Vector M12
Image Via: Supercars.

Somehow They Got Made: The Weirdest Supercars

Supercars are quite often very aesthetically pleasing, have great engines, produce a lovely sound, and become either status symbols or objects of envy. There are the classic Ferraris, the new McLarens, the most powerful electric hypercars like the 2022 Rimac Nevera and others. Ever since the first supercar in 1966, the Lamborghini Miura, it’s been a steady upward climb towards excellence.

However, as with all things, there have been some pretty strange, downright odd, and utterly ridiculous supercars made. How they made it through committee meetings, got stamps of approval from design chiefs, and eventually made it onto the road is beyond comprehension, but there are four in particular that are most worthy of the question:

How in the hell did these things get made?

The 1996 Vector M12: A Cut-Rate Lamborghini?

Vector Aeromotive was one of those companies that you looked at, tilted your head slightly to the right or left, and went “huh?” Founded as Vehicle Design Force (that is the actual original name, not a word of a lie) in 1971 by fresh college graduate Gerald Weigert, the company produced exactly one working prototype and two body shell and chassis prototypes between the founding of the company and 1987.

The final name of the Vector company, before it disappeared at the start of the new millennium
The final name of the Vector company, before it disappeared at the start of the new millennium.

There were a couple of success stories in the history of the company, as between 1989 and 1993, the $445,000 Vector W8 actually sold 17 units. The next car, the WX-3, had a prototype shown off at the Geneva Auto Show, but while Weigert was there, Megatech, an Indonesian company, acquired almost all of Vector Aeromotive’s shares in a hostile takeover.

Weigert refused to “simply be a designer,” and was subsequently fired from the company. Megatech also acquired another company in 1994, a little-known Italian marque called Lamborghini.

The Vector M12
The Vector M12.

Thus began the development process for the Vector M12. It was to use a stretched version of a Lamborghini Diablo chassis, and the same 5.7L V12 that the Diablo carried. Unlike the Diablo, however, the M12 body was going to be made out of resin-cured spun fiberglass, the exact same material that canoes and kayaks of the mid-1990s were made out of.

Also, while the chassis was stretched, Megatech brought over the Diablo’s suspension and running gear… without adjusting it for the stretched chassis. They then put the car on sale for $189,000 and expected hundreds of orders within months.

In effect, Megatech was trying to sell Americans and the world on the idea that the Vector M12 was a Lamborghini Diablo. The comically ironic part about that was that Megatech was also selling the Lamborghini Diablo—as a genuine Lamborghini, made in the Sant’Agata Bolognese factory that was the home of the raging bull. In other words, the Vector M12 flopped like a champion belly-flopper from the 10-meter diving platform, except that belly-flop specialist probably made a bigger splash.

It looked pretty cool in the 1990s, but unlike most supercars of that time, it hasn’t aged well in terms of aesthetics
It looked pretty cool in the 1990s, but unlike most supercars of that time, it hasn’t aged well in terms of aesthetics.

Megatech suffered severe financial issues because their “American Diablo” wasn’t selling, and even temporarily shut down Vector. They also suffered the embezzlement by the son of Megatech’s founder of several millions of dollars, and to recoup their costs and lost money, ended up selling Lamborghini to Audi. Only they didn’t make sure that all of the parts needed, small bits like the engines and transmissions, had actually shipped to America when they sold the company.

In the end, Vector was bought back by the management team working there, and production resumed on the M12. It was finally canceled in 1999, after 17 production cars, including the 2 demonstration prototypes, were sold. It also didn’t help that the Vector M12 earned “The worst car we’ve ever driven” award from Autoweek Magazine, which has been testing cars since 1958, meaning they suffered the Ford Pinto and the AMC Gremlin. Yikes!

The 2004 Covini C6W: 6 Wheels & A Whole Lot of Questions

The Covini C6W is one of those supercars that really shouldn’t work, but yet somehow does. Based on the idea of the Tyrrell P34 F1 car, which had four very small front wheels and two very large rear ones, the basic physics and reasoning make a ton of sense on paper.

Four wheels up front give better braking performance and better cornering grip—and with double the suspension, a more comfortable ride. If you suffered a tire blowout at speed, you still have three points of contact up front instead of just one. By having to extend the front of the car to fit the extra axle, you also make the front crash structure that much longer.

A Covini C6W prototype at the Goodwood Festival of Speed
A Covini C6W prototype at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

However, paper and reality are two entirely different things. The original design of the car was something that Ferruccio Covini dreamed up all the way back in 1974, and it wasn’t until 2003 that he had the chance, materials, and, critically, money to actually get a prototype made. That prototype was revealed to the world in 2004, and it drew the attention of most people because it looked like something that they would have doodled in the middle of math class in junior high school.

