Sports car

A sports car is designed to emphasise handling, performance or thrill of driving. Sports cars originated in Europe in the early 1900s and are currently produced by many manufacturers around the world.

2015 Mazda MX-5 ND 2.0 SKYACTIV-G 160 i-ELOOP Rubinrot-Metallic Vorderansicht
Mazda MX-5, the world's best selling sports car[1]


Definitions of sports cars often relate to how the car design is optimised for dynamic performance (car handling),[2][3] without any specific minimum requirements; both a Triumph Spitfire and Ferrari 488 Pista can be considered sports cars, despite vastly different levels of performance. Broader definitions of sports cars include cars "in which performance takes precedence over carrying capacity",[4] or that emphasise the "thrill of driving"[5] or are "marketed "using the excitement of speed and the glamour of the (race)track"[6] However, other people have more specific definitions, such as "must be a two-seater or a 2+2 seater"[7] or a car with two seats only.[8][9]

In the United Kingdom, an early recorded usage of the "sports car" was in The Times newspaper in 1919.[10] The first known use of the term in the United States was in 1928.[8] Sports cars started to become popular during the 1920s.[11] The term was originally used for two-seat roadsters (cars without a fixed roof), however since the 1970s the term has also been used for cars with a fixed roof (which were previously considered grand tourers).[12]

Attributing the definition of 'sports car' to any particular model can be controversial or the subject of debate among enthusiasts.[13][14][12] Authors and experts have often contributed their own ideas to capture a definition.[15][16][17][18] Insurance companies have also attempted to use mathematical formulae to categorise sports cars.[19]

There is no fixed distinction between sports cars and other categories of performance cars, such as muscle cars and grand tourers, with some cars being members of several categories.[20][21][22][23][24]

Common characteristics

Seating layout

2006-2007 galaxy gray
Two-seat layout (Mazda MX-5)
Porsche 911 Carrera 2 - Flickr - The Car Spy (5)
2+2 layout (Porsche 911)

Traditionally, the most common layout for sports cars was a roadster (a two-seat car without a fixed roof),[25] however there are also several examples of early sports cars with four seats.[4]

Sports cars are not usually intended to regularly transport more than two adult occupants, so most modern sports cars are usually two-seat layout or 2+2 layout (two smaller rear seats for children or occasional adult use). Larger cars with more spacious rear-seat accommodation are usually considered sports sedans rather than sports cars.

The 1993-1998 McLaren F1 is notable for using a three-seat layout, where the front row consists of a centrally-located driver's seat.

Engine and drivetrain layout

The location of the engine and driven wheels significantly influence the handling characteristics of a car and are therefore important in the design of a sports car.[26][27][28][29][30] Traditionally, most sports cars have used rear-wheel drive with the engine either located at the front of the car (FR layout) or in the middle of the car (MR layout). Examples of FR layout sports cars are the Caterham 7, Mazda MX-5, and the Chevrolet Corvette. Examples of MR layout sports cars are the Ferrari 488, Ford GT and Toyota MR2.[31] To avoid a front-heavy weight distribution, many FR layout sports cars are designed so that the engine is located further back in the engine bay, as close to the firewall as possible.[32][33][34]

Since the 1990s, all-wheel drive has become more common in sports cars. All-wheel drive offers increased traction, although the downside is the added mass of the extra drivetrain components.[35] Examples of all-wheel drive sports cars are the Lamborghini Huracan, Bugatti Veyron and Nissan GT-R.[36][37]

Rear engine layouts are not commonly used for sports cars, with the notable exception of the Porsche 911.[38]

Although front-wheel drive with the engine at the front (FF layout) is the most common layout for cars in general, it is not as common amongst sports cars. Nonetheless, the FF layout is often used by sport compacts and hot hatches. Examples of FF layout sports cars are Fiat Barchetta, Saab Sonett, and Berkeley cars.[39][40][41][42]


1895–1915: Brass Era cars

The basis for the sports car is traced to the early 20th century touring cars and roadsters, and the term 'sports car' would not be coined until after World War One.[8][43]

A car considered to be "a sports-car years ahead of its time" is the 1903 Mercedes Simplex 60 hp,[44] described at the time as a fast touring car and designed by Wilhelm Maybach and Paul Daimler. The Mercedes included pioneering features such as a pressed-steel chassis, a gated 4-speed transmission, pushrod-actuated overhead inlet valves, a honeycomb radiator, low-tension magneto ignition, a long wheelbase, a low centre of mass and a very effective suspension system.[45] The overall result was a "safe and well-balanced machine" with a higher performance than any other contemporary production car.[46][47][48] At the 1903 Gordon Bennett Cup, a production Simplex 60 hp was entered only due to a specially-built 90 hp racing car being destroyed in a fire; the 60 hp famously went on to win the race.[49]

The 1910 Austro-Daimler 27/80 is another early sports car which had success in motor racing.[50] The 27/80 was designed by Ferdinand Porsche, who drove the car to victory in the 1910 Prince Henry Tour motor race.[51] The Vauxhall and Austro-Daimler— like the Mercedes Simplex 60 hp— were production fast touring cars.[52] The 1912 Hispano-Suiza Alfonso XIII is also considered one of the earliest sports cars, as it was a "purpose built, high performance, two-seater production automobile".[53] The model was named after King Alfonso XIII of Spain, a patron of the car's chief designer and an enthusiast for the marque.[53][54] Other early sports cars include the 1905 Isotta Fraschini Tipo D, the 1906 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, the 1908 Delage, the 1910 Bugatti Type 13[46][55][56] and the 1912 DFP 12/15.[46]

