Top Gear’s Top 9: coolest retro homage supercars
Non-plussed by Lambo’s reborn Countach? Here are nine reborn legends to tickle your retro pickle
Ferrari SP12 EC
Ferrari’s Special Project (SP) cars are one-off coach-built specials commissioned by impossibly wealthy Ferrari fanatics whom the Prancing Horse deems worthy of having a uniquely bodied supercar made to their exacting fantasies.
It’s no surprise, then, that several of the SP creations pay tribute to Ferrari’s rich and storied history. British guitar enthusiast Eric Clapton’s favourite Ferrari is the 1970s 512BB, so he asked Ferrari to make a rolling homage to the Boxer. He wanted a V12, but Ferrari didn’t do a mid-engined V12 at the time, so he had to settle for a V8-powered 458 Italia base instead. See, even when you’re in Ferrari’s little black book, they tell you what you want.Advertisement - Page continues below
Lamborghini doesn’t do ‘retro’ very often. Perhaps that’s because it’s responsible for several of the most iconic supercars of all time. And if people think you’re plundering the back catalogue for an easy cash grab, people can get upset. Like they did with that recent new Countach…
Thing is, Lambo can indeed pull off retro to a tee. Remember this? In 2006, Lamborghini celebrated 40 years of its original rule-breaker with this rebodied Murcielago LP640. However, the car was never sold to the public, with then-boss Stephan Winkelmann explaining: “The Miura was a celebration of our history, but Lamborghini is about the future. Retro design is not what we are here for. So we won't do the Miura.”
Mercedes SLS AMG
AMG’s first bespoke not-a-tuned-up-Mercedes car was a front-engined two-seat super-GT with roof-hinged gullwing doors. It was a modern muscle car nod to the 300SL, which itself had been the world’s fastest car back in the 1950s.
The SLS was far from the fastest car on the planet, but it did have explosive door hinges that blew the bloody doors off in the event of a rollover crash. Safety first.Advertisement - Page continues below
Ferrari P4/5 by Pininfarina
When Jim Glickenhaus (yep, the Glickenhaus with his own supercar company and designs on winning Le Mans and the Nürburgring 24 Hours) was approached by Pininfarina to see if he might like a bespoke supercar, he commissioned a modern classic – literally.
It was a brave decision to dismantle a Ferrari Enzo and rebody it in a 1960s prototype racer style, but the P4/5, inspired by the Ferrari 333SP and 330 P4, worked. Apparently the one-off produces more downforce than the donor Enzo, but less drag. Well worth $4million – on top of the cost of an Enzo, of course.
Bearing a striking resemblance to the P4/5 is 2019’s DeTomaso re-birth, which is less of a homage to one car than several all blended into one.
The P72 is inspired by DeTomaso’s P70 racing prototype from the mid Sixties, but looks to us more like the lovechild of a Ferrari P3/4 and a Porsche 917. It’s based on the utterly mad Apollo Intensa Emozione, but swaps the Ferrari-derived V12 for a Ford V8. Apparently 72 will be produced, but it went quiet during the pandemic. Fingers crossed P72s will be swooping into a billionaire’s air-conditioned garage near you soon.
Aston Martin Victor
Underneath, an uprated One-77 V12 good for 836bhp and 613lb ft. In the middle, a manual gearbox. And on top, bodywork inspired by the brutal-yet-elegant Vantages of the 1980s and 1990s.
The Victor is truly one of the very finest one-off supercars ever made – exquisitely finished, jaw-dropping to ogle, and pretty darn sorted to drive as well…
A celebration of Ford’s centenary - and a shot across the smug bows of the Ferrari 360 and Lamborghini Gallardo - the supercharged V8 GT ever-so-slightly enlarged the dimensions of the Le Mans legend without losing any of the charm or beauty.
While the most recent Ford GT is a road-going Le Mans racecar – and a spectacular one at that – the mid-2000s version is more of a love letter to one of Ford’s finest hours than a lap time special.Advertisement - Page continues below
Porsche 904 Living Legend
A secret concept from 2013, this gorgeous coupe was inspired by the 904/Carrera GTS of the 1960s, but was bang-up to date underneath. Based around the carbon tub of VW’s XL1 hypermiler, the 904 was powered by a V2 engine likely related to the Ducati powerplant slotted into VW’s XL Sport concept.
Weighing less than a tonne and good for around 200bhp, the 904 would’ve been a sensational Lotus-rivalling mini-supercar – but It was never green-lit for production.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The complete works of Shakespeare. Twilight fan fiction. Just some of the stories that take less time to tell than the convoluted stop-start take of the New Stratos, which was first revealed back in 2005.
Ferrari blocked the production of the retro special as it used a hacked-up 430 Scuderia as a donor, but now the Scud is old, it seems a few New Stratoses are seeing the light of day. Just as well – it was getting old and probably ripe for its own reboot.Advertisement - Page continues below