The CAR Top 10: exotics with humble hearts

Published: 03 July 2015

You know what they say about men with big sports cars. Well 
imagine if your sports car had a tiny penis too!

1) De Tomaso Pantera

De Tomaso Pantera

Face of an angel, heart of a Detroit hooker. Alejandro de Tomaso’s attempt to take on the supercar establishment married slinky Italian coachwork to a 5.8-litre Ford V8 that promised gobs of power without traditional supercar bills and histrionics. Elvis Presley shot his, but the quaalude-free Pantera outlived the King, remaining in production until the early 1990s.

2) Iso Grifo

Iso Grifo

Another Italian/American hybrid, this time using Corvette power in a chassis designed by Giotto Bizzarini, the man responsible for Ferrari’s 250 GTO, no less. Snobs sneered at the pushrod pig under the bonnet, but the later 7.0-litre could top 170mph – about 125mph faster than the company’s most famous model, the Isetta bubble car.

3) Bristol

Bristol Blenheim

Like fellow Brits Allard before it, and Gordon Keeble after, toff’s favourite Bristol succumbed to the lure of cheap, reliable US brawn in the early 1960s and stuck with them to the (very) bitter end. Shame they didn’t let the Detroit boys do the styling and teach the late Tony Crook some manners while they were at it.

4) Facel Vega

Facel Vega

Like Bristol, France’s gloriously sexy GT maker employed Chrysler power to deliver suitably aristocratic levels of go. A bit too much go for French publisher Michel Gallimard, who stuffed his into a tree, killing himself and Nobel laureate Albert Camus. Cold War paranoids claim Rusky sabotage, rather than a triumph of cubic capacity over bald crossplies and crap engineering.

5) Aston Martin DB7 V12

Aston Martin DB7 Vantage

Going to 12 cylinders helped the previously supercharged six-cylinder DB7 shrug off its posh XJS image and gave a massive boost to performance. But nowhere did the brochure mention that the engine was really a pair of V6s lifted from Essex’s own Ford Mondeo.

Click here to kick the virtual tyres of Aston Martin DB7s for sale at CAR's sister site Classiccarsforsale.

6) Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph

Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph

Seraph’s 5.4-litre BMW V12 was infinitely more sophisticated than the proper Rolls V8 it replaced, but needed flogging like an insolent servant, unlike the lusty old 6.5. Today’s Rolls Ghost shares both engine and platform with a 7-series.

7) Porsche 912

Porsche 912

The car the ‘debadge’ option was made for. 912 was lighter and better balanced than its big brother, and at least the engine was a proper Porsche item. But it was the 90bhp flat-four slug from the old 356, not the six you wanted everyone to believe you were packing. See also 924.

8) Delorean


Gullwing-door sports car’s high price and fingerprint-prone stainless panels hinted at performance the 2.7 Peugeot-Renault-Volvo V6 couldn’t deliver. £84m of Government cash, on the other hand, had no trouble disappearing into the distance.

9) Bugatti Veyron

Bugatti Veyron

It might have 1000bhp, but the world’s most famous supercar’s W16 is actually related to the unloved W8 motor fitted to a handful of pricey Noughties Passats. Used car pitch in Mile End: ‘yeah mate, VW say it’ll do 155, but I’ve had this one to 260, innit’.

10) Noble M600

Noble M600

Say your supercar has a 650bhp 4.4-litre Yamaha-designed twin-turbo V8 and they’ll be impressed. Squeeze the bile from their guts with full boost and they’ll be sure. Just don’t let on that the motor’s derived from a Volvo XC90’s. 

Click here to read CAR's original test of the prototype Noble M600

By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker