Italdesign Calá

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If you were a car enthusiast in 1995, there was precious little to watch.

Sure, you could watch something like the original series of Top Gear—if you were lucky enough to get it. You could watch American car review shows like Motorweek. If you didn't get those, many local TV stations would also visit an auto show and produce an idiotic report full of factual errors.

If you wanted to see a supercar moving, you were pretty much out of luck. No Chris Harris, no modern Top Gear, no Drive, no Petrolicious

There was one option, however. Video games. They'd just figured out how to put (relatively) high-quality video on a CD, bundled with the data for a game.

When I fired up Need For Speed: II and watched the Italdesign Calá leap from the pages of Road & Track onto a deserted country road, I was astonished.

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Some vehicles make a lot of sense, even today. In 1995, your choice of branded, mid-range supercar was between the Ferrari F355 and the Porsche 911 Turbo. Lamborghini  was nowhere—the Jalpa was killed in 1988 and the Gallardo wouldn't appear for another seven years.

The 911 Turbo was the first Porsche road car with twin turbos, and the first Turbo to have all-wheel-drive. You had around 400 horsepower to play with—road tests compared the car favourably to the 959 supercar. 

Ferrari's F355 was slightly down on horsepower with its naturally aspirated V8, but it was mid-engined and lighter than the Turbo by more than 300 lbs.

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Calá, with its fully-functioning, mid-mounted 372+ horsepower V10 engine, rear-drive, targa top, and 2+2 interior layout seemed to be the perfect competitor to its contemporaries. But it wasn't that simple.

First shown at the Geneva Motor Show in 1995, Calá was a fully functioning prototype commissioned by then-Lamborghini owners Megatech. The Italian brand had just come out of a messy deal with Chrysler, after being traded around among wealthy owners since Ferruccio Lamborghini's death.

Styling—or should I say in my 9-year-old-voice, "THE BEST CAR EVER"—was exceptional. Headlight vents that echoed the Miura, a raked windshield like the Countach, and styling cues that were soft like a Porsche but more extreme than a Ferrari.

Buried by Audi after their take-over in 1999, the only Calá is a now a museum piece, exercised on occasion. 

Today, it's hard not to place the car in history, even though the only competition it gave other supercars was in the virtual world of Need for Speed. The Calá, though, wasn't the only rare car in that game.…

…but that's a story for another day.

Sources / Recommended Reading