If it’s true automotive exclusivity you crave, Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Aston Martins won’t cut it.
No, you need something rarer. And probably a ticket overseas: some of the world’s most interesting cars come from seriously obscure niche brands that aren’t for sale here in the States.
For your edification, here are five under-the-radar marques and their top models. Don’t expect to see one pulling out of your neighborhood Jiffy Lube anytime soon.
The hard-to-pronounce Dutch boutique car manufacturer has been around since 1978 and, unlike every other manufacturer in existence, pride themselves on building performance cars with no aids of any kind — e.g., traction control, ABS or power steering. Their cars essentially delivers a purist’s driving experience that requires Senna-like skill. Their newly announced D8 GTO-RS (approx. $173,000) is long-hooded road machine that boasts only about 1,500 pounds of weight thrusted by an Audi-sourced 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder engine that spits out north of 380 horses. This means a 0-60 time of about 2.5 seconds and the power to resituate your organs and send you into the weeds at the slightest error.
Having suffered the fate of so many other niche Euro sports car brands, this German company filed for bankruptcy in 2012, at the end of production of its fantastic V6-powered carbon fiber bodied GT. In 2015, they came back with a proper answer to their supposed demise with an electrified version of the GT called the Scalo. Bearing the same slick body as the GT, the Scalo (approx. $192,000) is powered by two electric motors with 200 horsepower apiece and up to 260 peak HP for a 0-60 time of 3.6 seconds. And it boasts a 250-mile range on a single charge thanks to the 37-kWh battery.
This Dubai-based supercar company got worldwide attention with its Lykan Hypersport ($3.4 million) that launched between two buildings in the movie Furious 7. Of course, we don’t assume the car has those capabilities, but it doesn’t seem wholly unlikely considering the car’s 3.7-liter twin-turbo flat six with 740 horsepower and 708 lb-ft of torque. It also boasts Tron-esque qualities (such as holographic controls) and oozes opulence, with 220 diamonds embedded in each headlight. In what amounts to a car that rivals a Lambo Reventon for angularity, it’s just the kind of automotive madness we’d love to see rip up American streets someday. Too bad only seven were made.
Finding a supercar brand in Europe isn’t that hard … except for maybe in Poland. Look no further than Arrinera, a company that once produced Lambo replicas but now builds its own exotic two-seater, the Hussarya 33 (approx $270,000). With 650 horses from its 8.3-liter V8 and a 0-60 time of 3.2 seconds, no one’s laughing anymore. The slick body looks like a well-executed blend of Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and McLaren. Not a bad start, especially since we may even see it on our shores soon.
This might just be our favorite new brand, since it evokes the spirit of vintage grand touring cars from the ‘50s and ‘60s with its new classic Berlinetta (approx. $320,000). The Italian Frigerio brothers sought to build a modern version of an Italian road-going beauty by embellishing the Berlinetta with handcrafted details inside and out, including a handmade tubular spaceframe, a bespoke leather interior (with matching luggage) and a traditional five-speed manual gearbox. It even makes use of a 2.0-liter Alfa Romeo 4-cylinder engine with 180 horses. Thank goodness it weighs in at only 1,760 pounds, making this king of style a total boss on the backroads.