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The Roundabout Blog

International exotica

  • From far and wide, they came

    Exotic cars, those singular machines priced beyond the masses’ reach and built from surgical-grade alloys, lightweight composites and fine leathers – and which, more often than not, hail from Italy – are a global obsession.

    But as befits a global obsession, you will find them being produced in almost every corner of the globe, not just where stallions prance and bulls charge. These cars are tasked with flying their respective homelands’ flags and demonstrating the go-fast acumen of their nations’ entrepreneurs, engineers and designers.

    Here is but a sampling of some of these outliers, whose builders view a speedometer through a multinational lens. (Photo: Marussia)

  • Vuhl 05 (Mexico)

    The Vuhl 05 is not the first contemporary Mexican supercar – that distinction was snapped up by the Mastretta MXT in 2012 – but it is arguably the more daring one of the two. Closer to the mission and vision of an Ariel Atom than that of a boutique hypercar, the Vuhl offers track-biased get-up-and-go, notably missing a windscreen and any semblance of creature comforts. Powered by a 2-litre, 285-horsepower four-cylinder engine sourced from Ford, the Vuhl 05 debuted at the 2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed, and is expected to enter limited production in late 2013 at a price of $89,000.

    Top speed: 152mph

    Pub fact: Although the Vuhl 05 will be assembled in Mexico, its body will be comprised of fibreglass – or, optionally, carbon fibre – in Canada. (Photo: Vuhl)

  • Marussia B2 (Russia)

    Russian automaker Marussia’s second supercar, the B2, debuted at the 2009 Frankfurt motor show to agape mouths, due in part to its menacing maw, almost violently traced arches and formidable power under the hood. Two power plants were offered on the rear-wheel-drive B2: a 2.8-litre, turbocharged V6 built by British motorsport mainstay Cosworth, and a 3.5-litre V6 developed in-house, both mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The 500-unit run of B2s was produced by Valmet, the Finnish facility also responsible for Porsche Boxster and Cayman production through 2011 (and more ignominiously, the ill-fated Fisker Karma).

    Top speed: Over 155mph

    Pub fact: Marussia may be relatively unknown to Western supercar oglers, but had the resources to purchase a controlling stake in Virgin Racing in late 2010, and has campaigned cars in Formula 1. (Photo: Marussia)

  • HTT Plethore 750 (Canada)

    In the automotive world, Canada is known better for assembling American cars than producing its own, but Quebec-based HTT claims to have produced the first homegrown Canadian supercar: the Plethore 750. In the vein of the McLaren F1 supercar of the 1990s, the driver sits dead centre, flanked by two passengers. Scissor doors, another throwback touch, are remote-operated. A mid-mounted 7-litre V8 engine routes 750hp through a six-speed sequential manual transmission, and rockets the Plethore to a manufacturer-claimed – but unverified – 247mph. At such pace, Plethore owners would be among the fastest drivers on any track in the world.

    Top speed: 247mph (theoretical)

    Pub fact: Elsewhere in Quebec, Campagna Motors produces the wicked, motorcycle-based T-Rex – an exotic in its own right. (Photo: HTT)

  • Arrinera Hussarya (Poland)

    With a shape owing plenty to late-model Lamborghinis, the first modern supercar from Poland, debuted in renderings in 2012. Named for a historic Polish cavalry unit a century undefeated, the Hussarya is the manufacturer’s first product since the company’s founding in 2008. Arrinera nicked General Motors’ brutish LS9 V8 engine, tuned it to 650hp and mounted it in the middle, attached to a six-speed manual gearbox. Although production has yet to commence, buyers need not be Polish patriotas to appreciate its aggressive credentials.

    Top speed: 211mph

    Pub fact: Lee Noble, of the boutique British car company that bears his name, played a role in fine-tuning the Hussarya’s chassis. (Photo: Arrinera)

    A previous version of this story depicted the Arrinera AH1 prototype, which preceded the Hussarya. The image has since been changed.

  • Perana Z-One (South Africa)

    From South Africa comes an exotic of a different breed: rolling sculpture with a vigorous powertrain, contoured to hit all senses. The “Z” refers to Zagato, the Italian styling house that influenced much of the vehicle’s exterior styling and wheel design. The two-seat Z-One borrows the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1’s 6.2-litre V8, stroked to send 700hp to the rear wheels. Perana intends to produce no more than 999 of the Z-One, a machine that blends exterior elegance with sledgehammer innards like few others before or since.

