When cutting costs becomes obvious

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Developing a new car is a time-consuming and more importantly very expensive process. This is especially true when designing a high-performance vehicle. Sometimes, in order to save a bit of money, car companies borrow various parts from less prestigious manufacturers. It is more acceptable when it comes to minor interior pieces, such as indicator stalks or climate controls, as they are not as obvious, but things are different when we talk about the more obvious exterior features. Here are 13 examples of expensive cars borrowing exterior parts from much cheaper models.

Jaguar XJ220 – taillights and side mirrors

1992 - 1994 Jaguar XJ 220
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Back in 1990, Jaguar held the record for the fastest production car, even if for a short while. They did so with the XJ220. The company promised all-wheel-drive and a V-12, but as we all know it ended up having only half of the wheels driven and only half the cylinders. The car still looked stunning and performed great. However, it had a little secret, which immediately became obvious once you looked carefully at the rear of the car. The partially-obscured black trim taillights came straight out of the Rover 200, which was a cheap passenger vehicle. Not only that, the side mirrors were from the Citroen CX.

Read our full review on the Jaguar XJ220

Noble M400 – taillights

The British manufacturer Noble is most known for its analog high-performance cars – the M600 and the smaller M400, both of which are rear-wheel-drive, mid-engine two-seaters. The M400 used a 3.0-liter Ford Duratec V-6, which with the help of two turbos produced 425 horsepower and 390 pound-feet (529 Nm). So far we’ve established that there is a major Ford connection in the form of the engine. But there is another one. The taillights of the M400 came from the mid-1990s Ford Mondeo, which was a rather unremarkable mid-size sedan – essentially, the European equivalent to the USDM Ford Contour.

Lotus Europa – bumpers

For Shame: 13 Expensive Cars With Parts From Cheap Cars
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The Lotus brand did not start as an expensive car manufacturer, but performance was always part of its portfolio nonetheless. The lightweight sports car maker introduced the first Lotus Europa in 1966. Initially making use of a Renault engine, by 1971 the small coupe had switched to a Lotus-Ford co-developed engine. The British carmaker had a habit of borrowing parts from more mass-produced vehicles, and the Europa was no exception. The thin chrome bumpers, although perfectly fitting the overall design were from a Ford Anglia, which was a small family car.

Aixam Mega Track – taillights

For Shame: 13 Expensive Cars With Parts From Cheap Cars
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In addition to being one of the most obscure 90s supercars ever made, the Mega Track is also the only production supercar with off-road capabilities. Despite having a Mercedes M120 V-12, which was one of the go-to engines for boutique supercars in the 1990s and 2000s, it was built on a bespoke chassis and was unique in its own right. One of its exterior features was not unique, however. The taillights of the quirky French vehicle came straight from the Audi 80 – a German mid-size family sedan. Although design-wise the Audi 80 was quite revolutionary for its time, its price-tag was dwarfed by that of the French low-production Mega Track.

Read our full review on the Aixam Mega Track

Lamborghini Diablo – headlights

For Shame: 13 Expensive Cars With Parts From Cheap Cars
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We have Chrysler to thank for the Lamborghini Diablo, as the successor to the Countach was commissioned by the American brand at the time owner of the Italian car company. However, by the late 1990s, Audi had taken over and they wanted to focus on developing the Diablo replacement. Because of this, they decided to cut some corners when refreshing the Diablo. If the headlights look familiar, that’s because they came straight out of a Nissan 300ZX, which although a great car in its own right, was a lot less expensive than the raging bull. In fact, the carbon eyelids on top of the headlights are there to hide the Nissan emblems.

Aston Martin DB-7 – taillights, door handles, and side mirrors

For Shame: 13 Expensive Cars With Parts From Cheap Cars
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When we talk about car connections, Aston Martin has always been associated with Ford and Jaguar. The DB7 is a great example of that, as it was built on a budget. Because of that, numerous parts were borrowed from other manufacturers. In addition to having Ford mirror switches and a Jaguar key fob, many exterior parts were also borrowed from other cheaper cars. Just like the XJ220, the DB7 borrowed the side mirrors from the Citroen CX. Not only that, the door handles were from a Mazda 323, and the taillights - straight from the sleeker Mazda 323 F.

Read our full review on the Aston Martin DB-7

Lister Storm – taillights

For Shame: 13 Expensive Cars With Parts From Cheap Cars
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The Storm is mostly known from the GT Endurance series where it competed. There were also around 5 street versions built for homologation purposes. Another little known fact about this car is that at one point it was the fastest four-seater, with a top speed of 208 mph (335 km/h). The engine was a Jaguar 7.0-liter V-12 with 546 horsepower and 580 pound-feet (786 Nm). Just like the XJ220, everything about it was unique to the car. One exception were the taillights, though. As with the Mega Track, they came straight out of an Audi 80. Although they fit the unmistakably 1990s design, the two cars couldn’t be further from each other in terms of price and performance.

