Bugatti

The Super Car Primer

Most men like cars, fast cars and within the last 15 years, the term Super Cars has evolved thanks to shows like Top Gear. Just to be clear, I am not a millionaire and probably never will be unless I win the lottery, in which case, good riddance to you, I’m off to Dubai! Second, I have a wife, three kids and a large dog. While the idea of owning a luxury car or sports car might be nice, it is no more than a dream. Do I own “luxury” goods? Sure. Of course I do. I have some beautiful watches, clothes that cost more than my oldest sons extracurriculars and an office that is literally full of rich mahogany furniture and studded leather chairs and sometimes I receive things for free – call it perks of my job.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t translate to vehicles. I have yet to receive a call from Rolls Royce asking if I want a free Phantom. Sure, they’d probably offer me a test drive or even lend me a car for a week to test, but no car company in the world including Kia would ever just give me a car. Even if I wrote a gleaming article about how great they are.

So today I’m going to talk about a subject that’s dear to my heart but far from my garage> Super Cars. The kicked up, adrenaline-pumping rockstars of the sports car industry. In other words, step aside sports cars, because the ones listed below are about to blow you out of the water.

The History of Super Cars

Supercars, also known as exotics are basically just really fast, really expensive and sometimes, far more luxurious versions of the typical sports car. In order to qualify as a super car and not get mocked by the industry, the vehicle, in most cases, has to be from a world renowned automaker that’s modified for increased power and performance.

The first super car was actually introduced in 1920 when an ad for an Ensign Six appeared in The Times advertising the 6.7L high performance car that was quite similar to that of the Bentley Speed Six. The caption read “if you are interested in a super car, you cannot afford to ignore the claims of the Ensign 6.” – Wow, advertising slogans have sure changed since then.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary sitting on my desk, a Supercar is defined as “a car superior to all others”. Other publications cite Supercars as being automobiles that incorporate advances in design and technology. For this particular article, we’re going to define a Supercar as being a rarified vehicle for the most discerning clientele that is superior to all others in power, performance and price. End of discussion.

Super Car Top Picks

I’m sure these will generate many a comment of “why wasn’t ______ included?” or “how could you list ________, and not _________?” Well, the answer is pretty simple. Supercars are left up for opinion. There really is no factual information that states “this one is better than this one”. Rankings are done based solely on the information available to the writer and, quite frankly, the writers personal preferences and opinion. Like it or not, the following are the list of my favorite super cars and I hope you’ll be inclined to agree with a few of the choices below.

Aston Martin One-77

For any James Bond fan, the Aston Martin brand has a special place in our hearts.

A limited run two-door coupé, the One 77 sells for around $1,900,000. First debuting at the 2008 Paris Motor Show, the car maintained its Savile Row tailored skirt through the entire show before being fully unveiled at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show.

Deliveries began in early 2011 of the limited production of just 77 cars. Featuring a full carbon fibre monocoque chassis, it has a handcrafted aluminum body with a naturally aspirated 7.3 litre V12 engine that pushes out 750 horsepower, making the One-77 Aston Martin’s most powerful naturally aspirated production car in the world.

Lamborghini Veneno Roadster

If you’re worried about the $4,500,000 price tag, you probably shouldn’t be buying a super car anyhow. The Lamborghini Veneno Roadster is technically a prototype, but has to at least be mentioned in an article such as this.

With just nine being built, this 740-hp speed machine is entirely carbon fibre making it one of the lightest super cars on the planet. It rides on a pushrod-actuated suspension system and comes standard in all-wheel drive. Unlike convertibles, the Veneno Roadster doesn’t have a retractable roof. In fact, it doesn’t even come with one. It’s this wind-rippling through your hair effect that makes the Veneno one of the coolest cars on this list and the light body with the heavy foot that really makes it something special.

Gumpert Apollo

When Roland Gumpert of the German automaker Gumpert Sportwagenmanufaktur GmbH suggested a new generation super car in early 2001, the initial concerns were that it was too fast to be the “street legal” car he proposed.

The Apollo is a light bodied, street-legal race car – something every police officer wants to hear. With rear-wheel drive, the mid engined super car rides on a tubular chromoly frame that comes standard with fiberglass or optional carbon fibre panels. It has been said that the Apollo is capable of being driven upside down in tunnels at high speeds, but to the best of my knowledge this has never actually been tested. Or at least not officially tested.

At 650 horsepower, the Apollo houses a 4163 cc bi-turbo intercooled version of the Audi V8 engine that Roland Gumpert specifically engineered himself, for speed and grip on paved city streets at top speeds of 360mph. We’re betting Gumpert isn’t well liked by the Beverly Hills PD.

Pagani Zonda Revolucion

Launching you from 0-100km/h in less than 2.7 seconds is a feat of it’s own, but for the Pagani it’s just one of the many attributes that the super car comes standard with. At 800hp, what’s even more impressive is that the car stops faster than it starts. Home to a Mercedes-Benz AMG V12 high-performance racing engine, the Pagani has repeatedly made a name for itself as a race car lovers dream machine. With just 15 cars produced, it is certainly a rarified experience to be behind the wheel of one of the world’s fastest super cars.

