- Image credit: wheelsage

If you were lucky enough to have piles of cash several hundred years ago, then you most probably had a tonne of things to show off to the lesser peasants.

Thus included some richly-made clothing, only the finest jewellery which might-as-well have been crafted by God's servants. And - if you were really lucky - a country or two.

The majority of those wielding wealth were the nobles; and in Henry VIII's reign in particular, these incredibly fortunate men would show off by building some truly magnificent places of residence. Cardinal Wolsey's was so good in fact, that King Henry himself ended up with it!

Similar principals of wealth-flexing still apply to this day: people with money will always feel superior in the latest BMW, Audi etc. with whatever new features are being churned out.

However, while the Germans have always been superior to the game of luxury, some others have tried to win over customers, yet were massively over-looked. Here are seven examples of such things;

Renault Safrane

Image credit: influx.co.uk

Image credit: influx.co.uk

This was Renault's attempt to grab a piece of the action in the luxury E-Segement class. It was dominated by cars like the BMW 5-Series and the ageing 25 needed to be replaced

In 1992, came the Safrane, and it was nothing less than a bit of a flop...

It had all the equipment that the Germans had, yet buyers were put off by the fact a car bearing a Renault logo was placed in a similar price range.

And even when they tried to spice things up a bit with the AWD, 268bhp Biturbo, it still didn't hold a candle to anything from BMW, Merc etc. to most buyers.

It's pretty sad, to be honest. Because the Safrane was a rather excellent car.

Peugeot 605

Image credit: wheelsage

Image credit: wheelsage

Look again. Because I really did say 605 and yes, there isn't a lesser 405 pictured above.

I say this because well... that's one of the reasons why buyers steered away from the big Pug. The two look remarkably alike to such an extent, a normal being would probably not be able to differ them.

The 605 was a lovely thing though: it could be had with the same soothing 3.0 litre V6 engine as the Safrane (not turbocharged) and many others that preceded it. It even starred in Ronin in a gangsters' convoy. Yet despite the movie status, it wasn't enough to persuade people to hop into one.

Early examples suffered from quality control issues; and even though these were rectified later down the line, the 605's reputation has already been damaged. Couple that with the introduction of the more modern 406 in 1995, and buyers had very little justification for it.

Shame, really.

Vanden Plas Princess R

Image credit: Honest John

Image credit: Honest John

Anyone seen the beginning of the film, 'Robbery' from 1967? Before a gritty chase between two Jaguars happens through south London, we see the target of the crime being chauffeured around in one of these very little-known luxury saloons.

Want to know what the R stands for? Well, it's actually a subtle nod to the fact this car has a Rolls Royce engine.

It was a joint collaboration between Rolls Royce/Bentley and BMC, and the Princess R used a 3.9 litre straight six. It was a short stoke version of the B-Series unit which was used in various military vehicles in the late 40s and 50s.

At the time, the Princess R was priced at the same level as a Jaguar MK X. And seeming as the latter represented more advanced levels of engineering and luxury, that was the one most people went for.

The Vanden Plas therefore, was left in Sir William Lyons' dust.

Alfa Romeo 2000 Berlina

Image credit: wheelsage

Image credit: wheelsage

Just under 2,900 of these were built in a 4-year lifespan - meaning it ended up being one of Alfa's slowest sellers. They intended it to be a serious competitor to the likes of Mercedes, Rover, Lancia and even Jaguar.

Naturally though, buyers were drawn towards the other cars and the Berlina remains a rarer sight than Jesus to this day.

It was a fabulous piece of engineering though: the chassis and that lovely twin-cam 2.0 litre engine was also used in their sports cars like the 2000 Spider. It was also a clever unit which was both pokey and dependable.

And in true Alfa tradition, it handled like an absolute dream. It's just a shame people at the time were more aware about it.

Stutz Blackhawk

Image credit: flickr

Image credit: flickr

A name that hadn't been heard since before the war and jazzier than Elton John's wardrobe. This wasn't so much of car as it was a 19-mile postmodern pimp club on wheels. The Blackhawk represented what money could get you in America, provided you were making some.

Wilson Pickett had one. So did Elvis Presley, Muhammad Ali and so much more! Celebrity status was strong. Yet, because it was roughly twice the average household income at the time, only 500-600 cars had ever been made in its 16-year lifespan.

In fact, the list of engines you could get was larger than the owners' ego! There were all sorts you could get, small or large, provided from both Ford and GM.

The Blackhawk therefore was a hugely expressive way of getting around. The trouble is though, no one really remembers it...

DeTomaso Deauville

Image credit: Curbside Classic

Image credit: Curbside Classic

I had to look twice when I saw one of these for the first time: not only because it was drop dead gorgeous, but because I thought it was a Series-3 Jaguar XJ.

It couldn't be more different from the big cat though, as the Deauville uses the same 351 Ford Cleveland V8 as the Pantera putting out an enormous 330bhp.

The recipe for the Deauville was a rather tasty one: you essentially had the highly-coveted Pantera with 2 extra doors. It even shared the same platform as the Maserati Quattroporte. But buyers still weren't convinced.

Only 244 of these rare beasts were ever made, whereas Mercedes were selling S-Classes like Kim Kardashian's next fashion trend.

Fiat 130 Berlina

Image credit: Elvezio Esposito

Image credit: Elvezio Esposito

The 130 was one of Fiat's most advanced cars to date. Conservative styling, great amounts of space, and plenty of comfort to suit an Italian businessman's taste. A coupe version was also available, if you preferred your style of luxury to be personal.

The engines - a 2.8 and 3.2 litre V6 - were developed by a man called Aurelio Lampredi. To give you an idea of how experienced he was: he was responsible for a vast array of Ferrari's racing engines throughout the 1950s. That's a man with a valuable CV.

Despite this bragging moment though, just 15,000 130 Berlinas were ever made - making it a quiet alternative to the much more populating Mercedes W114/115 and BMW E12.

Why is it always the Italians that suffer in sales?

Thanks for reading

Image credit: Wheelsage

Image credit: Wheelsage

Well, there was my list of 7 luxury-orientated cars that fell under the radar. It's a shame these weren't noticed by more people, to be plainly honest... anyway;

I hope you enjoyed reading and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. Or if I've missed anything out, throw it in.


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