The Top 20 Craziest Fancy Car Replicas
Rare is the car buff that doesn’t have at least one supercar crush. Traffic stopping looks, endless parades of aural aphrodisiacs shooting out of the tailpipes, and acceleration, braking and cornering capabilities that have the same effect on your inner ears as if you put them in a hardware store paint mixing machine will do that. Sadly, very, very few of us who would love to have a supercar can afford one.
But don’t cry, Little One. Thanks to the world of replica and kit car building, you can at least have the visual appeal of your favorite six-figure pavement torturer for a fraction of the price. In fact, some of these four-wheeled cover bands are constructed from downright dowdy hoopties you can find stacked 800-deep when searching your local Craigslist page. Don’t believe us? Make the jump to read about our 20 favorite zero-to-pretend-hero autos and see if you’re still whistling the same tune.
Mercury Cougar to Bugatti Veyron
When compiling a list of donor cars for a semi-accurate Bugatti Veyron knockoff, a last generation Mercury Cougar is probably within a stone’s throw of the bottom of the list of candidates, right? Well, somehow, the car you see above manages to turn the trick quite well with regard to proportions and styling cues. But considering it’s still got a wheezy 2.5L V6 mounted up front and sending power to the front wheels, you won’t be maxing out at anything close to 253 mph. Hell, you won’t even hit 253 km/h…
Mitsubishi Eclipse to Lamborghini Reventon
The Lamborghini Reventon was built in such small numbers (only 20 sold to the public, plus one in Lamborghini‘s museum) that not even everyone who could have afforded one was able to get one. But if the looks were all these people who weren’t able to get their hands on one cared about, they could have approached the enterprising Ukranian builder of this Lambo-alike that’s based on a 2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse. The proportions and performance of the real deal might not be there, but the stealth-fighter-for-the-street lines certainly are.
Pontiac Grand Prix to Bentley Continental R
When it was first introduced in 1962, the Pontiac Grand Prix was marketed as a European style sport/luxury coupe. By 1988, though, it had evolved (Devolved?) into a V6, front-drive, quasi-sporty transportation apparatus. But this didn’t stop at least one person from dressing up his 1988-’96 Grand Prix Coupe like an actual European sport/luxury coupe, the Bentley Continental R. And with the money he saved over a genuine big Bentley two-door, the owner/builder can probably afford to stock up on Grey Poupon mustard instead of Kroger.
Chrysler LeBaron to Mercedes-Benz SL
In the late 1980s and early ‘90s, the convertible many Americans dreamed of owning was the R129 chassis Mercedes-Benz SL. During that same period, though, the ritziest convertible many Americans could actually afford was the Chrysler LeBaron. So it’s more than a little ironic that somebody came up with a body kit that transforms a LeBaron into an SL (at least cosmetically speaking). And the fact that Daimler-Benz and Chrysler later consummated a “merger of equals” the likes of which hadn’t been seen before or since (with the possible exception of Russell Brand and Katy Perry) is just icing on the irony cake. Mmm…irony cake…
Toyota Corolla to Ferrari 430
Let’s say you want an imitation Ferrari F430, but don’t want to start with something that’s mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive. What do you do? You get in touch with Executive Modcar Trendz (which, due to the z in Trendz, you just know is a hip and edgy company) in India and have them craft a surprisingly convincing(-ish) 430 out of a late model Toyota Corolla, that’s what.
Chysler Sebring to Bentley Continental GTC
The modern (read: Volkswagen era) Continental models have breathed a massive amount of new life into the Bentley brand in the last decade or so, and drawn people who before might not have ever considered buying one of their cars into the fold. But not everyone who wants one can afford one. Enter this Chrysler Sebring Convertible based machine. To the untrained eye, this kit looks quite convincing, and for most replicar buyers/builders, those are the only eyes that count.
Nissan March to Jaguar Mk. II
If you were going to pay homage to the iconic Jaguar Mk. II sedan of the 1960s, what car would you use as a starting point? If you’re Mitsuoka, the Japanese company famed for building neoclassics and the WTF-tacular Orochi “fashion super car,” you start with the subcompact Nissan March/Micra. Turning a tiny modern hatchback into a classic British sedan seems illogical at best, but the end result – which Mitsuoka has given the Pokemon-esque sounding label of Viewt – looks surprisingly good, particularly the second generation model.
Ford Thunderbird to 1949 Ford
The 1949 Ford was the company’s first truly all new design since before World War II, and was one of the pioneers of the use of smooth body sides in place of the traditional wide fenders, narrow body approach. In the six-plus decades since then, the “Shoebox” has become an iconic American design. So much so, in fact, that a company called Easy Rods manufactures a body kit that turns a 1989-’97 Ford Thunderbird or Mercury Cougar into an approximation of this milestone Ford. We say approximation because, well, look at the roofline.
