Rarities, Unicorns, odd balls, everyone has a different name for those rare and elusive vehicles out there. These cars can range from things you rarely see on the road to ones you only see on TV going across the auction block at Barrett Jackson. These vehicles usually cost more than the average dream cars but not all of them are unobtainable for the average Joe. Most really rare cars are expensive but others may just be rare because they are older and many have fallen to the likes of junkyards or sold for scrap as they aren’t worth much over time. I myself have never owned anything rare or obscure but I totally geek out when I see something out on the road that you don’t see often. For instance I almost rear ended someone the other day as I saw a Defender 90 going the other way. Not that they are that big of a rarity but you don’t see them everyday here in the States. Or on my way back into town last weekend an MKIV Supra going the other direction caught my eye. I was forced to quit looking back behind me when the change in my ashtray rattled from the rumble strip on the side of the highway. These are examples of fairly rare cars but what about the really rare ones?
One of my favorite Jaguars of all time is the 1967 Jaguar XKSS. Jag purists might scoff at me but I think the XJSS is way better looking than the E-type. The E-type is a beautiful car but the XJSS has better lines to me. You know it’s cool when Steve McQueen owned one! There is an interesting story behind the XJSS production. Jaguar had 29 unsold D-types and decided to transform them into road going sports cars. This was already a small production number but after a fire broke out in the factory in 1957, only 16 cars made it out. They could be purchased for a mere $5,000 dollars back in 1957 but as you could imagine they are worth a pretty penny these days. The one Steve McQueen owned for instance is valued at roughly 30 million dollars! Speaking of Jaguars, another rare cat is the XJ220. I had a poster and very detailed model of this silver bullet when I was young. I thought it was one of the coolest cars I had ever seen. When engineers at Jaguar got together in their spare time they developed the XJ220 originally as a 4 wheel drive, V-12 powered super car. The public was very excited putting deposits down left and right. When it hit production as a rear-wheel drive, V6 powered supercar many backed out! There were 271 cars built with only 32 U.S. spec cars and only a handful still remain stateside. The XJ220 was special in that it held the world’s fastest supercar record for years until the McLaren F1 came along. It reached 217 mph but would have done more if they had more road. It had a 542 hp twin turbo V6 and is still in the top 10 fastest road going cars ever.
Another rare car from that era is the Vector W8 Twin Turbo. This was another car that found its way on the wall in poster form for many little boys in the 90’s. They had a crazy design and were built right here in the good ol US of A. Only 19 of them were built, 17 of which were available to the public. The Vector had a very cool ultra 90s styling and more buttons on the interior than anything i’ve ever seen. It looked like an airplane cockpit. It makes sense as the owner and designer of Vector automobiles was not only a car enthusiast but also loved fighter jets. The Vector was powered by a 6.0L fuel injected twin turbo V8 good for over 600 hp. The dash featured all aircraft grade circuit breakers, and all of the buttons I mentioned were the same ones found in the F 117 stealth fighter jet. The W8 was the successor to the W2 which had similar aircraft derived design elements but with cooler horizontal scale bar graphs for performance gauges!
The 1928 Mercedes Benz S-type is one of my favorites from that era. It’s also one of the rarest of the time period as well. These were expensive cars and distributed only to the wealthy through an importer in New York City here in the states. The S type was actually designed by Ferdinand Porsche, another famous car designer you may have heard of. Only 150 of these beautiful sports tourers were built and very few have survived to the 21st century. Because of this they are valued somewhere between 5 and 6 million dollars. Another really cool car of this same time period is the Bugatti Type 41 Royale Kellner Coupe. Luxury cars of this era had a style that in my opinion have never been matched. With their long hoods and sweeping fenders, they were beautiful. The Type 41 was a huge car, weighing almost 7,000 lbs and its physical size makes it one of the largest cars in the world. The big car was powered by a massive 12.7L straight-eight engine. Bugatti planned to build 25 of these for sale to Royalty around the world but timing wasn’t great due to the Great depression. The chassis alone cost $30,000 back then to build, I could only imagine what the whole car cost. Today its said that only 6 of these cars remain in existence and have fetched close to 10 million at auction almost 30 years ago!
There were some pretty limited production runs of cars back in the heyday of muscle as well. As you can imagine they were usually the top performance models with big block engines. One of these limited runs was the 1967 and 1968 Corvette L88. GM advertised this as a racing-only package but did little to push it at dealers. Of the 216 models produced with the package only 20 were 1967 models (may favorite year for the Corvette). The L88 had a slightly more powerful 427ci V8 rated at 435 hp but many believe its output was closer to around 550 hp! The 1971 Plymouth Barracuda convertible is another rare one with only 11 ever built with the coveted 426 ci Hemi V8. Even more rare was the Hemi ‘Cuda with the four-speed manual transmission as only 3 of them were ever produced. These classic Plymouths bring well over a million dollars at auction but a must have for any complete Mopar collection. Another rare Mopar is also one of my favorites and that’s the 1968 Hurst Dodge Dart L023. These are considered by many to be the fastest factory muscle cars of all time. Dodge would ship these cars void of anything unnecessary for speed. Items such as horns, radios, carpeting, even engines and transmissions were left at Dodge when these cars were sent to the Hurst performance facility. Rumor has it that Hurst literally sledge hammered the right shock towers in the cars for valve cover clearance for the specially built iron block 426 Hemi engines that were shoehorned into the small cars. Further weight reduction was done by acid dipping the doors, thin gauge front bumpers, fiberglass fenders, and Chemcor side windows. Like the L88 Corvette the engine was rated at 435 hp but produced closer to 535 hp. These were 10 second cars out of the box and ran in the 9’s in no time. Only 80 were built for racing enthusiasts making them very valuable today.
There are too many one off rarities to list here. Many were manufactured by large automotive companies to show off what the future of automobiles would look like in their opinion. Others were limited runs for homologation racing purposes, and others like the Icona Vulcano Titanium and the W Motors Lykan Hypersport show off what boutique car manufacturers can produce. Depending on how rare the car is they can fetch a fortune these days. I wish one could know today what cars to buy as they may make someone very rich someday. It’s a little sad as some of these most rare and expensive cars surely don’t see road use, what they were built for. It’s understandable as it would be a shame for someone to rear end your 35 Million dollar Ferrari in rush hour traffic. I can’t say that I wouldn’t have some of these rare vehicles in my collection if I had unlimited funds to work with! As always, have fun, be safe, and keep the shiny side up!