Exotic Little Cars

Put these in the garage of your yacht.

October 4, 2007


SMART FOR TWO BY BRABUS Smart cars, ubiquitous in Europe, make their debut in North America in 2008. The smart fortwo weighs about 1,500 pounds and is 98.4 inches long-short enough to park nose in. Standard power for the U.S. version is a 70-hp 1,000cc engine, driving the rear wheels via a manu-matic five speed transmission. Top speed: about 90 mph. The Brabus version (above) has 98 hp, a sporting suspension package and trim.


CAN-AM SPYDER This great-looking three-wheeler from Bombardier’s Can-Am division shares its configuration with the Morgan Three-Wheeler of the 1920s. It’s powered by a 990cc BRP/Rotax V-twin, which produces 106 hp and drives the single rear wheel via a five-speed sequential gearbox and carbon-reinforced belt. The dry weight is 697 pounds, so we can expect exhilarating performance. It comes with ABS, traction control and stabiliity control with roll-over mitigation. It’s 105 inches long, 59 inches wide.


CATERHAM SUPERLIGHT R400 Many of you will recognize the Caterham as a descendent of Colin Chapman’s Lotus Seven, which he designed in the 1950s. But this is not your grandfather’s Seven. This model weighs 1,100 pounds and gets its grunt from a 2-litre 210 hp Ford Duratec engine. The company claims a time of 3.8 seconds from zero to 60 mph-superbike numbers. Top speed is 140 mph, limited by the antique aerodynamics. Prices start at about $40,000.


CAPARO T1 A Formula One car for the street? You bet, and like the F-1 cars, the Caparo relies a great deal on aerodynamic downforce to create grip for cornering and braking. The U.K. builder claims up to 3g lateral forces and the same for braking. It weighs about 1,200 pounds and is powered by a 3.5-litre 575 hp V-8, accelerates from rest to 100 mph in 5 seconds and has a top speed of about 200 mph. Price: about $375,000.


CARVER ONE The Carver One is a three-wheel, twin-seat tilting vehicle, registered as a motorcycle in most countries. You steer it as you would a car and it reacts like a motorcycle. The dynamic vehicle control system automatically adjusts the tilt angle to the speed and accceleration, ensuring optimum balance at all times. Power is from a 659cc turbo four.


DONKERVOORT D8 Dressed in the racing orange of The Netherlands, the D8’s country of origin, this roadster weighs a scant 1,380 pounds and is powered by Audi’s 1.8-litre 20V engine in horsepower ratings of 150, 180, 210 or 270. Donkervoort has been building powerful lightweight sports cars for street and track since 1973. In 2007, it introduced a coupe version of the D8. This is a pure driver’s car-no ABS, stability control or other electronic aids. Price: up to $120,000.


ARIEL ATOM Another featherweight speedster-this one from the U.K. and powered by Honda’s rev-crazy 2-litre iVTEC 220 hp four, driving the rear wheels via a close-ratio six-speed transmission. This tiny bare-bones roadster weighs only 1,000 pounds, but has space for two adults. All of the components that make the Ariel legal for the street can be removed for track days.

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