Against our best wishes, these supercars died a lonely pre-production death.
It seems like every other day there’s a new supercar manufacturer popping up with some V16-powered 5,000 horsepower speed demon. But there are just as many supercars that don’t quite make it to the ranks of production supercars. Some remain concepts, others are built production ready but never get any further; and some of them, well we’re glad they don’t ever see the light of day. But there are plenty of supercars that we wish had been put into production that never made it, and we’ve selected ten of them here.
Originally named the Audi R8 V12 TDI, and later the Le Mans Concept, this first generation Audi R8 ran a 6.0-liter turbo-diesel V12 that generated 493 hp and a massive 738 lb-ft of torque. A diesel supercar might sound strange, but considering Audi dominated Le Mans for so long with the technology, it would’ve only been appropriate if they’d been the ones to launch a road-going supercar powered by diesel. The R8 Le Mans Concept was capable of a 0-62 mph sprint of just 4.2 secs and a top speed of over 186 mph, despite weighing 661 pounds more than the V8-powered R8 it was based on.
In 2009, Audi canned the idea, citing the cost of reengineering the gasoline R8 to accommodate diesel would just be too great.
Jaguar had a spiritual successor to the XJ220 planned, tied into its Formula 1 partnership with Williams F1. The C-X75 concept debuted in 2010, powered by 778-hp electric motors fed by diesel turbines. A production run was planned, with a maximum of 250 units set to work on a hybrid setup instead, including a 31 mile all-electric range. However in 2012 when the global financial crisis didn’t end as expected, the C-X75 was canned, but not until five developmental prototypes had been produced in production spec. The C-X75’s last hoorah came when it was featured in the James Bond film, Spectre, but that was as close as it got to reality.
The 2006 Lamborghini Miura Concept was never destined for production, but that can’t stop us wishing it had a hope. It was built to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the original Miura, with retro styling paying homage to the original. The underpinnings weren’t bespoke, based instead upon the Murcielago. Before we could even utter our prayers for a production version however, Lambo’s then CEO, Stefan Winkelmann, put a damper on the whole thing saying that the Miura Concept was a celebration of the brand’s history, and that Lamborghini was about the future.
In 2010, a Lotus revival was on the cards. At the Paris Motor Show, the carmaker unveiled the Esprit concept – a mid-engined supercar that would rival the Ferrari 458 Italia in production spec. It was to use a heavily revised Lexus 5.0-liter V8 developing 611 hp, sent to the rear wheels via a 7-speed dual clutch gearbox, with an optional KERS hybrid system available. But the Lotus revival wasn’t to be, and in 2014 Lotus announced the Esprit was cancelled in favor of continued lightweight sportscar production.
Chrysler created an uncharacteristic 2004 supercar concept called the ME Four Twelve (4-12), named after it being Mid-Engined, with four turbos and twelve cylinders. It was based around a carbon fiber and aluminum honeycomb chassis, and powered by a modified 6.0-liter Mercedes-Benz V12 engine outputting 850 hp. 0-60 mph was said to come in a 2.9 secs, and the quarter mile in 10.6 secs. The concept was reportedly scheduled for production until high-up Chrysler execs unexpectedly shut it down. Rumors suggest it was Mercedes-Benz via owners Daimler, who killed the project as it wasn’t happy with Chrysler using its engine for something so mega.
It began life as the Experimental Project 882 in the late 1960s, featuring a Wankel rotary engine at its heart. But in 1976, the four rotor engine was swapped out for a mid-mounted Chevrolet V8, and the concept was dubbed the Aerovette. The Aerovette was approved for production in 1980, featuring gullwing doors and expected to cost $15,000-$18,000. But when supporters of the project high up in GM retired, the idea was canned in favor of a front-engined sports car instead. The world has lusted after a mid-engined Corvette ever since, though rumor suggests we might get one soon enough.
The Zagato Raptor, often termed the Lamborghini Raptor, was a mid-engined V12 supercar concept based on the Diablo. Designed as a partnership between Zagato and Alain Wicki, the Raptor featured the Zagato double-bubble roof design, and entry to the cabin via a fighter jet styled canopy that lifted forward to open up. Powered by the Diablo’s 492-hp V12, it was speculated by many that the Raptor would prove an ideal successor to the Diablo, but it never happened. Wicki tried to develop the Raptor into a production model, but his efforts were fruitless, and the Raptor remained a one-off prototype.
Detroit Electric was an electric car manufacturer from 1907 until 1939. The brand was revived in 2008 by the former CEO of the Lotus Engineering Group and officially relaunched in 2013 with the SP.01. Based on the Lotus Elise, the Detroit Electric SP.01 was to be powered by a 37kWh lithium-polymer battery capable of giving the sports car a 180 mile range. Outputs were meager, with just 201 hp available, but the claimed 0-60 mph sprint of 3.7 seconds was impressive nonetheless. A production run of 999 units was planned, but it just never came to fruition. Rumors suggest it’s still going to be released, but so far all we’ve seen is all talk and no action.
After Lamborghini was sold to Megatech in 1994, Italdesign got on board to develop the Cala Concept as a replacement for the discontinued Jalpa. The Cala was to be a mid-engined supercar powered by a 4.0-liter V10 sending 400-hp to the rear wheels via a 6-speed manual. The striking body was manufactured from carbon fiber, with design work handled by Giorgetto Giugiaro. However, the Cala was canned when Audi bought Lamborghini – who released its own V10 Lambo a few years later in the Gallardo, which went on to be a massive success. When it went out of production, half of all Lamborghinis ever sold wore the Gallardo nameplate.
Apollo Automobil, the company formerly known as Gumpert, was famous for the Apollo supercar – despite its less than satisfying looks. But in 2013, the company filed for bankruptcy and went into liquidation. However, in 2016 the company was purchased and revived with the new Apollo name. Just a few months after the buy-out, the Apollo Arrow debuted in Geneva – a 1000-hp mid-engined supercar powered by a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 engine. Performance was stellar – 0-60 mph in less than 2.9 seconds and a top speed north of 220 mph. Production was planned, but in 2017 a new model, the Intensa Emozione was revealed as a replacement.