With a carbon/titanium central monocoque, this powerhouse has a 6-speed magnesium transversal and sequential gearbox that can change gears in 20ms. Bosch was key in the implementation of a twelve setting ABS traction control system that allows the car to adapt based on the driver’s personal style. Priced at €2.2 million, this is one car that some feel should be worth much more.

McLaren F1

Often considered the godfather of super cars, the McLaren F1 is a legend in the world of motorsports. This F1 car is of course, designed by McLaren Automotive and although initially intended as a concept car, was put into production and set the world record for the world’s fastest production car on March 31, 1998 when it reached a top speed of 231mph with the rev limiter enabled, and 240mph without.

With a unique seat configuration placing the driver slightly ahead and center of two passengers, directly ahead of the fuel tank and engine, the F1 is built to race with a 627hp, 6.1 L, V12 engine called the BMW S70/2.

The McLaren was also the first of its kind to feature a full carbon fibre reinforced plastic monocoque chassis, which has of course paved the way (no pun intended) for other super car manufacturers.

While it may no longer be the fastest or most brutal super car on the freeway, it is nevertheless legen-wait for it-dary. And, of course, as we all know, heroes live forever, but legends never die.

Koenigsegg Agera S

Koenigsegg for whatever reason, decided they didn’t like the term “super car”. Perhaps it was overused, maybe slightly beneath them, but they have taken the liberty of calling the Agera S the world’s only “Hypercar” and I’m somewhat inclined to agree.

With top speeds over 400kph, the Agera S comes with an absolutely ridiculous 1040 hp twin turbo engine. A roadster by design, the Agera is made for extreme performance on everyday drives. What really drives that point home (see what I did there?), is the 120 litres of luggage space and the detachable hardtop roof that truly make this the daily drivers best friend.

Made partially of the same material that bullet proof vests are made of, this kevlar and carbon fibre enforced machine has a 7-speed dual clutch transmission with paddle shifters for ease and flexibility. The car is exceptionally light and has some of the fastest shift times around.

Priced right around $4.7 million after tax, this is one super car that leaves the other billionaires in your dust.

SSC Ultimate Aero XT

If you don’t have a private jet, the Ultimate Aero XT is probably about as close as it comes. It’s speeds are double that of the average jets take off speed and it even held a Guinness World Record for the fastest production car speed until Bugatti stole it in 2010 with the introduction of the Veyron Super Sport which you can read about below.

Made in America, this beast of a super car has 1300hp, redlining at 9200rpms. With a maxspeed of 275mph, this mean machine is made to feel like you’re in the cockpit of a fighter jet. With a production run of just five cars, the XT features SSC’s in-house 6.9 litre all-aluminum twin-turbo V8 engine.

If you’re a big fan of American made, this is absolutely the car for you. It makes the Corvette look like a Fiat.

W Motors Lykan Hypersport

Whoever said the Lebanese couldn’t make a super car obviously never met the Lykan. The first super car ever built in the middle east, there’s a reason it’s so popular with the billionaires in Dubai. Launched in 2013 at the Dubai Motor Show, the $3.4 million super car is really nothing short of a marvel. The third most expensive car ever produced, this is the kind of car we expect Tony Stark to be driving in the next Iron Man movie. Four were built, three sold, and those lucky few will have a twin turbo flat-six 3.7-litre engine, with some Middle East bling.

Seriously. It comes with diamonds and rubies in the headlights. Made of titanium LED blades, the headlights come with the buyers choice of 420 diamonds and/or rubies to really set them apart from the competition. Making a Rolls Royce look like my daughter’s ride-on toy, the Lykan is one car that you can blink and miss.

Hennessey Venom GT

You already know that with a name like “Hennessy Venom” this car is going to rank high on any driver’s dream list.

Back in 2007, Road & Track Magazine invited some of the key players in the supersport industry to come out for a race to see who in fact made the fastest super car. Of course, this is before some of the newer beasts came out, but back then, the contenders were still pretty fierce. In the lineup was a McLaren SLR, a Lamborghini Murciellago, a Porsche 911 Twin Turbo, a Bugatti Veyron 16.4 and finally, the Hennessy Venom Twin Turbo Viper. The goal was to see which car could accelerate from 0-200mph in the shortest amount of time.

Take a wild guess who won?

Crowned King of the Road & Track Speed Kings Shootout, the Venom hit 200mph in 20.3 seconds, beating second place’s Bugatti Veyron by four full seconds.

Today, there might be a different outcome, but if you’re a fan of American made cars, the Venom GT is one car worthy of your consideration and your praise; and for many, it is still considered the fastest tuned car in the world.

