One-off cars are hellishly expensive to make, but manufacturers treat us to one from time to time as a way of showcasing what they are capable of. Usually outlandish in design and often crazy-powerful, they act as halo machines for the wider brand. For example, when Volkswagen stuffed a W12 engine into the Golf GTI – which is downright nuts – it probably prompted a few sales of the regular hot hatch.
We’re just pleased that brands have given us so many amazing one-off cars over the years, so here we pay tribute to ten of the very best ever made.
BMW M1 Hommage (2008)
There are no prizes for guessing which legendary model BMW was making a nod to with the M1 Hommage. This reimagining of the 1978 M1 (the first ever M car) was also clearly heavy inspiration for the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sportscar, which became the second production BMW to feature a mid-mounted engine, after the M1.
Aston Martin Bulldog (1979)
The Bulldog was initially planned for a production run of 15-25 cars, but it was deemed too expensive to make so plans were scrapped after the first example. Effectively Aston’s first hypercar, the Bulldog could hit 237mph, but it ended up being mothballed in a private car collection owned by a Saudi Prince. It was recently returned to the UK, however, and is being restored to working condition.
Lamborghini Egoista (2013)
Built by Lambo to celebrate its 50th anniversary, the Egoista is based on the Gallardo supercar but looks more like a fully-functional Batmobile. From its side profile the Egoista is supposed to resemble a bull ready to charge, and it’s powered by the Gallardo’s 5.2-litre V10 engine.
Mazda Furai (2007)
Mazda wanted this car to go into production and had ambitions of returning to Le Mans with it…until it caught fire and was destroyed. Yep, the 460bhp Furai burned up while being driven by a well-known motoring magazine which has the initials T and G, and it was never seen again.
GT by Citroen (2008)
Being a Citroen it has to have a pretentious name, but in every other way the GT by Citroen is an absolute beast, featuring a 640-odd bhp Ford-suppled V8 engine and weighing just 1,400kg. With Citroen being the masters of good PR, the GT was designed and produced as a joint venture with the Gran Turismo 5 video game.
Jaguar XJ13 (1966)
The brainchild of Jaguar engineering director William Heynes, the XJ13 was built as an entry to Le Mans, but sadly it never happened. In 1971 it was nearly written off in a crash during a photoshoot being held to promote the Series 3 E-Type, which used a similar V12 engine to the XJ13. Luckily it was restored, but it could never be remade to the exact original specification.
Porsche 911 Four Door (1967)
Long before the Panamera came the 911 Four Door, which was literally an elongated 911 with two rear doors fitted, which were suicide doors. The car was commissioned by a Texan Porsche distributor who wanted to give his wife something more practical to drive.
Volkswagen Golf GTI W12-650 (2007)
The stats alone sound frightening: 641bhp, 750Nm of torque and a top speed of 201mph. In a VW Golf. Wow. While the W12-650 was built as a concept car the one example in existence is fully-functional, using a 6-litre W12 engine nicked straight out of the Bentley Continental GT.
Kia Sorento Ski Gondola (2016)
You don’t normally think of the Kia Sorento as an exciting car, but this 2016 one-off is brilliant. It’s essentially a four seater SUV with the capability to go almost literally anywhere, thanks to the continuous track systems in place of each wheel.
Bugatti La Voiture Noire (2019)
Based on the – let’s face it already pretty exclusive – Bugatti Chiron, the La Voiture Noire (French for ‘the black car’) is a nod to the 1935 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic. It’s powered by the same 8-litre W16 engine as the Chiron, but components like the auto ‘box and dampers are softened to recreate that ‘wafting’ feel of the 57SC.