McLaren Life banner
1 - 20 of 27 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,210 Posts
I just posted up a blog on Supercar Definitions which added a few more categories:


Comments? Any additions?
I've been pondering this very question recently, too, albeit without the benefit of covid to focus my mind (although I've lost count of the number of people I know who've been infected over the last month, including the old ball & chain). My starting point was that there seem to be more supercars on the road now than when I was a kid, I think I only once saw a Countach in the flesh (and it was Cocaine White). So if there are that many of them around, are they still supercars? Judging by the reactions to my lowly entry-level supercar, a 570GT, I'd say yes. I dropped Jr at his house a few nights ago, and while I was entering an address into the navigation, the neighbours came out to oggle the car. The reaction of on-lookers is, to me, a much better judge of what makes a car super, which is why vertically-opening doors are an essential part of the mix. Rather than supercars & supermodels, I'd split them into supercars and hypercars. I don't think the hypercars need the drama of vertical doors, and in fact the K-egg doors that extend and rotate through 90 degrees takes things a bit too far imo.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,210 Posts
Those K'egg doors are actually a PIA as they extend out from the car when you open them and are great for catching curbs.
Right. It's bad enough with my doors and high kerbs. Those things just look a bit ridiculous. Mind you, the car in question also has gold leaf carbon fibre rims.....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
108 Posts
I think that you can come up with a pretty good definition that codifies what the majority of people think of when they hear the term, and that captures the essence of it:

  • 2 doors and 2 seats - A supercar is explicitly not a utilitarian vehicle that is good for mundane and useful things like carrying cargo or passengers around.
  • Faster than contemporary super saloons (both in straight line and around a track) - The supercar can't really be too "super" if it's slower than relatively common cars based on even more common every day models.
  • More expensive than contemporary super saloons - The price in this case being pretty much a substitute for exclusivity. A supercar must be an exotic piece of metal that you barely ever get to see. Being common and easy to acquire would ruin it.
  • If the car has more than one model, even the lowest positioned model has to be a supercar. This goes back to the previous two points. If the base model is too common and not fast enough - and the top model you would want to consider a supercar looks the same and is perceived as the same by the general public - it can never produce the same impact as a genuine supercar.

One obvious question to ask would be, why are super saloons (like the M5 or RS6 or whatever) the benchmark a potential supercar has to pass to be regarded as one? Why is it not "sportscar" that it has to be faster than? Well, because it would be pretty easy to make a sportscar that's otherwise not a supercar, but that's faster than most of them. It is the case right now with the GT2RS, which is based on a 911 (which is not a supercar) and so the GT2RS, no matter how quick it might be, is not a supercar either. It's a very high performing sportscar that beats most supercars. Does it mean, though, that a presence of such a car invalidates the perception of supercars that people have? Not really. Making super saloons the benchmark guarantees that it's something that fairly constant, with relatively high build numbers - but nevertheless fast enough to keep some supercar hopefuls on their toes and potentially from enjoying the supercar status (like the R8, which might be just too slow these days).
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
3,157 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I think that you can come up with a pretty good definition that codifies what the majority of people think of when they hear the term, and that captures the essence of it:

  • 2 doors and 2 seats - A supercar is explicitly not a utilitarian vehicle that is good for mundane and useful things like carrying cargo or passengers around.
I would expand this to 2 doors and 3 seats.......
 

·
Registered
2020 720 Spider
Joined
·
471 Posts
The world has changed. With the advent of the internet and social media it feels like these cars are everywhere...when in fact they aren’t. They are still largely concentrated in high net worth areas and for most people who don’t live in those areas it is rare to see these cars. Even in nice areas supercars are still special. I went to a nice restaurant last night in Scottsdale (which is filled with super cars) and 3 people still commented on my 720s. So even in those areas they are still ‘special.’

While Ferrari makes a lot more cars these days...the world population is also 60% higher than 40 years ago. Ferrari makes 10,000 cars a year...VW 10 million. That’s 1/10th of 1% of only 1 car manufacturer.

