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DrBoost
DrBoost MegaDork
7/14/21 6:59 a.m.

The thread about favorite unicorn cars got me thinking about cars that I've owned that would be considered unicorns. I might have had a few. Off the top of my head:

1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee 5.9 limited. Limited run of only 1,400 units in the last year of that body style (to celebrate that body style). It has some exterior styling that was unique to that model. It also had leather that was unique to that model, and an engine that was unique to that model (5.9 Magnum, but not the same one in the trucks, different tune, electric fan, and a few other details). 

2001 Volvo V70 T5. Manual trans, 3rd row seat. Unusual combo

1986 Omni GLH. Maybe a unicorn, maybe not

1999 Golf TDI. The 1999 MY was the new body style, but had the carryover TDI engine that was coveted because it was more mechanical than electrical. With the 1999 you got the old (more desirable) engine, but the new interior, exterior, and chassis improvements of the next gen.

1986 AMC CJ-7. One of the last 200 produced. Had a factory galvanized body. AMC was experimenting with galvanized bodies and did the last 200 bodies this way. Chrysler decided it cost too much. 

 

I think that's it for what I'd consider unicorn cars. 

 

How about you?

rslifkin
rslifkin UberDork
7/14/21 7:12 a.m.
DrBoost said:

1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee 5.9 limited. Limited run of only 1,400 units in the last year of that body style (to celebrate that body style). It has some exterior styling that was unique to that model. It also had leather that was unique to that model, and an engine that was unique to that model (5.9 Magnum, but not the same one in the trucks, different tune, electric fan, and a few other details).

I've got one of those as well.  They're pretty thin on the ground these days, but they did build a bit over 14,000 of them, not 1400 (and a couple other variants of the ZJ Grand Cherokee are as rare or rarer, but not as interesting).  Still peanuts compared to the million first gen Grand Cherokees they built.  

Only other unicorn-ish thing I've got is my E38 740i Sport.  It's got the sport package that was only available on post-facelift short wheelbase 740s, which isn't all that rare.  But it's also a late build 01 (3rd to last US spec short wheelbase E38 built), so it has all of the less common and more desirable stuff (metal sunroof instead of glass moonroof, better nav display, etc.). 

KyAllroad
KyAllroad UltimaDork
7/14/21 7:33 a.m.

I owned an Allroad (reasonably rare) that ran (super rare).  Had the solar panel sunroof that ran the blower motor on hot days, it kept the interior from ever getting hot.

My Phaeton was one of just 3,000 to make it to North America. (also ran perfectly during my time with it)

The Quadrasteer Suburban is vanishingly rare, that fact it still works today is also kinda unusual.

The Mrs drives the unicorn Jag.  An X-type with the big engine and a 5 speed gearbox.

My DD is just a B6 Passat....wagon....VR6....4Motion.  Each step is the rare option.

 

And the Zoomboni.  A production run of exactly one.

 

So my cars owned and own are pretty unusual.

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/14/21 7:39 a.m.

In reply to DrBoost :

I still regret not being in a position to buy that Golf back when you were selling it. 

I've owned a couple of "uncommon" cars, but not really anything in the unicorn category. While my '2003 TDI wagon is somewhat rare, they aren't too hard to find if you want to buy one. Similar for the '73 1800ES - a little over 8000 built in 72/73, but if you want one they aren't hard to find. 

Aspen
Aspen HalfDork
7/14/21 7:41 a.m.

I had a Saab 93 Turbo  X, wagon, manual.  I figured about 20 in Canada and maybe 500 world wide.  It broke often and expensively. There were only 2000 turbo X,s made so manual wagon were a small subset.

 

Indy "Nub" Guy
Indy "Nub" Guy PowerDork
7/14/21 7:50 a.m.

BMW V8, rear wheel drive Manual transmission Wagon: a 1994 530i touring.  It was my only Unicorn.

Dusterbd13-michael
Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
7/14/21 8:00 a.m.

One owner early se-r

Acr neon

Dakota rt

Dakota convertible (briefly in my driveway)

Subaru justy

Subaru brat

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt UltimaDork
7/14/21 8:15 a.m.

In college, I had an '89 Chrysler LeBaron coupe outfitted with a 2.5 Turbo, 5 speed, metric speedometer, and A/C delete - a Canadian car that had somehow found its way into the States.

Slippery
Slippery UberDork
7/14/21 8:18 a.m.

