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10 Cars no one Expected From These Manufacturers

Most of the time car manufacturers are one way street. They understand their capabilities and obligations toward the market and buyers alike, so they rarely surprise us with something unlikely. In turn, we also know what to expect from them. Mid-size sedans will usually end up with a mid-cycle refresh after three model years and all new generation usually come up after five or six years. Moreover, when introducing an all new nameplate, it’s usually in expected segment. However, sometimes automakers surprise us with the cars no one expected. Heck, they even surprise themselves I dare say. Here are 10 cars no one expected these manufacturers will make. Some were a huge success and some ended up being a gamble that didn’t pay off.

Porsche Cayenne

Year of introduction: 2002

Every car enthusiasts knows what Porsche is all about. Performance, durability and luxury. They’re renowned for their sports cars with harmonious flat-six combo of roar and power. Well, not anymore they aren’t. Although Porsche Cayenne possesses most of German automaker’s hallmark cues (especially up front), it’s still a car that barely fits their lineup. Introduced in 2002 for 2003 model year, luxury SUV stands out from everything the Germans have made thus far. At least it’s been a huge success which has allowed Porsche to push their experiments to a new level.

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Lamborghini LM002

Year of introduction: 1986

Well, if Cayenne was unexpected at the time, where to even begin with the “Rambo Lambo”. To say it was an unusual departure from Lamborghini’s sports cars and supercars would be an understatement. Lamborghini LM002 was practically an aberration among the likes of Jalpa, Countach and later Diablo. It was powered by its coeval’s engine (Countach 5.2L V12) which allowed it to make 450 hp. It was never as popular as most of other Lamborghini cars, but it serves as a role model for the upcoming Lamborghini SUV, in a way.

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Lexus LFA

Year of introduction: 2010

It came as a Christmas present back in 2010 and it ended up being sold out by the same time in 2012. Not really an astonishing feat given only 500 of them were produced, but still. LFA represents a clear departure from what Toyota’s luxury division was doing in the past couple of decades or so. No one disputes Lexus’ ability to produce powerful luxury cars, but no one expected a true-blooded mid-engined supercar from them either. 4.8L even-firing V10 generated up to 552 horsepower while LFA cost around $375,000. Maybe it’s a glimpse of the future for the Japanese company. Who knows?

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Honda/Acura NSX

Year of introduction: 1990

Acura NSX (launched under Honda badge at first) was another step in unexpected direction by a Japanese manufacturer. Although they’ve committed plenty of them over the years, NSX was one of the biggest such moves. Beloved sports car was designed and produced in order to tackle Ferraris of the time, but with a much lower sticker. It succeeded in its mission thanks to 270-horsepower 3.0L V6 and 290-horsepower 3.2L V6 engines that had powered it. After a decade long hiatus, new NSX returns at just the right time to continue where its predecessor had left off. This time with a hybrid powerplant, though.

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Buick GNX

Year of introduction: 1987

Very few people expected Buick would be the badge to lead the muscle cars into a new era, but that’s exactly what happened when they introduced the GNX. Grand National alone was a move in an unexpected direction, but the GNX takes the cake. Underrated at 276 horsepower (actually made 300 hp), Buick GNX was more powerful than both the Mustang and the Camaro at the time. In fact, it’s GNX we have to thank for for the survival of the muscle car scene.

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Subaru SVX

Year of introduction: 1991

Unlike today when Subaru’s car park boasts mandatory all-wheel drive, Subaru SVX was available with the front-wheel drive as well. That’s not the most unexpected thing about it, though. SVX in general is an oddball in Japanese maker’s portfolio. It was one of the most expensive cars they’ve ever made, probably probing the borderline luxury markets. It was a powerful car in both its turbo four and normally aspirated six forms, but that simply wasn’t enough. Subaru recorded a total loss of around $75,000,000 on the project and they never again attempted marketing similarly refined cars.

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Chevrolet SSR

Year of introduction: 2003

What was it? A hardtop convertible pickup powered by 300 hp 5.3L V8 until 2004 and by 390 hp 6.0L LS2 V8 until 2006. Needless to say, such a car didn’t really raise enough interest at the beginning of the 21st century. Moreover, it certainly came as one of the cars no one expected to see. To be fair, the SSR had ample of power under its hood and that Chevy Advance Design pickup layout is something we really dig too. Priced at $42,000 to begin with, SSR was simply offered at the wrong time to the wrong market segment. It’s sad really. That’s the closest thing we had to the El Camino in the past 30 years.

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Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6×6

Year of introduction: 2013

G Wagen itself sticks out from the classy, elegant and refined Mercedes-Benz lineup, but 6X6 version of the boxy SUV is practically an aberration. Not to mention that no one actually expected such a vehicle from the German automaker. Hulking beast of an SUV moves around thanks to the 536-horsepower strong 5.5L twin-turbo AMG V8 engine. At least its stock form does. Being such an interesting customer, G63 AMG 6×6 was naturally used as a base for more powerful versions like the 700 hp Brabus or 828 hp Mansory versions.

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Ford GT40

Year of introduction: 1965

Looking at Ford’s lineup back then, it’s easy to figure out GT40 really sticks from the crowd. Even the upcoming Ford GT will do the same. Although no one expected Henry Ford II to actually commission such a powerful sports car, he did that anyway. It turned out to be one of his best moves at Blue Oval’s helm as GT40 managed to record four consecutive 24 Hours of Le Mans victories between ’66 and ’69. GT40 would then become one of the biggest automotive icons as the time progressed.

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Dodge Viper

Year of introduction: 1992

We’ve come to the last year of Viper’s production run but back in 1992, no one actually expected it to survive for 25 years. To be fair, though, this is the second time Dodge is pulling the plug on it after 2010. It’s been a rough ride, especially in the last decade or so since 8.4L V10 can hardly be justified in an era where emissions and efficiency are gaining the importance. It was truly a bizarre move for a company whose portfolio was stacked with pickups and SUVs, but I bet many are glad Dodge went on to do something crazy. Even after its run ends, Viper’s sting will be remembered for quite some time. It was certainly one of the cars no one expected back then.

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Nikola Potrebić
About Nikola Potrebić

Although driving a piece of junk, Nikola is a true car enthusiast. Very few things move him as muscle cars do - especially those from the golden era. Which makes him wonder: why wasn't he born a few decades earlier? Well, at least he's been able to enjoy the likes of Pontiak Aztek, Fiat Multipla, and the likes this way - right?