Did Tesla launch a slightly bizarre-looking the past week? No one seems to have mentioned it much, especially not on the Internet.
Anyway, the Cybertruck’s love-it-or-hate it, will-it-ever-make-it-to-production-or-pass-a-crash-test bodywork has sent us down a deep web wormhole of the greatest wedge-design cars ever. Join us for a trip into a world where curves are out, and rulers are in...
Imagine strolling into the Turin motor show in 1970—in some awful trousers, probably—and seeing this spaceship twirling around the stand. You’d think aliens had landed. But the Lancia Stratos HF Zero’s story is more complicated than just being a Marcelo Gandini-penned concept for the Lancia Stratos.
Styling house Bertone was locked in a battle with rival Pininfarina to create ever-more-outrageous concept cars. The Stratos was a styling development of the earlier Alfa Romeo Carabo, and was an exercise in seeing how low a car it was possible to build—the roof is just 84cm off the floor.
Bertone met Lancia and agreed that the production Stratos would also be low and wedgy, though obviously not as outrageous as this. But the concept car worked, was indeed driven on the road, and was sold at auction in 2011 for €761,000 (around P42.6 million).
Got to be an early example, wedge fans, before massive wings and huge scoops. Before giant radiators and awful US-market impact bumpers. Pure, sharp, and actually rather dainty. Also impossible to see out of and spectacularly stuffy inside on a hot day. Ah, the glamour of supercars.
Pay attention, class: Take a pen and draw a supercar. If your profile looks like anything other than the original Lotus Esprit, you get an F. A Giugiaro masterpiece—no wonder it stayed in production pretty much the same for 10 years until it got a more rounded redesign. Notice how, for true wedge greatness, pop-up headlights are a must.
More ’70s Italian motor-show madness. More Giorgetto Giugiaro genius. The same themes keep on coming back, like a—ah, yes, well you get the reference. Initially, it was intended to just be a static model, because...well, just look at it. But Maserati decided the response was so positive that the car deserved to live. So, in went a 4.7-liter V8 developing 310hp, and the Boomerang was road-registered. Italy in the ’70s sounds like a fun place to be, doesn’t it?
More evidence for the greatness of ’70s Italy comes in the spectacularly-out-there Ferrari Modulo. Under the 22nd-century bodywork lies a Ferrari 512S Le Mans racer chassis, turned from an endurance-racing footnote into one of the world’s most enduring concept cars. It was never intended to run, but after being acquired by friend of Top Gear and Ferrari nut Jim Glickenhaus in 2014, the Modulo has been road-legalized. We’ve even ridden shotgun.
The world wasn’t always obsessed with a supercar’s lap time. In times of yore, top speed and a crackers headlight arrangement was sufficient. So, in 1979 Aston Martin revealed this monster: the Bulldog. Power? 600-700hp, thanks to a twin-turbo 5.3-liter V8. Top speed? 317kph, as tested on the Nardo high-speed bowl in 1979, but Aston reckoned a McLaren F1-equaling 381-kph was feasible—over a decade before the McLaren F1 actually existed.
Due to money reasons (that is, Aston Martin didn’t really have any), the project was canned in 1981, and only one Bulldog was ever built. Still, anything that even has wedgy door mirrors is alright by us.
Fun fact: Wedge shapes are extremely efficient when headbutting your way through the space-time continuum.
Before the M1, there was this: 1972’s Turbo concept. The 276hp engine came from the 2002, but it was mounted amid this fabulously snouty wedge, which boasts foam-filled bumpers for squishy crash protection and easy-access gullwing doors. The sensible supercar, then, decades before the i8 was dreamt up. Ah, a time when all BMWs were handsome...will we ever see its like again?
Legend has it that when the Triumph TR7 was revealed, famed wedge-master Giugiaro approached the car on its motor-show stand, walked around it, and exclaimed, ‘My God! They’ve done the same to the other side as well.’
The TR7 was not the wedge’s finest hour. Or the British sports car’s, really.
NOTE: This article first appeared on TopGear.com. Minor edits have been made.