1989 Celica All-Trac

This one was becoming a unicorn when I owned it 1987 Audi 5000 Quattro Turbo manual. Cool car with locking diffs. 

Picture of the Celica next to my '87 GTI 16v:

therieldeal
therieldeal Reader
7/14/21 8:18 a.m.

1993 Mercury Tracer LTS, Manual

This was a spruced up 4-door sedan version of the popular Mazda 1.8 DOHC powered Escort GT.  Unfortunately the example I had was a parts car - already rotted beyond repair back in ~2005ish when I owned it.  I think I still have some spares that came off of this one.

 

1990 Mazda Protege 4WD, Manual

For 1990 most everywhere else in the world received the updated BG chassis 323 GTX hatchback with a 1.8 DOHC turbo & viscous coupling AWD.  Here in the US, well... instead we received a very limited number of 4WD Protege sedans with a lockable open center diff and a boring 1.8 SOHC engine.  This was the same engine they used in the base model DX trim FWD protege.  I kept the drivetrain of this car stock while I owned it, upgrading the suspension and interior only.  Eventually I sold it to a friend who swapped in a 323 GTR long block with a big Holset turbo. smiley

 

2005 Subaru Legacy GT Wagon, Manual

These turbo wagons were only available with a manual transmission for one year.   I really enjoyed this car for what it was - a quick but comfortable & spacious daily driver.  Unfortunately it Subaru'ed itself with a timing belt pulley failure.  Of course the parts for the not-quite-due timing belt service were sitting in my garage, ready to be installed once the weather warmed up a bit...

ProDarwin
ProDarwin MegaDork
7/14/21 8:35 a.m.

1991 300ZX Slicktop.  Not sure how many of these were made, but its a pretty small number.  They are very hard to find, I stumbled across mine by accident.  Had no idea the rarity until I sold it.

 

1994 Saturn SW2 California Emissions (linear EGR), ABS, A/C, but otherwise base model.  AM/FM Radio, crank windows, manual locks, etc.  This is a super rare/weird combo.  Not necessarily super desirable, but interesting.

 

 

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt UltimaDork
7/14/21 8:44 a.m.

I also had a rather junky '86 Mercury Capri at one point, a failed $2003 Challenge build that I picked up for $100. Turns out they made less than 21,000 of them that year.

eastsideTim
eastsideTim PowerDork
7/14/21 8:51 a.m.

Here's the ones I can think of:

1985 Mazda RX-7 GSL-SE - Fuel injected, 13B powered first gen RX-7.

1979 Pontiac Phoenix - Pontiac's Nova.  Less than 10,000 produced for that model year, I think, and mine was a two door (rarer than the four door) V8 (rarer than the six cylinder).

1978 Cutlass Salon - The midsized Cutlass that looked like a Citation.  With rear windows that don't roll down.

I want to say my Neon had some pretty odd option combinations, but since it was a Neon, there were probably still thousands of others like it out there.

calteg
calteg Dork
7/14/21 8:57 a.m.

2000 Integra Type R

I've owned 3 IS-Fs, two of them were the relatively rare ultra-sonic blue

05 Elise in chrome orange. Not sure it counts as a unicorn, but definitely not a common car

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/14/21 8:57 a.m.

1966 Caprice with a Muncie 4-speed and a 396/325 big block. In-dash tach, buckets, console with gauges. Special order by one of my Dad's coworkers, who liked the Caprice roofline better than the Impala.

No comfort options. Manual steering, manual drums, no air. Push button AM radio only because it was standard.

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
7/14/21 8:59 a.m.

I owned a stick shift Subaru Baja for two years. It sucked. All the usual Subaru issues (oil leaks, coolant leaks, disintegrating exhausts, constant brake caliper failures, lots of rust) plus the fact that the Baja is an incredibly useless vehicle. I always joked it had the fuel efficiency of a truck, with the cargo capacity of a car. I was glad to see it go, and that ended my association with Subarus likely forever.

DrBoost
DrBoost MegaDork
7/14/21 9:05 a.m.

In reply to rslifkin :

Haha. That was supposed to be 14,000, not 1,400. Thanks. 
Here's the beast. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
7/14/21 9:13 a.m.

In reply to DrBoost :

My friend also had a 5.9 Limited. Even wackier was that he configured his for autocross usage. It was really funny, it just wasn't particularly good. After a season of getting tired of arguing with safety stewards that it was indeed legal for autocross (it met height-by-width and it was very stiffly sprung) he reconfigured it to a lifted offroad Jeep. 

