There’s no doubt that wedge-shaped cars have revolutionized the car market – especially the supercar market. Wedge is something that has graced many a teenager’s room walls and schoolboy’s pencil boxes during the seventies, eighties and nineties. Predominantly used by the Italians (Bertone, Pininfarina, Italdesign), wedge came, saw, conquered, and went off the stage the way it came – in style. It didn’t take long for other design schools to contract the wedge virus, though, with Germans, Japanese and Americans following close by. Modern supercars can be sleek or sharp, but they’ll never have the pizzazz which wedge-shaped cars had in abundance. It wasn’t exactly the most aerodynamic of forms, but it certainly had that X-factor. That’s why it was so popular anyway. Here are 22 of the most extreme wedges ever produced, whether they were production cars, concepts or prototypes.
From The Wedge Car To Beautiful Supercars!
Lamborghini Marzal can rightly be considered the grandfather of wedge. It was the first wedge-shaped car ever designed, and to say it had ruffled some feathers at the 1967 Geneva Motor Show where it appeared as a concept car, would be an understatement. We have then 29-year old Bertone virtuoso designer Marcello Gandini to thank for. Marzal wasn’t all that powerful with 175-horsepower 2.0L straight-six engine. Moreover, it never actually made production, and it remained a one-off prototype. However, it single-handedly propelled the wedge into something that’ll soon become mainstream.
Lotus Esprit has had such a long and prosperous life that its creators can’t have any regrets. Apart from not making it more reliable overall, maybe. In any case, all five Esprit generations were as wedge as wedge cars can go, although earlier models did come sharper. Apart from being one stylish and powerful UK piece of wedge, people will mostly remember the Esprit for its Bond car role in 1977 The Spy Who Loved Me.
The same person that has designed the Esprit, has had its fingers involved in designing the BMW M1 as well. I’m talking about one and only automotive design guru Giorgetto Giugiaro of Italdesign, who took design cues straight from the 1972 BMW Turbo concept car. The M1 was supposed to be built in a collaboration between the Germans and Lamborghini, but Italians pulled out from the project at the last second. BMW still produced it, and it’s only pity it never spawned a successor. Apart from impeccable design, M1 will be remembered for its 273-horsepower straight-six engine and its purring sound.
Yet another one of Giugiaro’s offspring, the Porsche Tapiro never moved from the concept phase. That’s because it was way too radical for Porsches of the day, and for pretty much any new Porsche as well. It managed to break all of German maker’s design molds, and for that, you got to love it. For that and for it quad gullwing doors, of course (two regular ones and two for the engine). Powered by 220-horsepower 2.4L flat-six, it was sold in Spain where it got blown by a car bomb. Shell survived, however, and it’s currently on display at Italdesign Museum in Turin.
Let’s break the Giugiaro pattern, shall we? And is there a better way to do so than with a piece of Japanese wedge engineering. Dome Zero Never materialized in terms of mass production. Only two sharp wedge prototypes were built as company lacked the funds to pass the Japanese homologation process. The Nissan L28E straight-six with 145 horses wasn’t actually the flashiest of powertrains back then, but I’m sure production model would have had the stronger option had it been made. These race car models even raced at 24 Hours of Le Mans in ’79 and ’80, but finished at the bottom of the pack. The project was finally abandoned in 1986 leaving us to answer the unanswered questions by ourselves.
It’s practically impossible to count the number of walls decorated by one of posters depicting this perfection of a car. The Lambo Diablo was a wedge at its finest, and it was designed more than 20 years after the layout’s debut. Needless to say, it was designed by the man who has brought us wedge-shaped cars in the first place; Marcello Gandini. Thanks to its V12 engines (5.7L until ’99 and 6.0L between ’99 and ’01), Diablo managed to deliver between 485 hp and 550 hp. There were stronger special versions, sure, but that’s not really the topic here.
Not many people know this, but you’re looking at Gandini’s initial Lambo Diablo design. That’s right, Cizeta-Moroder V16T could have been Diablo’s flagship supercar throughout the nineties, but it ended up being what it is – marginalized supercar that’s, sadly, forgotten. Not more than 20 or so have been produced over the years, and what’s interesting, it’s still available on a made to order basis. Around $650,000 should get you two Lamborghini V8s in a single block, effectively making a V16. Although outdated in a way, Cizeta is still one hellishly fast supercar with 0 to 60 acceleration of 4 seconds and top speed of 204 mph. And those pop-up headlights!
