Our supercars are quite a lot like models or screen celebrities. They’ve all had their glorious days on the covers of magazines, You Tube and other video platforms with millions of hits, newspaper headlines, as feature cars in popular films and so on. There are many like the McLaren F1, or Ferrari F40 and the muscled beauties of the late sixties and seventies that will forever be branded into our memories and even their slightest mention would always send conversations flowing and excitement levels flying high. And yet there are some that have somewhat faded into obscurity, despite having been stars of their day. One would be surprised as to just how easily they’ve vanished from our memories and fantasies.
For starters, lets talk about the 600hp Aston Martin Vantage Le Mans, and how it fell into obscurity. It was built to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Aston Martin’s last Le Mans victory. Powered by a 5.3 litre, supercharged V8 the Vantage would put a Viper to test. Only 40 of these were made and each came with pre-programmed road map with directions from the factory to the Le Mans circuit. The V8 Vantage Le Mans comes from the financial struggle age of the company. The interiors bear testimony to the hand built nature of these cars. Taking all into consideration, one can be pretty sure that with a name that long and a power dissipation of that magnitude in its time, it still is a car that’s not so easy to forget.
Every Lamborghini fan screams out with delight at mention of the Countach, some may even have a tiny heart attack if they happened t see one parked or drive by. Sadly, it is nowhere even close to the same for the Countach’s little sibling, the Jalpa. The Jalpa can be thought of as the Gallardo of the 1980s. It was what one would call, an entry level Lambo and used a 3.5 litre Dual overhead Camshaft V8 to churn out 255 horses and a 0-100kmph run in just under six seconds. It was also the celebrity car alongside Sylvester Stallone in Rocky IV.
12 Cylinders, 60 Valves, four turbochargers and just 3.5 litres of displacement, make the Bugatti EB110SS, the ultimate forgotten super car of the 90s. Producing a massive 603 horses just at 8250 rpm when Vipers did just 400, all the valves, pistons and turbos, well capable of pushing the EB 110ss to 348 kmph. The running costs for such cars were undoubtedly sky high and only a few remain in driving condition. The only ones known to still have them are the Petersen Automotive Museum and the mystery men at Tax the rich who have surely had fun with theirs.
Then, there was the Callaway SledgeHammer Corvette that would well easily be the Bugatti of its age. In 1988, this car notched a top speed of 410 kmph. Yes, incredibly and believably fast for a stock street legal road car, and the car achieved this feat with air-conditioning and power windows. The SledgeHammer could be ordered from the Chevrolet dealership and produced 898 horses with the aid of twin turbochargers. Despite having absolutely no competition in terms of speed and power, the SledgeHammer never really gained the reputation or notoriety of a car of its caliber and till date remains somewhat obscure and yet incredible valuable car.
If bad luck can be brought upon cars, then the most popular story would be that of the Vector. An ambitious mid-engined supercar that had its reputation destroyed, partially by the tennis star Andre Agassi. Despite numerous requests from the company, as claimed, Agassi was hell bent on ordering one irrespective of the car being incomplete at the moment, for a house party. Having paid no heed to other requests on not driving the car, the star player drove it and broke it, then causing very publicized media outrage over the incident and marring the Vector’s image. It was a radical car but never really a finished product. A twin turbo 5.7 litre Chevrolet V8 engine that made 650 horsepower was mated to a three-speed automatic. In addition to this, the car had an astronomical cost and never really took off – only 22 of these having been made.
Last, but not the least, comes the exceedingly rare 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO that again made headlines last year when one, of only the 39 that were ever made, was sold off in a private transaction between US-based collector Paul Pappalardo to an unidentified buyer for an insane, unreal 52 million dollars, automatically making it the most expensive car ever sold.