Maranello/Stuttgart (dpa/tmn) – Whether it’s performance, speed or price: whoever owns a Ferrari F40 can’t be beat in a car quartet. In 1987, Ferrari created a new vehicle category with Maranello’s low-flying vehicle. With 352 kW/478 hp and a price of 444,000 DM, it was the first road car to reach a top speed of 200 mph. With a top speed of 321 km/h, the F40 was announced as the new supercar.
But he’s not alone, says Classic Analytics’ classic car expert and market watcher Frank Wilke. He puts at least two other cars of the era into this category: the Porsche 959, which was introduced around the same time, and the McLaren F1, which first hit the fast lane in 1993.
Over 600 horsepower and a Formula 1 feel
Just ahead of Ferrari, the 331 kW/450 hp Porsche was the fastest road-legal production car in the world for months at 317 km/h. The price is also comparable at 420,000 Deutsche Marks.
The McLaren’s driver’s seat is pushed into the middle, delivering a Formula 1 driving experience in addition to its impressive output of up to 461 kW/627 hp and a top speed of 370 km/h. The price of 1.5 million Deutsche Marks (about 766,000 euros) is also a lonely peak.
Of course there are always sports cars, writes the curators of Brussels Motor World. At the end of the year, you have a special exhibit dedicated to this vehicle category in your museum. In doing so, they pulled the line back to the Lamborghini Miura (1966) and Countach (1971), both of whom listed them as icons of the full-speed pie of their era, or the 1954 Mercedes 300 SL .
Race cars and sports cars from the start
Even before the war, there were already candidates for cars like the Bugatti Type 35 or the Mercedes SSK. Basically, sports cars are as old as the car itself, since it was used for racing almost from the beginning. According to Ralph Wagenknecht, spokesman for Classics, even around 1901, Mercedes had to beat the rival Simplex in the hill climb from Nice to La Tourbi and still had to make 29 kW/40 hp keep the wolf from the door.
But the stock boom of the 1980s brought so much money into the coffers of the super-rich that it was time to introduce a new class of cars. American sports car dealer Marshall Goldmann from Beverly Hills explains the origins of the F40, 959 and F1 with greater technical effort and smaller numbers.
The true successor to the super racer follows
In the slipstream of these models, a series of other low-flying planes have dared to come out and ask to join the top trump circle, Frank Wilke said. But no matter how spectacular a car like the 1992 Jaguar XJ220, the Lamborghini Diablo (1990) or the slightly earlier BMW M1 (1978), experts don’t consider them supercars.
“They got everyone’s attention, but their construction was too traditional. The top leagues always required unique technology,” he said, referring to the then-unique F40 carbon fiber body or the F1’s center seat.
That’s why it took a decade for the next generation of supercars to launch and push boundaries, so much so that they were immediately called supercars. Fittingly, Ferrari, McLaren and Porsche are the same protagonist. This time, their unique technology for leaping to the next dimension is hybrid drive.
Electric steam hammer
Inspired by the hesitant electrification of Formula 1, the LaFerrari, P1 and 918 Spyder were not only quiet for driving in the city, but initially affordable. But at least in the short term, they also achieve previously almost unimaginable performance and acceleration values and speeds:
With 708 kW/963 hp, the Italian goes from 0 to 100 and 350 km/h in less than 3 seconds. The Brit has 674 kW/916 hp in 2.8 seconds and 350 km/h. The German has 652 kW / 887 hp in the data sheet, 2.6 seconds and 345 km/h. And just like that, the trump card in the PS quartet was redistributed again.
The Bugatti Veyron (2005-2015) should not be lost either. It’s just as striking, but still relatively traditional with its powerful 16-cylinder, 8.0-litre displacement and unimaginable 883 kW/1200 combustion engine. Chiron followed in 2016. These supercars can slowly mature into youngsters or be parked in museums like Brussels Motor World.
All-electric power station
But the next generation of top athletes is already warming up. The petrolheads are already looking for a new generic term. With its first all-electric drive, its performance once again reaches new levels with a peak of 1471 kW/2000 hp. Key stats are better than Formula 1: 0-100 in less than 2 seconds, leading speeds of over 400 km/h – even Verstappen and Hamilton have trouble keeping up.
All-out factions have to get used to the new name. For now at least, top models from Ferrari, Porsche and McLaren still rely on combustion engines. Newcomers and outsiders like Rimac, Pininfarina and Lotus, along with their greats Nevera, Battista and Evija, have emerged as the new top ace.
Whether and how the arms race will continue is difficult to predict. But experts like Jan Burgard of strategy consultant Berylls have already proven skepticism about the next generation and high-flyers is justified. At least if you judge them by traditional disciplines.
Super, super – and that’s it?
“Because in the electric world, electricity has become too cheap to define a car with it,” Burgard said. It’s not without reason that today’s luxury sedans, like the 560 kW/761 hp Mercedes EQS, have more power than supercars of the past. Not to mention the Tesla Model S with up to 750 kW/1020 hp or the Lucid Air with 817 kW/1111 hp.
“Even if someone doubles or even triples it, we’re going into a realm where the differences are only theoretical and no one can solve them in practice,” Burgard said, adding:
“Unless someone comes up with something completely new, and the competition turns to other disciplines, such as fast battery charging or the experience of going beyond driving, the next supercar could also be the last.”