5 Modern Sports Cars You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
It’s quite extraordinary to see so many small supercar and sportscar producers coming up and trying to take the cake from the limited, but money-endowed niche of a market. Only a handful actually do survive long enough to create a customer base (Pagani or Koenigsegg,) to induce some kind of hype and attract funding (Rimac,) or just be talked about (Lykan, Hennessey, or even Zenvo.) It seems that the new supercar producers are springing up like mushrooms (and they go away as easily,) even more so than sports car producers. In that regard, I managed to find five interesting sports cars you have probably never heard of. All of them do try (or have tried) to evoke some sort of evolution in this highly limited market.
The end goal is similar for all - to sell as many cars as possible and become profitable. Enter the world of the incredible, courageous, and sometimes rather innovative pieces of automotive royalty you’ve never heard of.
I am starting with a car from Slovenia, partly designed by a race car driver.
Based on a rather nice tubular chassis of the K1 Attack kit car, the Tushek Renovatio T500 got the full track-focused treatment from some of the most advanced automotive companies in Slovenia
Would you guess that a small European country Slovenia has anything to do with sports cars?
Well, now you know. One of the country’s most prominent racing drivers, Aljoša Tushek, created a sports car (some would even call it a supercar) called the Tushek Renovatio T500 back in 2012. It was his second attempt to enter the track-focused sports car market and actually develop a car to be driven by journalists and customers alike. Based on a rather nice tubular chassis of the K1 Attack kit car, the Tushek Renovatio T500 got the full track-focused treatment from some of the most advanced automotive companies in Slovenia. Remember, the Akrapovic exhaust is from the country, as well as the company which sells carbon fiber molded pieces to Ferrari and the company who makes Porsche brakes.
As it turns out, the Renovatio T500 took something from all of them. However, the motivation for its sub-2,500-pound chassis came from the 4.2-liter, V-8 used by Audi for the RS4. Later on, some cars even housed the V-8 from the R8. Tushek wanted to have dry sump lubrication and that engine had it. Obviously, it is not among the most powerful of the lot, but the Tushek Renovatio has a few tricks up its sleeve. Equipped with equipment like an Hewland sequential gearbox and some nice software trickery to control all the racing aspects of the car, the Renovatio T500 is as focused as some of the best cars from bigger producers. Now, I could not actually find a credible source to confirm how many cars Tushek actually produced, but there were some orders put in. This is not that surprising as the car the company created isn’t as far fetched as some might think. It will, apparently, accelerate to 62 mph in 3.7 seconds, thus giving us a clear indication that it does not want to fight the Ferrari 458 Italia or its likeness.
The company was originally based in Graz with production taking place in Slovenia. However, by 2014, after the introduction of the faster, meaner and even more track-focused TS600 with almost 700 horsepower, the company was renamed to Tushek & Spigel.
Read our full review on the 2012 Tushek Renovatio T500
The Mitsuoka Orochi
Nevertheless, the Mitsuoka certainly was not a sales hit, the company limited its production to 400 units
As far as obscurities go, the Mitsuoka Orochi may be the most obscure of them all. Its design has roots all the way back to 2001 in Japan, but the car didn’t enter the production phase until 2006. The media has not been kind when talking about its design at all, but one has to admire the sheer lunacy and courage of its designers. a Mid-engine setup with rear wheel drive seem to be a norm in this world of limited sports cars. However, from there on, the Orochi really differs from the rest of the world. The design does echo some of the other works of Mitsuoka. They are known in Japan for crafting rather elaborate, albeit not so pretty, body-kits for casual cars and daily drivers. In that regard, Orochi (named after an eight-headed dragon from Japanese mythology) received a really weird-looking front end resembling some sort of a creature really.
The back isn’t much better either. This car looks like it was designed in clay, then someone came in, melted all that clay and that was the final design. Nevertheless, the Mitsuoka certainly was not a sales hit, the company limited its production to 400 units, but I doubt they produced and sold that many from 2006 to 2014.
The fun stuff regarding the Mitsuoka would have been its sporty driving characteristics. While not exactly supercar light, one cannot claim that 3,400 lbs is not light. In the rear, Mitsuka used a Toyota-sourced 3.3-liter V-6 good for 230 horsepower. Don’t laugh. I know this is really low by the standards of today (and of yesteryear really,) but the car wasn’t only about the performance figures. It was about obscurity and its weird looking exterior. Unfortunately, it turns out this was its only real quirk. The V-6 was linked to a classic 5-speed transmission. Production ended in 2014 with the Orochi Evangelion Edition.
Read our full review on the 2014 Mitsuoka Orochi Final Edition.
Honoring the luxury, exclusivity, and sophistication of such machines, the Speedback GT ended up looking similar to one of the best - the DB5.
This thing looks a lot like the Aston Martin DB cars from long before. Yet, the creator of the stunning David Brown Automotive Speedback GT is adamant that he does not want his cars associated with Aston Martin classics despite obviously taking some styling cues from Aston Martin.