Early motor racing events included the 1903 Paris–Madrid race, the 1905-1907 Herkomer Trophy,[57] the 1908-1911 Prince Henry Tour and the 1911-present Monte Carlo Rally.[50] The Prince Henry Tours (which were similar to modern car rallies) were among the sporting events of the period, bringing renown to successful entrants. The Prince Henry Tours started the evolution of reasonably large and technically advanced production sports cars.[46][55]

In England, development of sporting cars was inhibited by the Motor Car Act 1903, which imposed a speed limit of 20 mph (32 km/h) on all public roads. This led to the 1907 opening of the Brooklands motor circuit, which inspired the development of performance cars such as the 1910 Vauxhall Prince Henry, 1910 Sunbeam 12/16,[58] 1910 Talbot 25 hp, 1910 Straker-Squire 15 hp and 1913 Star 15.9 hp.[55][59]

Beaulieu National Motor Museum 18-09-2012

Sunbeam 12/16 (1914)

1919-1929: Vintage Era cars

1920 Bugatti Type 13 Brescia Dog Cart (3828677479)
Bugatti Type 13 Brescia (1920)
1925 Austin 7 Brooklands 4690839997
1927 Austin 7 Brooklands (1927)
MG Midget 1930
MG M-type Midget (1930)

Following the halt in sports car production caused by World War I, Europe returned to manufacturing automobiles from around 1920. It was around this time that the term 'Sports Car' began to appear in the motor catalogues, although the exact origin of the name is not known.[43] The decade which followed became known as the vintage era and featured rapid technical advances over the preceding Brass Era cars.[60][61] Engine performance benefited from the abandonment of "tax horsepower" (where vehicles were taxed based on bore and number of cylinders, rather than actual power output)[62] and the introduction of leaded fuel, which increased power by allowing for higher compression ratios.

In the early 1920s, the cost to produce a racing car was not significantly higher than a road car, therefore several manufacturers used the design from the current year's racing car for the next year's sports car.[43] For example, the 1921 Ballot 2LS based on the racing car that finished third at the 1921 French Grand Prix.[63] The Benz 28/95PS was also a successful racing car, with victories including the 1921 Coppa Florio.[50] Another approach— such as used by Morris Garages— was to convert touring cars into sports cars.[43][64]

The first 24 Hours of Le Mans race for sports cars was held in 1923,[43] although the two-seat sports cars only competed in the smallest class, with the majority of cars entered being four-seat fast touring cars.[65] "This race, together with the Tourist Trophy Series of Races, organised after the first World War by the R.A.C., appealed to the public imagination and offered to the manufacturers of the more sporting cars an excellent opportunity for boosting sales of their products."[43] The classic Italian road races— the Targa Florio, and the Mille Miglia (first held in 1927)— also captured the public's imagination.[43]

By 1925, the higher profits available for four-seater cars resulted in production of two-seat sports cars being limited to smaller manufacturers such as Aston-Martin (350 Astons built from 1921-1939) and Frazer-Nash (323 cars built from 1924–1939).[50] Then by the late 1920s, the cost of producing racing cars (especially Grand Prix cars) escalated, causing more manufacturers to produce cars for the growing sports car market instead.

Significant manufacturers of sports cars in the late 1920s were AC Cars, Alfa Romeo, Alvis, Amilcar, Bignan and Samson, Chenard-Walcker, Delage, Hispano-Suiza, Hotchkiss, Mercedes-Benz and Nazzaro.[50] Two cars from the Vintage Era that would influence sports cars for many years were the Austin Seven and MG M-type "Midget".[60][61] Successful sports cars from Bentley during this era were the Bentley 3 Litre (1921-1929) and the Bentley Speed Six (1928-1930), with the former famously described by Bugatti's founder as "the fastest lorry in the world".

Rome Tuning Show 71

Alfa Romeo 6C (1929)

1930-1939: Pre-war Era cars

Paris - Retromobile 2012 - Bugatti type 57SC Atlantic - 1936 - 001
Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic (1936)

Sandwiched between the Great Depression and the World War II, the pre-war era was a period of decline in importance for sports car manufacturers,[66][43] although the period was not devoid of advances,[62] for example streamlining.[67] Cheap, light-weight family sedans with independent front suspension— such as the BMW 303, Citroën Traction Avant and Fiat 508— offered similar handling and comfort to the more expensive sports cars. Powerful, reliable and economical (although softly suspended) American saloons began to be imported to Europe in significant numbers. Sports car ownership was increased through models such as the Austin 7 and Wolseley Hornet six, however many of these sports cars did not offer any performance upgrades over the mass-produced cars upon which they were based.[62]

The highest selling sports car company of the 1930s was Morris Garages,[62] who produced 'MG Midget' models of the M-Type, J-Type, P-Type and T-Type. The K3 version of the K-Type Magnette was a successful racing car, achieving success in the Mille Miglia, Tourist Trophy and 24 Hours of Le Mans.[62][68]

The Bugatti Type 57 (1934-1940) was another significant sports car of the pre-war era and is now among the most valuable cars in the world.[69][70] The T57 was successful in sports car races, including winning the 1937 24 Hours of Le Mans[71] and 1939 24 Hours of Le Mans.[72] Another successful Bugatti sports car was the Bugatti Type 55 (1932-1935), which was based on the Type 51 Grand Prix racing car.

