Last post on Dec 08, 2007 at 6:35 PM
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What is this discussion about?
Porsche 911, Chevrolet Corvette, Ferrari F430, Lotus Exige, Lotus Elise, Coupe
#1 of 531 Sports Cars - The Definitive Discussion
Mar 20, 2005 (7:13 pm)
I'm reading in the March issue of EVO about the development process of the Aston-Martin V8 Vantage. This article like the on Motor Trend and other publications really gives you an insight into what goes in developing a modern car, but also what goes into developing a sports car. Very interesting reading, got me to wanting to talk about sports cars.
What current sports car defines to breed in your opinion?
What sports cars seems to be the most pure?
What is your definition of a "sports car"?
Last, but not least which is your favorite at this moment?
Any thoughts in general about sports cars are also welcome.
I think personally we're living a grand era for the type. I mean you have a new Corvette, 911, F430, and even Aston-Martin is about to launch an all-new sports car, not a GT like the DB9, but a 911 chaser - the V8 Vantage. Sounds delicious to me. Lotus is even back on the scene with a car (Elise) that is according to everything I've see about it - about as much fun as you can have on 4 wheels. To think how many times the sports car was said to be on its way out.
Mr Shiftright, is it possible to have this discussion stradle this board and the News and Views board?
#2 of 531 At the moment.....
Mar 20, 2005 (7:25 pm)
I'm particularly intrigued by the F430, 911 Carrera S, and this new Aston-Martin V8 Vantage.
Maybe I'me overstating this here, but think about it: tiny Aston-Martin building a 911 beater? Has it happened before as I haven't been around as long as some who post here, but in recent years Aston wasn't even on the map in true sports car, let alone a Porsche competitor. To quote Dr. Ulrich Bez Aston's chief: "You know, its funny, when I was at Porsche we never even thought about Aston-Martin."
I finally got to see a Lotus Elise on the road - what a small car, definitely should be for track use only. The poor driver was so bunched up in the car - but he appeared to relish it.
I see why the very definition of a sports car varies so much. I mean is the Lotus Elise a sports car or is something like a Corvette a sports car? Or is it something like a Carrera GT, Miata, Viper, Boxster S, Zonda, 350Z, Murcielago?
I think I have a clear defintion of what a "GT" is: A sporty car that is capable of running with sports cars to a point, but with much better comfort and practicality, imo. Supercar: Outrageous performance, styling all uncompromised by real world demands. Does a "sports car" fit in the middle? I think so. You?
#3 of 531 Love Corvette, is Porsche over priced?
Mar 20, 2005 (9:07 pm)
Interesting views and yes we have it real good right now. I read a lot of car and sports car mags and am just getting to the C6 review in Grassrootsmotorsports but I read from front to back and have to get past the helmet and harness articles first. As to what is a sports car I also think it is partly an age and economic thing. When I was 20 something I did a dozen years in an MGB (72 - before the rubber bumpers) and was a very happy camper, it was what I could afford and was much more fun than the 280SL that I couldn't afford at the time. Also I fit and didn't have any issues getting in and out or driving long trips.
As I got to 50 something and was looking for some fun I wanted the XK8, until I found out at 6' 3" I didn't come close to fitting in the door or riding in the car. That led to lots of test drives, Boxster, S2000, M3, Z3, Z350, ZX300 (used), Miata and even a Prelude. Didn't think much of the TT or the SC430, sorry, a looks thing. Nothing really impressed me until I was encouraged to try a Corvette, most dealers don't test drive new ones. Test drove a couple used ones and it fit the bill, fun, comfortable and I admit more a GT than a true sports car which I was looking for at the time.
Then the neighbor with the M3 wanted to do a driving school so we went to Russell Racing at Sears Point and I've been on the track for a couple years now. The Vette is a sports car even in plain vanilla coupe form. It's really fun with an instructor getting a particular turn down and then they say, 'stay wide and when the M5 stays on line you should be in good position to pass, now nail it'.
So, why do the sports car mags rave about the Boxster? I was underwhelmed by the power and it was too tight for comfort, I'm only 195# so not a bulk issue. At the track I pass most 911's and the Boxsters don't even come close even in the twisty sections like the esses at Sears Point. Running up on one in the esses and then blowing by in turn 9 only gets hairy when you have to decide how fast you want to take turn 10, takes some working up to. To get a Porsche that performs as well as a $40k to $45k Vette(02) you need to get well past $100k, say $125k. And for a $50k Z06, which I don't have, it can usually run with GT3's. Passing a GT3 by the way is really fun , and lapping one in a 25 minutes session at Laguna Seca is just gravey, ok he was a rookie but I'm not far past that myself .