    Top speed: 190mph

    Pub fact: The more things change... The Perana Z-One is now the 378 GT Zagato, marketed under the Britain-based AC Cars marque, best known for its replicas of the Shelby Cobra. (Photo: Newspress)

  • Oullim Spirra (South Korea)

    The Spirra is the carbon fibre-bodied proof that South Korea is serious about supercar production. While its styling seems to take cues from both the Japanese Nissan GT-R and the British Lotus Evora, the Spirra’s engineering is purely South Korean. Four different trim levels are offered, which range in power and features accordingly. A heavily reworked 2.7-litre, mid-mounted V6 engine sourced from Hyundai sends all of 175hp through the rear wheels on the base model. Higher-output Spirra models receive one or two turbochargers, and produce a more supercar-like 500hp.

    Top speed: 195mph for the top-spec Spirra EX

    Pub fact: A purely electric version of the Spirra was considered by Oullim, but has yet to enter series production. (Photo: Oullim)

  • Amoritz GT DoniRosset (Brazil)

    Aggressive exterior and interior styling reminiscent of that found on the McLaren MP4-12C gives the DoniRosset some gravitas. As with the HTT Plethore 750, the driver’s seat is mounted in the centre, while a digital dash layout gives the V10-powered sports car a touch of Tesla. About that 10-cylinder party piece: it is sourced from the SRT Viper, and reworked in this application to produce over 1,000hp and run on E100 ethanol.

    Top speed: N/A

    Pub fact: What’s in a name? The supercar is named after impresario/project financier William Denis Rosset’s father. (Photo: Amoritz)

  • Hulme CanAm (New Zealand)

    Paying homage to the late Denny Hulme, the only racing driver from New Zealand to become Formula 1 world champion, is the open-top Hulme CanAm, the first road-going supercar from a local manufacturer. At the heart of the CanAm is the venerated 7-litre LS7 V8 engine taken from the sixth-generation Chevrolet Corvette Z06, and tuned to 600hp. Although acceleration and top speed figures have not yet been officially released, the manufacturer estimates that its inaugural model will reach or exceed 200mph. Should it see production, the CanAm will go up against track-day machines such as Spain’s Tramontana and the Britain-built Caparo T1.

    Top speed: Over 200mph (manufacturer’s estimate)

    Pub fact: The CanAm was initially called the F1, and fitted with the V8 engine from the 1998-2003 BMW M5 (known in series as the E39 M5). (Photo: Hulme)

  • Korres Project 4 (Greece)

    Appalled by his country's lack of a car that could meet competitors on and off the pavement, Greek entrepreneur/inventor Dimitris Korres devised the Project 4. The chunky coupe is powered by a 7-litre V8 engine from the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 – as many of these exotic exotics are – here producing 505hp. A trick suspension, with three separately locking differentials, would enable serious off-roading and rock-climbing. For those that thought the ItalDesign Giugiaro Parcour was the only rough ‘n’ ready supercar on the block, the Project 4 answers with a gravel-spewing burnout.

    Top speed: 186mph

    Pub fact: How the mighty have fallen. Korres’ endeavour represents the only current start-up auto manufacturer in Greece, after several homegrown but star-crossed attempts some decades ago. (Photo: Korres)

  • Electric RaceAbout (Finland)

    The only supercar of the bunch to be developed by academics, the Electric RaceAbout is a Finnish take on all-weather efficiency and speed. The scope of its abilities is impressive, thanks to lightweight construction and four-wheel drive, and the RaceAbout was Miss Congeniality of the 2010 Automotive X-Prize competition, losing only to the Edison Very Light Car. The RaceAbout’s creators claim that their EV can travel approximately 125mi between charges, and that its lithium-titanate batteries can be recharged in about 10 minutes.

    Top speed: 124mph (manufacturer’s estimate)

    Pub fact: Continuous improvements have been made to the RaceAbout, including carbon-ceramic brakes from the Audi R8, a lighter battery pack and power steering. (Photo: Electric RaceAbout)

  • Zenvo ST1 (Denmark)

    The bat-out-of-Hades Zenvo ST1 looks the part of a proper baddie, with enormous front louvers and glowering face to match its exhaust note. The ST1 also uses the versatile LS7 engine from the Chevrolet Corvette Z06, but in the case of the ST1, however, the engineers were somewhat unsatisfied, and dialed the horsepower over 1,100 through the use of a supercharger and a turbocharger. Price? If you have to ask, around $2m.

    Top speed: 233mph (manufacturer’s estimate)

    Pub fact: A six-speed manual transmission is available instead of the standard automated manual, for those brave enough to row their own and harness power that even spooked TopGear. (Photo: Zenvo)