When it comes to defining terms...that’s tough...but at the same time I think fairly obvious to ‘most’ people. Something that has impressive performance, is rare, exotic looking and is expensive.

Modern wise: Most Lambo’s, Most Ferrari’s, McLarens, R8, NSX, K’egg, Pagani, Glickenhouse, Gumpert Apollo, Bugatti, Venom F5/GT, certain Lotus’, 959, CGT, 918, XJ220, SLR, original Viper, MC12, Devel 16, Mercedes SLS, LFA, Saleen S7, Ruf CTR, Porsche GT1, Mercedes CLK-GTR, FGT, M1 etc...Ultima GTR, SLC, Vector? LOL. I’m sure I missed some...

I didn’t put the Aston one-77 in there because it looks too similar to other Astons. It’s a piece of art though...ZR1 because it’s too similar to other C7 Vettes...although they only made 2950 of them. The original ZR1 in 1990-1995 was absolutely a super car performance wise but not in looks or originality compared to the base model.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,210 Posts
The world has changed. With the advent of the internet and social media it feels like these cars are everywhere...when in fact they aren’t. They are still largely concentrated in high net worth areas and for most people who don’t live in those areas it is rare to see these cars. Even in nice areas supercars are still special. I went to a nice restaurant last night in Scottsdale (which is filled with super cars) and 3 people still commented on my 720s. So even in those areas they are still ‘special.’

While Ferrari makes a lot more cars these days...the world population is also 60% higher than 40 years ago. Ferrari makes 10,000 cars a year...VW 10 million. That’s 1/10th of 1% of only 1 car manufacturer.

When it comes to defining terms...that’s tough...but at the same time I think fairly obvious to ‘most’ people. Something that has impressive performance, is rare, exotic looking and is expensive.

Modern wise: Most Lambo’s, Most Ferrari’s, McLarens, R8, NSX, K’egg, Pagani, Glickenhouse, Gumpert Apollo, Bugatti, Venom F5/GT, certain Lotus’, 959, CGT, 918, XJ220, SLR, original Viper, MC12, Devel 16, Mercedes SLS, LFA, Saleen S7, Ruf CTR, Porsche GT1, Mercedes CLK-GTR, FGT, M1 etc...Ultima GTR, SLC, Vector? LOL. I’m sure I missed some...

I didn’t put the Aston one-77 in there because it looks too similar to other Astons. It’s a piece of art though...ZR1 because it’s too similar to other C7 Vettes...although they only made 2950 of them. The original ZR1 in 1990-1995 was absolutely a super car performance wise but not in looks or originality compared to the base model.
I think there's some truth to this, social media, cars & coffee, etc, it's much easier to see the cars than it used to be. When I was a kid, it was completely random chance. That said, I'm also sure there are a lot more of them around, you just have to look at the list of manufacturers, particularly in the hypercar segment. I've seen more Paganis & K'eggs than I've seen 570GTs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
403 Posts
Ok i got like two thoughts, what would you define no nonsense bang for the buck performance supercars like the nissan gtr back in 2007, the 720s in 2017, nsx in the mid 90's, etc.

Follow up thought, should we even define the nissan gtr as a supercar? And if so then how about a 911 carrera s or an amg gt since they fall upon the same price bracket as the gtr? Perhaps because the gt's and 911's have an "over saturated" model lineup and the nissan gtr has the singular (perceived) identity of being THE nissan gtr is what makes the Datsun a supercar compared to the germans where in their cases they are sports cars?
 

·
2012 MP4-12C
Joined
·
9,330 Posts
I think the NSX became the "after the fact" super car. It was totally unappreciated and I recall, at the time, lots of people saying it's not a super car. Maybe the split was something like 70/30 people thinking it's not a proper super car. Today, I think the split might be more like 40/60 (with 60% thinking it's a supercar).

