10 Times European Carmakers Built Great Cars That Flopped Spectacularly

The best cars in the world are not always a commercial success, regardless of how much time and money goes in to testing and development. Gearheads are largely to blame, for being the fickle bunch they are. Just when you think designers have nailed it with another gorgeous creation, one less than glowing review can sink sales faster than the Titanic.

And that negative review can be for the most trivial of details. Immunity from flops? Sorry, that just doesn't happen as John DeLorean found to his misfortune with the Irish-built DMC-12.

Are the bigger names in European car design less likely to slip up? In fact, the bigger brands are more likely to drop the proverbial ball. BMW's M1 mentioned later, joins the ranks of several Z-badged cars that, good as they were, tanked.

Across the English Channel in blighty, Jaguar, Lotus and dozens of defunct carmakers large and small, when the chips were down, flopped spectacularly. Related: 10 Muscle Cars We'd Buy Over Any Italian Sports Car


10 BMW 507

BMW 507 Roadster - Side Via Post Wat Classic

As sports car flops go, gearheads could have done a lot worse than BMWs 507. Too expensive when new to succeed, used examples fetch millions today.

Without question, BMW put everything into the 507, making it one of the all-time great cars.

BMW 507 - Rear Via Fantasy Junction

Designed and built for wealthy Americans at the bequest of prestige car importer Max Hoffman, who believed he could sell 10,000 units per year at a price of £5,000. Overengineered, late, and inflated sticker prices of £10,000 doomed the 507, BMW lost money on each car.

9 Maybach 57/62

Maybach 62S - Front Via Mecum Auctions

In 2000, Mercedes faced stiff competition from BMW's recently acquired Rolls-Royce. Bringing back the Maybach name, and using the Mercedes S-Class as a foundation made perfect sense.

However, convincing gearheads that the Maybach's inflated price is justified due to the upgrade from the S-Class was a tricker proposition.

Maybach 62S - Rear Via Mecum Auctions

In the long run, sales were disappointing. Mercedes bosses hoping to sell 2000 units annually faced the reality that bigger cars as good as they were, do not always achieve big sales numbers. By the end of 2013, the Maybach brand had only attracted 3000 buyers.

RELATED: A Look Back At The 100 Year History Of Mercedes-Maybach

8 Renault Sport Spider

Renault Sport Spider - Front Via Bure Valley Classics

Small, light, and agile. What could go wrong? Unfortunately for Renault Sport, the Spider was launched around the same time Lotus unveiled the Elise.

Given the Lotus was cheaper and a better driver's car, the Spider tanked.

Renault Sport Spider - Rear Via Bure Vlaley Classics

Voting with their wallets, gearheads missed the Sport Spider's trump card, more power. Powered by a Renault transversely mid-mounted 2-liter F7R cranking out 148 hp, the Spider topped out at 156 mph. Over four years Renault shifted 1,726 Spiders; the Elise would go on to sell twenty times this number.

7 MG XPower SV-R

MG XPower SV-R - Front Via The Market By Bonhams

Think Rover and the chances are you'll remember the UK carmakers line-up of family haulers.

However, towards the end, Rover desperately needed a new model range to entice customers. Enter MG, the brand's sportier side and one of the oddest Rover-funded projects ever.

MG XPower SV-R - Side Via The Market By Bonhams

The MG XPower SV owes its chassis to Qvales Mangusta dressed in a Peter Stevens designed body. Powered by Ford 5-liter modular V8s kicking out 385 hp in the SV-R with a top sped of 175 mph.

Rover fans weren't convinced. Hence, the XPower only sold 42 cars in total. Unsurprisingly, MG Rover went bust shortly afterwards.

6 Marussia Motors B2

Marussia B2 - Top Via Facebook

Marussia who?

We wouldn't blame you if you hadn't heard of Russia's most "successful" sports carmaker. Founded in 2007, Marussia produced two low volume sports cars as well as running its own F1 team for a brief period.

