You hear the word and you see a picture. Beaches, maybe, or a rainforest. Elephants and rhinos. Shark brains fried on the half shell. Green eyes paired with black hair and macchiato skin. A Lotus Exige S.
But let’s be specific. What, really, does the term “exotic” mean?
To automotive aficionados, the word has been used to describe a plethora of cars displaying any of a number of characteristics that would make it a rare or truly unique vehicle. It’s possible for a common car to become exotic, or an exotic model to become common. All it takes is a different culture, a different fan base, a few minor tweaks, or some time. “Exotic” covers a lot of ground when referring to cars, but all are essentially considered to be extraordinarily distinct, out of the ordinary, or notably different from what most people will ever see on the road.
Exotic cars are:
Exclusive and Limited
This will apply when the model was produced in extremely limited numbers by the manufacturer, like the 2002 Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR Roadster. With only 6 ever produced, it’s not likely that you’ll see one of these.
Or, it was not made available to a large potential buyers market, like the 2014 SRT Viper GT3-R. With a ticket price of $459K, only the elite few will be fortunate enough to call this car their own.
Other cars become exotic when the number in existence becomes limited over time, and the car itself is either in great condition or easily able to be restored, such as the 1962 Studebager Hawk.
Some are born exotic and rare as concept cars. Take this Lamborghini Urus Concept SUV. Promising to offer the lowest CO2 emissions of luxury SUVs available, the market won’t see these available until as late as 2017.
And then there are those that, were, or are, used for racing. Like this Ferrari 458 Challenge.
Cars that were either built by hand or extremely altered can be considered under the exotic label. Example? This 1964 Shelby Cobra Replica.
Cars built from or using unique or unusual materials can also be considered exotic, like, say, the Morgan Aero8 SuperSports which has a wooden body tub which rests on an aluminum chassis.
Finding a certified mechanic to care for an exotic car in the United States can be more difficult than finding a Starbucks-free block in Manhattan. Yet finding an appropriate care technician is crucial to maintaining efficiency, performance and safety. Would you take your dog to an avian doctor? Or put regular gasoline in a C-series? I didn’t think so.