What if I told you that your ancient NA Miata shares a handful of parts with a supercar? That’d be crazy, right? It’d be like going to a fancy-pants sushi place and getting frozen fish sticks with your order. It just feels so wrong. But, car companies actually do that kind of stuff all the time. From low-volume exotics to some of the fastest production cars ever, manufacturers are always looking to rob the discount bin for the perfect part.
Today, I have 8 great examples of cheap car parts being used on not-so-cheap cars, starting with the one and only icon of an entire generation, the Lamborghini Diablo and its super-sweet headlights that were stolen straight from Nissan.
Lamborghini Diablo (feat. Nissan 300ZX)
I don’t blame them. The 300ZX was pretty revolutionary. It was one of the first cars to ever be designed using computers, and it looks great. Plus, you know, Lamborghini was basically a failing company in the ’80s. So, when the Diablo was designed with awesome pop-up headlights, the big wigs decided to keep costs down by letting Nissan, who was in the middle of their golden age, do all the work.
Well, that’s just good business. And when both cars look so damn good that you can’t be mad. Lights are one thing, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Some cars share way more than just some lights. For instance, you might own a car from a prestigious Italian company that has a ton of parts from a cheap Dodge. Although, since it’s Maserati we’re talking about, I guess that’s not surprising.
Maserati Ghibli (feat. Dodge Dart)
Maserati is a strange company. We talk about it a lot because their cars tend to be some of the most depreciated vehicles ever built. And, while they sound amazing, the reason they depreciate so much is that they tend to be very unreliable. That’s why it’s really no surprise that their cars are parts-bin specials.
The Quattroporte has tail lights from a Daewoo Nubira, but I bet a lot of you haven’t heard of Daewoo, so let’s talk about Chrysler. If you open the door to the luxurious, beautiful Maserati Ghibli, you’ll find a bunch of Dodge parts. Specifically, you’ll find a ton of switches, knobs, and trim pieces in the Ghibli that are stolen straight from the Dart.
Yeah, it makes sense. Fiat owned Dodge, Ferrari and Fiat are closely linked, and Maserati is closely linked to Ferrari. It still feels dirty, though. Even if Dodge was just sticking Dodge parts in Dodge cars, you’d expect them to use quality parts, not something from the Dart. That’d be like using Camry parts in your supercar. Oh, yeah… about that.
Lotus Esprit (feat. Toyota AE86)
Lotus has always been stealing parts from Toyota. I mean, Lotus helped design the first Celica Supra, it’s pretty well known that the engine in the Elise has Toyota roots, and the Evora uses a lot of engine parts and running gear from the Toyota Previa van. But, I can’t pass up an opportunity to talk about the Toyota AE86.
Look at a picture of the Lotus Esprit and tell me if you get Initial D vibes. I’m alright with it. If you’re going to have a V8 supercar, having a little bit of spirit from the car that’s supposed to teach you how to drive doesn’t sound so bad.
Alas, the weirdest tail lights are actually on the Pagani Zonda S, and the Saleen S7, and the Lamborghini Diablo, and the Ford Th!nk City. But they aren’t from the Ford, they’re more commonly found on tractors.
Pagani Zonda (feat. Farm Equipment)
The lights are called Hella 4169s and you can buy them for about $25. You can tell people you have Saleen S7 parts in your Corolla, just buy a couple and throw them on the back seat. And, because they’re cheap, universal, and easy to get, they’re used everywhere.
It makes sense too. If you’re a boutique carmaker like Pagani, you don’t want to spend time or waste precious resources designing your own lights. Just grab some from the catalogue and call it good. Just imagine if there were even more tractor parts on the car, like if it had the entire drivetrain from a John Deere or something. Then it’d be like one of the greatest American supercars ever, the Dodge Viper.
Dodge Viper (feat. Truck and Van Parts)
We made a video about the Viper where we talked about just how insane it was that the Viper was allowed to exist at all since they had a minuscule budget and almost no time to make it. So, some of what I’m about to say is forgivable. For instance, it uses truck parts. No, not the engine; the engine was inspired by the V10 from the pre-RAM HD trucks, but it was re-engineered and made from aluminum.