Riley Imp 000 000 1934-1935 1935 frontright 2012-04-08 A

Riley Nine Imp (1935)

SS Jaguar 100 - 2½ Litre 1938

SS Jaguar 100 (1938)

BMW 328 1938

BMW 328 (1938)

1939-1959: Expansion following World War II

Ferrari 166MM Barchetta
Ferrari 166 S Barchetta (1948-1953)
Porsche 356A 1956 1500 S Coupe LSideFront PorscheM 9June2013 (14826038018)
Porsche 356A (1955-1959)

The decade following the Second World War saw an "immense growth of interest in the sports car, but also the most important and diverse technical developments [and] very rapid and genuine improvement in the qualities of every modern production car; assisted by new design and manufacturing techniques a consistently higher level of handling properties has been achieved."[73]

In Italy, a small but wealthy market segment allowed for the manufacture of a limited number of high-performance models directly allied to contemporary Grand Prix machines,[73] such as the 1948 Ferrari 166 S.[74] A new concept altogether was the modern Gran Turismo class from Italy, which was in effect unknown before the war: sustained high speed motoring from relatively modest engine size and compact closed or berlinetta coachwork.[73] The 1947 Maserati A6 1500 two-seat berlinetta was the first production model from Maserati.

In Germany the motor industry was devastated by the war, however a small number of manufacturers brought it to prominence once more. In 1948, the Porsche 356 was released as the debut model from Porsche.[75] The significance of the Porsche 356 and its successors was described in 1957 as "future historians must see them as among the most important of mid-century production cars".[73][76][77] The 1954 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL is another significant car from this era.[73]

Jaguar XK 120 OTS SE 1953

Jaguar XK120 Roadster (1948-1954)


AC Ace (1953-1963)

1960-1979: Lightweight roadsters, mid-engined supercars

MG MGB open roadster 1969
MG B (1969)
Lamborghini Miura - Flick - Concorso Italiano 2005
Lamborghini Miura (1966-1973)

The 1961 Jaguar E-Type is an iconic sports car of the early 1960s, due to its attractive styling and claimed top speed of 241 km/h (150 mph). The E-type was produced for 14 years and was initially powered by a six-cylinder engine, followed by a V12 engine for the final generation.

In 1962, the MG B introduced a new era of affordable lightweight four-cylinder roadsters. The MG B used a unibody construction and was produced until 1980. Other successful lightweight roadsters include the Triumph Spitfire (1962-1980) and the Alfa Romeo Spider (1966-1993). The Fiat X1/9 (1972-1989) was unusual for its use of a mid-engine design in an affordable roadster model. A late entrant to the affordable roadster market was the 1975 Triumph TR7, however by the late 1970s the demand for this style of car was in decline, resulting in production ceasing in 1982.

The original Lotus Elan (1962-1975) two-seat coupe and roadster models are an early commercial success for the philosophy of achieving performance through minimising weight, as has been rated as one of the top 10 sports cars of the 1960s. The Elan featured fibreglass bodies, a backbone chassis, and overhead camshaft engines.

A very different style of roadster was the AC Cobra, released in 1962, which was fitted with V8 engines up to 7.0 L (427 cu in) in size.

The Porsche 911 was released in 1964 and has remained in production since. The 911 is notable for its use of the uncommon rear-engine design and the use of a flat-six engine. Another successful rear-engine sports car was the original Alpine A110 (1961-1977), which was a successful rally car during the Group 4 era.

In 1965, the BMW New Class Coupes were released, leading to the BMW 6 Series which remains in production to this day.

The Lamborghini Miura (1966) and Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale (1967) mid-engined high performance cars are often cited as the first supercars.[78][79][80] Other significant European models of the 1960s and 1970s which might be considered supercars today are the Ferrari 250 GTO (1962-1964), Ferrari 250 GT Lusso (1963-1964), Ferrari 275 GTB/4 (1966-1968), Maserati Ghibli (1967-1973), Ferrari Daytona (1968-1973), Dino 246 (1969-1974), De Tomaso Pantera (1971-1993), Ferrari 308 GTB (1975-1980) and BMW M1 (1978-1981).

In 1966, the Jensen FF became the first sports car to use all-wheel drive.

The Ford Capri is a 2+2 coupe that was produced from 1968-1986 and intended to be a smaller European equivalent of the Ford Mustag. A main rival to the Capri was Opel Manta, which was produced from 1970-1988.

The 1973-1978 Lancia Stratos was a mid-engined two-seat coupe that was powered by a Ferrari V6 engine. This was an unusual arrangement for a car used to compete in rallying, nonetheless it was very successful and won the World Rally Championship in 1974, 1975 and 1976.


Ferrari 250 GTO


Jaguar E-Type

Lotus Elan Sprint

Lotus Elan Sprint (1970-1973)

1980-1999: Turbocharging and all-wheel drive emerge

Renault Fuego Turbo (cropped)
Renault Fuego Turbo (1984)
Salon Privé London 2012 (7956725492)
McLaren F1 (1993-1998)

Turbocharging became increasingly popular in the 1980s, from relatively affordable coupes such as the 1980-1986 Renault Fuego and 1992-1996 Rover 220 Coupé Turbo, to expensive supercars such as the 1984-1987 Ferrari 288 GTO and 1987-1992 Ferrari F40.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, several manufacturers developed supercars which competed for production car top speed records. These cars included the 1986-1993 Porsche 959, 1991-1995 Bugatti EB 110, 1992-1994 Jaguar XJ220 and 1993-1998 McLaren F1.

The 1980-1995 Audi Quattro was a pioneering all-wheel drive sports car. The 1995 Porsche 911 Turbo (993) say the 911 Turbo model switch to all-wheel drive, a drivetrain layout that the model uses to this day.