Toyota MR2 to Lamborghini Murcielago
That Mitsubishi-based Reventon replica isn’t the only Japanese-engineered Lamborghini replica to come out of eastern Europe. Representing Bulgaria is this not-a-Murcielago built on the bones of a second generation Toyota MR2. It certainly looks the part (right down to the scissor doors), but the normally-aspirated 2.0L inline-four in back means its performance is more lazy than crazy.
Chevrolet Corvette to Ferrari Testarossa
As we’ve already seen, there’s no need to let the tyranny of engine placement dictate what breed of supercar you can build with a given donor vehicle. Case in point, this curiously proportioned “Ferrari Testarossa.” The curious proportions are due to the fact that it’s based on a fourth generation Chevrolet Corvette. The parts and service bills are lower, sure, but you’ll have to resort to a CD or cassette of Ferrari flat-12 music if you need to get your fix.
Suzuki Cappuccino to Nissan GT-R
The Nissan GT-R is capable of smoking cars costing many times as much as it does, but it’s still a $100,000 proposition. Significantly cheaper though (provided it’s even available in your market) is the GT-K, a clever rebody of the Suzuki Cappuccino kei car. It won’t be mistaken for a real GT-R, but it will get you noticed.
Volkswagen Beetle to Porsche 917
Globally, the original Volkswagen Beetle is probably the most popular kit car and replica foundation there is. And one of the most extreme, maybe the most extreme, kit cars ever created for the Bug is Elite Enterprises’ Laser 917. As the name and looks suggest, it’s patterned after the legendary Porsche 917 sports prototype racer. As you can imagine, performance is nothing like that of a real 917, but it is exponentially cheaper and more economical to operate.
Acura NSX to Ferrari 360 Modena
As far as we’re concerned, the Acura NSX (or for our readers outside North America, Honda NSX) was, is and always will be one of the greatest sports cars ever built, and the occupant of a spot right near the tippy-top of our vehicle ownership bucket list. So you can imagine how annoyed we get when we see people trying to disguise one as something it isn’t. Even when its masquerading as an exotic that’s as handsome as the Ferrari 360 Modena.
Acura NSX to Ferrari F50
In case you didn’t grasp our message the first time around, we aren’t fans of crossdressing NSXs. Especially when they’re dressed as something as busy (if not downright ugly) as the Ferrari F50. We can appreciate the work that went into the transformation, sure, but not the end result.
Datsun 240Z to Ferrari 250 GTO
The Datsun 240Z changed the sports car landscape when it was introduced in 1970, as it offered sensuous styling, peppy performance and impressive reliability at an affordable price. By contrast, the Ferrari 250 GTO has lots of the first two, a little less of the third one, and absolutely none of the last one. But that hasn’t stopped people from dressing up O.G. Zs as GTOs. Far from it, in fact.
Mercury Cougar to Audi R8
The Bugatti Veyron isn’t the only supercar from the Volkswagen Group that’s been riffed on by the last generation Mercury Cougar. The Audi R8 is also the subject of a Cougar-based stand in. And other than the shorter wheelbase and some other giveaways, it’s actually not that bad if you ask us.
Ford Mustang to Aston Martin Vanquish
The original Aston Martin Vanquish‘s role as James Bond’s ride in Die Another Day instantly made it a favorite among car geeks and non car geeks alike. Unfortunately, its tiny production numbers and un-tiny price tag kept it out of reach of most of its fanbase. But thanks to some clever designers and fabricators, there’s a noticeably cheaper way to roll like 007 circa 10 years ago: The “Vanquish” seen above is in fact based on the then Aston flagship’s then corporate cousin, the Ford Mustang.
Mazda Miata to BMW Z3
Few cars are as focused on the sheer joy of driving as the Mazda Miata. But if you find the Miata too common, blue collar or, *ahem* fabulous, you could always reskin it as a BMW Z3. Of course, at this point, an early Z3 probably isn’t too much costlier to buy than a Miata of similar vintage. Factor in parts and service, though, and the knockoff starts to look attractive again.
MG MGB to Ferrari 250 California SWB
Almost every time you see a super rare, super pricey car on a TV show or in a movie, you’re looking at a replica. One famous example: The Ferrari 250 California SWB in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It was, in reality, an MG MGB in designer Italian drag. Hopefully this means you won’t wince the next time a megabuck ride is wadded up into a ball in some blockbuster chase scene.
Pontiac Fiero to Whatever
Finally, we’d be 831 kinds of remiss if we neglected the car that is the darling of the kitcar/replicar world, the Pontiac Fiero. Whether it’s forming the basis of an F40 or Diablo tribute, or providing the skeleton of a Zimmer Quicksilver, GM’s first and so far only mid-engine production car has proven remarkably versatile to the automotive restyling community. We just hope enough of them will be preserved for future generations with their stock skin intact.