The Greatest Ever Sports Cars
Cars from the Exotic to the Erotic
No 10. Lamborghini Countach.
Countach in Italian means, literally, "holy smoke" or wow! The Countach broke new ground with it's design inheriting a lot from Formula 1 technology. Pirelli designed the tyres which were the largest tyres ever fitted to a production car. Because the tyres were so large the body had to be built around them helping to give the Countach it's outrageous shape. Only three cars were built each week giving a waiting list of a year. It also came with a price tag of $150,000 inspiring the phrase super-car. The Countach was not just an incredible sports car, but also a pin-up featuring on posters in many a teenage boy's bedroom. The ultimate childhood wet-dream.
No. 9. Nissan Skyline
A car so fast and so intimidating it wasn't allowed on the streets of North America. Described by many as a playstation on wheels, normal cars tell the driver about oil temperature and battery power. The Nissan Skyline has it's own computer system that tracks everything from g-force to turbo-boost, to the amount of torque to the front wheels. Hook the car's computer up to your laptop and you can override all settings to get the most phenomenal tune-up. The engine has amazing capacity and some driver's claim to get 1,000bhp after a bit of tweaking.
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
No. 8. Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
An exquisite package that came from nowhere and slapped the face of the European competition. It has Americana written all over it. It's the Stars and Stripes in automobile form. A thumping great V8 with good straight line speed and reasonable reliability at a fair price.
Critics implied that the chassis was not firm enough to prevent flexing in corners but supporters retort that it is muscle-bound, aggressive and showy.
Aston Martin DB5
No. 7. Aston Martin DB5
Forever associated with James Bond and it is the playboy's express. It is heart-stoppingly gorgeous, it has a fantastic 6-cylinder twin overhead cam engine, It would, in 1961/62 do 150mph which is pretty impressive. But, much more than this, it had a wonderfull, tweeedy, British elegance.
Aston Martin was one of a number of small, proud, English companies known for hand-built craftmanship. But craftsmanship didn't always translate into reliabilty and furthermore, is a grand tourer really a sports car?
Mercedes 300SL Gullwing
No. 6. Mercedes 300SL Gullwing
Eddie Irvine, F1 Race Driver, likes the Mercedes he says: "It's such a work of art, it really is, it's stunning. It's better than any Picasso".
The 300SL has curves which make it hugely glamorous, but the curves are kept in check so it is obvious their main function is aerodynamic. It's tubular space-frame made the gullwing extra rigid, crucial for control at high speeds and at only 82Kgs the frame was light as a featheer. But, those same tubes took up room where the bottom of the doors would go, so instead they would hinge on the roof and lift up. It was a practical piece of design but wound up becoming the car's exotic signature.
No. 5. Ferrari Enzo
Named after Enzo Ferrari himself. Under the hood, a 6 litre V-12 capable of 660 horse-power, double that of the Stingray. A top-speed of 220mph is too scary for most drivers to contemplate. 0-60 in 3.6secs, shifting gears with a flick of the finger just like in F1, the Enzo needs only 150mS between gears to respond.
Ray Maranges, an Enzo race driver, say: "For a street-car it's about as close as you can come to an F1". Eddie Irvine adds: "When you buy a Ferrari, you're buying the badge, you know the Prancing Horse is a great symbol, You're buying the heritage, you're buying the Italian flavour, you know you're buying into a lifestyle in a way".
No. 4. E-Type Jaguar
At the start of the swinging 60's came a positively groovy sports car - The E-Type Jag. Quentin Wilson, journalist, considers this: "When we buy these cars now, when we wax lyrical over them, when we spend all the money we haven't got rebuilding them, it's because we're trying to recapture that seminal moment, in March 1961, when this car changed the way the world thought about sports cars".
Lord Charles Brocket, buff & ex-collector adds: "This was one of the most phallic of all cars ever produceed". The E-Type was one of the first production cars to do over 150mph, it was a direct descendant of a long line of racing Jaguars.
No. 3. McLaren F1
The fastest road-car in the world! A car that will, at the high end, outperform a formula one car. Compared to a normal car, the F1 is as light as a feather, that's because it is made with an all carbon composite body, combine that with a 627 horse-power engine and you can do 0-60 in just over 3.2secs. Just like the Enzo this is really a race car very thinly disguised for the street.
Quentin Wilson describes it as "A beautiful, technical, tour-de-force and it ocupies a very special place, it's Mount Olympus as far as cars go".
No. 2. Mazda Miata
The biggest selling 2-seat convertible of all-time. Perhaps the most influential sports car of it's time, which brought back the idea of having a personal sports car when there was nothing else available. Mercede and BMW owe a great deal to the success of the Miata as their more recent models may never have come to pass.
Because it was so light and evenly balanced, front-to-back, the Miata handled superbly. It wasn't expensive, it was cheap to run and, being Japanese, it was reliable.
No. 1. Porsche 911
There is one car that always seems to silence the critics, it's been hailed as an engineering marvel, a legendary racer and at the same time a 24/7 super-car for the masses. This car has been around for 40 years in basically the same soulful package.
The first production of the 911 was in 1964 with a 2-litre short wheelbase coming out in 1969. 40 years ago, Steve McQueen made this car famous in the move Le Mans.
CREDITS: All of the above information was taken from the UK's Channel Five "Greatest Ever" documentary series.