The BMW M3 was released in 1986 and has been produced for every generation since. The 1993-1996 Mercedes-Benz W124 E36 AMG was the mass-produced AMG model.[81] Audi's equivalent division, called "RS", was launched in 1994 with the Audi RS 2 Avant.

Ford Europe withdrew from the sports car market at the end of 1986 when the Capri was discontinued after a production run of nearly two decades. There was no direct successor, as Ford was concentrating on higher performance versions of its hatchback and saloon models at the time.

In 1989, a new generation of Lotus Elan roadster was released which used a front-wheel drive layout, a controversial choice for a "purist" sports car. The Elan sold poorly and is was discontinued after three years. The 1996 Lotus Elise, a mid-engined, rear-wheel drive roadster, was much more successful and remains in production to this day.

Roadsters enjoyed a resurgence in the mid 1990s, including the 1995-2002 BMW Z3 (succeeded by the 2002-2016 BMW Z4), the mid-engined 1995-2002 MG F (succeeded by the 2002-2005 MG TF) and the 1998-present Audi TT (also available as a coupe). In 1996, the Porsche Boxster mid-engined roadster was released by Porsche as an entry level model to sit below the rear-engined Porsche 911 models. The Boxster (and related Porsche Cayman coupe models) remain in production to this day.

Ferrari F40 (7434297012)

Ferrari F40

2005 Audi TT Quattro 3.2 Front

Audi TT (Mk1)

2000-present: Turbos become dominant, hybrids emerge

Lotus Exige - 001
Lotus Exige Series 2 (2004-2012)
2017 Ferrari 488 GTB Automatic 3.9
Ferrari 488 (2015-2019)
2016 BMW i8
BMW i8 (2014-present)

The 2000-present Lotus Exige was introduced as a coupe version of Elise. Similarly, Porsche Cayman (987) was introduced in 2006 as the coupe equivalent to the Porsche Boxster roadster. Lotus also expanded their model range with the 2009-present Lotus Evora, a larger four-seat coupe.

Audi's first mid-engined supercar is the 2006-present Audi R8. Other sports cars of the 2000s were the 2005-2010 Alfa Romeo Brera/Spider, 2009-2015 Peugeot RCZ and the 2008-2017 reintroduction of the Volkswagen Scirocco (a coupe based on the VW Golf platform).

Reflecting overall car industry trends, the mid 2010s saw naturally aspirated engines being replaced by turbocharged engines. Ferrari's first regular production turbocharged engine was used in the 2014-2017 Ferrari California T, followed by the 2015-2019 Ferrari 488. Similarly, in 2016, the Porsche 911 (991.2) began to use turbocharging on all models and the Porsche 982 Cayman/Boxster downsized from a six-cylinder engine to a turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

Also in the 2010s, dual-clutch transmissions became more widespread, causing manual transmissions to decline in sales and no longer be offered on some models.

Hybrid-electric sports cars began to appear in the 2010s— notably the 2013-2016 LaFerrari, 2013-2015 McLaren P1, 2013-2015 Porsche 918 Spyder "hypercars". The 2014-present BMW i8 was also an early plug-in hybrid sports car.

McLaren began permanent car manufacturing operations with the 2011-2014 McLaren 12C.

In 2013, the Jaguar F-Type saw the brand return to two-seat sports car market, with the four-seat grand tourer Jaguar XK discontinued the following year.

The BMW 2 Series coupe and convertible were introduced in 2013 to sit below the larger BMW 4 Series models, with the new BMW M2 high-performance model introduced in 2015.

The 2013-present Alfa Romeo 4C two-seat coupe and roadster used a carbon-fibre body and became Alfa's mid-engine sports car since the 1967-1969 Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale.

Fiat had exited the roadster market with the end of Fiat Barchetta production in 2005. The company resumed production of roadsters in 2016 with the Fiat 124 Spider, which is based on the Mazda MX-5.

In 2017, Renault revived the Alpine brand for the 2017-present Alpine A110 mid-engine coupe.

Porsche 918 Spyder IAA 2013 (Zuschnitt)

Porsche 918 Spyder

Festival automobile international 2014 - Alfa Romeo 4C - 009

Alfa Romeo 4C

Fiat 124 Spider 1368cc registered September 2016

Fiat 124 Spider

United States

During the 1910s and 1920s, American manufacturers of smaller sports cars included Apperson, Kissel, Marion, Midland, National, Overland, Stoddard-Dayton and Thomas; manufacturers of larger sports cars included Chadwick, Mercer,[82] Stutz Motor Company,[83][46] and Simplex.[84][50]

Since the 1960s, American performance cars have often been designed as muscle cars rather than sports cars. However, several American two-seat sports cars have also been produced, such as the 1953-present Chevrolet Corvette, 1962-1967 Shelby Cobra, 1983-1988 Pontiac Fiero and 2005-2006 Ford GT.

1912 Stutz Bearcat Speedster front quarter (7704047066)

Stutz Bearcat Speedster

Warwick (Rhode Island, USA), Ford GT -- 2006 -- 1

Ford GT


1959—1968: Beginnings

The first Japanese sports car was the 1959-1960 Datsun 211, a two-seat roadster built on the chassis of a compact pickup truck and powered by a 1.0 L (60 cu in) engine. Only 20 cars were built, and the 1963-1965 Datsun SP310— based on the chassis of a passenger sedan instead of a pickup truck— is often considered Datsun's first mass-production sports car.

Honda's first sports car was the 1963-1964 Honda S500, a two-seat roadster with independent suspension for all wheels and a 0.5 L (32 cu in) DOHC engine. In 1965, Toyota joined the two-seat roadster market with the Toyota Sports 800.

