What is a unicorn? For most people, they're mythical (and fictional) white horses with a single, long horn jutting out from their head. For kids, it's pretty much the same, albeit with a rainbow colored mane and tail.
For car guys though, unicorns are special, extremely rare cars.
Some would think unicorns have to be exotics or one-offs, but we beg to differ. Simply put, they are special limited run models made or commissioned by the manufacturers themselves. And just like one-offs and exotics, these vehicles rarely see road use thanks to their rarity, and the fact that their owners generally keep them tucked away in a garage. When they are driven though, they can simply fly under the radar to most commonfolk. But to those who know, these cars are nothing short of the holy grail.
Here we list down some of our favorite 'unicorn' cars that we would be lucky to see on the road, either here or abroad. Do note that this is not a definitive list, but instead composed of some of our favorites.
1. Nismo GT-R Z-Tune
Following the footsteps of the 400R, Nismo would once again unveil a complete car in 2005 in the form of the Z-Tune. With the BNR34 Nissan Skyline GT-R bowing out in 2002, Nismo built the Z-Tune as the ultimate BNR34 to ever come from Nissan themselves. It even bested every aftermarket tuned GT-R that participated in Nissan's GT-R Tuner battle back in 2005.
Much like the 400R, Nismo fitted the Z-Tune with the complete Nismo parts catalog, some of which were only made available to the public years after. All of the exterior aero parts were made from dry carbon. At the heart of it was a Nismo-tuned RB26 called the Z2, exclusive to the Z-Tune and conservatively produced 500 PS.
Only 20 Nismo Z-Tunes were built including the prototype. All but one were finished in a special color called Z-Tune Silver. One Z-Tune retained its factory Midnight Purple III color, making it the rarest Z-Tune ever produced.
2. Chevrolet COPO Camaro Yenko
It was the late 1960's and America's hunger for horsepower was at an all time high. Ford and Chrysler Corporation had put big block V8's under the hoods of their sporty coupes but General Motors had other ideas. At the time, the policy at GM prevented the Camaro from having a 400 cubic inch V8 under the hood. Chevrolet dealer Don Yenko defied the protocol and the Yenko Camaro was born.
Yenko ordered a batch of Camaro SS models and stuffed in the Corvette's 427 cubic inch V8 under the hood. The result was a 7.0-liter pony car that packed a whopping 450 PS. Further differentiating the Yenko Camaro from the standard SS were the front and rear spoilers, a cowl-induction hood, twin stripes with Yenko/SC lettering and special Yenko 427 badges. The Yenko Camaro ran for three years, from 1967 to 1969. There are reportedly less than 400 of these cars all in all with the 1968 cars being the rarest.
3. Nissan Fairlady Z 432
Back in the early 70's, Nissan launched the first generation Fairlady Z. Called the Datsun 240Z in other parts of the world, almost all were offered with the iconic L-series straight-six SOHC engine. However in Japan, Nissan wanted to create a faster Fairlady Z, hence the creation of the Z 432.
From afar, it looked like any other S30 Fairlady Z. Look closer and one would be able to tell it apart due to the new magnesium wheels, the twin vertical exit exhaust, and the 432 badging on the body. Under the hood saw the biggest change in the Z 432, as it was now powered by the 2.0-liter S20 straight-six DOHC engine from the PGC10 Skyline GT-R.
The name '432' was derived from the engine which had 4 valves per cylinder, 3 carburetors and 2 camshafts. Approximately 420 Z 432s were built, some of which were even used by the Japanese police.
4. Porsche 911 R
Transitioning into the 991.1 body, Porsche decided to discontinue the manual for all variants of the 911 and use the PDK transmission instead. With most Porsche customers demanding a manual, Porsche decided to build a special 911 that not only had a manual option but GT3 RS power as well. We now know this model as the 911 R.
Capturing the spirit of the original 911R of 1967, Porsche took the lightest 991.1 body and mated with their most powerful naturally aspirated engine, the 4.0-liter flat six of the GT3 RS. Combined, the 911R only weighs 1370 kg, and outputs 500 PS. On the outside it has the styling of the GT3, sans the rear wing. To further set it apart from a standard 911, it has center lock wheels and a custom color scheme with two solid stripes. Only 991 example were produced, all of which have already been sold; with resale values having more than doubled since.
5. Mitsubishi Galant AMG
In more recent times, AMG is often associated as Mercedes-Benz's in house tuner. Back in the 80's and early 90's though, AMG also ventured into building other vehicles - like the Mitsubishi Galant.
Officially called the Mitsubishi AMG Galant, the Japanese automaker asked the help of AMG in order to give the Galant some added performance and better styling. Unveiled in 1989, the AMG Galant produced around 170 PS to the front wheels. More importantly, the styling of the AMG Galant resembled that of other AMG tuned vehicles of the time.
6. Mercedes-Benz SL73 AMG
Before Mercedes-Benz gave Pagani the 7.3-liter V12 M120 engine, they first fitted it into an R129 for its final version of the SL roadster. Called the SL73 AMG, only 85 were supposedly made between 1999 to 2001. It may look like any other R129-body SL, but in fact uses the same engine as the one found in the Zonda. In order to buy one, you had to first purchase an SL600 then hand it over to AMG and pay another $50,000 USD.
7. Subaru Impreza 22B STI
To celebrate its 40th anniversary and third consecutive FIA World Rally Championship titles, Subaru went on to build a widebody Impreza STI Coupe called the 22B in 1998. Essentially it was as close to a road-going rally car Subaru has ever built. It was powered by a 2.2-liter flat four which power rated at '280' PS and a five speed manual transmission. On the outside, it had parts which were direct derivatives of the rally car such as the front and rear bumpers as well as a different rear wing. Only 424 were made, including the three prototypes. Though similar in appearance, this is not the same Subaru used by the father of a popular tofu delivery boy (That was merely a standard GC8 STI Version V Coupe).
8. Honda Civic Jordan Edition
When people think of a yellow EK Civic hatchback, most often it is associated with the Type R. However back in 1999, Honda released a limited edition EK hatchback called the Civic Jordan. No it's not a Michael Jordan tribute, but it was built to commemorate the Honda-Jordan Formula One racing team managed by Eddie Jordan. Only 500 units were produced, all of which were in yellow.
It sports the Type R body kit sans the front grill, spoiler and trunk spoiler. Power is supplied by a B16A found on a standard Vti-S. All Civic Jordan's came equiped with a sunroof, and unique Jordan badging all around.
9. Toyota Corolla AE86 Convertible
No, the car above is not a custom job. It is, in fact, a factory AE86 Corolla in convertible form. There not a lot of details about it except that it was offered as a limited edition dealer request back when the AE86 was still sold brand new. It was also reportedly much more expensive than the high-performance GT-Apex models. Perhaps it's no surprise that there weren't a lot of takers either.
Given the rarity of these vehicles nowadays, it is likely that only a handful were produced by Toyota. One source even says that less than 20 of these factory AE86 Convertibles were made, but fewer probably exist today. We can't imagine our favorite tofu delivery boy driving one of these instead of the regular hatchback.
10. Volkswagen 21/23 Window Type 2 Kombi
Officially it's called the Volkswagen Deluxe Samba Bus. Unlike your standard Kombi or Microbus, the 23 and 21 window Samba Bus are more rare and sought after. The main difference between a standard Kombi and the Deluxe Samba Bus are the number of windows and the large canvas sunroof. The standard Kombi only has 11 or 13 windows, while the Deluxe added 8 additional 'skylight' windows. There were no specific numbers on how many 21/23 window buses were built. However, the prices of these buses at the auctions have already reached the $200,000 US mark.