4 Mega Motors With Dirty Little Secrets

If the horse meat scandal has taught us one thing, it’s that nothing is ever as it seems…

By Tom Harrison, 19 February 2013

Nowadays, every carmaker is owned by Volkswagen. Well, nearly. Audi, Bentley, Seat, Skoda, Bugatti - the list goes on. So it’s not surprising to find a few common parts now and again. The first-generation Bentley Continental GT shared its entire electrical infrastructure with the Volkswagen Phaeton, for example, and the Bugatti Veyron’s key is a just a VW unit wrapped in cow (or is it horse?). Take a look at these climate control panels; top to bottom, we have the new Golf, the Skoda Octavia and the Seat Leon. Almost identical.

It’s not just VW that’s at it - any carmaker that owns or is owned by another typically has access to a wealthy and varied parts catalogue. The Rolls-Royce Ghost is heavily based on the BMW 7-Series, Aston Martins used to be full of Ford switchgear, and so on.

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of part-sharing per se, and it’s entirely to be expected of these larger companies that think about profit margins over and above anything else. Sometimes though, part-sharing extends beyond conjoined companies, and morphs from the sensible into the downright bizarre. Smaller or cash-strapped carmakers often have no choice but to delve into the parts bin.

McLaren F1

Most of the McLaren F1's components were bespoke items, which is entirely what you'd expect from a £1m car designed to withstand the rigours of a 240mph top speed. The engine bay was even lined with gold foil, as no other material could sufficiently insulate it. It may come as a surprise to learn, then, that the F1’s wing mirrors come from something altogether more humdrum. An early VW Corrado. And the rear lights? They're the same as you'll find on a bus. A 1980s Bova Futura, to be exact. Rather takes the shine off, doesn't it?

Jaguar XJ220

When the XJ220 was being designed and engineered, Jaguar wasn't exactly flush with cash. By the time it went on sale, it didn't have the V12 buyers were promised, or the four-wheel drive system for that matter. Instead, Jag borrowed the V6 from a rally spec' Metro 6R4. The engine isn't the only thing they borrowed, however. The wing mirrors are from a Citroën CX (which have also seen service on many TVRs, a Lotus or two and a few Astons), the tail lights are from a Rover 400, and some of the interior switchgear is Blue Oval.

Pagani Zonda

The Pagani Zonda is well known for its lavish and bespoke interior. However, what's less well known is that the climate controls (just below the air vents) are a direct lift from the MG ZS, or Rover 45. Horatio, we are disappointed. Luckily, we've not found any evidence of MG Rover anywhere inside the Huayra...

Lamborghini Diablo

When Audi acquired Lamborghini in 1998, they almost immediately released an update for the by-then ailing Diablo. The most obvious external change was the headlights - the über-cool pop-up jobs had been replaced with boring, fixed lens units. Where did these lights come from? The Nissan 300ZX.

We've only just scratched the surface with our four examples. We missed any other good 'uns?

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