These are the greatest cars ever built… that no one bought.
Starting off with the Lexus LFA: A Recipe for Disaster That Turned into a Masterpiece
When it comes to supercars, power, prestige, and an eye-watering price tag are the norm. But what happens when a company that had never built a supercar decides to create one? Enter the Lexus LFA, the halo car that showed the world what Lexus and Yamaha could create with their relentless pursuit of perfection.
The LFA’s exterior looks like it was chiseled by Michael Angelo, with an in-house carbon fiber reinforced plastic monocoque chassis that stabilizes the entire structure. The engine is a masterpiece, revving up quickly with a 553 hp 4.8-liter V10 that sounds like a freaking F1 car. The secret sauce? Yamaha fine-tuned the perfect pitch for this beauty.
When it debuted in 2012, the LFA was a revolutionary car priced at $375,000, making it a class of none. However, for a third of the cost, cars like the Audi R8 V10 and the R35 GTR overshadowed the LFA’s performance figures, making it a sales failure. But, thankfully, this experiment created hype and developed new technology and styling language to flow across the brand, which you can see in their design even today!
The McLaren F1: The Failed Masterclass that Created a Legend
Before the Bugatti Veyron, the OG McLaren F1 reigned as the fastest car in the world for a decade, with a top speed of 240 mph in 1992. If you were to take a masterclass on car building, you’d want Gordan Murray to be your teacher. He penned the groundbreaking design, tech, and record dominating performance that McLaren’s first halo car would become.
The F1 featured a central driving position flanked by two passenger seats, designed to provide the driver with optimal visibility and control while allowing two passengers to ride along for the ultimate thrill ride. With a 627hp V12 that needed literal gold plating in the engine bay to keep the heat down, it was the first production car to break the 7-figure MSRP mark.
Mclaren set out to build 300 F1s, but could only muster up 106, making it a failed masterclass by Gordon but a huge win for the small world of supercars. Nowadays, they’re worth over 20 million dollars, making that original million-dollar price tag look like a steal.
The Ford Focus RS: Good, But Not Great
Ford’s Focus was set directly on the gap left by incoming, bloated Subaru WRX STi and the death of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. Their weapon? The RS, a rally car for the road, inspired by gymkhana superstar Ken Block. With a turbocharged 2.3l inline 4 powerplant, a trick differential system, launch control, drift mode, and a ton of hype from the media and fans alike, the RS seemed like a hot hatch stuffed with potential.
However, it was shady dealer practices that killed the RS, with dealers charging up to tens of thousands of dollars for these “high demand units.” Soft sales at launch never got much better, and Ford killed the project after a couple of years. Nowadays, they hold their value quite well on the used market, but the manufacturer did not benefit from this endeavor and discontinued the RS after only two years.
The Dodge Viper: The Botched Death Trap That Went Out with a Bang
The Dodge Viper is a car that commands respect. It’s a modern muscle car with a monstrous 8.4-liter V10 engine producing 640 horsepower, and it looks like it was built to dominate any road it’s on. But even with all of that power and style, the Viper couldn’t dodge the unfortunate truth: it wasn’t selling.
At the time of its release, there were other cars like the c6 ZR1 that offered similar performance but in a more approachable package. And then the Hellcat arrived on the scene and stole the Viper’s thunder. The outgoing ACR model was the last hurrah for the Viper, with the Dodge brothers secretly breaking 13 production car track records all over the USA. But when sales are failing, what else can you do?
The Viper factory closed its doors in 2017, and rumors of a new Viper on the horizon suggest it will be electric. Will it still have that same bite? Only time will tell.
The Acura NSX: The Undernourished Baby 918
In contrast, the Acura NSX is a Japanese supercar that no one bought, but it wasn’t due to lack of power or style. The second generation NSX has sleek, low-slung profile with a distinct and sporty look that is instantly recognizable. It’s mid-ship engine is a trick hybrid electric V6 twin-turbo combo that produces 570 horsepower, making it essentially a baby Porsche 918.
But the NSX missed the mark on pricing, which was set at $160k. For the same price, buyers could get a Porsche 911 Turbo, Audi R8, or Nissan GTR, and those cars had more brand recognition. The Acura NSX should have been priced closer to $100k, which is a price point you can now find a lightly used example for.
Nowadays, almost all these cars go for more than what they sold for new! Sometimes it just takes a while for people to realize how great something actually is!