The most excellent excess
Opinion: Why the Supercar Will Never Die
Studies show that many young people just don’t care much about cars or driving these days — they’re more focused on things like smartphones and the latest portable technology. This is like saying guys aren’t much interested in women anymore and would rather spend time playing Angry Birds. Seriously, folks.
What keeps most little boys’ heads in the automotive game (where they should be) is the supercar. They inspire posters, toys and dreams in the wee hours of the night; the best kind of coveting takes place when they drive by. Grown men still pine for them at auto shows, and if those men are fortunate enough to acquire one, the term “supercar widow” becomes more accurate than you’d think. Though the supercar landscape is changing, the basic idea and fulfillment behind this dream car is not. Regardless of changes in the industry or the pressures of fuel economy, the supercar will not only survive, it will continue to thrive. It’s no chimera. It’s the real-life culmination of everything we hope for in four wheels.
MORE SUPERCAR SPEED: Track Day: 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT | Bull & Bravado: Driving the Lamborghini Aventador | Behind The Wheel: Audi R8 V10 Spyder
So, what exactly is a supercar? As we define it, the supercar is any high-performance automobile that seems to defy logic in statistics, price and design. It must check the boxes for the following characteristics: (1) costs north of $100K, and even better if it’s north of $200K; (2) has at least a V8 engine or comparable power; (3) accelerates to 60 in under 4 seconds and has a top speed of 200+ MPH; 4) has carbon fiber somewhere; (5) makes babies cry.
The world’s first true supercar was the Lamborghini Miura, a beautiful, powerful and iconic beast that’s still one of the most coveted cars in the world. The Miura didn’t create something new — not really. It was simply the materialization of every boy’s dream. Since then, multitudes of supercars (as the world categorizes them) have lived in some form. While there are loads of money involved, both in R&D costs and price tags, at the root of their being, these cars are simply about being utterly decadent in every way. You get the feeling that their extremes need to exist to satisfy our urges, and that their manufacturers feel the same needs. What kind of world would we live in if Ferrari released a statement saying, “We’re done making supercars. It’s time to shift our focus to family sedans”? It would be like Kim Jong Un making the decision to open mobile phone kiosks and internet cafes across North Korea. It just isn’t going to happen.
The Miura didn’t create something new — not really. It was simply the materialization of every boy’s dream.
Of course, there’s more to it than simply feeding the fantasy. Remember, as much we love the sculpted bodies and wicked performance of the supercar, those who worship at the its temples are thrilled when manufacturers showcase the latest in technology. Magnetorheological suspension, carbon fiber monocoques and chassis, complex downforce bits, Formula One derived transmissions — they all show up in the supercar, and all the world marvels. What’s more, these advances have helped supercars become more driver friendly. You no longer need to have mad skills to pilot one, and they’re certainly not as “iron maiden” uncomfortable to drive anymore.
That’s right: manufacturers are helping the supercar cause by making their vehicles more palatable in the current automotive environment. The Ferrari LaFerrari, the McLaren P1 and the Porsche 918 Spyder, with their newfangled supercar hybrid powertrains, are further evidence of that. The infusion of hybrid technology certainly makes things more interesting for more of the population, but car nuts don’t necessarily care. I dare say the appeal for many is more about the near-instant torque an electric motor provides, as well as the perception of being environmentally conscious, than it is about actually cutting back on fuel consumption. That “damn the hippies” mentality still exists in cars like the Lamborghini Aventador and the Bugatti Veyron, both of which consume more fuel in a day than you use in a week; these cars aren’t going away anytime soon.
Supercars make men do stupid things, too, like this, but this is at least real evidence of what we aspire to possess, what we will grasp at the first opportunity. Just watch a pro baller sign a big contract and see what he buys first. It’s usually a supercar (if not first, then right after mom gets a new house). The era of gearheads may be waning, but there will still be a passion for the ultimate car somewhere in the general populace, and it’s that passion that will continue to infuse life into the supercar genre. The supercar not only rules the roadways and speedways of the world: it reigns in our hearts and minds as the ultimate desire. And that’s exactly why the mad, magnificent and masterful supercar will never die.