Nevertheless, the $700,000+ car does have a clear link with modern British sports cars. In fact, under this bespoke exterior and lavish interior lays the architecture of the Jaguar XKR. The drivetrain, the suspension, and basically all the other parts are taken from the Jaguar XKR. This does not cripple the Speedback GT’s exclusivity though. David Brown envisioned this car as an homage to those older, powerful cruisers with a presence. Honoring the luxury, exclusivity, and sophistication of such machines, the Speedback GT ended up looking similar to one of the best - the DB5.
Now, one may ask how this can be a sustainable business as the XKR is out of production. Well, David Brown did the deed and bought a bunch of XKRs before endeavoring on this adventure.
“We bought quite a few XKs from Jaguar before it went out of production. And we remove the wearing parts – the panels and the interior – so we only need the rolling chassis, engine, and gearbox. We’ve got enough parts to sustain us. And if you know anyone who wants a ‘brand new’ XKR, I’m your man…” he said to TopGear in 2016.
While the Speedback GT doesn’t feature any cutting edge tech or some sort of “out-of-this-world” propulsion, it makes its case with a bespoke exterior and a lavish interior full of wood, metal, and leather. Infotainment? Definitely! It complements a 7.0-inch touchscreen with a sat nav, Bluetooth, USB connectivity, and a Bowers and Wilkins audio system.
If you are still wondering about what makes it a sports car then check out these specs:
|0-to-62 mph||4.6 seconds|
|Top Speed||155 mph|
Read our full review on the 2015 David Brown Automotive Speedback GT.
The Marussia B2
The Marussia B2 does have a certain unique styling - styling that's not exactly associated with what one can see on other similar cars
Russia is not exactly known for its supercars. Yet, back in 2009, a company from Moscow revealed a quite promising Marussia B1 and, soon after, its successor Marussia B2. I am here to talk about the latter, as I am inclined to believe that one is a better product overall. As with basically all other small-scale sports car or supercar producers, Marussia outsourced its production to another company. In this case, Valmet Automotive from Finland (the company that produced the Fisker Karma) who was in charge of the production of 500 units of the B2. Sure, they capped the production of the car that was quite reasonably priced at $130,460 in 2012. Marussia claimed to have developed the car in collaboration with a number of high-end companies like KW for the development of the suspension or Cosworth for engine development
"The B2 is an overt expression of our capabilities and ambition. Using the same exceptionally light and strong chassis structure combined with Marussia-Cosworth power units, the B2 allows our designers and our customers to explore their wilder side."
Obviously widely styled, the Marussia B2 does have a certain unique styling - styling that’s not exactly associated with what one can see on other similar cars. It is a purpose-built machine that offers enhanced track performance and gives drivers an engaging driving experience. All of which is achieved with the help of its low-weight design of only 2,425 lbs and a 420 horsepower engine. The turbocharged 2.8-liter that was developed with the help of the famed Cosworth is the top-notch offering which grants a 0-62 mph sprint in 3.2 seconds and a top speed of almost 190 mph. The other version, priced at $130kish, actually uses a naturally aspirated, 3.5-liter, V-6 that’s good for 300 horsepower. Not shabby at all.
Read our full review on the 2012 Marussia B2.
The DC Design Avanti
The mid-engined car received composite steel architecture, composite carbon body, and a 2.0-liter, I-4, turbocharged engine good for 250 horsepower
India’s first sports car, the DC Design Avanti, was designed by India’s most prominent car designer Dillip Chhabria who leads DC Design. FYI, DC Design is a company looking to enter the world ruled by the likes of Pininfarina, Bertone, and other coachbuilding companies. In that regard, crafting a sports car is only the first step in the process and the Avanti (the name is an homage to the Studebaker Avanti) was just that. The mid-engined car received composite steel architecture, composite carbon body, and a 2.0-liter, I-4, turbocharged engine good for 250 horsepower. Actually, the engine is sourced from Renault Sport. Interestingly enough, that was the first snag DC Design experienced as Renault Sport did not want to supply engines to DC.
Nevertheless, the design of the Avanti was partially influenced by certain Ferrari vehicles, although it is hard to spot the styling cues. As with many small-scale sports cars, the DC Design Avanti did employ a tubular frame chassis, but it added a double wishbone suspension and 330mm AP Racing brakes to the chassis. With 250 horsepower pushing a body of 3,443 lbs, one cannot call the Avanti a supercar. Sports car? Definitely yes.
Read our full review on the 2016 DC Design Avanti.
Each and every one of the sports cars mentioned here has a certain spark of individuality usually associated with those who envisioned them in the first place
Each and every one of the sports cars mentioned here has a certain spark of individuality usually associated with those who envisioned them in the first place. Sure, none of these ever moved past a few production units, but all of them were and still are a “dream-come-true” moment for their creators. Who would have thought that a guy from Slovenia could create a sports car or a chap in India could reach out to Renault Sport and beg for an engine. Then there’s the Russian attempt at sports cars - the Marussia B2, whose production was actually moved from Moscow to Finland.
Despite their struggles or the real-life usability of the cars, these five sports cars tell a story of people in love with cars. So much in love that they managed to put their name in the spotlight.