In anticipation for the finale, we reflect on eight cars which nearly made the cut.
70 PS | 700 kg | 100 PS/t
Despite titles, this design was unrelated to Lancia. Rather, it’s an Autobianchi; an experimental Fiat brand formed with the aid of Pirelli and Bianchi of bicycle fame. Debuting in 1969, the A112 became one of the first front-driven hatches. Abarth also crowned it as the first hot hatch, though it may be dubiously balmy.
87 PS | 855 kg | 102 PS/t
Poor Subaru, finding their feet, only one of their models toddled to the main list. Regardless, the ingredients persisted: four-wheel drive, boxer engines, ...blue paint? Each contributed to an endearing near miss: further enhanced by wing-mounted mirrors, a hidden third headlight and fabulous contrasting pinstripes.
102 PS | 1000 kg | 102 PS/t
Penned by the same gentleman behind the Lamborghini Miura and Countach, daring styling provided flavour to a conventional Gallic shell. In fact, the risks taken were hardly skin deep: four-wheel disc brakes, plastic body panels along with trademark hydropneumatic suspension made it seem from another planet.
75 PS | 730 kg | 103 PS/t
From its origins as a rebadged Audi 50, the Polo lay forever in the shadow of the VW Golf; especially once the feisty GTI variant began stealing headlines. No amount of red pinstripes or alleged ‘coupé’ bodywork could save it from cars like the Peugeot 205 GTI, but it remained perfectly adequate transportation.
72 PS | 700 kg | 103 PS/t
For a company largely forgotten today, the many appearances of De Tomaso throughout our list warrens incredulity. Their take on the Innocenti Mini only spread the empire further, even if it offered no room for the usual Ford V8, instead relying on boost to work wonders. Few angular cars ever looked so cute.
200 PS | 1940 kg | 103 PS/t
Much like the Toyota Century, although not as fortunate to make the list, Nissan cooked up a similar car for the elite of late Showa-era Japan. Owners included the Japanese Prime Minister at one point, yet Toyota overshadowed it until it became associated with businessman and yakuza. Especially yakuza.
122 PS | 1180 kg | 103 PS/t
Most Italian manufactures relish in flamboyant design ideology. No car better contradicts the stereotype than the reserved Argenta, the final rear-driven vehicle from the Torinese giant (until they rebadged a Mazda). Sadly, the supercharged variant took a year later to arrive, it missed the list by a hair.
150 PS | 1450 kg | 103 PS/t
Closing with one of the most overlooked cars in automotive history, the 604 was ahead of its rivals in ride quality, even after a decade of continuous production. Sales were hardly as consistent, as a result, the car possessed an unknown amount of rear cargo space; the most obscure unsolved mystery to date.
Now back on schedule: the climax in performance, the last stretch, the final ten. Join us for the last time as we uncover the very fastest cars yet. To be concluded.
All photos sourced from WheelsAge.org.