Enough of the usual suspects, down with the run-of-the-mill regulars and plain common vehicles already featured in half a dozen CC posts! I’m fixing to kick things into high gear for December and feature things we’ve not seen before on this website, for a change. Just to set the standard, here’s one not many people will have seen anywhere, judging by how extensive my Internet searches had to be to comprehend its existence: a locally-made Lambo four-door saloon.
This highly unfamiliar machine crossed my path about a month ago in Ginza, central Tokyo’s high-end shopping district. I like to prowl that area on week-ends, as the ratio of CCs per square kilometer is pretty good. On that particular day though, it was off the scale.
Luck was on my side that day: the mystery mobile, which wailed and growled exactly like a real Lambo, wafted past me. It rolled down the road and I followed its general direction, on the off chance I could catch it. Modern cars aren’t my wheelhouse, but this warranted further investigation.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained: even as I went down a side street to see this gray monster was lurking in some corner, it had doubled back around, passed me again and parked. The driver exited. Conditions were ideal for a full photo shoot.
This encounter spawned a host of questions, some of which remain unanswered. The first and most difficult to tackle was: So what have we here, then? Lamborghini’s current range contains four models: the Huracán and Aventador are mid-engined two-door supercars, in the traditional Lamborghini mold. In 2018, they were joined by the Urus, a V8-engined SUV using the same platform as the Audi Q7 / Bentley Bentayga / Porsche Panamera / VW Touareg. Finally, there is the super-limited edition Sián, a souped-up re-bodied Aventador. Yet none of those look like this tormented Tokyo tourer.
What this does look like is the Estoque. That was a one-off Lamborghini saloon shown at the 2008 Paris Motor Show – just as the financial crisis was starting to really bite. It was powered by a front-mounted V10, probably using a Bentley platform (pure speculation on my part, but what else could it be based on?) and was mooted for production in the next couple of years. The economic climate soon cooled Lamborghini’s four-door fantasies, and they announced the project’s cancellation in early 2009.
Ever since then, the sole Estoque has been languishing at the Lamborghini Museum in Sant’Agata Bolognese. Rumours of the Estoque’s re-emergence, perhaps as a Diesel hybrid or a full EV, have cropped up here and there since 2018-19, most articles predicting a 2025 launch date. So I guess it could still happen…
Did the Tokyo car slip through a crack in the space-time continuum from the year ’25 ’25 (if man is still aliiiive)? Occam’s razor will shave us from idle speculation: no, this is a different beast. And judging from the noises it emitted, it’s neither a Diesel, nor an EV.
That’s not the only difference, of course. The more one compares the Tokyo car with the European one, the more differences one sees. Not a single detail or shut line is identical.
In fact, the more I photographed it, the odder this bloated bizarro-world behemoth looked. The fenders were strangely flared – the genuine Estoque’s rear wings were quite bulbous too, but not like this. And the front ones were also affected on this car, going almost half-way into the front doors, giving the whole affair an early ‘40s pastiche feel.
While we’re on the flanks, there was this awkward protruding piece of B-pillar at the bottom of the rear doors. Never seen anything like it, but it screamed “structural compromise”. Who could have designed something as crazy as this?
Fortunately, there was this nice big clue on the front fenders. Searching “Lamborghini Fighting Star” on the web led to a lot of information about Tokyo’s Lambo customizer scene, some of which is on display on Sundays at the Jingu Gaien and briefly documented in some of my recent Singles Outtakes posts. Most local Lamborghini enthusiasts get their cars worked on by Fighting Star, a specialist shop in central Tokyo. The man behind the madness is Shinichi Morohoshi, who is the very person that was driving this four-door creation.
Fighting Star manufactures a lot of kits and other decorative items for Aventadors and the like, and organizes meet-ups and events for the Lamborghinistas of the Japanese capital. And on a couple of instances, Morohoshi-san has publicized the fact that he is “the only one in the world driving an Estoque.” What some folks wouldn’t do for exclusivity…
The interior does look like a pretty sweet place to be, to be fair. It could certainly pass for something made by Lamborghini themselves. If this is a DYI project, some serious coin, time and talent were sunk into it.
With a bit more online sleuthing, I ended up finding more tidbits of information. It appears the original creator of this car was a Japanese coachbuilder called Belladonna. For some reason, this shop decided to do their version of the Lamborghini Estoque and display it, not entirely finished, at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show.
It doesn’t look like the Fighting Star side of things was involved in creating this second Estoque, at least at this initial stage, but it’s clearly the same car. The Belladonna lead gets cold around 2018 – they may have gone under. Perhaps that’s when Fighting Star bought the car, repainted it gray (a crying shame) and made a number of small changes, such as adding Lamborghini badging, headlights and spraying it gray. I’m sure there were many other bits and bobs – and registering it can’t have been too easy, either.
What stumped me completely for ages was what base they used. Articles discussing the Belladonna version of this car claim that an Audi RS7 was used. Apparently, only the windshield, front window and B-pillar were straight from the Audi – everything else is custom bodywork. There are rumours that an air suspension system was also added to the car – because a bespoke one-off four-door body just wasn’t mad or ambitious enough.
While it cannot be said that this unofficial Estoque is beautiful, it’s certainly intriguing. The same can be said of many Lamborghini cars, but this one’s obsession with hexagon motifs, curious proportions and sumptuous interior do make it stand out. Oh, and the fact that it was entirely made by Japanese car nerds with zero actual input from the factory.
