Sports cars and Supercars represent the pinnacle of automotive engineering as far as extreme performance, extravagant designs, and overall quality go. With six-figure price tags and the ability to turn heads around the globe, they represent an exclusive segment of the automotive industry, and most manufacturers have at least attempted to release their own sports car model.
But manufacturing a competent supercar that actually justifies such a high sticker price isn’t always easy, especially when other proven models from esteemed brands lure in most buyers. As a result, plenty of manufacturers have unveiled and subsequently released potentially great supercars that eventually end up failing for one reason or another.
Occasionally, even some of the world’s best automakers fail to deliver production versions of concepts and prototypes that generate worldwide expectations. Here’s a list of 10 overhyped sports cars that failed miserably.
10 Fisker Karma (2011-2012)
Built as the production car from Henrik Fisker’s startup company, the Fisker Karma seemed immensely promising upon the brink of its release. Not only was it one of the first plug-in hybrid sports cars with plenty of cool tech and 402 horsepower, but it was also beautiful in terms of design; so why did it fail? Well, despite being a plug-in hybrid, the Fisker Karma turned out to be extremely inefficient, and when you add that to its $100,000 price and several factory recalls, it’s no wonder it failed.
9 Jaguar XJ220 (1992-1994)
Four months after winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Jaguar unveiled the XJ220 as a concept car with truly impressive specs. Among them, all-wheel-drive and a racing-derived V12 were some of the biggest talking points, and plenty of excited buyers made deposits before its release. However, four years later, the production version of the Jaguar XJ220 wasn’t nearly as competent as promised, featuring a V6 and rear-wheel-drive. As a result, demand for the XJ220 was far poorer than expected, and Jaguar only made 282 units.
8 DeLorean DMC-12 (1981-1983)
Back to the Future fans might disagree, but from a purely automotive standpoint, the Delorean DMC-12 doesn’t really make sense. Despite its attractive and aggressive design – which even features gullwing doors, the DMC-12’s measly V6 only churns out 130 horsepower in what makes for a painfully slow 10-second 0-60 mph runtime.
7 Lamborghini Jalpa (1981-1988)
The Jalpa was Lamborghini’s attempt at an entry-level sports car that could attract buyers that couldn’t afford the immensely popular Countach, but that was exactly the problem. To make it more affordable and less extreme, the Lamborghini Jalpa ended up lacking in performance and, as a result, desirability. In total, only 410 Jalpas were eventually produced in seven years – not a sales figure you’d expect for an entry-level model.
6 BMW M1 (1978-1981)
Let’s get one thing straight, the M1 wasn’t a bust because of BMW’s own fault, and in fact, they did everything they could to make the car a success. Created to compete in a new Manufacturers Competition racing series, regulations stated that participating vehicles had to have road-going versions. To comply, BMW reached out to Lamborghini to help develop the M1, and that’s where it all went south. Because of significant financial struggles, Lamborghini delayed the M1 project until BMW was inevitably forced to call off the deal, and after reaching out to other manufacturers to get the M1 ready, the result was a rushed version that was lack luster in several aspects.
5 Ferrari F50 (1995-1997)
Compared to most cars on this list, the Ferrari F50 is actually a great machine in its own right, but it just couldn’t get out from under its predecessor’s shadow. Despite its stunning design and racing-derived V12 with a manual gearbox, the previous Ferrari F40 was still better in the eyes of most, and desirability for the new F50 fell short. As a result, Ferrari only made 349 total units.
4 W Motors Lykan HyperSport (2013-2018)
Priced at 3.4 million dollars, W Motor’s Lykan HyperSport generated plenty of hype before its release, especially after featuring in the Fast & Furious movie. However, despite its ultra-aggressive design and alleged 740-hp flat-six, there isn’t actually any substantial information to confirm that W Motors ever sold a single Lykan HyperSport, and many believe the whole thing was just a scam.
3 Vector W8 (1990-1993)
The Vector W8 was immensely promising before its eventual release. Vector was already known for making crazy cars, and its W2 prototype on which the W8 production car would build upon featured a Chevy-sourced twin-turbo V8 and an insane wedge design. However, after promising that the Vector W8 would go into production just one year later and cost no more than $125,000, Vector went on to delay production for nine years before tripling the W8’s price tag. No wonder it failed.
2 Lexus LFA (2011-2013)
Conceived from Toyota’s ambitions to produce a nearly perfect supercar able to take on the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini, the Lexus LFA turned out amazing. Its V10 makes one of the best engine sounds in automotive history, and it’s also a magnificent supercar to drive. However, to make it so good, Toyota and Lexus spent over 10 years and more millions of dollars than you’d care to imagine during development, and even though it cost north of $400,000, Lexus still lost about half a million on each LFA sale.
1 Cadillac XLR (2004-2009)
Based on the Chevy Corvette, the Cadillac XLR was GM’s luxury division’s attempt at a two-seater convertible coupe with plenty of power. In itself, the Cadillac XLR was a gorgeous supercar with great driving dynamics and plenty of power, but that simply wasn’t enough to stand out among rivals such as the Mercedes SL or even the Chevy Corvette. Interest in the XLR never grew to meet Cadillac’s expectations, cutting its production run short.
Sources: Topgear, Luxury launches.