Mazda is noted for its use of rotary engines, beginning in 1967 with the Mazda Cosmo. The Cosmo was a two-seat coupe with a 0.9 L (55 cu in) rotary engine producing up to 97 kW (130 bhp). Mazda continued to produce sports cars with rotary engines (sometimes turbocharged) until the Mazda RX-8 ended production in 2012.

The Toyota 2000GT, produced from 1967-1970, was an expensive two-seat coupe that greatly changed overseas perceptions of the Japanese automotive industry. The 2000GT demonstrated that Japan was capable of producing high-end sports cars to rival the traditional European brands.

1969-1977: Mass-production begins

Mondial de l'Automobile 2010, Paris - France (5058929956)
Datsun 240Z (1970-1974)

In 1969, Nissan introduced the Nissan Fairlady Z / Datsun 240Z two-seat coupe, powered by a 2.4 L (146 cu in) six-cylinder engine and described as providing similar performance to the Jaguar E-Type at a more affordable price.[85][86] The 240Z began the lineage of Nissan "Z cars" which continues through to today's Nissan 370Z. In 1974, Nissan expanded their coupe range with the Nissan Silvia 2+2 coupe, which was powered by a four-cylinder engine and produced until 2002.

Also in 1969, Mitsubishi's first performance car was introduced, in the form of the Mitsubishi Colt 11-F Super Sports coupe. The 11-F Super Sports was followed by the 1970-1977 Mitsubishi Galant GTO and 1971-1975 Mitsubishi Galant FTO, both based on a platform shared with the Galant sedan.

Toyota's mass-production 2+2 coupes of the 1970s consisted of the Celica, Supra, Corolla Levin and Sprinter Trueno. The Celica was introduced in 1971 and remained in production until 2006. From 1979-1986, the Supra name was used for six-cylinder versions of the Celica, until the Supra moved to a separate platform from 1986-2002. The Corolla Levin / Sprinter Trueno were based on the Toyota Corolla hatchback platform and produced from 1972-2000.

The Nissan Skyline GT-R was initially produced as a sedan for two years, before a coupe model was introduced in 1971. This first generation Skyline GT-R had rear-wheel drive, a 2.0 L (122 cu in) six-cylinder engine and was produced until 1972.

1978-1988: Front-wheel drive introduced

Toyota MR2 (1984-1985)

The Honda Prelude front-wheel drive 2+2 coupe was launched in 1978 and remained in production until 2001. The 1985-2006 Honda Integra was also a front-wheel drive 2+2 coupe produced by Honda. Other 2+2 models included the 1982-1989 Mitsubishi Starion (turbocharged and rear-wheel drive) and the 1985-1991 Subaru XT (available with a turbocharger and all-wheel drive). Subaru have produced few sports cars in their history, instead focussing on rally-influenced sedans/hatchbacks for their performance models, such as the Liberty RS and Imprezza WRX/STi models.

In 1984, the Toyota MR2 two-seat coupe became Japan's first production mid-engine car. The MR2 switched to a two-seat roadster body style for the final generation from 1999-2007.

The first Korean coupe model was the 1988 Hyundai Scoupe, which used front-wheel drive and was based on Excel hatchback. The Scoupe was followed by 1996-2008 Hyundai Tiburon and 2011-present Hyundai Veloster.

1989-2011: All-wheel drive, first supercars

1st Mazda Miata -- 03-16-2012
Mazda MX-5 (1992-1993)
NSX (8208095694)
Honda NSX (2002-2005)

Inspired by the 1950s and 1960s two-seat roadsters from Italy and Britain, the Mazda MX-5 (sold as the 'Mazda Miata' in the United States) was introduced in 1989. The MX-5 is the highest selling sports car and remains in production to this day.

The Nissan Skyline GT-R was reintroduced in 1989-2002 (R32, R33 and R34 generations) which became famous for their use of turbocharging and all-wheel drive, which provided performance comparable with many more expensive sports cars. The latest generation (R35) was named the Nissan GT-R has been produced since 2007.

The 1990-2005 Honda NSX is considered Japan's first supercar. The NSX was praised for being more reliable and user-friendly than contemporary European supercars. Aside from the NSX, the other Japanese supercar is the 2010-2012 Lexus LFA, a two-seat mid-engine coupe powered by a 4.8 L (293 cu in) V10 engine.

The Mitsubishi GTO coupe/convertible was introduced in 1990. The base models used rear-wheel drive and a naturally aspirated V6 engine, however all-wheel drive and a turbocharged V6 engine were also available. To sit below the GTO in the model range, the Mitsubishi FTO front-wheel drive coupe was introduced in 1994. Both the GTO and FTO were discontinued in 2000.

Suzuki's first sports car was the 1991-1998 Suzuki Cappuccino, a two-seat roadster kei car with rear-wheel drive and a turbocharged 0.7 L (43 cu in) engine.

2012-present: Declining popularity of coupes

2012 Toyota 86 (ZN6) GTS coupe (2012-06-24)
Toyota 86 (2012)

The Toyota 86 / Subaru BRZ is a 2+2 coupe that was introduced in 2012 and currently remains in production. The 86/BRZ is a rare modern example of a relatively affordable rear-wheel drive sports car.

The 2012-present Honda NSX (2nd generation) supercar marked a change in approach for Honda, by using all-wheel drive, a hybrid drivetrain, turbocharging and a dual-clutch transmission.

