You’ll hunt high and low but the rewards will be sky high
On the drawing board, we’re sure these 10 cars seemed like a good idea. But once they arrived in showrooms, it soon became clear they were flops. As such, they’re a very rare sight on the secondhand market – and this itself make them appealing to a certain type of buyer.
If you’re keen to buy the automotive equivalent of a needle in a haystack, check out these 10 cars, and use the fact that they’re so rare to your advantage, by picking up a genuine bargain. Even on the used market, buyers are hardly likely to be queuing up for them…
BMW 550i Touring
One rung below the BMW M5, the M550i still has a 407bhp V8 and boasts the added appeal of being an estate – BMW never made an M5 Touring version of this model. You’ll have to hunt hard to track one down though: the saloon itself is rare, and the estate versions are even more so.
How rare? Around 350 left
Volvo S80 V8
Expensive, thirsty, but powerful and equipped with four-wheel drive, the S80 V8 was a bizarre alternative to a posh luxury Mercedes that made little sense when new but does carry a certain charm today. Very comfortable and now pretty cheap.
How rare? Around 100 left
Rover 75 V8 Tourer
MG Rover’s curious rear-wheel drive 75 with a Ford Mustang V8 engine. It was slightly more popular as an MG, and this estate version of the Rover alternative is extremely oddball. But it’s also beautifully luxurious and charming, provided you can swallow 22mpg…
How rare? 17 left
VW Passat W8
The appeal was obvious: this was a Passat with a 275bhp 4.0-litre W8 engine from the VW Phaeton luxury limo. Big engine, in a car normally carrying a 1.9-litre TDI. Combine it with an estate bodyshell and you’ve a glorious hack that is way more interesting than any secondhand diesel. If, that is, you can track one down.
How rare? A mere handful remain
Audi A3 3.2
Want a sporty Audi A3? You’ll probably go for a 2.0-litre turbo version, which uses the same engine as the Golf GTI. You almost certainly wouldn’t consider a 3.2-litre V6 model, despite its obvious appeal as a relaxed mile-munching cruiser. And so it proved in the UK, with this curiously unengaging A3 a true rarity on the secondhand market.
How rare? What was that about needles and haystacks?
VW Passat R36
Volkswagen has form here. As we’ve noted above, the previous version of this Passat came in W8 guise, which nobody bought. Duly inspired, the firm followed it up with a 299bhp V6 version with four-wheel drive, DSG gearbox and inspired handling. Reviewers loved it at the time: customers, alas, were less sold.
How rare? We bet you never see one
Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer
Like the sound of an Audi Allroad but don’t quite have premium car cash? Say hello to the value-priced Vauxhall alternative, the Insignia Country Tourer. It had a jacked up body, touch plastic cladding and a daft name. It also proved people would still rather save up a bit more for the genuine Audi version rather than this Vauxhall wannabe…
How rare? 19 registered
Mercedes-Benz R63 AMG
Mercedes’ ugly posh people carrier was already a flop, and not even the addition of a 6.2-litre V8 AMG version could save it. 503bhp and 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds had obvious appeal, as did the fact it could seat six, but it just wasn’t pretty, fun or engaging enough to make up for its hefty list price.
How rare? Six left
Vauxhall Zafira VXR
Remember daddy cool? The hot hatch people carrier that was a hit at the school gates? The Vauxhall Zafira VXR was the original hot MPV, and remains pretty much the only hot MPV. It was too harsh as a people carrier and too comprised as a hot hatch, making it a curious car that missed the target in all key areas. A fascinating curio all the same.
How rare? Very rare
Subaru BRZ automatic
The obvious appeal of the leftfield rear-wheel drive coupe Subaru BRZ is its pure driver focus. For which you of course need a snappy manual gearbox. Not an automatic. Yet one does indeed exist, and a handful of people in the UK have bought one. Go even more leftfield by snapping one up.
How rare? 51 registered