Marussia B2 - Front Via Facebook

Both ventures came to a crushing end in 2014, road cars and race teams foundering. Of the road cars, the B2 showed the greatest promise, featuring a 300 hp mid-mounted engine.

Despite a near 200 mph top speed and a "wallet-friendly" price tag of £132,000, the B2 sold just 14 cars against a planned run of 500. RELATED: The Fall And Rise Of Marussia Motors

5 Porsche 914/6

Porsche 914-6 - Front Via Bring A Trailer

A rare Porsche sports car that tanked not for the reasons you'd think. A Volkswagen and Porsche collaboration project with two engine options aimed at two market segments.

The plans for budget VW-badged four-cylinder cars fell by the wayside; all 914s were marketed as Porsches.

Posche 914-6 - Rear Via Bring A Trailer

At the premium end, six-cylinder 914-6s should be the bestseller. However, for Porsche the opposite was true. Slow sales forced the German carmaker to cancel the faster, more powerful 914-6 in 1972 with barely 3,351 units sold.

4 Facel Vega Facellia

Facel Vega Facellia - Front Via ClassicCars.com

American muscle car powered Facel Vegas enjoyed considerable overseas success with 77% of production heading overseas.

The follow-up Vega Facellia two-door coupe should have been a hit if not for one thing. Facel fatally dropped Chrysler V8 engines for domestically made four-cylinder engines.

Facel Vega Facellia - Rear Via ClassicCars.com

Entering the sportscar market in 1960, lighter and more agile, requiring less power. That power would come from a Carlo Machetti designed 1.6-liter DOHC unit that more often than not, failed.

By the time Facel switched to Volvo B18 power for 1963 Facels, reputation was already in tatters. The Facellia shifted 1,258 cars.

3 Lamborghini LM002

Lamborghini LM002 - Front via: Lamborghini

Lamborghini's best-selling model ever? Surprisingly, it's the Urus SUV.

However, turning back the clock to 1986 uncovers the LM002, a bonkers V12-powered truck that sadly flopped. The first performance SUV? Quite possible, in effect.

Lamborghini crammed the Countachs V12 engine into a military grade vehicle.

Lamborghini LM002 - Side Vi Mecum Auctions

Over seven years, just 328 gearheads took a gamble on this 120 mph, 5900 lbs urban assault vehicle. Weight, size, and a titanic thirst no doubt impacted sales. RELATED: 10 Things Everyone Forgot About The LM002 Rambo Lambo

2 BMW M1

BMW M1 - Front Via NetCarShow

Late to the market, BMWs M1 production racer missed its calling due to lengthy development delays.

Envisaged as a special homologation project to compete with Porsches Group 5 racers. Unfortunately for BMW, their Munich facility wasn't up to the challenge of building the M1. BMW in turn, resorted to a complex external manufacturing chain.

BMW M1 - Rear Via NetCarShow

Lengthy delays in production of the M1s Giugiaro-designed body meant BMW's only mid-engined sports car missed its racing debut, requiring a change to meet Group 4 regulations.

BMW's first, and until recently, only mid-engined sports car, the M1, never achieved the sales success it deserved.

1 Lister Le Mans

Lister Le Mans - Front Via Silvertone Auctions

No one remembers the UK-built Lister Le Mans. The brain child of Laurence Pearce took Jaguar's ugly duckling XJS and bestowed it with supercar performance. Lister-Jaguar's racing connection reestablished itself in a 7-liter V12 twin-supercharged coupe.

Lister Le Mans - Rear Via Silverstone Auctions

While any XJ-S could be upgraded retrospectively, the Le Mans was fully rebuilt and modified in house, commanding an asking price of £156,000.

Stonking performance aside, for less cash, gearheads could bag themselves a Countach.

Lister sold 25 units of the Le Mans specials before moving on with the ill-fated Storm.