See also


  1. ^ Diehlman, Steve (4 February 2011). "Mazda Produces 900,000th MX-5, Recognized as World's Best-Selling Sports Car". Motor Trend. Archived from the original on 20 September 2015. Retrieved 10 March 2016. Today Mazda announced a new milestone for the popular MX-5 roadster, with the 900,000th unit rolling off the production line. In doing so, it is also recognized by Guinness World Records as the best selling sports car.
  2. ^ Csere, Csaba; Swan, Tony (January 2005). "10 Best Cars: Best Luxury Sports Car". Car and Driver. Archived from the original on 20 October 2007. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
  3. ^ American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (Fifth ed.). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing. 2011. ISBN 9780547041018.
  4. ^ a b "The Best Definition of the Term 'Sports Car'? And the First American Sports Car". Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  5. ^ Donovan, Sandra (2007). Sports Cars. Lerner Publications. p. 4. ISBN 0-8225-5928-5.
  6. ^ Mann, James (2011). Sports Cars. BMI Publishing. p. 8. ISBN 9780760340288. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  7. ^ "Definitions: What is a Sports Car?". Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  8. ^ a b c "Sports car". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 10 March 2016. Full definition: a low small usually 2-passenger automobile designed for quick response, easy maneuverability, and high-speed driving
  9. ^ "Sports car". Collins Dictionary. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 10 March 2016. Definition: a production car designed for speed, high acceleration, and manoeuvrability, having a low body and usually adequate seating for only two persons.
  10. ^ Motor Show. Development of the Sporting Car. The Times (London, England), Wednesday, Nov 12, 1919; pg. 6; Issue 42255
  11. ^ "Only it seems after the Great War can we expect to find a general acceptance of the fact that there were on the roads both touring cars and sports cars".--Frostick, Michael; 1956; Racing Sports Cars
  12. ^ a b "No One Knows What "Sports Car" Actually Means Anymore". Archived from the original on 2 June 2017. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
  13. ^ "The question 'What is a sports car?' is as old as the sports car itself!"--Motor Sport (magazine); 1954; "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 23 September 2017. Retrieved 21 May 2017.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "I have never been quite certain what a sports car is, and when I was a young man, the distinction between a sporting car and a touring car was so fine that some people scarcely knew the difference."--W. O. Bentley; 1961; A History of the World's Sports Cars, George Allen & Unwin Ltd; p.13
  15. ^ "A sports car is a motor car designed primarily for the driver to enjoy driving fast"--Walkerley, Rodney; sports editor of The Motor; 1934 -1959.
  16. ^ "Any car which is primarily designed to give pleasure to the driver."--Stanford, John; 1957; The Sports Car: Design and Development.
  17. ^ "A sports car is a touring car and a racing car at one and the same time"."--Campbell, Colin; 1959, The Sports Car: Its Design and Performance.
  18. ^ "Those cars which have participated in sports-car races."--Frostick, Michael; 1956; Racing Sports Cars.
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24 Hours of Daytona

The 24 Hours of Daytona, currently known as the Rolex 24 At Daytona for sponsorship reasons, is a 24-hour sports car endurance race held annually at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. It is run on a 3.56-mile (5.73 km) combined road course, utilizing portions of the NASCAR tri-oval and an infield road course. Since its inception, it has been held on the last weekend of January or first weekend of February as part of Speedweeks, and it is the first major automobile race of the year in the United States. It is also the first race of the season for the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

The race has had several names over the years. Since 1991, the Rolex Watch Company is the title sponsor of the race under a naming rights arrangement, replacing Sunbank (now SunTrust) which in turn replaced Pepsi in 1984. Winning drivers of all classes receive a steel Rolex Daytona watch.

In 2006, the race moved one week earlier into January to prevent a clash with the Super Bowl, which had in turn moved one week later into February a few years earlier.

The race has been known historically as a leg of the informal Triple Crown of endurance racing, although it suffers from an increasing isolation from international Sports Car racing regulations, which have been eased in recent years (Prototypes include P2 Prototypes and an IMSA-spec open engine class with aero kits, and the two Grand Touring classes are now divided between ACO GTE, and FIA/SRO Group GT3 classes).


Automobiles Ettore Bugatti was a French car manufacturer of high-performance automobiles, founded in 1909 in the then-German city of Molsheim, Alsace by the Italian-born industrial designer Ettore Bugatti. The cars were known for their design beauty and for their many race victories. Famous Bugattis include the Type 35 Grand Prix cars, the Type 41 "Royale", the Type 57 "Atlantic" and the Type 55 sports car.

The death of Ettore Bugatti in 1947 proved to be the end for the marque, and the death of his son Jean Bugatti in 1939 ensured there was not a successor to lead the factory. No more than about 8,000 cars were made. The company struggled financially, and released one last model in the 1950s, before eventually being purchased for its airplane parts business in 1963. In the 1990s, an Italian entrepreneur revived it as a builder of limited production exclusive sports cars. Today, the name is owned by the Volkswagen Group.


Dallara Automobili is an Italian chassis manufacturer for various motor racing series, being most notable for its near-monopoly in Formula Three since 1993. Dallara also produces the chassis used by the IndyCar Series, Indy Lights, FIA Formula 2 Championship, World Series by Renault, GP3 Series, Super Formula, Formula E and ADAC Formel Masters and is one of the manufacturers in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series.

In recent years their engineering activities have expanded considerably (now represents 40% of total sales), both in terms of the racing cars and high performance road cars.


Ferrari (; Italian: [ferˈraːri]) is an Italian luxury sports car manufacturer based in Maranello. Founded by Enzo Ferrari in 1939 out of Alfa Romeo's race division as Auto Avio Costruzioni, the company built its first car in 1940. However, the company's inception as an auto manufacturer is usually recognized in 1947, when the first Ferrari-badged car was completed.

