When one thinks of exotic cars, the usual suspects of Maserati, Lamborghini, Aston Martin and more are on the list. Long before they became household names however, there are a handful that came before them.
They are names that you probably won’t be familiar with unless you’ve spent a surmountable amount of time at high-end classic car shows. That’s all about to change.
These classic carmakers are making some solid comeback plans, made possible by funding from small private companies. If the Bugatti and its revival is anything to go by, we’re excited to see what’s in-store from these brands.
Founded in 1905, French carmaker Delage was among the first automakers to steal and own the race tracks and go on to build a championship racing heritage. They grew over the years to make luxury sedans that were large, beautiful and powerful but racing always stayed core to the brand’s heart. World War II ceased its operations until a few years ago when French businessman Laurent Tapie found Delage and saw in it the perfect brand to bring to life his vision for a small, high-performance car.
The result was the birth of the Delage D12, a hybrid car powered by a V12 engine developed in-house and an electric motor that, together, produce a total of 1,100 horsepower. With its narrow body and big front fenders that are distinctly separated from the body, Tapie said it’s a car made for driving fast and as close to driving a Formula 1 car, while staying road legal, as possible.
Tapie plans to produce only 30 of these, each with a starting price of $2.3million. First customers can look forward to getting the key to theirs in September 2022, according to a Delage spokesperson. Tapie has set the ball rolling for a takeover of Delage’s original factory near Paris, with which he plans to create more conventional high-performance sports cars. He is eyeing Bugatti as a main competitor. W delage-automobiles.com
With a name that literally translates to mean ‘Spanish-Swiss’, Hispano-Suiza was founded in 1904 in Spain by Swiss engineer Marc Birkigt and Spanish businessman Damian Mateu. So powerful were its engines that it went on to create airplane engines as well as luxury cars. In the case of the latter, Hispano-Suiza’s cars were powerful and comfortable.
The new era Hispano Suiza making a comeback is marked by a name spelled without the hyphen, reincarnated by the great-grandsons of Damian Mateu, Suque Mateu as president and David Martin as head of communication.
They announced their comeback with a high-performance electric car called Carmen, named after the founder’s granddaughter Carmen Mateu, who was also president of the original firm. The car will roar to life in two variants – a 1,006 horsepower Carmen and a lighter 1,100 horsepower Carmen Boulogne. Both will get a body of carbon fibre and meet the world with prices starting from $1.8 million. W hispanosuizacars.com
De Tomaso is considered the new kid of the block. Founded decades after Delage and Hispano Suiza in Modena, Italy, in 1959 by Argentinian racer Alejandro de Tomaso, it started out making race cars but carved its name for high-performace road cars like the Mangusta and Pantera.
Its cars were powered by American Ford V8 engines and the two brands fostered a relationship so close that Ford bought up a majority stake in De Tomaso in the 70s.
De Tomaso ceased operations in 2004 but saw new life again in 2014 when Hong Kong-based company Ideal TeamVentures bought the rights to it for just over $1 million. The plan announced is to leave Italy for America and build its new De Tomaso P72 – with a supercharged Ford-based V8 engine, of course – in the United States.
The P72 returns to Ford’s strengths, as a gasoline-powered model that produces 700-750 horsepower. It will not have an automatic transmission, even as an option, and will only be available in with a six-speed manual transmission. It is expected to be ready by the tail ends of 2022. W detomaso-automobili.com