A handful of drivetrain components, though, like the wheel hubs, are from the Dakota and Durango. That’s why it can be an absolute bitch to find aftermarket wheels for your Viper. And it doesn’t stop there. Inside the Viper, you’ll find parts from the Grand Caravan.
But the Dodge shenanigans don’t end there. I know we’re playing fast and loose with some definitions of “supercar” here, but the Mitsubishi Evo is supercar-fast, so it deserves a spot even if it’s a cheap, piece-of-garbage Dodge underneath.
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X (feat. Dodge Caliber)
That’s right; the Lancer Evo X sits on the same chassis and shares a ton of other components with the forgotten Dodge Caliber. Actually, that’s not really fair. Technically, the slow, ugly, and unreliable Dodge Caliber shares a chassis with the Lancer, since Mitsubishi is the one that designed the platform.
Still, it’s kind of mind-blowing to think about. Just imagine if the two cars had even more in common. You could have an all-wheel drive, 350-horsepower station wagon. I think I’d seriously consider buying a Caliper Evo.
The Evo and the Caliper are not the only cars built on the “Project Global” platform. You could just as easily say that your Lancer Evo shares a ton of parts with a Jeep Compass or an Eclipse Cross. Moving on, Dodge isn’t the only one that uses cheaper cars in their lineup to piece together expensive ones, it turns out a certain German company that I love sort of did the same thing with one of the greatest cars ever built. It’s called the Porsche 911 996, and I own one.
Porsche 911 996 (feat. Porsche Boxster)
Porsche, you see, is actually a lot like Dodge, which feels weird to say. But, hear me out. Both companies want to be known for driver cars, but have had a lot of economic trouble over the years. And when they’re having economic trouble, they do something radical. Dodge made the K-car, the Viper, and the Hellcat to stay on top. Porsche decided it was time to ditch the air-cooled engines and revolutionize their flagship 911.
But, they had no money. So, for the interior and a bunch of the body panels, they just stole them from their little entry-level car, the Boxster. And, yes, even the legendary GT3 RS from that generation has a ton of parts in common with the humble Boxster. Just look at the headlights or the inside or the deck.
I’m alright with it. I love my 996. That’s why we made a t-shirt with it. And, if some shared parts keep maintenance costs down, that’s awesome. Wait. You hear that? It’s honorable mention time!
Honorable Mention (feat. The Ford V8 in Everything)
You know the Ford Modular V8? It’s in a lot of Fords like the Mustang, the Crown Vic, and the F-150. And it might be in more supercars than the Chevy LS V8. Let’s do a lightning round. You can find a Ford V8 in the Aston Martin Lagonda, the Marcos Mantis GT, the Panoz AIV, the Qvale Mangusta, the Invicta S1, the MG X-Power, a bunch of TVRs, and the fastest production car in the world circa 2005, the Koenigsegg CCR. That’s a lot of Ford power. Almost as much Ford as you’ll find in an Aston Martin.
Aston Martin DB7 (feat. Like Everything)
Our last entry today reminds me of the old Captain Planet cartoons. Mazda! Ford! Citroen! Aston! By your powers combined, it’s the DB7! Starting in the rear, the lights are from the Mazda3 series. Headed to the front, the mirrors are from a Citroen CX. The door handles are from a limited edition Mazda 323. And the front turn signals are from a Miata. Yeah, it’s always the answer, even if the question is: “Where should we get these lights from?”
On the inside of the DB7, you’ll find Ford universal switches, buttons from a Ford Scorpio, electronics from all sorts of Fords, and more Miata parts in the form of the interior door handles. It kind of makes you wonder what Aston actually makes, other than a really good-looking car with a beautiful engine.
Like most cars on this list, it all stems from Aston Martin being in trouble. Ford and Mazda have always been really close. And, for a time, Ford actually owned Aston Martin. And the DB7 may have saved the company. It definitely looked great as a James Bond car.
So, thanks, Miata and Ford for saving a British Icon. We live in a weird world.