GRR

The 12 weirdest supercar concepts

29th March 2022
Ethan Jupp

We love a supercar concept here at GRR. They’re the rarest and most extravagant cars in the world. Your best chance of seeing them is either at a motorshow when new, or on the Cartier Lawn at the Goodwood Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard. So, while we have done a supercar concepts list before, we’re doing it again. Only we’re going weird.

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Alfa Romeo Navajo

And when it comes to going weird, you don’t need to ask Alfa Romeo twice. In the 1976 Navajo concept, all the perfect ingredients are there: racecar underpinnings, sci-fi rule-drawn Bertone exterior styling and a similarly space-age interior. It’s the last of a number of prototypes built on the underpinnings of the lusty 33 Stradale sports racer – it’s also the one that deviates furthest from the curvaceous beauty of that car. It’s so distinctive, with a strange semi-shooting-brake body and somewhat F40-style wing, you’d never miss it. It’s also high-tech, with active aero at the front and rear, while the pop-out lights came sideways from the wings. An oddity at every angle, with the screaming V8 heart of a Le Mans racer. Love it.

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Buick Wildcat

The Buick Wildcat couldn’t be more different. Introduced almost a decade later, in 1985, the Wildcat features one of the largest single moving pieces on a car, with the entire bubble-like canopy tilting up along with a huge slice of the body, to reveal the cabin, instead of proper doors. An early application of a full carbon fibre body, the high-tech Wildcat was surprisingly light, weighing 1,320kg. That’s in spite of an infotainment system, wild digital display and leather-clad cabin. It also featured a spokeless steering wheel. The Wildcat’s purpose? To be a vessel for Buick’s new high-performance 3.8-litre V6 engine, which protruded Bugatti Veyron-style from the middle of the car.

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Yamaha OX99-11

The idea of an F1 car for the road long predates the Ferrari F50, Mercedes Project One and Aston Martin Valkyrie. Yamaha of all companies, had a go at it in the early 1990s, using an F1 chassis and a development of its F1 V12 engine. With a tandem design (yes like the current Czinger 21C), 400PS (300kW) output and 10,000rpm redline to boot, the OX99-11 V12 near-enough achieves the road-going F1 car goal. It’s a bit gawky in appearance in truth and while it was initially intended for production, just three prototypes were completed before development disagreements and the Japanese recession killed it.

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Ford GT90

I’ve always found this one a bit shudder-worthy to be honest, though many love it. The Ford GT90 does what it says on the tin, reinterpreting the legend of the Ford GT racing car for the future-looking 1990s. Under the odd triangular skin, they pulled out all the stops, with a monster 730PS (537kW) 5.9-litre twin-turbo V12, based if you can believe it on the modular V8 architecture. The exhaust on the GT90 gets so hot that space shuttle-esque heat tiles are needed so that the bodywork doesn’t melt. It’s thought the GT90 was genuinely considered for production but in reality, it was a canvas for Ford’s incoming ‘New Edge’ design direction, using a Jaguar XJ220 chassis as a base. If we’re being honest, New Edge was more successful in practice on the Focus and Mondeo than on this weird concept.

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Bugatti Chiron Concept

Today’s Bugatti Chiron is one of the most elegant and artful hypercars on the market. The same can’t entirely be said for the concept car by the same name from 1999. Even with Giugiaro on the pen, it was clear a number of styling kinks needed to be ironed out in the Volkswagen-era of Bugatti. Much like the Bentley and Audis we mentioned previously, as a technical demonstration the Chiron was interesting, even if the car itself, wasn’t up to much. Using a Diablo chassis and all-wheel-drive system, the Chiron was all about one thing: its ridiculous engine. Displacing 6.3 litres and arranged in the familiar W formation, the Chiron packed a full 18 cylinders in its glassed-in rear compartment. This was before the decision to adopt quad turbocharging for the production Veyron project and as such, it only produced 563PS (414kW). Nowhere near enough for Piech’s vanity project. Still, the Chiron in part plumbed the foundations upon which the Veyron and indeed, the production Chiron today, eventually built.

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Audi Rosemeyer

Sometimes a nod to the historics should remain just that, a nod. The Audi Rosemeyer is proof of this, being a frantic arm wave at the very least. A stainless-steel mutant mash-up between the then-new Audi TT and the Auto Union silver arrows of the 1930s, the Rosemeyer packed an 8.0-litre W16 engine (the very same) in tribute to those 16-cylinder ‘30s racers, driven in period by namesake Bernd Rosemeyer. The Rosemeyer wasn’t as powerful as you might expect, given it didn’t use turbochargers, producing just 710PS (522kW), though it still had a theoretical top speed of 217mph. Some of these design cues and that engine did make it to production, heavily refined and exactly where they belong, in a Bugatti. 

