Manufacturers use test mules to develop future cars on the road without revealing production designs. Sometimes though, these mules are as cool—if not cooler—than the final product. Here are nine of our favorites.
The 965 was a test mule for a rear-engine top-tier 911 model that used a water-cooled Audi V8 rather than an air-cooled flat six. Unlike most test mules, this car never actually went into production.
Chevy thought it would be a good idea to dress up the upcoming mid-engine Corvette as a Holden ute pickup, placing the engine where the bed is supposed to go. It's definitely one of the stranger mules out there.
Image courtesy Car and Driver
The first prototypes for Porsche's 918 hypercar wore no bodywork from the passenger cell back, save for a 911 bumper with 911 taillights. The engine, as well as those supercool upward-facing exhaust exits, are in plain view for all to enjoy.
This 959 mule looks exactly like the production model in terms of shape, but shows off all the fiberglass used to make the fenders and rear clamshell piece. Plus, it has a seriously sweet set of wheels.
When Rolls-Royce set out to develop the upcoming Cullinan SUV, it didn't have an existing off-road vehicle to use as a mule for suspension and aero development, so it used a Phantom instead. With a lifted suspension, shortened wheelbase, and rear wing, it's easily one of the coolest test cars we've ever seen.