Lotus Esprit – side mirrors

For Shame: 13 Expensive Cars With Parts From Cheap Cars
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Whether it’s engines, drivetrains, interior, or exterior parts Lotus has always borrowed something from here and there. A tradition they kept even during the 1990s. During all generations of the Esprit, Lotus used gearboxes from the French manufacturers Renault and Citroen. More specifically Citroen’s C35 five-speed manual and Renault’s UN-1 manual with the same number of gears. The X180 and Series 4 Esprit also used Citroen side mirrors. Just like the XJ220, DB7, and other high-performance cars they came off the CX model.

Read our full review on the Lotus Esprit

Invicta S1 - taillights

For Shame: 13 Expensive Cars With Parts From Cheap Cars
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Nowadays, the Invicta name is mostly associated with high-quality wristwatches. Some might remember that they also have a sketchy history of making cars, despite the name actually dating back to the 1920s. The Aston Martin-looking sleek GT was the company’s last attempt at making a high-performance vehicle. It was powered by a 4.6 or 5.0-liter Ford V-8. In typical fashion for a small, low-production British carmaker, some exterior bits were borrowed, too. It may not be as obvious, but the taillights come straight from a VW Passat B5.5.

Read our full review on the Invicta S1

TVR Griffith – taillights

For Shame: 13 Expensive Cars With Parts From Cheap Cars
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TVR is a brand known for its cars with quirky design and back to basics approach when it comes to the driving experience – no safety systems and no airbags. Just the car and a driver with a pair of steel behind the wheel. Regardless, one of the brand’s most successful models was Griffith. As with most TVRs, it was a basic, lightweight, two-seater. It also had powerful V-8 engines with a power of up to 340 horsepower, which went to the rear wheels. The taillights were from an unexpected place. They were Vauxhall Cavalier also known as Opel Vectra and were turned upside down.

Read our full review on the TVR Griffith

MG X Power SV / SVR – headlights

For Shame: 13 Expensive Cars With Parts From Cheap Cars
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The X Power was essentially MG’s attempt at the Muscle car formula. It was a mashup of parts, many of which came from the SN95 Ford Mustang. This includes the 4.6-liter modular V-8, which produced 320 horsepower. A rare 5.0-liter SVR version was introduced as well, of which only 22 were made, each of them a bit different from the rest. What remained the same, however, were the headlights. Those came straight from a second-generation Fiat Punto of all cars.

Read our full review on the MG X Power SV

Aston Martin V-8 / Aston Martin Virage – taillights

For Shame: 13 Expensive Cars With Parts From Cheap Cars
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The V-8 was produced from 1969 to 1989. After a 20-year production run, the first generation Virage replaced it. It was produced until the year 2000. Both cars were similar, in that they were both front-engine, four-seat, gran-tourers with powerful engines. They had another similarity. They both shared taillights with cars much cheaper than them. In the case of the V-8, it borrowed the taillights from a Hillman Hunter. Unlike its predecessor, the Virage borrowed the taillights not from another British car, but from a German one. This time, it wasn’t the Audi 80, but the second-generation Volkswagen Scirocco.

Read our full review on the Aston Martin Virage

McLaren F1 – side mirrors

For Shame: 13 Expensive Cars With Parts From Cheap Cars
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There is no denying the fact that the McLaren F1 is an engineering masterpiece. Produced in 1992, it still holds the record for the fastest normally-aspirated production car. In addition, before the introduction of the McLaren Speedtail and Gordon Murray T50, it was the only three-seater production car as well. With this in mind, it seems a bit strange that a highly-collectible car like this borrows exterior features from much cheaper models. Once again, the side mirrors are from the Citroen CX – a car revolutionary in its own right, but nowhere near the McLaren F1’s achievements, and certainly nowhere near its price-tag.

Read our full review on the McLaren F1

Dim Angelov
Dim Angelov
Born in 1992, I come from a family of motoring enthusiasts. My passion for cars was awoken at the age of six, when I saw a Lamborghini Diablo SV in a magazine. After high school I earned a master’s degree in marketing and a Master of Arts in Media and Communications. Over the years, I’ve practiced and become skilled in precision driving and to date have test driven more than 250 cars across the globe. Over the years, I’ve picked up basic mechanical knowledge and have even taken part in the restoration of a 1964 Jaguar E-Type and an Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint. Lately, I’ve taken a fancy to automotive photography, and while modern cars are my primary passion, I also have a love for Asian Martial Arts, swimming, war history, craft beer, historical weapons, and car restoration. In time, I plan my own classic car restoration and hope to earn my racing certificate, after which I expect to establish my own racing team.  Read full bio
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