In 2014 Ferrari was rated the world's most powerful brand by Brand Finance. In June 2018, the 1964 250 GTO became the most expensive car in history, setting an all-time record selling price of $70 million.Fiat S.p.A. acquired 50% of Ferrari in 1969 and expanded its stake to 90% in 1988. In October 2014 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (FCA) announced its intentions to separate Ferrari S.p.A. from FCA; as of the announcement FCA owned 90% of Ferrari.

The separation began in October 2015 with a restructuring that established Ferrari N.V. (a company incorporated in the Netherlands) as the new holding company of the Ferrari group and the subsequent sale by FCA of 10% of the shares in an IPO and concurrent listing of common shares on the New York Stock Exchange. Through the remaining steps of the separation, FCA's interest in Ferrari's business was distributed to shareholders of FCA, with 10% continuing to be owned by Piero Ferrari. The spin-off was completed on 3 January 2016.Throughout its history, the company has been noted for its continued participation in racing, especially in Formula One, where it is the oldest and most successful racing team, holding the most constructors championships (16) and having produced the highest number of drivers' championship wins (15). Ferrari road cars are generally seen as a symbol of speed, luxury and wealth.

Grand-Am Road Racing

Grand-Am Road Racing or Grand-Am was an auto racing sanctioning body that was established in 1999 to organize road racing competitions in North America. Its primary focus was the Rolex Sports Car Series, an endurance racing championship series. It sanctioned five auto racing series. The series announced in September 2012 that it would be merging with the American Le Mans Series, which had been Grand-Am's main US competitor since its inception. The two series fully merged in 2014 under the banner of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, with the International Motor Sports Association.

Honda NSX

The Honda NSX, marketed in North America as the Acura NSX, is a two-seat, mid-engine sports car manufactured by Honda.

The origins of the NSX trace back to 1984, with the HP-X (Honda Pininfarina eXperimental) concept, which was a mid-engined 3.0 L V6 engined rear wheel drive sports car. Honda committed to the project, with the intention of meeting or exceeding the performance of the then V8 engined Ferrari range, while offering reliability and a lower price point. The concept thus evolved and had its name changed to NS-X, which stood for "New", "Sportscar" "Unknown world" (the X was a reference to the mathematical symbol X, which stands for an unknown variable), although the production model was launched as the NSX.

Le Mans Prototype

A Le Mans Prototype (LMP) is the type of sports prototype race car used in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, FIA World Endurance Championship, WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, European Le Mans Series and Asian Le Mans Series. Le Mans Prototypes were created by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO). The technical requirements for an LMP include bodywork covering all mechanical elements of the car.

While not as fast as open-wheel Formula One cars, LMPs are the fastest closed-wheel racing cars used in circuit racing. Le Mans Prototypes are considered a class above production-based grand tourer cars, which compete alongside them in sports car racing.

Modern LMP designs include hybrid cars that use electric motors to assist acceleration.

List of Autobots

This is a list of known Autobots in the Transformers fictional universe and toy line. The alternate modes of Autobots are usually cars, trucks, and various other ground-based civilian vehicles, to contrast with the military vehicles favored by the Decepticons (see List of Decepticons).

MG Cars

MG, the initials of Morris Garages, is a British automotive marque registered by the now defunct MG Car Company Limited, a British sports car manufacturer begun in the 1920s as a sales promotion sideline within William Morris's Oxford city retail sales and service business by the business's manager, Cecil Kimber. Best known for its two-seat open sports cars, MG also produced saloons and coupés.

The MG business was Morris's personal property until 1 July 1935 when he sold MG to his holding company, Morris Motors Limited, restructuring his holdings before issuing (preference) shares in Morris Motors to the public in 1936. MG underwent many changes in ownership, starting with Morris merging with Austin to create the British Motor Corporation Limited (BMC) in 1952. MG became the MG Division of BMC in 1967 and so was a component of the 1968 merger that created British Leyland Motor Corporation. By the start of 2000, MG was part of the MG Rover Group, which entered receivership in 2005. The assets and MG brand were purchased by Nanjing Automobile Group (which merged into SAIC in 2008) for GB£53 million. Production restarted in 2007 in China. The first all-new model from MG in the UK for 16 years, the MG 6, officially launched on 26 June 2011.

Maserati in motorsport

Throughout its history, the Italian auto manufacturer Maserati has participated in various forms of motorsports including Formula One, sportscar racing and touring car racing, both as a works team and through private entrants.

McLaren Automotive

McLaren Automotive (formerly known as McLaren Cars) is a British automotive manufacturer based at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, Surrey. The main products of the company are sports cars, usually produced in-house at designated production facilities. In July 2017, McLaren Automotive became a 100% owned subsidiary of the wider McLaren Group.

Michelin Pilot Challenge

The Michelin Pilot Challenge is a grand touring and touring car racing series run by the International Motor Sports Association. Originating from the Canadian Motorola Cup, the series was taken over by Grand-Am in 2001 to become the Grand-Am Cup following the demise of rival IMSA's Firehawk series of similar rules in the US. KONI became series sponsor for the start of the 2007 season when the series became known as the KONI Challenge Series, before renaming once more prior to the start of the 2009 season as the KONI Sports Car Challenge. The series name was once again changed for the 2010 season to Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. In 2019, the series rebranded again after Michelin was selected to become the new official tire supplier of the series.The Continental Challenge was the support series for Grand-Am's premier offering, the Rolex Sports Car Series. In 2014, the series became the support series for the United SportsCar Championship upon the merger of the Rolex Series and the American Le Mans Series. The series was renamed the IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is a road course auto racing facility located in Troy Township, Morrow County, Ohio, United States, just outside the village of Lexington. Mid-Ohio has also colloquially become a term for the entire north-central region of the state, from south of Sandusky to the north of Columbus.

