Okay, let’s role-play. Your name is Wentworth Chesterton Moneybags XII, and you can afford any vehicle in the world. Your heart is set on something rare, something fast, and something exotic; only a supercar will scratch your platinum-plated itch. It doesn’t even matter which one you choose—it says “super” right there in the name! It’s guaranteed vehicular awesomeness, right? Wrong, Wentles. History is littered with supercars from builders who ought to have concentrated on producing a good car before aiming for the automotive pantheon—witness our alphabetical list of the most lamentable supercars of all time. Warning: Some sacred cows are about to be tipped.
Audi Sport Quattro
YEARS PRODUCED: 1983–1984
Audi’s history isn’t exactly littered with supercars, and we fully appreciate that the Sport Quattro ticks the right boxes for brand aficionados: It has rallying heritage, it packs a brawny turbocharged five-cylinder engine, and only 224 of them were built. But should anyone other than four-ring fanboys care about this nubby little thing? It was birthed when an onslaught of far more compact, all-wheel-drive Group B rally cars began decimating the original Quattro, which was a derivative of the plain-Jane Audi 4000. So the automaker’s solution was to cut the wheelbase by a whopping 12.6 inches, which created a funky, nose-heavy monster prone to vicious understeer. This version didn’t find much competition success, either, despite the fact that Audi added a front spoiler worthy of a bulldozer. Go ahead and tout the Sport Quattro as iconic—just be sure not to let anyone see your Vorsprung durch Technik tattoo.
Ferrari 612 Scaglietti
YEARS PRODUCED: 2004–2011
Ferrari has offered four-seat models at the top of its range for decades, and more than a few of them have gone unappreciated, including the delicately styled 365GT4 two-plus-two of the early ’70s, which later morphed into the 400 and 412. But one such model deserving of scorn is the 612 Scaglietti, which appears on this list not because it drives terribly (it won its only comparison-test appearance) but because it’s so damn hard to look at. Bloated in every direction, the 612 is stretched along a 116.1-inch wheelbase—three inches shorter than that of a base 2014 Chevy Silverado—is a full 193 inches long, and rises 52.9 inches from the pavement. The front end is a mess of intersecting lines, the side appears to be sagging, and—this is tragic for a car capable of blowing other cars into the weeds—the rear end is boring. Like a true supercar, it offers occupants poor visibility. For bystanders, though, the 612 Scaglietti is all too visible.
YEARS PRODUCED: 2005–PRESENT
Roland Gumpert headed Audi’s motorsports activities until the mid-’80s, when a run of futility soured his relationship with then R&D boss Ferdinand Piëch. Gumpert was reassigned and hung on at Audi until 2004, when he set out to create his dream car in collaboration with MTM’s Roland Mayer. Mayer soon bailed on the project, though, leaving Gumpert on his own to launch this track-focused hyper-weapon, which is powered by a twin-turbocharged Audi V-8 and brimming with racing technology. The Apollo even held the Nürburgring lap record for a production car (since broken by the Porsche 918 Spyder). So why is it on this list? Frankly, we’re shocked it didn’t fall apart in the attempt. Every example we’ve seen has massive panel gaps and poor assembly quality, and the Apollo has an interior cobbled together with a random assemblage of generic parts. For this you’ll fork over a minimum of $550,000, but at least your car will look like an intergalactic codpiece. You might not be surprised to learn that Gumpert the company recently filed for bankruptcy.
YEARS PRODUCED: 1992–1994
The XJ220 debuted as an all-wheel-drive, V-12–powered concept in 1988, inspiring excited Jaguar faithful to plunk down deposits on the promised production examples. Unfortunately for those people, they ended up with a car that diverged in critical ways from the show property. Indeed, when the XJ220 finally hit the streets—some four years following the concept’s debut and after the red-hot supercar market burst in spectacular fashion—it was equipped with a more simplistic powertrain that combined rear-wheel drive and a turbocharged V-6. To add insult to injury, the engineering firm that handled much of the model’s development work, TWR, birthed the XJR-15 supercar with the race-bred V-12 the XJ220 did without. More than a few XJ220 customers tried to cancel their contracts, and you could purchase a new example of the car as late as 1997.
YEAR PRODUCED: 2013
Okay, so only one of these exists, but this rolling acid trip deserves a place on this list. The Egoista was among the gifts Lamborghini presented to itself earlier this year in celebration of its 50th anniversary, a pet project of VW Group chief designer Walter de’Silva, who often discusses his preference for “semplicità” in design. So, yeah, this one came as quite a bit of a shock. The Egoista’s amber-colored canopy brings to mind the Technicolor Hot Wheels cars we used to play with, its nose is designed to emulate a Formula 1 racer’s—even though Lamborghini hasn’t participated in the series for some time—and the kindest description we’ve heard for the Egoista’s haphazard lines and myriad air vents is “chaotic.”
Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren
YEARS PRODUCED: 2003–2010
What happens when the inventor of the automobile teams up with one of the most successful Formula 1 teams of all time to create a supercar? A heaping pile of disagreement, compromise, and drama. The SLR McLaren overshot its weight targets by a mile, was far too large to be enjoyed on twisty country roads, and even its own designer hated the F1-inspired nose grafted onto its simplistic body. (And the less said about the appalling Stirling Moss derivative, the better.) We once called this car “a classic in the making,” and we were kind of right, as it’s safe to say that these two companies will never again collaborate on a vehicle. Fortunately, each company went on to launch a pretty bitchin’ supercar on its own, namely, the laser-precise McLaren MP4-12C and the burly Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG.
Mosler Consulier GTP
YEARS PRODUCED: 1985–1993
When Warren Mosler decided the bond trading that made him rich didn’t provide enough thrills, he set out to create the fastest street-legal track car on the market. Based on a fiberglass-and-foam monocoque design, the Consulier GTP (left, above) was finished with a bag full of components from Chrysler and elsewhere. Power came from a coarse 2.2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that was also used in the Pentastar’s K-car. Beauty was not high on the list of priorities for this supercar, and the awkward styling never improved through the many evolutions of the Consulier that followed the original run, all of which seemed perpetually to be in the prototype stage. But if you think the exterior styling is the low point in the Consulier’s overall execution, find one and slip inside; no established car company could have gotten away with an interior so shoddy. At least the thing was hellaciously fast. The remnants of Mosler were offered for sale last year, finally being snapped up this summer and blended with small sports-car maker Rossion.
YEAR PRODUCED: 1977
In 1977, Panther Westwinds founder and designer Robert Jankel unveiled the Panther 6—it has six wheels, get it?—to an incredulous public, claiming a 200-mph top speed courtesy of its rear-mounted, Cadillac-sourced 500-cubic-inch V-8. Turbocharged to produce an alleged 600 horsepower, the powerplant was mated to a three-speed automatic. Even ignoring the wacky wheel layout—inspired by the contemporary six-wheeled Tyrrell P34 F1 race car—the garish droptop sported 1970s concept-car gimmicks like digital instrumentation, a TV, and a phone. It failed spectacularly, and only two units were built. No Panther 6 has attempted a run at the claimed terminal velocity, which is good, given the questionable aerodynamics and weight distribution. It’s the supercar Liberace would have driven.
YEARS PRODUCED: 2000–2002
The Qvale Mangusta isn’t a supercar in the strictest sense, but one would cost more than $117,000 today—enough to get you an Audi R8. This awkward, Ford Mustang–based targa was penned by automotive designer Marcello Gandini of Lamborghini Miura and Lancia Stratos fame, but when he was well past his professional prime. Originally conceived as the De Tomaso Biguà, it lost its glamorous brand name but gained the iconic “Mangusta” badge when the cash-strapped project was financed and then ultimately taken over by California-based investor Kjell Qvale. After three years of bad reviews (including our road test from 2000) and even worse sales numbers, the rights to the platform were sold off to the moribund MG Rover conglomerate. There, it morphed into the chunky MG XPower SV, a terribly named sports car that rarely reached its advertised power figures. Its carbon-fiber panels were soaked in so much resin that any weight-saving benefit from using the material was negated. There is no shortage of Mustang-based hackery rolling around, but the Qvale Mangusta might be the strangest of them all.
YEAR PRODUCED: 1980
Designed in the Star Trek-inspired style of the 1970s and ’80s, Jerry Wiegert’s Vector W2 flabbergasted the automotive world. A Lamborghini Countach of the period could approach 200 mph, so Vector claimed the W2 could top 230—but it could have claimed 15,000 mph for all it mattered. (The penchant for absurdist claims about the Vector survived at least into the past decade, e.g., 1850-plus hp, “260 or 270 mph” WX-8 “hypertech performance vehicle.”) Of course, the W2 never cracked its claimed target speed, perhaps because the chiseled, severely dated styling conceals a pedestrian GM small-block V-8, turbocharged and mated to a Turbo Hydra-matic three-speed automatic. In contrast to the humble powertrain, one practically had to be an astronaut to comprehend the W2’s dashboard, which relayed every conceivable bit of vehicle data, including fuel pressure and transmission oil pressure. The single example built was updated several times, but Wiegert seems to have spent as much time courting investors and battling with business partners as he did building supercars. It took nine years for an evolution of this car, the W8, to be assembled for a customer.
[Related: 25 Most Compelling Cars Worth Waiting For]