Cars we never expected their companies to create

Five surprising vehicles that manufacturers have dropped on us over the years.

Five surprising vehicles that manufacturers have dropped on us over the years.

Certain car brands often become associated with certain genres of cars. Indeed, much of their brand-value depends on fulfilling those expectations.

But that doesn't mean they can't shock us every now and then. Here we take a look at five truly surprising vehicles that manufacturers have dropped on us over the years.

Lamborghini LM002

LM002 monster off-roader was a shock from Lamborghini in 1986. Not now, of course.
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LM002 monster off-roader was a shock from Lamborghini in 1986. Not now, of course.

Yeah, no one saw this one coming. When Lamborghini decided to build an off-road vehicle for military and commercial use it seemed weird enough. But when nobody was interested in the prototypes, it threw the V8s out, redesigned the thing so it wasn't quite so rear-engined-deadly, jammed the 5.2-litre V12 from the Countach in the front and sold it to the unsuspecting public instead.

Oh, and in case the Countach's V12 was too soft for you, you could also get the LM002 with an 7.2-litre Lamborghini marine-V12 used in offshore powerboats.

Porsche Cayenne

Cayenne was a huge surprise from Porsche. But it also made complete sense from a business perspective.
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Cayenne was a huge surprise from Porsche. But it also made complete sense from a business perspective.

A sports car manufacturer making an SUV? Pull the other one, no one would ever buy that!

Not only did people buy the Cayenne, they did it in significant enough numbers to turn Porsche into one of the most profitable car makers in the world. This is all because when the incredibly shrewd Wendelin Wiedeking was brought in to pull the company back from the brink of bankruptcy in the early 1990s, he noticed that most Porsche owners had between two and four cars in their garage and one of them was invariably an SUV. Building the Cayenne simply made sense. And then it made lots and lots of money.

Lexus LFA

Lexus went straight from luxury sedans to one of the world's finest supercars with the LFA.
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Lexus went straight from luxury sedans to one of the world's finest supercars with the LFA.

When the LFA finally came out Lexus had been showing concepts for so long that absolutely nobody was surprised. But when it was first announced - that was a surprise.

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Up until that point Lexus had produced precisely one performance car, the IS-F, and that was just a powered-up version of an existing sedan. There is a huge leap to be made from that to a V10 supercar. But Lexus did it, and in incredibly convincing style too. While the Nissan GT-R offered similar performance for a drastically lower price, nothing could match the LFA for drama and that mighty V10 remains one of the best sounding things on the planet.

Honda NSX

Yellow is the official colour of Ferrari. But Honda had the Italian legend running scared with the 1989 NSX.
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Yellow is the official colour of Ferrari. But Honda had the Italian legend running scared with the 1989 NSX.

Nobody expected Honda to make a mid-engined supercar in 1989. Certainly not one that would totally transform what people expected from this type of vehicle.

The performance was still there, but what Honda did was show the world that supercars didn't need to be monstrously temperamental, difficult to drive and packed full of "character" that today we simply call "unreliability". While you couldn't use first gear in your Ferrari until the transmission had warmed up enough, the Honda could pop down to the corner store like a Civic - on its way to smash out super-fast laps of the Nurburgring in the afternoon.

Bugatti AutoRail

Bugatti AutoRail was a rather extravagant way to get some use out of a massive V8 engine.
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Bugatti AutoRail was a rather extravagant way to get some use out of a massive V8 engine.

Okay, so it's not a car. But definitely no-one saw this coming!

While the Bugatti Type 41 was stunningly attractive and fantastically luxurious when it was launched in 1927, it was also a massive failure. Bugatti planned to build 25 to sell to royalty, but given it was the middle of the Great Depression they weren't buying, so only three of the seven made were sold. Unfortunately, Bugatti had already made the 12.7-litre V8 engines, so what to do? How about design a super-luxurious rail car and jam the engines in that? They were incredibly unreliable, but 88 were sold. So that worked, then.

 - Stuff

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