There have been some true monsters to roll out of the garages of the world over the last century, and since this is Halloween, we thought it only right to celebrate all things beastly with a collection of some of the most jaw-dropping cars that have ever roared their way onto the streets and tracks of the planet.
Alfa Romeo 155 V6 TI
Years Made: 1993-1996
Purpose: Class 1 Touring Car
Aside from looking like it has two front bumpers and packing the kind of bodywork that makes the (still to this day) mental cars of the DTM so wonderful to look at, it was the internals of Alfa Romeo’s mid 90’s touring car that turned it from your every day sedan into a complete monster. A naturally aspirated V6 lay under the hood, capable of producing 480hp and revving up to 12,000 RPM. That’s right, from a non-turbo V6.
Seven different drivers guided 155 Touring Cars to a total of 36 race victories in both the DTM and the World Touring Car Championship throughout the Mid 90’s, including winning the 1993 DTM Championship. But they’ve long since faded into obscurity amongst the majority of motorsport fans. Just listen to it though…
Years Made: 1976-77
Purpose: Formula 1
If you’ve ever watched Rush, you may have had your eye momentarily caught and thought “was that a friggin 6-wheeled car?” before being drawn back into gazing enviously at Chris Hemsworth. Nonetheless, you thought correctly. Named the P34, it was Tyrrell F1’s entry for the 1976-77 Formula 1 World Championships which famously saw the rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt reach it’s peak.
Driven by South Africa’s Jody Sheckter to a solitary race victory at the 1976 British GP, handling problems forced Tyrrell to revert back to a more conventional design 2 years later. This is probably the most famous car on the list, but god damn it, it’s a 6 wheeled F1 car. If it weren’t for the rivalry and now world-famous story that defined the F1 paddock of the late 70s, there’s a chance this car would be a whole lot more famous.
Years Made: 1970
Purpose: Can-Am Race Series
Looking like part race car, part Star Wars prop vehicle, the Chaparral 2J is largely the reason most Formula 1 Cars today have very, very low skirts surrounding the majority of the chassis, which are used to seal the underside of the car from letting in as much air as possible.
While Chaparral’s history is dotted with a number of frankly insane race cars, it’s the 2J that gets the mention here. This is because located at the rear of the 2J were two fans, sourced from military tank engines and powered by a two stroke motor from a snowmobile. These fans forced air out of the underside of the car, creating a partial vacuum which the rear of the car would then be sucked into. This created incredible amounts of downforce at all speeds, giving the car absurd amounts of grip and manoeuvrability at both high and low speeds.
Such was the level of performance of the Chaparral 2j in the Can-Am Race Series, despite being plagued with so many technical problems it never actually won a race (as well as drivers complaining that the fans would throw stones at their cars if they drove behind them), that McLaren campaigned for the use of it’s fans to be banned from the competition for fear that it would kill the series by utterly dominating it. After the 1970 Can-Am series, where the Chaparral often out-qualified it’s competitors by over 2 seconds, it was outlawed.
TVR Cerbera Speed 12
Years Made: 1997-98
Purpose: Road-going Race Car
If this car actually went into production, it’s likely that the TVR Cerbera Speed 12 would have been one of the most famous performance cars of all time, but alas, it was never meant to be and as such, the Speed 12 is probably the fastest and most powerful production car you’ve never heard of.
The Cerbera Speed 12 started life as TVR’s attempt to build a race version of it’s Cerbera car for use in the FIA GT1 series. However, a last minute regulation change rendered the Speed 12 completely obsolete and unable to compete in the series. In order to make sure their time wasn’t wasted, TVR set about spending the next year designing a road-going version of their race car.
What they produced defies belief, however only a few prototypes ever saw the light of day. Those that did produced mind-bending amounts of power to rival that of today’s most famous hypercars. The only Cerbera Speed 12 ever tested on a Dyno Machine was so powerful that it broke the input shaft of the machine testing it, a machine that was rated up to 1000bhp. With this, along with a curb weight of just over 1000kg, the Cerbera Speed 12 was thought to be capable of speeds beyond 240mph, meaning that had it gone into production, it may well have been the fastest in the world until the release of the Bugatti Veyron 5 years later.
Years Made: 1969
Purpose: Formula 1
The McLaren M7C is noteworthy for two main reasons: it truly kickstarted the story of McLaren’s success in Formula 1, and because of the way it looked. Nicknamed the “Guillotine Car” and the “Thursday Car”, the M7 was distinctly noticeable due to the rather conspicuous front spoiler that sat proudly atop the nose of the car. Truly a product of an era where the least you-know-whats were given about way Formula 1 cars were built, the Papaya Orange competitor was the first true success story for Bruce McLaren’s team.
The front wing however, designed to counteract the massive downforce generated by the huge rear wing, was banned for being simply too dangerous. It debuted on the Thursday, and by friday, the Guillotine was banned.
Years Made: 1966-68
Purpose: Formula 1
Despite not hitting the track until the late 60’s, the story of the British Racing Motors H16 actually begins in World War II Germany. Heavily subsidised by the Nazi Government seeking to turn Germany into an engineering powerhouse, companies like Mercedes Benz were increasingly pushing the boundaries as to just what could be done with the internal combustion engine, resulting in the production of some of the most powerful racing cars that were seen until the 1980’s when turbochargers came into the equation. The H16 was Britain’s attempt at beating the Germans at their own game, and to do so they crafted one of the most complicated, ingenious and powerful engines ever manufactured.
The H16 engine is essentially what it sounds like. Two flat-eight engines, one above the other, geared together with a single crankshaft, capable of producing truly monstrous amounts of power when it actually functioned (which it didn’t for the first few races of that year’s F1 Season). Despite it’s immense size and amount of valves, the total size of the engine was only 1.5L, later upsized to 2.1L. After modest success including a win at Watkins Glen under the driving of Jim Clark, the sheer amount of effort required to keep a reasonable amount of engines available and running became too great, and the H16 was replaced with a V12 the next year. Once again, this is truly a case of sounds speaking louder than words.