If you know anything about the car industry and manufacturing processes, you’ll know that car brands rarely produce every single part for their models. In most cases, the production-ready car is a combination of components from various contractors with the engine, chassis, body, and drive train from the parent company. That is why it’s no surprise that various car manufacturers use the same parts in different vehicles. However, what is shocking is the fact that some very expensive and prestigious cars use cheap parts from budget brands. Let’s get started.
It may sound contradictory, but Lotus’s have always been somewhat of a “factory kit car.” Their bodies and chassis’ are always built from scratch, but many of their other bits are usually borrowed from other manufacturers. The Lotus Esprit is a perfect example of this. It was a great sports car with sublime handling and fantastic performance for its day, however, it was constructed from various bits and pieces that Lotus engineers gathered from other makes. The gearbox came from the Renault 25, the taillights from the Toyota AE86, the switchgear from Ford and the brakes from Rover. That said, the Esprit was definitely more than the sum of its parts and there’s only so much you can expect from a British sportscar maker!
If you’ve ever looked into entering the supercar business, like Horacio Pagani did with the Zonda in 1999, then you’ll know you’re probably in for a world of financial pain. The development of a supercar from scratch isn’t cheap, and that’s before you get into testing and production costs. That’s why it’s crucial to keep costs down in order to stay afloat and Horacio Pagani did just that.
Pagani put so much of their efforts into the Zonda’s sublime chassis, body, bespoke interior and insane V12 Mercedes engine that they didn’t really bother with a few of the more mundane bits. It makes sense, but it’s still funny to think that the $1.3 million Pagani Zonda Roadster has air conditioning lifted straight from a Rover 45! To put that in perspective, you can find the air conditioning assembly (radiator, compressor, and control unit) for around $200 on eBay. Not bad!
Aston Martin DB7
The DB7 was introduced in 1994 and proved to be an immensely important and successful product for the company, selling more than 7000 examples up to 2004. The DB7 was an elegant GT car developed whilst Aston Martin was under Ford’s ownership. When it was new, the DB7 cost around 70,000 pounds (almost 130,000 in today’s money) and as you might expect, it was full of bits and pieces nicked straight out of the Jaguar and Ford parts bin. The interior was finished in the finest leather and wood; Shame about the Mondeo switchgear though, a Jaguar shift knob, turn signals from Mazda and yes, window switches from the super budget Fiesta.
Alfa Romeo 4C
You’ve got to give credit to Alfa Romeo for their brave attempt at offering a budget supercar with the 4C. The Alfa 4C looks fantastic, sounds menacing and of course, has a unique carbon-fiber tub. At a starting price of £58,000 ($67,000), that doesn’t leave a lot of money left over for ancillaries so many of the parts on the 4C come from lesser Fiat models.
With the aim of keeping the car firmly in the sportscar price bracket, the 1.75-litre turbo engine comes from various other Alfa models, the transmission is straight out of the pretty ugly Fiat 500L, the switchgear is from economy Fiats like the 500, and the rear lights are almost identical to Alfa Mito. The formula works. Spend the money on the bits that matter and use the stuff you’ve already done for the everyday bits.
The first and second-generation Ghiblis were thoroughbred Italian GT coupes, so it’s kind of puzzling why Maserati used this famous name for a four-door luxury sedan in 2013. Whilst the Ghibli is a stunning luxury sedan and perhaps an interesting alternative to the higher-spec Mercedes, BMW and Audi vehicles, once you look behind the beautiful façade, you’ll see that sort of a compilation of Fiat-Chrysler parts.
Firstly, the platform is actually borrowed from Chrysler although thoroughly changed by Maserati, although there is some debate as to whether it’s based on the Chrysler 300 or the Quatraporté. Secondly, though, the diesel engines and drive trains are essentially the same as in the Jeep Cherokee and the switchgear is suspiciously similar to that found in Alfa vehicles or even the 2013 to 2016 Dodge Dart. Whilst the Ghibli is still a nice car, it has been roasted by many thanks to its exclusive brand, with perhaps less than exclusive parts.