For a select few, however, it also drew their attention because it was strange enough, and a big enough of a risk, that it just might work, and their wallets opened to place a deposit to get one. It wasn’t going to be cheap, however, as Covini was originally asking the 2022 equivalent of $230,000 per car.

Now, keep in mind that the first orders for a C6W were placed in 2004. The first delivery of one of the cars didn’t happen until 2009. What went wrong?

Due to the sheer length of the car, a 4.2L Audi V8 in the middle looks positively tiny
Due to the sheer length of the car, a 4.2L Audi V8 in the middle looks positively tiny.

The biggest issue at hand was that only Covini truly believed the car would work in 2004, to the point that he was considering using Chevrolet Corvette crate engines as the power unit. He was able to hammer out a deal with Audi, however, and they produced a 4.2L TFSI V8 for the car, which put out 380 HP at first in 2005 but was upped to 434 HP by the time production actually started in 2008.

One of the reasons for the four-year delay was that in order to produce the car, Covini realized that since his company had only built cars in the 1980s, and only about 40 total in its entire history, he needed expert hands to build his dream. He contracted with PMI Engineering out of Milan, and while he wanted to start production immediately, there was the small problem of actually making parts for the car to be produced.

Being technically an in-house production, everything made for the C6W was bespoke, and it took those four years to figure out which bits were carbon fiber, which bits were fiberglass, and to build the tubular steel space frame that the whole thing relied upon as its backbone.

It’s a very weird-looking car, and somehow seems to be out of proportion, but at the same time, kind of works?
It’s a very weird-looking car, and somehow seems to be out of proportion, but at the same time, kind of works?

When it finally did start production, the cost of each unit had soared out of the stratosphere to reach $640,000. In figuring out the production issues, a convertible option had been designed, so you could either get a coupe or a convertible, but the fact remained that you could buy a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren or a Porsche Type 997.2 911 Turbo S for the same money.

The car was made between 2008 and 2016, and no one really knows how many were eventually made. Only 6 to 8 were made per year because absolutely everything for each car was hand assembled, and customization for each owner added more time. Most guesses put it at less than 30 total cars, meaning that if you do actually see a C6W, you’re seeing one of the only six-wheeled supercars that ever made it to the road.

2013 W Motors Lykan Hypersport: A Car Designed to Be Absolutely Ridiculous

As almost anyone who is into supercars and hypercars knows, if there is one place that you are almost guaranteed to see either type as a daily driver, it’s in Dubai. The United Arab Emirates is a center of immense wealth, sometimes to the point of excess, and those that live there are often not afraid to show off their wealth. It is therefore only natural that a company founded in Lebanon but based in the UAE, W Motors, would produce the single most ridiculously over-the-top supercar the world has ever seen.

W Motors Lykan Hypersport
W Motors Lykan Hypersport.

To get it out of the way up front, each W Motors Lykan Hypersport had an MSRP of $3.2 million. Now that you’ve done a double-take on that price, keep in mind that to order a Lotus Evija EV hypercar, you had to put down $2.1 million, and it’s only when you get into the rarified air of a completely customized, personalized, coachbuilt Rolls-Royce Ghost or a Bugatti Chiron PurSport that the prices start to even out.

The first thing that makes the Lykan so over the top is that from the outset, it was designed and planned to be just that: over the top. Much like how the original McLaren F1 was made out of the most exotic materials that existed in 1993, the Hypersport is made out of the most exotic and rare materials available in the 2010s.

Just as an example: most cars, even hypercars, will use LED headlights behind some very nice glass. For the Lykan, however, that wasn’t extravagant enough, so the headlights are accented with hand-cut diamonds. The air vents, audio controls, and pretty much any finger-touch component in the interior, including the steering wheel, are either made entirely of, or accented by, pure silver. The connectors for the tips of the wires in the car’s electronics loom are gold-plated. Parts of the seatbelts (the seatbelts!) are made out of platinum.

The rear of the car is shaped to channel a lot of air through body to cool the engine as well as create downforce
The rear of the car is shaped to channel a lot of air through the body to cool the engine as well as create downforce.

It doesn’t stop there either. The body of the car is made entirely out of carbon fiber, and not just your garden variety carbon fiber either. Styled by StudioTorino out of Italy, the carbon fiber used in the Lykan would make even Horacio Pagani weep with joy. If a panel is not absolutely, utterly, totally perfect, it is discarded and the process of making it starts all the way back at sourcing the carbon fiber itself.

W Motors also didn’t want an off-the-shelf engine for their car—no, that just wouldn’t do. They drew a straight line to Germany, but flew right by BMW, Porsche, and Mercedes, landing at RUF Automobile, the specialist company that takes Porsche engines and cars and turns them into absolute monsters of performance.

