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…
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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

Image © exfordy, via Flickr Creative Commons

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

Image © Ed Callow (Torquespeak), via Flickr Creative Commons

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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  • http://twitter.com/antonyingram Antony Ingram

    Only ones that immediately come to mind are the Lotus Elise – wing mirrors and switchgear from the Rover Metro – and the newer-shape Morgans, which use headlights from the MINI. Oh, and the Morgan Aeromax uses rear lights from the Lancia Thesis. A quick google reveals Fiat Punto headlights were used on the MG SV, too.

  • http://twitter.com/gilesguthrie Giles Guthrie

    Hmm. I’m a bit of a nerd with things like this…

    So, TVR’s Chimera and Cerbera, at the end of the 20th Century, used rear lights from a MkIII Ford Fiesta. The Noble M10/12 had rear lights off a Mk1 Mondeo hatchback, which also gave its clusters to the ill-fated Caterham 21. Sticking with “21″ as a theme, the Lotus Esprit had the gearbox from a Renault 21. And the Mark 1 Land Rover Discovery had door handles from a Morris Marina.

    Oh, and anyone who’s been in a rattly old Metrocab may recognise the dash from an Austin Montego.

    • autoalex

      Strong knowledge, that man!

  • toasteroven

    New Maserati Quattroporte has internal switchgear, and probably more since they share platforms, from the 2nd generation Chrysler 300.

    • mopar39426ml

      Actually, only the basic structure is SIMILAR, as Maserati reworked it.

      Also, the platform is a tweaked Mercedes e-class platform.

  • Shaun Reinson

    Jaguar S-Type had Ford Fiesta side-lights – but fixed upside down to justify the high price Jaguar dealers charged for them…. Obviously any owners went to their local Ford instead and bought there for pennies.

  • http://twitter.com/OllieInGear Ollie Kew

    Genius article – can’t beleive the F1 used bus lights and VW mirrors! Just goes to show you can’t go wrong with circular tail-lights. As for the Zonda using Rover switchgear, that’s actually a fairly neat design detail – so *that’s* where MG Rover’s entire design budget went missing…

    Another good one: many people reckon the Aston DB7 is one of the prettiest cars ever: except it’s got the rear lights from a Mazda 323. And it had bits underneath from the Seventies Jag XJS appaz…

  • Tom Wood

    Not really a supercar by any stretch, but my Audi A1 might be a Polo.. or an Ibiza… or a Fabia.. but it’s sure as hell pretty and feels very “Audi” ^_^

  • http://www.facebook.com/giannis.christodoulou.5 Giannis Christodoulou

    The Gumpert Apollo has air vents from the MK1 Audi TT. And i think the Koenigsegg CCX had wing mirrors from the MK1 tt

  • Austin

    What’s it matter? If a different part fits the design of a part from another vehicle then why not? I wouldn’t say it takes away any luster from the cars.

  • http://www.facebook.com/darren.cassey Darren Cassey

    The Murcielago (I think, I’m 99% sure its a Lambo, 80% its the Murc, and I can’t be bothered to google) shares side reflectors with a Mk 1 Focus

  • David Tillyer

    The MGF. It was basically an Austin/Rover Metro in a frock with the steering at the other other end. The car turned out to be quite good though. Wonder if you could do that with any of the modern hatches?

  • Brooke Burgess

    Laren F1 can withstand a very high speed.
    The engine bay line is lined with gold foil. One thing that I noticed
    in it is that the rear lights are the once that you will find in any normal


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