When it comes to all-out acceleration and speed-based thrill, there really aren’t any vehicles that can compete with a proper sportbike. With negligible weight, and no cage to keep you in, sportbikes rocket to speed like nothing else on the road, and offer a pure, exhilarating driving experience that is unparalleled, with new performance machines coming out every year that take performance expectations to further and further extremes.
Ideal for such a small and light package, motorcycle engines don’t usually have their place in cars. Typically, if they do it’s for a slow, and not at all performance-oriented microcar, and even if they’re interesting to look at, they typically aren’t considered cool vehicles. In the world of extreme lightweight production performance cars that the average person can buy though, bike engines like the Suzuki Hayabusa inline-4 do indeed have their place, offering extreme performance in a truly small and light package. So, read on, to see 10 of the coolest such cars that get their power from a motorcycle engine.
10 Magnum Mk5
When it comes to Canadian cars, there’s not much out there. While cars like the Bricklin SV-1 are iconic but rather slow and ugly, the Magnum Mk5 is an aggressive, and truly sporty machine from Quebec.
Originating in 1968, Quebec-based Magnum got their start making Formula Ford race cars, among which were used by future F1 legend Gilles Villeneuve. Calling on their past racing heritage, the MK5 is a lightweight, track-focused racecar for the road, powered by a Suzuki Hayabusa-based motor that screams to 11,000 RPM, and pushes out up to 250 hp. Production of 20 cars per year was promised back in 2015, but official word has yet to be delivered on their status.
9 Campagna T-Rex
One of, if not the only Canadian-designed and made cars to stay in production for decades, the Campagna T-Rex is a 3-wheeled sporty thrill ride with some of the most uniquely quirky looks out there.
While several sporty 3-wheeled vehicles exist on the market today, like the Polaris Slingshot, back when the T-Rex first debuted in 1995, it was one of the few options available and offered some serious performance for the class. While Campagna had to shut its doors in early 2019, investors from Quebec came to the rescue and resumed production of the T-Rex. A lightweight rocket, the T-Rex is powered by a Kawasaki ZX-14 engine giving it up to 200 hp.
8 Morgan 3 Wheeler
One of the most iconic 3-wheel cars still around today, the Morgan 3 Wheeler is a hilariously fun little machine, and uniquely sporty with its V-Twin motorcycle engine.
Looking like something that drove straight out of the 1920s, the Morgan 3 Wheeler is a callback to the brand’s history, which originated with making these 3 wheeled cars in the early 20th century. Setting out to produce a proper modern tribute to them, the 3 Wheeler was brought to life in 2012. The result is uniquely cool, with properly vintage looks and hand-made craftsmanship, the S&S Cycles V-Twin engine gives the 3 Wheeler a distinct Harley Davidson-like sound and is more than enough to give the light and small machine some great performance.
7 Westfield Megabusa
A kit car similar to the legendary Caterham 7, the Westfield Megabusa is the ultimate version of Westfield’s Caterham rivaling barebones sports car.
Originating in the ’80s to compete with Caterham, Westfield came under fire from Caterham, who had bought the rights to the Lotus 7 design. Modifying their design, the Westfield sports remain on sale to this day as a more unique version of the 7. Taking the lightweight track rocket to the extreme, the Megabusa is as the name suggests, gets its power from a 200 hp inline-4 from the former fastest motorcycle in the world – the Suzuki Hayabusa. An insane kit car, the Westfield Megabusa has a ridiculous power-to-weight ratio of around 400 hp per ton.
6 Westfield XTR2
Another track-focused beast from Westfield, the XTR2 forgoes the classic Lotus 7 inspired construction for a more racecar-oriented design, while still using that awesome Hayabusa motor.
As barebones and lightweight as possible, the Westfield XTR2 debuted in 2001 and was sold until 2010. Weighing under 1000 lbs, the XTR2 gets its power, as mentioned, from a mid-engine Hayabusa motor spitting out 180 hp. Properly rigid with its tube-frame chassis, the XTR2 was featured on Top Gear, where it smashed the Pagani Zonda’s lap time when driven by their legendary test driver The Stig.
