When you think of a supercar, what’s the first brand you think of? Ferrari? Lamborghini? McLaren? Understandable as these are some of the most recognisable names when it comes to the fast and exotic. But there are plenty of other brands that have birthed some stunning cars, with some real underdogs on show here.
First things first, what is a supercar?
The term ‘supercar’ has been around for a while now, with a definition that seems to change depending on who/where you ask.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines a supercar as “a very fast car, usually one that is an unusual or rare type” – a pretty broad scale if you ask me. You could argue that there are a large number of cars that fit the bill for this definition now, cars that may, more officially, be GTs, sportscars or even just track toys.
I think that some of the more obscure and lesser-known supercars deserve some limelight, cars for people who just want to drive something different, something you don’t see every day. So let’s take a look at some of the more forgotten supercars of the last decade or so, and see where they stack up.
The Noble M600
One that you will probably recognise most from Top Gear, with Richard Hammond driving two of them (because one broke down) through Italy. Noble, a small car manufacturer from Leicestershire, has been producing cars since 1999, with the M12 and M400 among other prominent models.
The M600 sports a full carbon body, which can be fully exposed carbon on the Carbon-Sport model, a twin-turbo V8 that pumps out 650bhp, and a better power-to-weight ratio than a Bugatti Veyron. The M600 can also hit 200mph in 29.8 seconds, that’s only 1.8 seconds slower than a McLaren F1. These are big names it’s being compared to, and for good reason.
These are definitely not sports car numbers, hence the £200,000+ price tag at release. This was a huge jump for Noble at the time and it really didn’t get recognised as much as it should have been. Used cars are still around the £200,000+ mark now, but with so few cars on the ground, the M600 might be a hard find.
Honda NSX (2nd Gen)
The first hybrid supercar on this list, the Honda NSX sports a name with pedigree, and with the 2nd generation Honda definitely didn’t say ‘same again’. The new hybrid twin-turbo setup almost doubled the power of the original to 500bhp and married it with an all-wheel-drive system. This means the 0-60 time dropped from 5.9 seconds to just 2.9 seconds – ridiculous.
Whoever it is that Honda hired to design this car deserves a pay rise, the NSX is a beautiful design and looks a supercar in every way (except the badge but that’s being harsh). When the concept art was released, no one really thought Honda would follow up on it, but compare that to the real thing and nothing really changes. It looks like a supercar should – it’s futuristic, aggressive and of course, fast.
The original NSX is a JDM legend, but the new one just smashes it out of the water when it comes to performance. With the way 90s and 00s Japanese cars have shot up in value thanks to things like the Fast and Furious franchise, you might not actually be looking at too much difference in pricing, with (at the time of writing this) a 1996 model sat at £80,000, and a 2019 model at £115,000 on Auto Trader.
Now at first sight I bet you’re thinking “that’s definitely not a supercar”, but read that definition again; a very fast car – with 600bhp in this case, and unusual or rare – 1500 cars total. That seems to match the description pretty well to me…
The Polestar 1 is the only car Polestar produced with an engine, in this case, a 2.0 litre supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder along with 2 electric motors, combining to produce 600bhp from an all-wheel-drive setup.
It’s clear when you look at the 1, that this is very much a showcase car, you open the boot and Polestar have installed a window into the soul of the 1 with a view of the internal battery wiring in bright orange, along with a crystal gear selector, just because.
If you didn’t know already, Polestar is an off-shoot of Volvo, similar to Lexus for Toyota, a completely separate brand that’s focused on the luxury and performance side of EVs. If you were looking to buy one though you best search hard, they don’t appear for sale very often, and at £100,000+ you certainly won’t find one cheap!
TVR have a reputation for cars that are a little bit on the crazy side, and the Sagaris was no different. The Blackpool-based manufacturer made some very quirky cars, with a signature style that still looks great today – the Sagaris was released in 2005 and you can’t really tell!
With a 4.0l straight six, the Sagaris came equipped with 406 ponies at its disposal, all pushed to the rear wheels for a 0-60 time of 3.7 seconds – raw power delivered in a raw fashion. Putting all that power through the rear wheels with barely any aids does mean that the typically wild feel of a TVR can’t be escaped here though and that 0-60 time is probably very much dependent on the weather, the tyres, the driver, and probably your star sign amongst other things.
The running story with TVR has always been how unreliable they are and buying a 17-year-old car will not improve that, but there are specialist mechanics out there that are devoted to all things TVR. With an average price of £75,000, the TVR Sagaris is actually not badly priced for something so unique, just factor in regular servicing and be prepared for the quirks of TVR ownership and you will get a car you’ll love.
So typically Lotus is a sports car manufacturer, but their newest model the Emira is definitely coming equipped with supercar credentials. The closest thing to that that you don’t have to wait 1-2 years for is the now out-of-production Exige. With the Sport 410 model coming in at 410bhp, and the Cup 430 hitting 430bhp, they certainly pack a punch.
Lotus has always gone by Colin Chapman’s signature philosophy “Simplify, then add lightness”, and with the 410 weighing in at just over a tonne, the power-to-weight ratio of 389 hp/tonne is level with that of a Lamborghini Huracan 610-4 Spyder which is definitely a supercar.
Built for the track, the Lotus experience is one you can’t really get anywhere else. You can go get a track toy like a Caterham or even an Ariel Atom, but they will never match the feel of a Lotus, they’re in a league of their own.
Prices range from £30,000 to £80,000 dependent on the year and model you go for, with the special editions and highest horsepower versions very much at the top of that range. Production stopped in 2021, and with 22 plate registered cars available, you’re looking at effectively a brand-new car still.
Not everything will fit in the list, but there are hundreds more underappreciated supercars out there, so here are my honourable mentions!
The Apollo was a mid-2000s monster designed by the former chief engineer and head of Audi Motorsport back in the 1980s when the Quattro was winning World Rally Championships over and over – Roland Gumpert. A brilliant but expensive track car at over £275,000 on release – bear in mind the Pagani Zonda was $280,000 when new…
See the Lotus Exige from earlier, but throw in a V8. The Spyker C8 is extremely light but is powered by a V8 straight from an Audi S4, so power is plentiful and instant. It’s a recipe for a great car, but Spyker had a strange addiction to aircraft industry-influenced styling, complete with turbine wheels, jet engine air intakes and even a propeller steering wheel on older models.
A 500bhp V8, mounted in the middle of a carbon fibre monocoque, mated with a manual gearbox – a winning combination. Reportedly able to hit the 200mph mark, the KZ1 was a serious contender for the company’s first supercar. In the end though, as with most of these small companies, the buyer’s market is tiny, which for Ascari is probably the main reason they aren’t here anymore, but that means these are great cars to add to the collection.
BAC Mono R
Now, this is a track car 100%, but it’s one with supercar numbers that’s for certain. A power-to-weight ratio of 613bhp per tonne means that the Mono R has more power per tonne than the Pagani Huayra, Porsche 918 Spyder and Bugatti Veyron! All that power in such a small form means the Mono R propels from 0-60 in 2.5 seconds, eye-watering.
Can you think of any more?
This was very much an eclectic mix of cars, with some you probably didn’t even remember existed. No doubt I will have missed some here, and you probably have one on the tip of your tongue right now!
Specialist cars like these require specialist finance – you’re in the right place! If you are looking to finance something rare and special, please call one of our team for a tailored package. With cars that are a little more well-known, why not try out our finance calculator and get your figures in seconds?