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse

It seems these days that no super car list is complete without mentioning the name Bugatti. Synonymous with speed, performance and agility, the Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse is for many, the granddaddy of super cars. A limited edition of the Veyron that made headlines as the world’s fastest and most expensive super car, the Grand Sport Vitesse is like racing The Flash against The Hulk. Sure, Hulk could crush him, but only if he can catch him first.

At a cool $2.2 million, the Vitesse is modeled after the Bugatti Type-37A of the 1920s. Housing a W16 engine, with a maximum torque of 1,500 Nm at 3,000 – 5,000 rpm, the Vitesse sees an output of 1200 horsepower as it jets from 0-100kph in 2.6 seconds.

Almost 200hp more than the Grand Sport and a top speed of 255mph, the Vitesse is today the world record holder as the fastest production roadster ever built.

Conclusion

We get that the majority of our readership can’t afford these cars – quite frankly, neither can we. But, that doesn’t mean that we don’t like to look at them. Many people falsely believe that in order to be considered a true “gentleman” you need to drive a car that accommodates others, rather than a selfish vehicle for one or two. Sure we love our touring cars, our luxury sedans and our historic automobiles, but many of us also appreciate the fine craftsmanship that goes into building a super car. We hope you’ve enjoyed this primer on some of our favorites, and don’t forget that just because you may not be able to buy one, doesn’t mean you can’t rent them! Safe travels everyone.

Summary
Article Name
The Super Car Primer
Description
Learn more about Super Cars, their history, how much horse power they have, how limited they are & how much they cost in our Supercar primer
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9 replies
  1. Kurt says:

    Ok, great article, however, as somebody who has owned a number of “super cars” maybe I could shed some light into ownership. So, I’ve owned a couple of Aston’s, a Bentley and a Lamborghini. I have just placed an order for a new Bentley Continental, the car I would suggest to anybody who really can’t afford a super car. They are quite reasonable second hand and most importantly they have proven to be cheaper to maintain and reliable.

    Anyway, ownership (also should point out I live in Australia)… without going into specific details and in no particular order, they are uncomfortable (I am 6″3′), hard to drive on any normal road, hard to park, hard to see out of, overly expensive to maintain, can’t fit your golf clubs in them, If you taking a beautiful lady out who is wearing a little black dress, let’s just say undignified. You bottom out on every entry, exit and speed bump, you keep losing license points every time your right foot gets a twitch, every scratch breaks your heart and I have to say, in my experience, they are not that well built. I could list pages of things that have simply broken. Reliability they have been fine, in that they start and stop when they need to. They just keep breaking or things falling off.

    When all is said and done, yes they do look fabulous in the garage, you do feel like a boss when you step out of your home in the morning and see it sitting there. The downside to that is that when your sitting in a parking lot on the M1 at peak hour, then it’s only the car beside you that enjoys the good looks whilst your only looking at the temperature and fuel gauge wondering if your going to get home in any dignified sense.

    Can they be a lot of fun? For sure, absolutely; and boy do they pick up the chicks… Mostly the wrong sort of chicks! In my experience beautiful intelligent women more go for the well dressed gentleman in a nicely kept and kitted out Audi A4 at a fraction of the cost.

    Anyway guys, just my thoughts. I love my Bentley. It is luxurious, elegant and understated. It has proven well priced, held its value, cheaper to maintain and reliable. It is beautifully built. And yes the golf clubs do fit.

    Regards

    • Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      Kurt,
      Thanks for sharing your first hand experience. What Bentley do you drive? The Continental GT? The cost of a car, should always be calculated inclsuding purchase price and maintenance. Now, you say Bentley held its value but also that they can be had quite reasonably second hand. At first, it seems a bit like a contradiction, but I am sure you can shed more light on that.

  2. Paul Curtis says:

    Dear Sven,

    Perhaps your article more clearly articulates the need for and justification of Police Helicopters than any written to date. However, I am certain that wasn’t the point of the article. 🙂

    Once again you have done a magnificent piece on a topic appreciated by many. Thank you for doing so. I am among the fortunate in that I live in Southern California and from time to time silently get to pose the question, “What was that?” as something fast passes my Mercedes-Benz on the way to who knows where. There are a lot of fine automobiles in the Beverly Hills, West Los Angeles, and Newport Beach areas of Southern California. Super cars are still rare to see, even for Police Officers.

    All my best,

    Paul Curtis

  3. Kai says:

    In reading the post regarding the impracticality of super cars, I am reminded of a show I saw on 60 Minutes many years ago on Lamborghini.

    The 60 Minutes show wrapped up with an interview with the Italian gentleman who was running Lamborghini at the time. The interviewer pointed out all of the impracticalities of owning a super car and asked the question of why the world needed such an expensive, impractical vehicle. The head of Lamborghini responded (in a great Italian accent) something along these lines:

    “This car, this car is like a beautiful woman. She does not work. She does not cook. All you do with this woman is look at her, and make love to her. That is this car.”

    I think that this understanding of the car is why so many amazing supercars come out of Italy.

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