Vector W8 is yet another rather obscure and forgotten supercar. Built by then Vector Aeromotive Corporation, W8 represented the first shot at European supercars coming from this side of the Atlantic. Sadly, W8 never actually managed to catch the needed attention, and it quickly went off the automotive stage after only 22 produced models. Still, wedge is strong in this one, and so was its engine. 6.0L V8 propels the W8 to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds, and to the point where it makes no less than 242 mph. Of course, Bonneville Salts are pretty much the only place where one can achieve that.
Ferrari Dino 308 GT4
Dino 308 might end up being one of the worst Ferraris ever made, but that still doesn’t mean it was a bad car. It was only slightly downsized in terms of refinement so that it could fit the Dino badge which was introduced with the purpose of attracting younger generations, and differentiating non-V12 Ferraris from the rest of the lineup. And 308 was exactly that – a non-V12 Ferrari. It was the first Ferrari car with a mid-positioned V8 engine. Yet again, designing credits go to Marcello Gandini which was the first time in many years that a Ferrari wasn’t designed by Pininfarina.
Designed by, who else than Marcello Gandini at Bertone, Khamsin was the result of their first time cooperation. The grand tourer was fitted with 4.9L V8 mill capable of making 320 hp and 355.5 lb-ft of torque. Only 435 Khamsins were produced and their prices today reflect that fact. However, Khamsin isn’t nearly as expensive as most other wedge-shaped supercars from its era.
De Tomaso Pantera
De Tomaso Pantera enjoyed a healthy 20-year long run and saw production numbers of 7,260 models. Pantera was the most popular De Tomaso car ever, and it was designed by Tom Tjaarda from Carrozzeria Ghia. Panteras were powered by Ford 351ci Cleveland V8 until 1988, and by the corresponding Windsor replacement between ’88 and ’90. Between 1990 and 1992, however, they featured downsized 302ci Windsor engine. After 20 years without major changes, Gandini-designed Pantera SI made its debut in 1992. Although radically sharper, the SI was only produced in 41 copies before production ended in 1993.
Aston Martin Lagonda
I know what you’re thinking. The headline says “22 of the most beautiful wedge-shaped supercars ever made.” So, what’s a Lagonda doing here? Well, you have to look past its overly sharp nose, somewhat unimaginative thin headlights, and generally slab-sided body. When you take a closer look at it, you’ll notice pop-up headlamps and interior as sharp and futuristic as the vehicle itself. People back then couldn’t decide whether to love it or hate it as much as we can’t do it today. We have included it for its unconventional and downright bold design. You have to give it that, at least.
Who can forget Lancia Stratos and its perfect wedge-shaped body? Not only was it beautiful, but it also represented one of the peaks of Italian engineering thanks to its World Rally Championship successes. Stratos started off as Stratos Zero concept in 1970. Zero was even more radical then the production model and it too was designed by – surprise, surprise – Marcello Gandini. Maybe it wasn’t exactly a supercar, but it could certainly bend the corners to its will. A thing very few supercars could back then.
Boomerang never moved from its initial concept phase, although Giorgetto Giugiaro really outdid himself with it. It was the perfect wedge back then, and it still is today. It first debuted in Turin, in 1971, but it wasn’t until 1972 and Geneva Auto Show that it received an engine. The choice fell on Maserati Bora’s 310-horsepower V8. Although Maserati never produced it, Giugiaro would end up using the pattern in many future production car designs. Boomerang is still alive and well, and it still appears on shows across the globe from time to time.
Testarossa was a true-blooded flat-12-powered Ferrari produced between ’84 and ’96. Designed by Pininfarina’s most influential designers at the time, the car was wedge at its finest. 4.9L mill used to generate 428 horses and 362 lb-ft of torque. That was enough for the top speed of 195 mph and 0 to 60 time of 4.8 seconds. When Testarossa 512M came in ’94, it developed 440 hp and 370 lb-ft of torque. That helped it shed 0.1 second in 0 to 60 acceleration and gain additional 1 mph for its top speed of 196 mph.