Patrick Dempsey

Patrick Galen Dempsey (born January 13, 1966) is an American actor and race car driver, best known for his role as neurosurgeon Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd in Grey's Anatomy, starring with Ellen Pompeo (Dr. Meredith Grey). He saw early success as an actor, starring in a number of films in the 1980s, including Can't Buy Me Love (1987) and Loverboy (1989). In the 1990s, he mostly appeared in smaller roles in film, such as Outbreak (1995) and television, before landing a lead role in Sweet Home Alabama (2002), a surprise box office hit. He has since starred in other films, including Enchanted (2007), Made of Honor (2008), Valentine's Day (2010), Flypaper (2011), Freedom Writers (2007), Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011), and Bridget Jones's Baby (2016).

Also possible appearance in Twin Peaks (season 2 episode 20 13:46 and episode 21). No lines.

Dempsey, who maintains a sports car and vintage car collection, also enjoys auto racing in his spare time. He has competed in pro-am events such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Rolex 24 at Daytona sports car race and Ensenada SCORE Baja 1000 off-road race. Prior to the 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans, Dempsey declared that he would "walk away" from acting if he could and dedicate himself full-time to motorsports.

Rolex Sports Car Series

The Rolex Sports Car Series was the premier series run by the Grand American Road Racing Association. It was a North American-based sports car series founded in 2000 under the name Grand American Road Racing Championship to replace the failed United States Road Racing Championship. Rolex took over as series sponsor in 2002.

It ran a mixture of classes of sports prototypes and Grand Touring-style cars. In 2003, the series debuted their custom prototype chassis, known as Daytona Prototypes, named after their premiere event, the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The series staged the North American Endurance Championship, featuring three of its premier races at Daytona, Watkins Glen, and Indianapolis.On September 5, 2012, Grand-Am announced that it would be merging the Rolex Sports Car Series with the American Le Mans Series to form a unified road racing championship to be known as United SportsCar Racing, later retitled as the TUDOR United Sports Car Championship. The final Rolex Sports Car Series race was held on September 28, 2013 at Lime Rock Park.

Sports Car Club of America

The Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) is an American automobile club and sanctioning body supporting road racing, rallying, and autocross in the United States. Formed in 1944, it runs many programs for both amateur and professional racers.

Sports car racing

Sports car racing is a form of motorsport road racing which utilises sports cars that have two seats and enclosed wheels. They may be purpose-built (Prototype) or related to road-going models (Grand Touring).

A type of hybrid between the purism of open-wheelers and the familiarity of touring car racing, this style is often associated with the annual Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race. First run in 1923, Le Mans is one of the oldest motor races still in existence. Other classic but now defunct sports car races include the Italian classics, the Targa Florio (1906–1977) and Mille Miglia (1927–1957), and the Mexican Carrera Panamericana (1950-1954). Most top class sports car races emphasise endurance (typically between 2.5–24 hours), reliability, and strategy, over pure speed. Longer races usually involve complex pit strategy and regular driver changes. As a result, sports car racing is seen more as a team endeavour than an individual sport, with team managers such as John Wyer, Tom Walkinshaw, driver-turned-constructor Henri Pescarolo, Peter Sauber and Reinhold Joest becoming almost as famous as some of their drivers.

The prestige of storied marques such as Porsche, Audi, Corvette, Ferrari, Jaguar, Bentley, Aston Martin, Lotus, Maserati, Lamborghini, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW is built in part upon success in sports car racing and the World Sportscar Championship. These makers' top road cars have often been very similar both in engineering and styling to those raced. This close association with the 'exotic' nature of the cars serves as a useful distinction between sports car racing and touring cars.The 12 Hours of Sebring, 24 Hours of Daytona, and 24 Hours of Le Mans were once widely considered the trifecta of sports car racing. Driver Ken Miles would have been the only ever to win all three in the same year but for an error in the Ford GT40's team orders at Le Mans in 1966 that cost him the win in spite of finishing first.

Sports prototype

A sports prototype, sometimes referred to as simply a prototype, is a type of race car that is used in the highest level categories of sports car racing. These purpose-built racing cars, unlike street-legal and production-based racing cars, are not intended for consumer purchase or production beyond that required to compete and win races.

Prototype racing cars have competed in sports car racing since before World War II, but became the top echelon of sports cars in the 1960s as they began to replace homologated sports cars. Current ACO regulations allow most sports car series to use two forms of cars: grand tourers (GT), based on street cars, and prototypes, which are allowed a great amount of flexibility within set rule parameters.

In historic racing, they are often called "sports racing cars". Sometimes, they are incorrectly referred to as "Le Mans cars", whether they are competing in the Le Mans race or not.

WeatherTech SportsCar Championship

The WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is a sports car racing series based in the United States and Canada and organized by the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA). It is a result of a merger between two existing North American sports car racing series, the American Le Mans Series and Rolex Sports Car Series. At its inception, the name was United SportsCar Championship, which subsequently changed to the Tudor United SportsCar Championship when Rolex SA signed their Tudor brand to a title sponsorship deal. WeatherTech later signed a deal to take over title sponsorship of the series starting in 2016, rebranding the series.The season begins with its premier race, the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the last weekend of January and ends with the Petit Le Mans, another North American Endurance Cup race, in early October.

Car design
Body styles
Specialized vehicles
Drive wheels
Engine position
Layout (engine / drive)
Engine configuration
(internal combustion)


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