It’s not clear what engine this car has – perhaps simply the RS7’s twin turbocharged 4-litre V8. Clocking in at 553hp, it’s certainly no slouch. And it found its way into the Urus a few years later, so it looks like a case of life imitating art, if you will.
Sometimes though, art is better off not being scaled up to life-size. The “production” Estoque was questionable enough for Lamborghini to pump the brakes on the idea. The later re-creation took the weird to a new level – perhaps a couple rungs higher than sanity would recommend.
Will the real thing ever be made by Lamborghini? We’ll know for sure in a couple of years, I guess, but it’s pretty doubtful. Meantime, if you want a sports saloon with a bull badge on its nose, you’ll just have to take matters into your own hands.
My first impression of the base car being used was the Dodge Charger. At a glance, the proportions seemed just about right.
But your assessment of it likely being an Audi makes a lot more sense.
Retro Stang Rick: My exact thoughts too.
By the third pic I’m thinking “Oh, Brother, who greenlit this?” and by the 11th pic that has ascended to “Vanity Crash, indeed”.
RetroStangRick is on to something, it does have a strong Dodge Charger vibe, albeit after being transformed into the next KITT. Nobody hassles the Hoff!
It’s clearly an Audi RS7 with a custom body kit. The interior is 100% stock RS7. The body has been disguised with added-on external panels. One can see the Audi rear door and window, hence the little fake filler panel right behind the end of the Audi’s real side glass.
there was this awkward protruding piece of B-pillar at the bottom of the rear doors. Never seen anything like it, but it screamed “structural compromise”. Who could have designed something as crazy as this?
“Structural compromise”? Seriously? This us all just plastic/fiberglass/whatever attached to the Audi body and doors. which are hiding behind there. Since that new fake skin extends down past the original door bottoms, and covers the sills, they had to add that little section between the doors, otherwise the rear door wouldn’t have opened.
The Belladonna lead gets cold around 2018 – they may have gone under. Perhaps that’s when Fighting Star bought the car, repainted it gray (a crying shame) and made a number of small changes, such as adding Lamborghini badging, headlights and spraying it gray. I’m sure there were many other bits and bobs – and registering it can’t have been too easy, either.
The Belladona is a totally different car. If you actually look at it and the Fighting Star, it’s very obvious that every panel, detail, etc. is somewhat to very different. The rear door for example has an actual pane back where it meets the c-pillar; the Fighting star doesn’t. My guess is the Belladona might be either a non-running “pusher” styling concept, or just a much more heavily disguised/rebuilt car. But they’re clearly not the same car.
The interior is a dead give-away.
they had to add that little section between the doors, otherwise the rear door wouldn’t have opened.
That’s exactly what I meant by structural compromise. Not sure why the outburst there.
I have to respectfully disagree about your other point – Fighting Star did the C-pillar (covered it with a fibreglass faux intake), got all of the panels to actually open and many other small details, but it’s the very same car. It even kept the same wheels, which were made for it by Belladonna.
Hardly an outburst.
That’s exactly what I meant by structural compromise
These are completely non-structural elements. They’re just cladding added to the Audi underneath them. So there’s zero “structural compromise”
It may have the same wheels, but there’s numerous differences. For instance, that little odd rectangle between the bottom of the doors is not there. The whole rear end has very substantial differences in its basic proportions, one of the most glaring ones being the solid panel beneath the tail lights: the one one the Belladona is more than twice as tall/deep as the Fighting Star. The feature line/edge from the rear end to the back of the rear wheel opening is much longer on the Belladona. The rear-back window is totally different, and all the pieces around it are different. There’s many others.
The two are similar, but there a large number of differences all of them to make it very obvious to me that they’re not the same car. In fact, if I keep comparing various details, my list just gets longer and longer. It would make zero sense to redo all these elements for such minor stylistic differences, as obviously most folks can’t see them (for what they are). If you can’t see them, then just take it from me: they are not the same car. The Belladona has none of the features that make the FS a driveable car; as I said earlier, it must have just been a styling exercise.
Here’s the two rear ends: major dimensional/proportional differences.
If it is actually the same Audi RS7 underneath, then the tore off all the Belladona body cladding and started over.
Notice how the proportions, dimensions and details are essentially all different on the front ends. The two large grill openings on each side have different angles, proportions and size. The openings on the Belladona are substantially wider, among other things.
Looking at the rear-quarter view we can see how the sills are totally different, as well as that character line from the rear end to the rear wheel opening. Also, the door handles are different, and the way the backlight is trimmed, and of course the whole rear end.
Well! I’m certainly glad whoever put this together had enough extra money to add daytime running lights, even though they’re not required in Japan. Because otherwise who would ever notice this car?
Strong 6000SUX vibes
What a fascinatingly bizarre (bizarrely fascinating?) creation! Some of the fit and finish leaves a little to be desired, but I admire the vision, skill and effort of the builder of this. Regardless, it’s definitely more WTF than DIY I think!
If I saw this on the road I’d probably think it was a Trans Am with a body kit. That wouldn’t hold up upon closer inspection but the aesthetic is much the same.
Has panel gaps that would make a Chevy Lumina blush, especially the hood.