But in this space you now have the C8, the "bang for the buck, punches above its weight with supercars, but not supercar".
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,210 Posts
I think the NSX became the "after the fact" super car. It was totally unappreciated and I recall, at the time, lots of people saying it's not a super car. Maybe the split was something like 70/30 people thinking it's not a proper super car. Today, I think the split might be more like 40/60 (with 60% thinking it's a supercar).

But in this space you now have the C8, the "bang for the buck, punches above its weight with supercars, but not supercar".
At the time, it was priced in a similar bracket to the Porsche 968 that I had. I drove one for a weekend and it definitely didn't feel like a supercar. It was faster than the 968, but the interior looked like an Accord, the engine sounded like a sewing machine, and the doors opened horizontally.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
149 Posts
Fun article, great pics that us older posters can appreciate 😊. As to your question the common threads would be exclusivity, uniqueness, design and of course performance. However, definitions of what constitutes a supercar will vary from person to person. For me at least, if someone asked me how I would define a supercar I would reference the late great Justice Potter Stewart when he wrote about his threshold for obscenity “I know it when I see it”.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
403 Posts
I always liked the og nsx, cant speak for how the interior felt back when it was new. The long and fascinating development process for the car adds to the nsx's precedence, sort of like with the LFA. The 968's just porsche trynna mass market in the most prosche way possible, it's great but doesn't inspire legend and it never even pretended to be a supercar. The tale of the nsx makes it a supercar in my books, same goes for the gtr but with like 40k of those around and the peacocking rich boy racer community butchering the car's public image the gtr's growing reverence has kinda lost steam, but the r35 gtr's definitely gonna be a legend, i mean not only is the development story great but porsche literally buying one to figure out how it was lapping the ring so fast back in 2008 is great, when porsche couldn't match nissan's time, nissan implicitly offered porsche driving lessons. Perhaps the og nsx, the gtr, even the first generation viper (lutz vs iacocca, shelby test driving it, lambo ties) are supercars but a different class of supercars, the "after the fact" super cars as mr zombie coined. I mean even the dinos were essentially sports cars, the boxster or 968 of its time but its definitely a supercar right now if not at leaat a super car. Idk im just spewing thoughts. As the comment above mine suggested, its hard to generalize such an abstract concept but boy wouldnt i have loved my dissertation to be about this lol
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
102 Posts
I respectfully disagree with the "manufacturer must only make supercars" and "cannot resemble any other model" requirements. Those requirements exclude all Porsches, Maseratis, MBs, Audis, Jaguars, Acuras, BMWs, and Fords, including the 918 (quintessential supercar), Carrera GT, 959, MC12, MC20, GT40, FGT, CLK GTR, MBOne, SLR, NSX, XJ220, M1, R8, GT2RS, GT3RS, GT2, GT3, 992TTs -- just to name a few. IMHO, the above-listed cars exhibit the attributes of a supercar (adjusted for time). Some of these are landmark, legendary supercars. One cannot deny supercar status to the 918, MC12, FGT, CLK GTR, NSX, XJ220, M1, or R8 simply because the manufacturer also produces non-supercars.

The ZR1 (and forthcoming Zora) are tricky. The base Corvette is so ubiquitous and attainable that I too balk at the notion that its big brother is a supercar. On the other hand, it is hard to deny supercar status to such a spectacular performing car.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
As far as McLaren is concerned, are we considering the 570S a supercar, even though internally it's part of the "sport" series? I seem to remember a dealership rep drawing the distinction (although could just be marketing speak), in addition to the GT being considered the only official entry-level super now.

Which doesn't make much sense to me, if the NSX and R8 are both considered in the super class, I would think the 570 is there too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,210 Posts
I would not put the 570, NSX and R8 in the supercar category.
I think most people would consider any McLaren, Ferrari or Lambo in the supercar category. Honda & Audi have to work for it. I'd put both the new NSX and the R8 in there, but the old NSX I would not, even at the time it just didn't feel like a supercar.
 
1 - 20 of 27 Posts
Top