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

Car collectors, design geeks, and lovers of beautiful things unite! Let us pause our current subcompact SUV fixation and appreciate some rarer gems gracing 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)

Jaguar XJ220
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With devastating good looks and impressive aerodynamics, the XJ220 was the first production supercar built by Jaguar. The elegant British auto brand 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
Image Editorial credit: Art Konovalov / Shutterstock.com

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

People thought it looked weird, and they were right—but we must 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. If you don’t mind higher mileage, a VehiCROSS for around 8 grand could be yours.

BMW Z1 (1989-1991)

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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.

Austin-Healy 3000 (1959-1967)

Austin-Healy 3000
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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)

Lancia Bertone Stratos HF
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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.

1959 Cadillac Cyclone XP-74

1959 Cadillac Cyclone XP-74
Image Editorial credit: Martin Charles Hatch / Shutterstock.com

America’s mid-century fixation with The Space Race is an obvious inspiration, but this incredible concept car from Cadillac 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 and 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

2019 Bentley EXP 100 GT
Image Editorial credit: Frederic Legrand – COMEO / Shutterstock.com

To commemorate Bentley’s 100-year anniversary, the British luxury brand created the all-electric 2019 EXP 100 GT, a concept car to model a grand tour 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.

Mazda Cosmo 110S (1967-1972)

Image Editorial credit: Taisyo / Wikimedia Commons

The Mazda Cosmo 110S was one of the first mass-produced cars to feature a Wankel rotary engine. This sleek and futuristic sports car from Mazda’s early years had a distinctive design with a low-slung profile and pop-up headlights. Its rotary engine provided smooth power delivery and a unique driving experience.

De Tomaso Pantera (1971-1993)

Image Editorial credit: Andrew Bone / Flickr

The De Tomaso Pantera was an Italian-American collaboration that combined a mid-engine layout with aggressive styling. Powered by a Ford V8 engine, the Pantera offered impressive performance and a thrilling exhaust note. Its exotic looks and accessible price point compared to other supercars of its time made it a hit among enthusiasts.

Vector W8 (1989-1993)

Image Editorial credit: Mike’s Car Pix / Wikimedia Commons

The Vector W8 was a supercar ahead of its time, featuring a futuristic design with sharp angles and advanced aerodynamics. Its mid-mounted twin-turbocharged V8 engine produced around 625 horsepower, propelling the car to a top speed of over 220 mph. Only 17 units were built, making it an ultra-rare collector’s item.

Noble M600 (2010-2019)

Image Editorial credit: richard / Wikimedia Commons

The Noble M600 is a British supercar known for its lightweight construction and impressive performance. Powered by a twin-turbocharged V8 engine producing up to 650 horsepower, the M600 could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in under 3 seconds. Its minimalist interior focused on driver engagement, with a manual gearbox adding to the enthusiast appeal.

Spyker C8 (2000-present)

Image Editorial credit: Mr.choppers / Wikimedia Commons

The Spyker C8 is a Dutch sports car with aviation-inspired design cues and meticulous attention to detail. Its handcrafted interior features luxurious materials like quilted leather and polished metal surfaces. Performance-wise, the C8 is no slouch, thanks to its mid-mounted V8 engine delivering over 400 horsepower.

TVR Sagaris (2005-2006)

Image Editorial Credit: Steve Glover / Wikimedia Commons

The TVR Sagaris is a British sports car known for its lightweight construction and aggressive styling. Powered by a naturally aspirated inline-six engine producing 380 horsepower, the Sagaris offered a raw and visceral driving experience. Its lack of electronic aids and focus on analog driving dynamics made it a favorite among purists.

Ascari A10 (2006-2010)

Image Editorial Credit: Ascarinet / Wikimedia Commons

The Ascari A10 was a limited-production supercar named after the famous racing driver Alberto Ascari. With a lightweight carbon fiber chassis and a BMW-sourced V8 engine producing 625 horsepower, the A10 boasted impressive performance figures. Its track-focused design included aerodynamic enhancements and a stripped-down interior aimed at maximizing driver involvement.

Venturi Atlantique 300 (1991-2000)

Image Editorial Credit:  Mcassonnet / Wikimedia Commons

The Venturi Atlantique 300 was a French sports car with a distinctive design and a focus on aerodynamics. Powered by a turbocharged V6 engine producing 300 horsepower, the Atlantique 300 offered a blend of performance and comfort. Its lightweight construction and advanced suspension system contributed to agile handling and spirited driving dynamics.

Bricklin SV-1 (1974-1976)

Image Editorial Credit:  Thomas doerfer / Wikimedia Commons

The Bricklin SV-1 was a Canadian sports car designed with safety as a primary focus. It featured unique gull-wing doors and a robust safety cage integrated into its fiberglass body. Despite its heavy curb weight, the SV-1 offered respectable performance thanks to V8 engine options producing up to 220 horsepower.

Vector M12 (1995-1999)

Image Editorial Credit:  Greg Gjerdingen / Wikimedia Commons

The Vector M12 was a rare American supercar with a mid-engine layout and distinctive styling. Powered by a Lamborghini-sourced V12 engine producing 500 horsepower, the M12 offered exhilarating performance. Its aggressive aerodynamics and attention-grabbing presence turned heads wherever it went.

Gumpert Apollo (2005-2013)

Image Editorial Credit:  WikiABG / Wikimedia Commons

The Gumpert Apollo was a German supercar known for its track-focused design and blistering performance. With a mid-mounted twin-turbocharged V8 engine producing up to 800 horsepower, the Apollo could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in under 3 seconds. Its aggressive aerodynamics generated significant downforce, enhancing stability at high speeds.

Wiesmann MF4 (2009-2014)

Image Editorial Credit:  WikiABG / Flickr

The Wiesmann MF4 was a hand-built German sports car combining retro styling with modern performance. Powered by a BMW-sourced V8 engine producing around 420 horsepower, the MF4 offered a balance of power and agility. Its lightweight construction and aerodynamic design contributed to spirited driving dynamics.

Mosler MT900 (2001-2013)

Image Editorial Credit:  User:V12-Power / Flickr

The Mosler MT900 was an American supercar designed for racing and high-speed performance. Its lightweight carbon fiber chassis and mid-mounted V8 engine producing over 500 horsepower resulted in impressive acceleration and cornering capabilities. The MT900’s minimalist interior and focus on aerodynamics reflected its racing pedigree.

Tatra T87 (1936-1950)

Image Editorial Credit:  Wikimedia Commons

The Tatra T87 was a Czech luxury car ahead of its time, featuring streamlined aerodynamics and a rear-mounted V8 engine. Its advanced design allowed for impressive top speeds and fuel efficiency, making it a favorite among European dignitaries and celebrities. The T87’s distinctive styling and innovative engineering have earned it a place in automotive history.

Alpine A110 (1961-1977)

Image Editorial Credit: Lothar Spurzem / Wikimedia Commons

The Alpine A110 is a French sports car that gained fame for its rallying success and distinctive design. Produced by Alpine, a manufacturer with a strong motorsport heritage, the A110 featured a lightweight fiberglass body mounted on a tubular steel chassis, contributing to its agile handling and performance. Powered by various inline-four engines ranging from 1.1 to 1.6 liters, the A110 offered a blend of efficiency and spirited driving dynamics.

This article originally appeared on MyCarMakesNoise.

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Author: Dave Johnston

Dave is a hands-on automotive technician with experience in performing service, diagnostics, and repairs on domestic and imported vehicles. He enjoys writing and sharing his knowledge far and wide.

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