Hooniverse Asks- What’s Your Favorite Boutique Foreign Ride?


Yesterday we asked you what was your favorite limited appeal production American car, and you came back with some pretty freaky interesting responses. Today, we’re going overseas for a similar question – one involving that same limited production – or boutique – manufacturing, but also lots of hand gestures.
Whether it’s Wiesmann, Dome-O, Connaught, or Puma, the world is full of wannabe Enzo Ferrari and Henry Fords. In fact it seems that shed-based auto manufacturers outnumber the pros by a factor of ten. Fiberglass is their medium, and a fun game is discerning the source of such hard to make on such a limited scale parts as tail lights and windscreens.
Occasionally one of these companies gains a toehold in both the consumer mindset and their wallet – and manages to stick around for a decade or more, under almost annual ownership change and production that has the regularity of morse code. And all that represents a big part of what we love about them. Production manufacturers always have to aim for the lowest common denominator – offering the product with the broadest appeal, while boutique makers can focus on that singular individual (hopefully with a fat wallet) that is looking for something specific and unique. For you, which of these foreign makers of individuality is your favorite?
Image source: [NetCarShow.com]
Thanks again to Longroofian for the question idea.

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49 responses to “Hooniverse Asks- What’s Your Favorite Boutique Foreign Ride?”

  1. vwminispeedster Avatar

    Intermeccanica. some day I'll get mine back up and running. Just need to re-do the wiring. It's only taken me 7 years to get this far.

    1. Jim Brennan Avatar
      Jim Brennan

      Don't forget the beautiful Fitch Phoenix, built by Intermeccanica….
      <img src="http://www.intermeccanica.org/publications/a-l/aqv8n4/AQv8n4pg404.jpg&quot; alt="" />

      1. Balestra Avatar

        Ugh! Fugly!!!!!

  2. Maxichamp Avatar


  3. tonyola Avatar

    Lynx XK-SS. I'm not sure we're including replicars here and I don't care. This is still pure car lust.
    <img src="http://photos.classicandperformancecar.com/images/front_picture_library_UK/dir_608/car_photo_304435_25.jpg&quot; width=500>

    1. vwminispeedster Avatar

      I'm counting my Intermeccanica Speedster above so yes we are including replicars. 🙂

  4. P161911 Avatar
    1. Smells_Homeless Avatar

      I sure think so, as that was my first instinct.

  5. Alff Avatar

    Not my favorite, but one that I wish they could have brought to market. The Josse Car Indigo 3000…
    <img src="http://www.diseno-art.com/images/josse_car_indigo_3000.jpg"&gt;
    As far as favorite boutique marques, I'm partial to those that melded Euro bodywork with American V8's. Iso, Monteverdi, Bizzarrini, Jensen … the list goes on.

    1. zaddikim Avatar

      That looks likes it's got DNA from a Jag XK, Aston Martin, and the BMW Z8.
      So, yeah, I kinda like it.

  6. skitter Avatar

    <img src="http://i615.photobucket.com/albums/tt237/jskitter/hooniverse/TVRTuscanSpeedSix.jpg&quot; width="500">
    It has to be TVR. They built not one, but two engine families. Three if you count the insane Speed 12. The number of variations on a theme probably hurt the bottom line, but it's the only way to make beautiful music.

    1. Syrax Avatar

      IIRC the Sagaris was meant to replace the Tuscan but the design was too controversial and, afraid the sales would suffer a big hit, they decided to keep both. That's why the Tuscan 2 is more tamed (term used very loosely).

  7. BGW Avatar

    Not too long ago, I'd have said it was easily these guys.
    <img src="http://img822.imageshack.us/img822/9441/p8y0264version2.jpg"&gt;
    But I guess buying a much more recognizable car company rather puts a damper on their boutiqueness, even if their current financial status is more boutique than ever.

  8. Maxichamp Avatar

    I checked out a Bitter SC last month:

    1. AteUpWithMotor Avatar

      Nice. Apparently the styling of the SC got some tweaks from a couple of Opel stylists (including one-time Chevrolet designer Henry Haga, who if I recall correctly oversaw the second-generation Corvair and the first-and second-generation Camaros). It does look like a Ferrari 400i, but that's hardly a bad thing.

      1. facelvega Avatar

        I would love to see a comparison test of an SC against a 400i, if there's anyone who could actually find an example of each to test them. Maybe Classic and Sportscar or Classic Cars. The Bitter has a lot of appeal right now as the car-guy's choice here, if only because the more monied and less enthusiast brand of old Ferrari buyer wouldn't even know what it is.
        These days, the 400i and the Bertone-styled 208/308gt4 are the only Ferrari road cars I ever dream about owning, and not just because they're the only ones I might potentially be able to afford. I actually probably lean toward the 400 just because it is more the gentleman's GT, like an old Maserati or an English tourer. The gt4 might leave me wishing I had saved up a bit more for an Espada. But a very nice Bitter would fit in the price gap between the two, opening up a whole other question.