Despite having a two year production span, Mercedes-Benz C111 wasn’t a production vehicle, but rather a series of concept cars created in order to experiment with various unconventional engines. Although experimental concept, first C111 was one of the finest wedge-shaped cars at the time. It experimented with tri-rotor Wankel engine. In 1970, the second C111 got the four-rotor engine pushing 369 horses. After rotary engines were scrapped, Germans turned their attention to straight-five diesels which produced 190 and 230 ponies. Sadly, Mercedes-Benz never proceeded with its production. Closest they came to this was with the 1991 C112 concept which gathered 700 deposits, but yet again the Germans decided against production.
Bizzarrini Manta was one of Giorgetto Giugiaro’s first independent designs from the late 1960s. Manta was built upon Bizzarrini P538S prototype’s chassis and went on to become an iconic wedge-shaped supercar that, sadly, never materialized. It still exist today, visiting shows and happenings from time to time, and it resides in the US of all places.
If Ferrari has to appear on a list, then it better be the F40. Unless it’s a “worst” type of list, of course. One of the most famous Ferraris ever made was powered by 2.9L twin-turbo V8 mill. Don’t let the small displacement fool you, though. It was good enough for 471 horsepower. Lead designer and engineer behind the project was Leonardo Fioravanti of the Pininfarina. Even quarter century from its discontinuation and 30 years since its introduction, Ferrari F40 is still one sexy car and something no one should have had any complaints for being spotted in.
Aston Martin Bulldog
Aston Martin Bulldog was initially intended as exclusively limited series of 25 models, but ended up being a one-off prototype instead. It had everything supercar of the day needed to have: hidden headlamps, gullwing doors and, of course, the wedge shape. It even came with extremely potent 5.3L twin-turbo V8 mill capable of putting up 600 horsepower. That’s what I call a beautiful wedge-shaped supercar!
Alfa Romeo Carabo
The Alfa Romeo Carabo concept was one of the first Italian wedge-shaped cars, and it’s no surprise it was designed by Marcello Gandini of Bertone. It never moved from its concept phase, having debuted at the 1968 Paris Motor Show. Carabo has gotten its name from Carabidae; a ground beetle of the same iridescent green and orange color. Slightly underpowered with mid-mounted 2.0L V8, Carabo still managed to deliver 230 hp and reach the top speed of 155 mph.
Designed by Paolo Martin at Pininfarina, Modulo was, and still is a one-off car in many aspects. This peculiar wedge has an extremely low body with a canopy-style roof. As if that wasn’t enough, Modulo also features hidden wheels which brings fender skirts to an entirely new level. There was nothing strange with its engine, though. Full-blooded 5.0L Ferrari V12 produced 550 horsepower and Modulo was able to reach the top speed of 220 mph thanks to it. That and 0 to 60 time of 3.1 seconds.
Years have passed and we still haven’t gotten the new wedge-shaped king. The Countach was replaced by the Diablo, and although the Diablo was one superb and sexy car, the Countach had the luck to come before it. There were many iterations of the supercar, but they all had the genuine Italian V12 power. To date, the Countach has remained the epitome of wedge and supercar performance. I still wonder when will the “poster boy” finally get a worthy successor for the title?
You might have noticed a similar theme from these beautiful supercars: they’re mainly European and almost all designed by two very impressive designers, Marcello Gandini of Bertone, and Giorgetto Giugiaro of Italdesign (and Bertone, and Ghia!). There are two of their cars that didn’t make the list, because not all of their efforts were incredible. Firstly, we’ve got Marcello Gandini’s Lamborghini Bravo. Designed as a possible replacement for the Lamborghini Urraco, the Bravo didn’t make it to production – probably because it was almost too much of a wedge car for the market! And next, we have Giugiaro’s DeLorean DMC-12. The DeLorean is very much an opinion divider: some love it, some hate it, so we couldn’t include it on the list properly! Either way, these wedge cars are still awesome and will go down in history as some of the most important vehicles ever to be made!