Sometimes, car makers throw caution to the wind and build something truly bonkers, but then decide not to put their creation into production. This happens more than you might think, and it means we’ve missed out on some truly epic cars over the years.
Tap the video to watch carwow’s countdown of the coolest cars never made.
2009 Bugatti 16C Galibier
Bugatti is great at making fast cars – the latest Chiron Super Sport 300 can do more than (you guessed it) 300mph. But, it’s only a two-seater – so you can only take one Brazilian supermodel for a ride at a time. Shame…
Bugatti almost made the perfect four-seater back in 2009, though. It was called the Galibier and it was pretty much a front-engined Veyron with four doors. It had the same 8-litre W16 engine as the Veyron but Bugatti decided to chop off its four turbos and add two huge superchargers instead. It made 1000hp and Bugatti reckoned it would do 235mph.
It was only a concept, but Bugatti planned to make a £1,ooo,ooo production version called the Royale, but it cancelled the project to focus on developing the Chiron instead.
2015 VW XL Sport Concept
The VW XL 1 was a tiny two-seater that was designed to be as fuel efficient as possible. It was powered by a weedy 800cc 2-cylinder diesel hybrid engine, so it wasn’t exactly fun. That all changed when some genius decided to drop in a 1.2-litre V Twin from the Ducati 1199 Superleggera superbike to make the XL Sport.
This made 203hp and revved to 12,000rpm, so it could blast the XL1 Sport from 0-60 in just 5.7 seconds and made sure it would keep accelerating until it hit 168mph.
It’s a shame VW never put it into production, but part of the reason is that it would have been supremely expensive. The standard XL1 already cost around £100,000 and the Sport version had an engine from a £55k superbike. And, that’s before you include the cost of all its bespoke carbon-fibre and titanium bits…
2010 Jaguar C-X75
This is the Jaguar C-X75, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. Jaguar actually built a few versions – all equally stunning but powered by different engines. The first came with two diesel-powered gas turbine engines that produced electricity to drive four electric motors. These made 789hp – enough to rocket the C-X75 from 0-60 in 2.5 seconds and hit 205mph.
Then Jaguar ditched the turbine engines and went for a turbocharged and supercharged 1.6-litre hybrid engine with 862hp. This meant the car could reach 220mph, but even that tempting top speed couldn’t prevent Jaguar from cancelling the project in 2012.
It did finish a few prototypes, though, and it made a few extra cars for the Bond movie ‘Spectre’. These looked just like the original concept but they came with a big old V8 instead of the original hybrid system.
2008 Lamborghini Estoque
Lamborghini is at its most comfortable building supercars and huge SUVs these days, but it nearly built a four-seater GT back in 2008. It was called the Estoque and it was a little like a Gallardo in reverse because it had the same 5.2-litre V10 engine and four-wheel-drive system, but the driver and passengers sat behind, rather than in front of, the engine.
It has to be one of the best-looking Lamborghini’s of the last few decades. It’s all angular and wedge-like but in a subtle, discreet way. A little like laser hair removal compared with waxing.
It wouldn’t be too difficult for Lamborghini to resurrect this concept today. After all, Lamborghini is owned by Audi so it could conceivably build an eye-popping four-seater based on the latest Audi RS7. After all, the Urus shares a significant number of components with the Audi RSQ8…
1995 Ford GT90
The new Ford GT is the brand’s latest model inspired by the iconic GT40 racing car, but it’s far from the first. Back in 1995, Ford built the GT90 – a kaleidoscopic vision of the ultimate supercar that was powered by a 5.9-litre V12 engine boosted by four turbos.
This engine pumped out a whopping 730hp and would get so hot that Ford fitted special ceramic tiles to the engine bay to stop the car’s bodywork melting – similar to the ones used on the space shuttle to stop it burning up during re-entry.
Ford reckoned the GT90 would crack 253mph – that’s the same as a Bugatti Veyron, but 10 years earlier. Ford considered putting the GT90 into production. But that never happened.
2013 Nissan IDx
Not every car on this list is a supercar – one of the coolest cars that never went into production was the tiny Nissan IDx. It was a small, rear-wheel-drive rival to the likes of the BMW 2 Series. Only instead of looking like a normal, modern two-door coupe, the IDx was given a cool retro body. It looked especially good when Nissan gave the IDx to their Nismo tuning department, who added a bodykit, new wheels and beefier brakes.
They also bolted in the 200hp turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine from the Juke Nismo, which meant the IDx would do 0-60 in less than 7 seconds. Nissan never put the IDx into production, but it did end up appearing in a few video games so at least you can drive it virtually…
2008 GT by Citroen
When someone says Citroen, you probably think of comfy cars with weird styling and cool features. You definitely don’t think of space-age supercars. But, back in 2008 someone must have put champagne in the water cooler, because Citroen cooked up the ‘GT by Citroen’.
It sounds a bit like a perfume, but this spaceship on wheels was made to promote the Gran Turismo 5 video game. And, Citroen didn’t stop there – it actually found the time to build a real working car. The digital version came with 4 electric motors that produced 789hp, but the real car was powered by a 655hp Ford V8.
2001 VW W12 Nardo
Imagine how cool it would have been if VW made a mini Veyron. Well, they nearly did back in 2001 when they built the mid-engined W12 Nardo supercar. It came with a 5.6-litre W12 engine with 600hp that would launch it from 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds and help it hit 222mph. That’s faster than any other car VW has ever made.
And, it would do that speed all day – literally. VW broke the 24-hour world land speed record by driving it flat-out for an entire day. They averaged a speed of more than 200mph and covered 4,800 miles.
2004 Range Rover Range Stormer
The supercharged V8 Range Rover Sport SVR wasn’t the first fast Range Rover – that honour goes to the Range Stormer from 2004. This was based on the standard Range Rover Sport but Land Rover got rid of the two back doors and shoehorned in a supercharged 4.6-litre V8.
They also bolted on some 22-inch wheels, fitted some Lamborghini-style scissor doors and painted the whole thing bright orange. But, it wasn’t all show and no go – Land Rover said the Range Stormer had enough power to crack 180mph.
2014 Lamborghini Asterion
The new Lamborghini Sian is the brand’s first hybrid production car, but its first-ever hybrid was the Asterion from back in 2014. To make it, Lamborghini started with an Aventador chassis, but it threw away the V12 and fitted a 610hp V10 engine from the Huracan. Then, it filled whatever space was left with two electric motors making 300hp. This meant it’d do 0-60 in 3 seconds and hit 185mph.
The Lamborghini Asterion was supposed to be more of a GT car than a hard-core speed demon. So, it had a more luxurious interior and more space for your designer luggage than other Lamborghinis. In the end, though, the project was canned and Lamborghini went on to focus on building the Urus SUV instead.