How five of the coolest rides evolved from their plain beginnings
1. McLaren M6 GT
The F1 road car pushed the supercar bar so high it got a nosebleed, but it wasn’t McLaren’s first go at creating the fastest thing on four wheels. Work to turn the mighty M6 Can-Am car into a streetable weapon began in 1970, but only two M6 GTs were built before Bruce McLaren’s fatal crash at Goodwood that year.
2. Dacia Duster
Renault’s budget-but-brilliant Duster SUV deserves better than to be named after a gravely ropey Romanian off-roader from the 1980s. In the case of the tedious new Skoda Rapid though, we’d rather take the arse-engined original than that load of wheeled wallpaper paste.
3. Nissan GT-R
Car nuts still talk in hushed tones about the 1989 R32 Nissan GT-R as if it cured cancer in between reeling off 8min laps of the ’Ring. But 20 years earlier, in 1969, the first GT-Rs were a tad less sexy. They were a boxy race-winning saloon and coupe pair, powered by a twin-cam 2.0-litre six.
4. Corvette C1
The hideously un-American concept of a ’Vette without a V8 seems as likely as the hammer and sickle motif nudging the stars aside on Old Glory, but Chevy’s legendary small block was still on the drawing board when the original ’53 Corvette was introduced to the world. Back then the sole drivetrain was a slothful straight-six and two-speed automatic combo unworthy of astronautical patronage – but luckily there weren’t that many astronauts kicking around in 1953.
5. Peugeot Rallye
You’ve heard of the 106 and 306 Rallyes, right? What about the 205 version? Brits got a 75bhp sham that was nothing but a bone stock car with some snazzy decals, but the proper left-hook-only Continental version featured a screaming 100bhp competition-homologated 1.3, plus GTi seats and arches and gearing shorter than Ronnie Corbett in a pothole.