5 Radical SR1
Another British brand, Radical revolves around making true racecars that you can buy. Among their lineup, the SR1 offers track-focused performance taken to the extreme, but at a level that lets normal drivers learn how to manage such monstrous machines.
The entry-level offering in Radical’s lineup, the SR1 is the cheapest and least violent of the pack. As well, being their beginner racecar, Radical hosts an SR1 Cup that lets owners go head to head to sharpen their skills on the track. Don’t let “entry-level” fool you though, as the SR1 weighs just 1080 lbs giving it incredible handling – up to 1.9 Gs of lateral grip, and supercar level acceleration with a 0-60 mph sprint of just 3.5 seconds thanks to a tweaked Suzuki Hayabusa engine delivering 182 hp.
4 Radical SR3
The next step up in Radical’s line of racecars from the SR1, the SR3 is a bigger and badder track monster, packed with more power, speed, and handling ability, as well as a more powerful version of that custom Hayabusa motor.
Radical’s most popular model and one of the best-selling factory-built racecars overall, the SR3 is packed with advanced performance tech, including a Le Mans style steering wheel that controls and displays the car’s systems, and many more awesome features. But the most awesome part is the lightweight performance itself, doing a 0-60 mph time of 3.1 seconds, holding on with cornering grip up to 2.3 Gs, and 226 hp to the wheels with a similar, but improved Suzuki Hayabusa based motor.
3 Radical SR8
One of Radical’s most radical racecars, the SR8 takes the SR series to its extreme, with even better performance across the board, and design on par with genuine Le Mans racers.
Similar to the Sr1 and SR3, the SR8 is a lightweight track beast, with Hayabusa-derived power. Similarly packed with plenty of performance tech goodies, the SR8 was developed with over 14 years of track-focused testing, and currently is in its 3rd generation. Holding a Nürburgring record for 12 years, the SR8 is powered by a V8, but not just any V8. Formed by merging 2 of the aforementioned in-house tweaked Hayabusa engines together, the 2.7 L V8 engine screams to 10,500 rpm and lays down 411 hp, enough to shoot the SR8 from 0-60 mph in just 2.8 seconds.
2 Ariel Atom 500 V8
An iconic stripped-down, track-focused sports car, the Ariel Atom has been around since the late ’90s as a seriously awesome low-volume piece of scaffolding on wheels.
More exhilarating than most supercars even in its most basic forms, the Atom 500 takes things to a terrifying extreme. Weighing around 1,200 lbs, the Atom 500 gets its power from a similar concept to the Radical SR8 – a V8 created by merging two Suzuki Hayabusa inline-4 engines together. Giving the barebones car 500 hp, the Atom 500 goes warp speed with a 0-60 mph time of 2.3 seconds and is among the most violently wild road-legal cars you can buy thanks to an absolutely ridiculous power-to-weight ratio.
1 Peel P50
Ending things on a much, much more tame note (yet just as terrifying), the Peel P50 is a cool and iconic car not for any performance virtues, but for its record-breaking small size.
The record holder for smallest production car of all time, the Peel P50 came about on the Isle of Man in the early ’60s as an affordable and economical commuter with ads claiming it could fit “one adult and a shopping bag.” Packed with hilarious quirks like a lack of reverse gear being compensated with a grab handle on the rear, the Peel P50 was slow and terrifying small, but at least got great gas mileage. Originally powered by a 4.5 hp 49cc single-cylinder two-stroke DKW bike engine, the Peel P50 is by no means fast or good-looking, but turns heads like few other cars can.
NEXT: Peel P50: The Slowest And Smallest Car In The World (And Where To Buy A Brand New One)
10 Flopped SUVs That Are Worth Every Penny
About The Author