Car companies build pre-production prototypes to test new car technology hidden under disguised Frankenstein bodies. Sometimes these development mules end up being higher on our wish list than the final product.
Here are ten of our favorites:
Spyker promises once again that the D8 SUV will be ready by 2014. I'm afraid if the final version won't have rivets and a Defender front and rear, I won't care for it at all. This mule was driven by a Spyker owner, who had this to say about it:
Today I had a chance to drive the Spyker D8 mule. You know, the D8, disguised as a Land Rover like car, which has the D8 engine, suspension, brakes and weight distribution. But not the interior, nor exhaust and sound of the final D8.
Michael Schouten took me out in rather rainy conditions, but that did not make a difference. The roadholding capabilities of the D8 are phenomenal. I have a Cayenne Turbo with the active suspension option, so I know what the current SUV benchmark feels like. Roughly the same torque, but around 1200LB (500+KG) lighter makes such a difference, and with less electronic wizardry, just feels so much better planted.
We are of course not mentioning any speeds here, but all of a sudden a helicopter showed up straight ahead of us......
Michael let me drive back to the factory, but not knowing the car, and in inclement weather, I drove rather calmly, just when a police car showed up "out of nowhere" on the lonely polder road we were on. I was at that point driving the speed limit, so they let us drive on.
I was very impressed with the D8 capabilities. Spyker was testing different braking systems on the mule, and I loved the system they just put on and tested. Very responsive and with great pedal feel. Much better than the Porsche system, but this is also a result of the D8 being much lighter. It did not feel very fast, but that feeling changed rapidly when I glanced at the instrument panel.
The most notable thing missing was the famous Spyker exhaust sound.
I want to thank Victor and Michael for giving me the chance to experience something unique, and I can't wait to see the further development of what is going to be a fantastic car. Spyker is not kidding when they call it a SSUV.
The Toyobaru love affair started with a shortened 4th generation Subaru Legacy body and platform (you can see it in the back there in white). GTRB26 has seen the second prototype (in black, next to the back) that followed:
I'm not saying that the Toyobaru twins look bad, but when I saw this prototype on spy shots, I fell in love. I don't know why but that rear section looked just cool. I actually saw this in person in Arizona near Toyota Proving Grounds for hot weather testing and I think if they smoothed out the parting lines on the Door and Body, it would have looked nice. Later I talked to the person who was working on this and he said it was just a Impreza body welded together to make it look like a car but it was awesome.
Suggested By: GTRB26, Photo Credit: Toyota
Instead of your grandpa's Continental R, how about this rally wagon?
JimHackerPM points out that later on, they also used Audi parts for the Continental GT:
Bentley Continental GT mule. Looked like a cut and shut A6. Rode in when I worked at Bentley. The one we used was black and naturally aspirated. Still went like stink though in the lanes around Crewe.
The test mules for the Saab 99 were four widebody Saab 96s. The later prototype 99 had a Daihatsu badge to confuse us all.
When developing the SLS, Mercedes made this thing: an AMG powertrain with a TVR front and the ass of a Viper. What's not to love?
Who else would come across this wonderful supercar development mule in Italy other than your very own Crazy Euro Car Boy?
Suggested By: Shane Elliott, Photo Credit: Peter Orosz
The two Ultimas that helped McLaren create the fastest car the world have ever seen:
Noble Motorsport Ltd supplied chassis number 12 and 13, which were the last of the thirteen Ultima Mk3 cars that the company sold. Chassis number 12 christened Albert by the McLaren group was used to test the new gearbox using a Chevrolet V8 engine to mimic the torque of the BMW V12 and various other components like the central driving position and carbon brakes. Chassis number 13 which went under the name of Edward was used to test the BMW designed V12 engine along with all its ancillaries such as the exhaust and cooling system. Both bodies were heavily modified to suit the many components under test.
They later got destroyed so that McLaren could keep its secrets:
The development mule for the insane Jaguar XJ220's twin-turbo powertrain registered in 1989. The best disguise...in the world!
Suggested By: f86sabre
It's a 911 with a Formula One engine in the trunk. According to Drive Cult's visit to Woking:
This was a unicorn car, one whose existence was previously only a rumour; a Porsche 911 fitted with a 1.5l V6 TAG Turbo Formula 1 engine where there should ordinarily be a regular Porsche flat six. Built as a testbed for the Porsche-developed, TAG-funded turbo engine that powered McLaren's F1 cars in the mid-80s, this unique Porsche has spent much of its life in a McLaren storage facility. It was a real treat to see it out on display, and fascinating to marvel at how neatly the F1 engine nestled in the 911's engine bay. Ignoring the signs warning that photography inside the boulevard wasn't permitted, I discreetly took a few shots of the Porsche, just to prove something so incredible as an F1-engined 911 really does exist.
Welcome back to Answers of the Day - our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!
Top Photo Credit: Worldcarfans/BMW