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Bentley Hunaudières

Have you ever wondered what a Bentley hypercar would look like? Believe it or not, they were at one point in the running to produce a car in the shape of the Veyron. This concept’s name, Hunaudières, comes from the famous straight at Le Mans that was at one point then scene of some Birkin-driven Blower Bentley heroics. Using the very same engine and underpinning of the Audi above, it produced 632PS (465kW), could theoretically top 217mph and would you believe it, utilised a five-speed manual gearbox. But it’s not a Bentley, is it? Just look at it. Bug-eyed and wide-mouthed, with a strange light-filled rear end, this was a car that wouldn’t be in keeping with the high-performance brand Bentley is today, let alone what it was in 1999.

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Citroën Osee

Now we’re into the abjectly strange realms of French supercar concepts from the 2000s, starting with the Citroën Osée. Designed by Pininfarina, it features an enormous fighter-style canopy opening, much like the Buick above. What it doesn’t have is some ridiculous engine like the VW group concepts mentioned above. Just about the most conservative motor you’ll find on this list, is a very production-spec 3.0-litre V6 producing just 202PS (149kW), put to the wheels via a five-speed automatic transmission. That engine is the very same in fact that could be had in a Citroën Xantia Activa at the time, whose incredibly cool hydraulic Activa suspension the Osee also borrowed. On the inside an LCD screen replaced the rear-view mirror thanks to a lack of visibility caused by the louvred rear deck. Very forward-looking, but this is still an odd car.

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Peugeot 907 V12

File the Peugeot 907 V12 under answers to questions nobody asked. The question, in this case, “what if Peugeot made a car to rival the McLaren-Mercedes SLR?”. Of course, this mad machine was forged in the mind of Gerard Welter, legendary Peugeot designer and Le Mans record chaser. Never intended for production, the 907 V12 was instead a design exercise and the celebration of a new dawn for Peugeot, with the opening of its new design house in Velizy. It looks very similar in silhouette to the SLR and even some of the details bear a striking resemblance. That billowing bonnet, the gills and side exhausts, the swooping windscreen, even the mirrors. Speculation was rife online that the carbon monocoque this one-off used was that off the SLR but that was never confirmed. What it certainly doesn’t share is an engine. Per its name, it has a 500PS (367kW) V12, coming from marrying two of Peugeot’s 3.0-litre V6s together. The strangest bit? It was a fully running and driving prototype.

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Lamborghini Egoista

I’m going to have to keep the Peugeot tab open, for referring back to, while doing this one. To remind myself that cars can in fact be nice. Not sure what to say of the Egoista other than, why? It’s truly, truly hideous. Yes, Lamborghini is all about extreme design and excess, but lesser-spoken is that ever-present balance with beauty they’ve always struck. Beauty isn’t a word you can speak while looking at this car without getting a taste of blood in your mouth. A Gallardo that’s been crashed twice? A failed genetic experiment between an F117 Nighthawk and a Sesto Elemento? Who knows. Either way it’s fairly gopping. It’s probably the done thing to explain the logic, with the Egoista designed to look like a bull ready to charge, while the name has the literal meaning ‘Selfish’ in a number of languages. How this thing could have been in any way a celebration of five decades of Lamborghini, I’ll never understand.

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Dodge Tomahawk

Ah yes, this is much more like it, confined to the virtual realm or not. If you’re talking weird concepts, they don’t get much weirder than some of the entries in the Vision Gran Turismo series. None are cool as they are weird, like the Dodge Tomahawk. This is the answer to the question of “what if a car has ALL the active aero?”. There are enormous flaps over the wheel arches, and an enormous double-wing which, when working (they’re not just up or down), give the impression the Tomahawk’s skin is alive. Powering it is a near-flat 144-degree 7.0-litre V10 engine with over 1,000PS (735kW), with all four wheels getting that power via a variable-fin quad-stage pneumatic power unit. In other words, the V10 is effectively a generator? We’re not sure. It’s Gran Turismo and it looks cool.

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Audi Nanuk

Audi could be in contention for the title of king of the weird supercar concepts. Meet the Nanuk, a concept that in ways previewed the incoming second-generation R8 but took things down a confusing, less-trodden path. Yes, it’s jacked up with serious sidewalls, because it’s an off-road supercar concept, putting us in mind of the Mega Track we talked about the other day. You can tell this is a pre-dieselgate concept too because of all engines, the Nanuk comes with the famous V10 turbo diesel engine from the Group’s stable, for a healthy 543PS (400kW). At the time, if you can believe it, there were stirrings that it might make production. We’re not so sure that was ever going to happen, though the idea of an off-road sportscar has tempted other VW group members since. Lamborghini built its off-road Huracan concept and as I write, Porsche is preparing a production safari-spec 992 911. A fine legacy the weird Nanuk can call its own.

  • List

  • Concept

  • Alfa Romeo

  • Buick

  • Yamaha

  • Ford

  • Bugatti

  • Audi

  • Bentley

  • Citroen

  • Peugeot

  • Lamborghini

  • Dodge

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