In two weeks, off to Reno-Fernley, newly expanded road course for my sixth track in the past two years. All Corvette weekend, no Porsches to pass . If you have a sports car and you are not getting out on road courses for High Performance Driving Events (HPDE) you are really missing most of the fun! IMHO
#4 of 531 definition, please!
Mar 21, 2005 (9:54 am)
I'm not really sure what constitutes a sportscar anymore. When I was younger I thought of my Lotus Elan as a sports car and the Elan plus 2S as a GT. I guess I always thought of "sportscars" as open roadsters with two seats that were light and "tossable."
Now that I'm driving a 328 Ferrari, I think of it as a sportscar. I'm wondering if the change in attitude happened with a lot of people with the introduction of the 240Z.
Going by the old definition, I'd have to vote for the Elise. At least, I sure wouldn't mind having one!
Mar 21, 2005 (10:35 am)
We might link this discussion if it remains civilized. The "what is a sports car" forums in the past have gotten rowdy, so we'll see.
I'm going to take the position that if you can't track the car from the showroom floor without making a fool of it and you, then it's not a sports car. If you can, that doesn't mean it IS a sports car, as some 4-door sedans might track very well.
Let's just say that multiple hot laps, performed respectably without brakes on fire and suspension begging for mercy and pig-squealing tires and an exhausted driver, takes you at least to the semi-finals of "what is a sports car".
"Sport" implies a serious weapon for the job, not some marketing device IMO.
#6 of 531 tracking
Mar 21, 2005 (11:00 am)
"I'm going to take the position that if you can't track the car from the showroom floor without making a fool of it and you, then it's not a sports car."
I don't know, Mr Shiftright, I've had some awfully good cars make a fool out of me on the track. But yes, I think being trackable should be in the equation.
#7 of 531 Not so sure ...
Mar 21, 2005 (12:45 pm)
After two years on track I've seen everything from Suburbans to a Pontiac Sunbird and Volvo wagons to one Elise and everything inbetween. BTW, the Suburban was being driven by an old instructor and passing many in the entry level group. Some of the M and AGM sedans seem to track pretty well but none have passed my Vette yet, not that any high end unit with a good driver couldn't. There is just too much capability in most cars today to let it off that easy, and face it I see vintage NASCARs at the track all the time, not sports cars for sure.
So, from the dozen years in the MGB, which I did enjoy greatly, is it as simple as having the top down and taking the long way home through a canyon? I would like to think the track would some how make a distinction but what's the next factor? I'm not into the sun so top down is no longer a draw, track performance on the other hand keeps me very happy in the Vette.
#8 of 531 Re: Not so sure ... [starrow68]
by MrShift@Edmunds HOST
Mar 21, 2005 (1:05 pm)
Well I did specify "off the showroom floor" so that eliminates the highly modified NASCAR automobile that is not even streetable...
As for a Suburban on the track, that's fine for a couple laps driven by an expert but soon enough its brakes would fail completely if it were driven hard, ditto Volvo wagons, Sunbirds or whatever. They simply cannot endure 100+ mph speeds on the track with the brakes and suspension they have. Shoot, anybody with some skill can beat a couple raw rookies on a track for one or two laps without even breathing hard.
So I think the track test is very valid for openers if you really try to drive the "sports car" seriously and seriously fast around the course. You really think a Sebring convertible is going to do ten ferocious laps at Sears? Don't think so myself unless you got a lotta heart and a lotta guts.
#9 of 531 Yea, well ...
Mar 22, 2005 (12:00 am)
That does bring down the limits, but I wonder how bad the brakes are on stuff off the showroom floor. Since the last two new cars we bought were Corvettes my most recent prior experience is the Excursion and it's hopeless, even compared to the Sub. So, I get your point. What I do see at the track currently is Evo's and WRX's, lots of 'em, S2000's interestingly most with race rubber and not street cars, Miata's in all forms but mostly modified, Porsche mostly 911 or older stuff like 944's, hardly ever see Boxsters, several BMW, mostly 3 series, Mustang's and F Body's and surprising to me not a lot of Corvettes. But I guess less than 35k per year with 16 million car sales isn't going to be much of a percentage. I've seen very few Z3's, a few G35's and a few mini Cooper's, they look like fun. Now older stuff like NSX's, RX7's and turbo Supra's show up every so often. Pick what you like, it's really not a long list.
Mar 22, 2005 (1:20 pm)
You think Mustangs and F bodies are running stock brakes and tires? I doubt it. Evos are pretty awesome right out of the box as long as you don't hit anything. 944s are great handling cars, very under-rated.