved January 12, 2023, from https://www.hotcars.com/this-is-how-much-a-1990-bmw-z1-costs-today/

Wilcox, A. (2020, March 20). The funky Isuzu VehiCross is a ’90s SUV that deserves more love. Hagerty. Retrieved January 12, 2023, from https://www.hagerty.com/media/car-profiles/isuzu-vehicross-is-90s-suv-that-deserves-more-love/

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Author: Mary Cahill

Mary K. Cahill is a writer from New Haven, Connecticut. She specializes in creating content that combines the automotive world with history and pop culture. When she’s not writing, you can find her absorbed in a novel, traveling the city on foot in search of vintage treasures, or having movie night with her family.

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