The engine in the Lykan is very roughly based on a flat-six out of a mid-2000s Porsche Type 992 911 Turbo, but of course with RUF playing around with it, by the time it was mid-mounted in the Hypersport, it had two massive turbos attached to it, chucking down 750 HP and 738 lb-ft of torque.

It’s so completely over the top that you would think it came from Lamborghini, but this is an entirely unique design. Also, there are diamonds inset into the headlights, something a Lamborghini doesn’t have.
It’s so completely over the top that you would think it came from Lamborghini, but this is an entirely unique design. Also, there are diamonds inset into the headlights, something a Lamborghini doesn’t have.

Only seven Lykan Hypersports were made, and each one was sold for way over the $3.2 million MSRP. This is because, when you’re buying a car designed to be ostentatious and over-the-top, you don’t just buy it as it is. You customize it, personalize it, and make it your car and your car only.

On top of that, W Motors, if it was in their power to do so, would do anything the customer asked, including accommodating one owner who wanted the leather of the dashboard—already top-quality Italian stuff—to be inset with diamonds.

Sometimes, being stupidly rich does have a few benefits, especially if it means you own one of the seven units of the most ridiculously over the top, Middle Eastern-designed, even-rare-in-Dubai cars ever made—the Lykan Hyperport!

The Spyker C8: Somehow, Still In Production After 22 Years

When the original Spyker C8 was released in 2000, it was one of the first supercars to come out of the Netherlands that wasn’t a concept or prototype. Instead, it was an odd little car, low and long, with a mid-mounted V8 and an interior that could only be described as having a whiff of the aristocracy about it.

It wouldn’t do to have just leather and such, no, that was far too normal. In the Spyker, you get quilted leather liners, a hand-wrapped leather steering wheel with four spokes in the shape of a propeller, a textured aluminum dash, and enough switches on the center console to make you actually feel like you’re piloting a small aircraft.

A 2004 Spyker C8 T, one of the first generation cars.
A 2004 Spyker C8 T, one of the first generation cars.

There is a very good reason for this, as the modern Spyker Cars is the legal rights owner and true successor to the original Spyker aircraft and automobile manufacturing company, which started all the way back in 1880. As the original founders, Jacobus and Hendrik-Jan Spijker, were also blacksmiths, the “hammer textured” dash is a nod to them, although it only appeared in the first generation C8 cars, also known as the Spyder generation.

One of the things that set the original Spyker C8 apart was the sheer opulence and over-the-top design of its interior. This is a 2008 interior, so the propellor-shaped wheel is gone in favor of one with an airbag, but the rest is as it was when the C8 first arrived.
One of the things that set the original Spyker C8 apart was the sheer opulence and over-the-top design of its interior. This is a 2008 interior, so the propellor-shaped wheel is gone in favor of one with an airbag, but the rest is as it was when the C8 first arrived. Image Via: Supercars.

There have been three distinct generations and 11 variants of the C8 made, from the original Spyder to the current car, the third generation C8 Preliator Coupe and Preliator Spyder. The extravagances of the original first generation have been tamed a bit. The textured dash has been replaced with a smooth, brushed aluminum one, and the propeller-style wheel has adopted a much more Audi-ish flat-bottomed D-shaped wheel. What hasn’t changed through the years, though, is the long, low, and slightly aristocratic shape and aesthetic of the car.

The current Spyker C8 Preliator Coupe.
The current Spyker C8 Preliator Coupe. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

It is definitely a love-it-or-hate-it car, and it’s weird in that, despite very low volume production and the Spyker company itself going bankrupt twice in the past two decades, it still, somehow, is continuing to just chug along in fine style. It’s always been decently powerful, with Audi-sourced V8s from a 4.2L 395 HP unit to a 4.0L twin-turbocharged 620 HP one, and it has always been rapid, with the slowest accelerating of the entire bunch, the original C8 Spyder, taking just 4.5 seconds to hit 60 MPH.

A second generation Spyker C8, the Aileron Coupe
A second generation Spyker C8, the Aileron Coupe.

The thing that makes it the weirdest, though, is that it is a very distinct car. You won’t mistake it for a Lamborghini, Ferrari, Audi, or Aston Martin. It has a character all its own, and while many supercar and hypercar owners like to remain slightly out of view of the road-going public, in the Spyker, there is no hiding. It shouts itself out to everyone, as though it has a big flashing neon sign over it blaring “LOOK AT ME!

Perhaps that is the strange charm about the C8 that made two different groups of investors bail out the company in 2014 and then in 2021. It’s the plucky upstart that comes to class wearing a zebra-print three-piece suit and doesn’t think that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s the kind of car that would down an old-fashioned at the bar and then flirt outrageously with any woman within 50 feet of it, while the Aston Martin is sipping its martini in the corner and shaking its head and rolling its eyes.

It’s weird, but in a way, it has its own personality—and in the supercar world, that’s a rare thing indeed.