8 March 2013

Coolest Cars You’ve Never Heard Of Part 2

While it may be tough to stump a dedicated gear head, we’d wager that the vast majority of car-aware types out there have neither seen nor heard of this interesting group of four cars:

  • 1996-04 TVR Cerbera – TVR was a low-volume British manufacturer of sports cars based in the seaside town of Blackpool. They were in business from the late 1940s until 2006, and the Cerbera was one very outlandish sports car. Named for the mythological  three-headed dog that guards the gates of Hades, the V-8 Cerbera could accelerate from 0-60 in 4.4 seconds and do 180 mph. Sadly, emissions and safety regulations meant the car was never sold in the U.S., where it remains essentially unknown.
  • 1963-65 ATS 2500GT – Enzo Ferrari was a tough man to work for, and in the early 1960s, many of his key employees got fed up at around the same time and decided to out-Ferrari Mr. Ferrari by putting together a mid-engine V-8 powered sports car about 10 years before Ferrari adopted a similar configuration in the 308 GT/4. The project was undercapitalized and collapsed, with only 12 very lovely cars built.
  • 1961-64 Reliant Sabre – The Sabre was a small British GT that, in coupe form, looked like a pint-sized Aston Martin. Powered by various English Ford four- and six-cylinder motors, the Sabre had the odd distinction of being produced as the Sabra Sports in Haifa, Israel, and remains to this day, the only Israeli-built sports car.
  • 1973-79 Bitter CD – Erich Bitter was a successful German race car driver with the ambition, like so many others, to build his own car (named for himself, of course). The Bitter CD was an unusually well-executed car (support and help came from none other than Bob Lutz, then the head of GM’s German Opel division). The sleek and pretty CD was powered by a small block Chevy V-8. In spite of its American power, the CD is exceedingly rare in the U.S.

20 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Clayton Vern Griffith ColdSprings,Nevada March 20, 2013 at 15:32
  • 2
    Hermann Schaller Roswell, GA March 20, 2013 at 15:40
    While you may win your wager in the US, gearheads from Europe know these cars. I just read an article about the ATS 2500GT in the "Oldtimer Markt" magazin, which is Europe's largest classic car publication. I aslo know the Bitter CD, because I looked at it at the dealership, when it was new. The Reliant Sabre and Scimitar are well known cars for people, who visit England frequently. And I had the pleasure to drive a TVR Chimaera from a friend in Germany. Through this, I kept an eye on the brand and the new models like the Cerbera. It could be fun to buy once a later TVR in England or Germany and bring it over here, when it is 25 years old and the registration would be possible as a classic car. Currently the TVR S would be eligable for that, which is a nice car with Rover V8 power. There are so many cars in Europe, which are less known in the US. For example, I used to own a Matra 530LX, but it seems that not even pictures made it over the Atlantic.
  • 3
    Tom AZ March 20, 2013 at 16:03
    Heard and saw photo or articles about these four but alas never actually have seen one.How about an aricle on South African cars or other Israeli vehicles?
  • 4
    Gerry MA March 20, 2013 at 16:36
    Please do an article on Geo's, they are more interesting than these cars
  • 5
    piers gormly Houston March 20, 2013 at 16:44
    Sorry these were too easy. For South Americans we have the Ragu, and the Yraum. A little off the beaten track but I have seen both in the metal. Or an easy one for Europeans but very rare here the Marcos Mantis? NSU Prinz, Simca Gordini. Always fun though, keep it up. Cheers
  • 6
    Mark Scarselli NY March 20, 2013 at 17:02
    Should have added the Australian Ford Falcon in there. Any year from the '60's right on up to the present would do, but my favorite is the early '70's XB Falcon, best know from the Mad Max/Road Warrior films. You folks have insured my two since 2000.
  • 7
    Robert Wash March 20, 2013 at 18:08
    I knew the Bitter. A friend has an 85 Bitter SC designed by Eric Bitter.
  • 8
    Alfred Rose Birmingham, AL March 20, 2013 at 18:37
    Where can the Coolest Cars You've Never Heard Of Part 1 be found? Editor's Note: http://www.hagerty.com/classic-car-articles-resources/Features/News/All-Articles/2012/09/06/The-five-coolest-cars-youve-never-heard-of
  • 9
    rob schwager denver co March 20, 2013 at 19:13
    the Bitter had taillights directly taken from the Chevy Monza-that was disappointing and unattractive
  • 10
    Joe Rains United States March 20, 2013 at 19:20
    Heard of TVR. Saw a Sabra 50 some years ago in my hometown of Robinson, Il. Belonged to a guy that formerly owned a MGTD. Believe he was a student in Champaign and visiting parents.
  • 11
    Bob Salt Lake City March 20, 2013 at 21:57
    Have heard of them all. I have riden in, and almost bought a Reliant Sabre while in England in the '70. At one time I was seriously looking to buy a BItter CD, but never pulled the trigger.
  • 12
    Jason texas March 20, 2013 at 23:53
    Those cars aren't unheard of at all. Well, maybe for your average ford/chevy guy they are. Where is the Borgward Isabella? How about any of the little known Bristols? I bet half of haggerty readers have never even heard of a Horch? I still enjoyed the article however.
  • 13
    Scott McVicker Oklahoma City March 22, 2013 at 15:03
    TVRs used Rover V-8s for awhile, emission regulations could have been met; safety regs maybe not. The Cerbera is one of the all time coolest looking cars - TVRs entire range in the Nineties was brilliant. How they devolved into the Speed Six is baffling. Bitter cars used Opel running gear; never heard of one using Chevy engines. ([Editor's response] Thanks for the comment Scott. Actually, the Bitter SC (which was sold in the US) has an Opel derived straight six. The CD which wasn't has a small-block Chevy.)
  • 14
    Walt Tydings Baldwin Maryland March 21, 2013 at 16:53
    How could you mention the TVR and not recognize it's most famous "recreation"... The Griffith! Only 500 made by a "joint venture" with TVR and Jack Griffith. I have a friend who has five of them with 4 completely restored. A small block Ford in these is just crazy fast!
  • 15
    Rob San Diego March 21, 2013 at 18:09
    Love my Sabra GT. One of about 40 built, and five in the US. Hey Rob, found my Nash Healey Le Mans Coupe we talked about at the seminar in LA. Only 90 of those built in 1954.
  • 16
    John DeSpelder United States March 21, 2013 at 19:03
    The Chevy V-8 was part of the running gear for Opels back in the '70's. I believe they were available in both the Senator and the Diplomat. Opel produced some very desirable and good-looking cars in that era.
  • 17
    Sergio Novara Phoenix Arizona March 22, 2013 at 20:13
    How about Renault Torino or IKA Torino? Or south American Falcons and Chevrolet Serie 2?
  • 18
    Tim Erickson Minneapolis,MN March 22, 2013 at 09:38
    The TVR was an easy one to identify – it shares styling lines with the TVR Griffith, one of the more popular and well known models – which did not muster approval for US sale either!
  • 19
    Steve G US March 22, 2013 at 12:06
    Wasn't a TVR featured in the John Travolta movie Face-off? PS: I'm pretty sure it's unnecessary to insist you have heard of these cars. Maybe the article title isn't all that literal?
  • 20
    jorgen mortensen MA. March 25, 2013 at 12:15
    I have had TVR's for 35 years, 1966 Granture 1800 S pressenly driving 1967 TUSCAN LWB , but the Russ. man close the Fact. bad Bussnes man.

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