Super Cars – Everyone Forgot About These Mid-Engined Sports Cars
Going fast in a straight line is easy, just bury your right foot into the carpet and let engine power catapult you towards the horizon, going faster rounds corners is another issue altogether.
In most modern cars, we have gotten used to having the engine up front, ahead of the driver. It’s probably the simplest and cheapest engineering solution and has been used since the earliest cars. But the simple approach doesn’t mean the best, for the ultimate performance and handling, you need a mid-mounted motor.
Mid-engine cars are not a new thing, the concept first proved popular with racing teams in the 60s and is the layout of choice for supercars and racing cars today. In fact, there are a lot of mid-engined sports cars out there that most gearheads have probably forgotten about entirely.
9 Mosler Consulier GTP (1985-93)
Forget any mental image that all mid-engined sports cars are pretty, Mosler unintentionally proved that with their 1985 Consulier GTP. We think “quirky” is probably the kindest thing we can say about its track-special-inspired looks.
The first batch of cars used a mid-mounted Chrysler 2.2-liter turbocharged unit producing around 175hp, which given the lightweight 2200lbs, it really should have been a lot quicker than its top speed of 155mph.
8 Alessi AR-1 (1979 & 2012)
One man’s childhood dream to design and build a supercar finally came true 30 years after the original prototype broke cover in 1979. Early development models used handcrafted fiber-glass construction methods which remain, just tweaked a little to meet modern safety standards.
The work of Alessi Fiberglass, the AR-1 again using composite materials for its chassis and bodywork, now comes equipped with a 600hp 6.2-liter V8 motor, which should see 60mph come up in 3.4-seconds, topping out at 200mph.
7 De Tomaso Vallelunga (1964-68)
If looks alone were any indication of performance, then the De Tomaso Vallelunga would have been a supercar in its day. Sadly, this Italian-styled beauty had all the basics, only to be crippled by a weak engine choice.
Peeling away its lightweight body reveals a pressed steel backbone chassis equipped with a Ford 1.5-liter four-pot motor sending 104hp to the rear wheels via a VW Beetle transaxle. Outright power was never going to be a major concern, the Vallelunga instead used minimal weight to achieve its top speed of 133mph.
6 Chrysler ME412 (2004)
Depending on sources, Chrysler had no intentions of mass-producing the ME412 using the prototype for publicity purposes only, but the level of design and engineering leads us to think it had more to do with Chrysler’s financial woes. What a pity.
What else would explain the highly complex carbon-fiber and aluminum construction process? Equipped with a modified Mercedes 6-liter V12 engine with custom heads, manifolds, and exhaust system to accommodate quad-turbochargers, it delivered a total 850hp. If only Chrysler had taken things to the next level, with a claimed top speed of 248mph, the speed record alone would have been worth millions in publicity.
5 Unipower GT (1966-69)
Any car promoted as “affordable” should set alarms bells ringing, budget offerings rarely turn out to be all that manufacturers would have us believe. The Unipower GT claimed to be the first affordable mid-engined sports car, a claim that would also be the little-known sports cars downfall as it proved too costly to build.
Weight is the key element here, tipping the scales at 1120lbs meant Unipower could use smaller engines to deliver maximum performance. The higher specification GT model used 1.3-liter Mini engines producing 75hp giving a very respectable top speed of 113mph.
4 Talbot-Matra Murena (1980-83)
Any gearhead that has even heard of the Matra Murena let alone seen one deserves credit for recognizing one of the most obscure names in sports car history. Produced by Talbot-Matra-Simca, with power supplied by Renault, makes for an interesting concept, but the Murena is not the first mid-engined design from this French maker.
First appearing in 1980, the Murena built extensively on the outdated Bagheera model. Improved corrosion protection coming from a new, galvanized steel chassis, however, the same quirkiness remained. Who else but would have thought of a mid-mounted 2.2-liter engine in a three-seater hatchback sports car?
3 Nissan MID4 (1987)
A reflection of what could have been, Nissan’s MID4 concept almost made it to showrooms only to be stopped in its wheel tracks by a downturn in the global economy. If Nissan had seen the project through to production, the history of 80s supercars would look very different.
Nissan actually produced two versions of their MID4 concept, the latter adopted the all-wheel-drive system from the fearsome R32 coupled with a twin-turbocharged 3-liter V6 motor. If this sounds like a mash-up of Skyline and 300ZX you would be right, both cars have links to the MID4, think Skyline performance in a mid-engined chassis. If only things had been different.
2 Bugatti EB110 (1991-95)
Current Bugatti models grab all the press attention with their insanely powerful engines and performance figures. However, the modern Bugatti story begins in the early 1990s, with what was, at the time, the most technologically advanced supercar.
Where the EB110 really stood out from other supercars was its unique engine design. Twin-turbos had become commonplace, so Bugatti Engineers took forced induction to another level. Under normal circumstances a mid-mounted 3.5-liter v12 would have been plenty for even the most crazed speed freaks, however, Bugatti added no less than four-turbochargers to unlock an incredible 583hp setting a new speed record of 221mph in the process.
1 Bentley Hunaudieres (1999)
Under Vickers ownership, Bentley had reached stagnation, producing more of the same tarted-up versions of Rolls-Royce sedans, a former shadow of a brand steeped in racing history. In 1998, Volkswagen took charge, opening a new chapter in the British carmaker’s life, promising sportier bespoke models.
The promised changes happened quickly. In 1999, Bentley proudly displayed the all-new Hunaudieres supercar, the first Bentley ever to feature a mid-mounted engine. Sadly, sister company Bugatti beat the British camp to the punch, the Veyron took priority and Bentley never go to use VW’s W16 8-liter engine.
NEXT: These Road Cars Actually Started Out As Race Cars
These Are The Sickest Cars Built By George Barris
About The Author
Super Cars – Everyone Forgot About These Mid-Engined Sports Cars
Tags: Super Cars