        1. Maxichamp Avatar

          I just looked at my literature compilations of Astons, Lambos, and Maseratis but they all stop at 1980. I did find a "comparo" between the AM V8, Bristol, Jaguar XJ-S, Maserati Kyalami, Merc 450SLC, and Porsche 928!

          1. facelvega Avatar

            Ah, you intrigued me enough that I googled it up. 21 October 1978 issue of Motor, according to a fine blog called Tamerlane's Thoughts. Another blog scanned the comparo page. Reading the comments, it seems that the Aston, Bristol, and Jag came off best, followed by the Merc, Porsche, and the Maser coming in dead last. Pretty classic European car press chauvinism, like how every comparison in Auto-Motor-und-Sport even today inevitably finds that the German car is the best (check their website if you don't believe me, it's an embarrassment). I don't mind trashing the Kyalami (really just a badge-engineered De Tomaso), but to fault it for build quality while praising the jag seems preposterous. Also saying pish to the 928 was at odds with nearly every other journal in the free world.
            I guess most everybody on this site would drive any of those cars, but the 400i you added into the list is a good observation, topping off the prices with the Bristol. As a prospect now with price no object I'd probably take it first, then the Aston, Bristol, Porsche, and the Jag and Merc tied in last spot. Any other Bristol though would take the top spot.

          2. Maxichamp Avatar

            I'm Tamerlane's Thoughts!

          3. facelvega Avatar

            Oh yes, I know: I had to laugh when I saw that your comment led me on a google goose chase back to your blog, which I had bookmarked about six hours earlier, after you linked it up above.

      2. facelvega Avatar

        A little note for anyone who is interested, I notice that bittercars.com has a compilation of dozens of articles on Bitter in several languages, many of them with low and high-res scans available. Fascinating.
        Quote from the Nov. 1985 one in Road and Track: "What the Bitter offers is a kind of anonymous exotic. It's rare and expensive, but only the right people know. And for the person who values exclusivity above all else, the Bitter provides an unmatched level of convenience for such an esoteric car." Sign me up.

        1. Maxichamp Avatar

          FV: Ya know that the new Bitter is based on the Holden/Pontiac G8?!

          1. facelvega Avatar

            There is no new Bitter in my book. It's sad to think that after Erich Bitter's finances tanked in '87 when he was only 54, he never again produced a serious design– and apparently he did design the SC himself in large part. These new cars are barely changed from the base Holdens/Opels (there is an Insignia one, too, apparently), though they still cost four times more. If it weren't for the terrible proposals of the 90s and aughts, I'd think someone was just trying to take advantage of the old man.
            But hey, let's think of one vehicle he never gets credit for, admittedly also just a light restyle job, but one that personally I find grand: the '78 Bitter Blazer.
            <img src="http://svammelsurium.blogg.se/images/2011/1978-chevrolet-blazer-by-bitter_140754487.jpg"&gt;

    2. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

      Oh, look at those gauges! I've never seen anything quite like them, though perhaps there's good reason for that.

  9. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    I first thought Carver (R.I.P.), but they really only made one model. When it comes to companies, rather than individual models, I have serious ♥ for everything Siata ever made.
    <img src="http://www.velocetoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/siata-3-singer-a.jpg"&gt;
    <img src="http://www.allsportauto.com/photoautre4/siata/daina/1952_siata_daina_sl_sport_02_m.jpg"&gt;

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      Everything Siata ever made? Are you sure? The Spring usually inspires, um, let's say 'controversy.'
      <img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4033/4365843561_96286b248d.jpg&quot; width="450">

      1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
        Peter Tanshanomi

        I'm sorry, I should have said, "I have serious ♥ for everything Siata made before they went out of their freakin' minds and started foisting bizzare crap onto the market."
        Although you picked a rather unflattering photo of the Spring. Granted, it's harder to take a flattering one, but from some angles it looks nearly normal, if not actually "desirable."
        <img src="http://yo.spc.free.fr/2010/Events/10_Puymirol/large/27_Siata_Spring.jpg&quot; width="500">

        1. facelvega Avatar

          Well, the grille is a bit much, but otherwise I almost like the styling. But hey, I probably wouldn't turn my nose at an Excalibur either, so maybe I'm not the best judge. Wouldn't do a Zimmer, though!

      2. Alff Avatar

        You, of all people, would be the last person I'd expect to call out the Spring for quirky styling.
        For what it's worth, I think it's very cute even though it is nothing like their earlier masterpieces.

