You get rare, and then you get these...
Limited-run production run cars are nothing new; exclusive vehicles built in the low hundreds and thousands act as halo cars, create collectibility for a brand, and can serve as a development stage for concepts and new technology. Once in a while, though, an automaker will build fewer than 100 units of a model, or sometimes, even single-digit amounts. Reasons can vary between the car being so expensive to build that a longer production run is hard to justify, or just a single customer or two want a different body style based on an existing chassis. It's those "ten or less" production run cars we're concentrating on here.
According to Chevrolet's production records, only two ZL1 optioned Corvettes were built and sold in 1969. At $10,048.15 in the late 1960s, the ZL1 Corvette with its 427 cubic-inch all-aluminum engine was an expensive piece of kit. As well as the ZL1 box being ticked, the Positraction rear axle, special front and rear suspension, brakes, and transistorized ignition system also needed to be optioned to get the ZL1 badge. Back in the day, Road & Track magazine got hold of one of the testbed cars and timed it hitting 60 mph in 4.0 seconds and covering the quarter-mile in 11 seconds. These are great times now, but staggeringly fast for the time for a car you could order and pick up at a dealership at the end of the 1960s. Now, the two vehicles are worth millions.
At the time of production between 2013 and 2017, the Lykan HyperSport was the third most expensive production car ever built. For the seven people who could afford one and get their name on the list, it cost $3.4 million. The hypercar is a collaboration between Lebanese and Italian engineers and was designed and built in the Middle East. The seven cars are powered by a twin-turbocharged flat-six engine making 780 hp, with the power controlled by either a 6-speed sequential manual or a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. W Motors claims the Lykan HyerSport will hit 60 mph in 2.8 seconds and go onto 245 mph.
Only a single Maybach Exelero was built, and it was commissioned by a German subsidiary of the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company called Fulda. Its job was to test and show off the Carat Exelero range of tires and was built in collaboration with DaimlerChrysler, who owned Maybach at the time. The Exelero is powered by Maybach's twin-turbo V12 engine, which made 690 hp and, more impressively, 752 lb-ft of torque at just 2,500 rpm. The Exelero has had an interesting history since being built and used by the tire company. It was featured in the German cop TV show Cobra 11, then was bought by the American rapper Birdman. It was then purchased by a German restomodder, Mechatronik. Along the way, the Exelero has been featured in a Jay-Z music video and a Japanese anime show called Nisekoi.
Icona is a design house and coachbuilder founded in Turin and based in Shanghai. The company only built one Vulcano Titanium because, as the name suggests, the car body is built using a lot of titanium and is incredibly expensive and time-consuming to build. According to Icona, the car is impossible to repeat, as it took over 10,000 hours of hand-crafted work to complete. The car was displayed as a showcase and then put up for sale for $2.78 million. The rest of the car is relatively conventional in comparison. It's powered by a 6.2-liter V8 pulled from a C6 Corvette ZR-1, mid-rear mounted, hits 60 mph in 2.8 seconds, and has a top speed of 220 mph.
Hennessey Performance celebrated its 25th birthday with the announcement that its Venom GT Spyder had become the world's fastest convertible. Driven by Ford Performance Racing School director Brian Smith, the Venom GT Spyder hit a top speed of 265.6 miles per hour. The car, powered by a 7.0-liter V8 engine making an extreme 1,451 hp and 1,287 lb-ft of torque, the Spyder version exists because Aerosmith's singer, Steven Tyler, wanted a convertible version of the car. Hennessey limited the car to five units, plus a "Final Edition" model.
On paper, taking a recently discontinued British roadster from the 1950s and sticking a massive American V8 in it sounds like a recipe for disaster. But Carroll Shelby was not just a great driver; he was also a Texan hustler of the highest order. The Cobra is an automotive icon, but only 998 were actually built in its production run spanning 1961 to 1968, including streetcars and competition cars. In 1991, Shelby decided to take advantage of some unused chassis and build 'completion' Cobras to sell. He wanted to sell them as 1965 models, but new in 1991. However, the Department of Motor Vehicles would only issue titles stamped for off-road use. As a result, Shelby only built nine of the Completion Cobras.
The final iteration of the Pagani Zonda R was a bombastic car called the Zonda Revolucion. Pagani took the Zonda R's body and added a heap of aerodynamic upgrades, and added a Drag Reduction System to the rear wing. The new aerodynamics were necessary as the Mercedes-AMG GT 112 engine now made 789 hp and 538 lb-ft of torque. That power is transferred to the wheels by an Xtrac 672 6-speed sequential gearbox that changes gears in an eye-blinking 20 milliseconds. The cost for the five people lucky enough to afford one and get an order in was an eye-watering $2.8 million.
This isn't the first Shelby to be featured on this list, but it's definitely a worthwhile addition. Carroll Shelby was known for going over the top, but in the case of the 427 Supre Snake, Shelby went a step further in 1966 and added two Paxton superchargers, almost doubling the horsepower of the Ford V8. "It's the fastest street-legal Cobra I've ever owned," Shelby said of the 800-hp car. The other car was sold to now shamed comedian Bill Cosby, who returned it after driving the Super Snake just once. It was then sold to somebody else, and the car was wrecked in an accident, killing the driver. The surviving model weighs just 2,500 lbs, and Shelby claimed it will hit 60 mph in just over three seconds.
Racing driver Vern Schuppan created his own tribute to his 1983 24 Hours of Le Mans and All Japan Sports Prototype Championship wins. The road-legal version of the Porsche 962 was funded by the Japanese investors that also backed Schuppan's race team. Reynard Motorsport built the chassis, and the final assembly took place in the UK. It was produced between 1992 and 1994, which, as it turned out, wasn't the best time to build and sell a $1.5-million car. Between the cost and the worldwide recession, Schuppan ultimately went bankrupt with just six of the 600 hp road-legal race cars built. Two have since been crashed, so only four now remain.
Lamborghini celebrated its 50th anniversary with one of the most expensive production cars ever built. Each one of the three coupes made cost $4 million, while one development mule and one final production variant were also made, both retained by Lamborghini. The Italian brand then followed this up with a limited run of nine Roadsters. The Veneno is based on the Lamborghini Aventador but was more powerful, with 740 hp generated by its 6.5-liter V12 engine. It also has a new body with improved airflow and downforce as well as center-lock wheels designed like turbines to direct air into the carbon-ceramic braking system.
In 2013, a Moroccan designer and entrepreneur named Abdesslam Laraki unveiled the $2 million Laraki Epitome at Pebble Beach. It features a carbon-fiber body and weighs just 2,800 lbs while being powered by the same V8 engine that powered the C6 Corvette, but tuned to produce 1,200 hp on 91-octane fuel. On 110-octane fuel, Laraki claims the Epitome will make 1,750 hp. Only nine were scheduled to be built, with one being ordered by hip-hop artist, French Montana.
The CC8S was Koenigsegg's production car, launched after eight years of research and development. It used a supercharged 4.7-liter Ford V8 engine to produce 655 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque to propel the CC8S to 62 mph in under 3.5 seconds. It was a two-seater with a targa top that could be stored in the frunk as the engine was mid-mounted. Its list of remarkable engineering is long, but the highlights are a Kevlar-reinforced carbon fiber chassis, carbon fiber body panels, and the first use of Koenigsegg's dihedral-synchro helix actuation doors. It won several awards for its design and put Koenigsegg on the map despite only six being built.