ProDarwin
ProDarwin MegaDork
7/14/21 9:17 a.m.

^that's impressive, because it is off by like 7" from the factory.

Im guessing lowered 3-4", run 1" lower offset, and a 25" tire?

pinchvalve (Forum Supporter)
pinchvalve (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/14/21 9:37 a.m.

1984 Datsun/Nissan Stanza 3-door 5-speed.  All of those made it a unicorn:

  • 1984 was the year that Datsun was transitioning to Nissan, so some cars had BOTH names on them. One year only.
  • Most Stanzas were 5-doors or 4-doors, three was uncommon.
  • While an automatic was an upgrade, most people bought it making the manual rare.

All of this made it extremely rare and valued by collectors, so much so that none are currently available in the US and you can't even find pictures of one online. OR it may be that they were crap (8 spark plugs on a 4 cyl?!?!) and all rusted away long ago an no one cared.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
7/14/21 9:40 a.m.

In reply to ProDarwin :

Yeah, going down to a car-sized tire got it really close. Then it was on Ford diesel Super Duty front coil springs that were chopped in half on the front and chopped factory coil springs in the rear with castoff OEM Mustang wheels, and he shaved the roof rails off (technically roof rails are where you start the measuring for the SCCA). It was really funny and it was legal and never showed any inclination of flipping. But it just scared the daylights out of people who visited the region or the older, grumpier safety stewards. I remember being at an out-of-region event with our region Solo head and him getting chewed out by the Solo head of the region we were visiting, and the owner and I damn near got our heads torn off by a safety steward the time it ripped the caliper bracket threads out of the spindle and dumped the caliper on the track. Then the next year he replaced it with a slightly less controversial vehicle, a 1998 Ram SS/T, the Indy Pace Truck that was a 2WD standard cab, short bed with a 5.9L. And now this year he is running a $400 Crown Vic P71 with no title

NOT A TA
NOT A TA SuperDork
7/14/21 10:14 a.m.

'80 Monza Spyder and 88 Nova Twin Cam. Both black and bought new. Unicorns, well sort of, valuable? No.

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
7/14/21 10:28 a.m.

I got distracted by the Grand Cherokee autocross saga. That was cool. 
 

My first car was a special order single option (heater) 1960 Plymouth Suburban 2 door wagon. First year of the 225 slant six, with "three on the tree." Slower than a fully loaded gas powered school bus. I know, I tried. 
 

This body, this color, not the same car. Very few two door Suburbans were sold, but I don't know the number. I've had a lot of wagons since. Cool car now, definitely not so when I was in high school. 

My current wagon DD, a 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart Sportback. It's been a reliable and fun daily since 2009. 
 

I've used it for autocross a couple of times when the Miata had a dead battery. 
 


 

Only imported to North America for one year. I don't have a reliable number for this either. I've seen a claim of 1000. I know someone that  said he bought a new one from the dealer in 2007, so to say that they weren't selling well is an understatement.  

It's a good example of how rarity doesn't confer value. 
 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
7/14/21 10:37 a.m.
DrBoost said:

The thread about favorite unicorn cars got me thinking about cars that I've owned that would be considered unicorns. I might have had a few. Off the top of my head:

1999 Golf TDI. The 1999 MY was the new body style, but had the carryover TDI engine that was coveted because it was more mechanical than electrical. With the 1999 you got the old (more desirable) engine, but the new interior, exterior, and chassis improvements of the next gen.

That's funny, because when I wasn in the market for a new Golf in 1999 I drove the TDi and didn't like it. So I got one with the 2.0 instead. I think that TDi was only coveted in retrospect.

The 1999 (actually 1999.5 according to VW) was a base model GL. Manual windows in Jazz Blue, a color so rare that people on the VW Vortex don't believe you when you tell them about it. It was even the brochure color. That year, the GTi had the same drivetrain so after I swapped in some sways and springs, I figured it was basically a GTi. Although it wasn't really any fun.

Had a 323 GTX. Not very common - but it also had no rust, which makes it a total unicorn.

I also have a 1966 Land Rover with a factory LSD, which is apparently more rare than unicorn poop.

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
7/14/21 10:50 a.m.

Lots of wagons in this thread, this one was mine. :)  2004 Audi S4 Avant, V8, 6-speed manual.

 

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