        1. mdharrell Avatar

          I guess I'm just not all that keen on limited-production boxy little foreign cars, what can I say?
          Wait, that's not true. One of the highlights of last year's Great Pacific Northwest Microcar/Minicar Extravaganza was seeing Paul Duchene's Siata Spring actually moving under its own power, which was a first for me, of the three Springs I've come across.
          I just wanted to give Tanshanomi a bad time about posting a couple of earlier Siatas followed by such a sweeping statement. I like them, too, although admittedly I passed up separate opportunities to buy each of the two non-runners I've encountered.

  10. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    Leave it to you to come up with such a perfect answer. We're not worthy!

  11. muthalovin Avatar

    Noble count?
    <img src="http://1.photos4.ebizautos.com/used-2006-noble-m400-twinturbo-5491-2844542-1-400.jpg"&gt;
    The first time I drove one on Project Gotham, I was smitten. So badical.

    1. SSurfer321 Avatar

      Hey! I think I've driven past that storefront. It's in Birmingham, MI. They've always got TONS of cool toys there.

  12. facelvega Avatar

    Lately I've been turning my mind back to the GT models of Glas. Everybody knows the Goggomobil, but the bigger Glas cars have a lot of honest charm to them.
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b0/Glas_3000_V8_1.jpg&quot; width="600">
    <img src="http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_l8adxsSQKV1qa6s8ao1_500.jpg"&gt;

    1. raphaelinberlin Avatar

      I ran into a red 1700GT like that one on a leafy corner out in Dahlem and I wrote about how ideas of national identities and origins of automobiles can get very easily cluttered on my old blog: http://daadabroad.wordpress.com/2010/02/16/what-d….

      1. longrooffan Avatar

        kudos to you for that train ride last year. Nice Glas, too!

  13. Jim-Bob Avatar

    Caterham R500. It has everything you need and nothing you don't. Who needs A/C when you can have a flyweight car with a V8 made from 2 Hayabusa engines?
    <img src="http://www.zercustoms.com/news/images/Caterham-R500-Top-Gear-2008-COTY-b.jpg"&gt;

    1. AlexiusG55 Avatar

      I don't think Caterham officially put the V8 in a Seven, and it's certainly not in the R500- that comes with a 263-hp Cosworth 2.0 four.
      There may have been some Hayabusa V-8 Sevens, but I think they were modified by someone else.

      1. Jim-Bob Avatar

        I may have confused it with the Ariel Atom 500 then. I know people have put the v8 in Se7ens before, I just thought that this was a factory iteration.

      2. Manic_King Avatar

        Westfield has single Hayabusa version: http://www.westfield-sportscars.co.uk/SErange/meg

    2. facelvega Avatar

      I want to love the Lotus 7 descendants, but for some reason the styling still rubs me the wrong way. And it isn't the old open-wheel sportscar styling, because I like Pembleton and Morgan trikes and the MG TD/TF.

  14. facelvega Avatar

    Almost good! Hey man that's Giugiaro's first solo job. Gotta love it.
    <img src="http://i154.photobucket.com/albums/s270/V10Mike/DSCN0021.jpg&quot; width="600">

    1. Maymar Avatar

      Oh, it's a good-looking car from certain angles, but a little awkward from others. As a GT, it probably needs a little more wheelbase.

      1. facelvega Avatar

        Probably not my first choice among GTs either, truth be told. Did very well in a comparison test about ten or so years ago in C&SC against a CV8, Rivolta, and Bristol, though. Can't remember if they had a Facel in the mix. Now that cheap new cars are so fast, though, I find my attentions in Brit/Euro GTs of around 1960 turning to the ones we used to scoff at as underpowered, to a degree the older Jensen 541 but mainly the the late Alvises. Just beautiful cars.

    2. facelvega Avatar


  15. ptschett Avatar

    Do Bristols count, or did they build too many cars to be boutique? Cause I've found them fascinating ever since I read L.J.K. Setright's "The Designers". Plus some had Mopar engines.
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/05/Bristol_406.jpg/800px-Bristol_406.jpg&quot; width="500"/>
    Image from the one wiki to rule them all

  16. 2stroke4life Avatar

    Sbarro BMW 328 replica, built in Switzerland with 2002 mechanicals. (I'm a sucker for a prewar Bimmer or anything like one, as in EMWs or 328 replicars)

  17. Foolish Avatar

    Weirdly, you actually got it right there in the picture, for me. A Wiesmann Roadster would rock my world.
    My dad had a big Healey when he was young, the Roadster is a great interpretation of that beautiful car!

  18. rocketrodeo Avatar

    Since Tanshanomi didn't post in his accustomed genre, I'll pick up the slack for the two-wheel contingent.
    Morbidelli: the moto-equivalent of an Etceterini. Great racing heritage, and if you think six-cylinder bikes are cool but smallblock Boss Hosses are excessive, how about this 850cc V8 gentleman's sport tourer?
    <img src="http://img228.imageshack.us/img228/5968/morbideliv8981.jpg"&gt;