Over the decades, BMW’s iconic M3 has only grown in power, performance (and in most cases, weight), going from niche sports sedans to one of the most popular performance-focused automobiles in the industry. The best part? There are five generations of them, all with scintillating, unique details and the underlying similarities of greatness.
A Skyline in the city
With one of the highest thrill-to-dollar ratios of any production car on the planet, the only way to make the Nissan GT-R more monstrous (hello, 0-60 in less than three seconds) is a limited Track Edition. Luckily, we didn’t have to call in any favors or cash in our Bitcoins to get our hands on the 2014 Nissan GT-R Track Edition ($117,000), which serves dual duties as a sports car and a missile.
The Snake Lives On
When thinking of an automotive CEO, one expects a suit topped with a lot of gray hair, moved along with the help of a tidy personal chauffeur in the brand’s finest flagship sedan. Not so with Ralph Gilles of SRT. The man wears a baseball cap and jeans, is remarkably affable, and helms his own supercar creations at the track. He’s passionate and proud of his vehicles, and his latest, the new SRT Viper Time Attack ($123,080) is more deserving of those dotings than any other. This is no “base” version — it’s an impressive track edition of a true American sports car that’s no longer the unhinged, unrefined, chopped-top V10 monster that took to the streets and scared respectable citizens way back in 1999 in the form of the SRT10.
America Gets a World-Class Supercar
The Chevrolet Corvette is an American icon as popular as baseball and apple pie. But it hasn’t all been pretty. Through its iterations the ‘Vette has brought to mind everything from ’70s chest hair to midlife crises to silk Tommy Bahama shirts, stale cigars and trailer park access. There’s been beauty and power, too — especially in the C4 through C6 generations — but America’s car has always failed to achieve world-class stardom, perhaps pulled down by those sour associations. Everything changes in the seventh-generation C7 ‘Vette. Yes: the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray ($51,000+) could go down as one of the best American cars ever built.
Charmed by the snake
A perfect homage to the spirit of Ford’s and Shelby’s original GT 500, the 2014 model takes “steroidal” to a whole new level. Starting at only $54,800, this savage serpent uses all 662 of its horses to hit 202 miles per hour at full speed, though you need only start the engine once to believe it’s capable of extreme and endless thrills. It’s capable of eating pavement for breakfast, lunch and dinner but also perfectly happy cruising around town; just be prepared for rubberneckers.
The Methuselah of automotive design
There are a scant number of nameplates that have lasted half a century with uninterrupted production: Mercedes-Benz SL, Jaguar XJ, Chevy Corvette, Chevy Suburban, Ford F-Series. But there’s only one car whose iconic design and sporting identity has remained truly consistent, only one whose recognition as among the best sports cars in the world has gone unmatched for 50 years…the Porsche 911. The 911′s DNA is a formula that’s intoxicating, one that the car world respects and envies. The half-century mark for a car is a colossal achievement, and when that car is the Porsche 911, that much more so.
In this 50th year of the 911, we decided to take a deeper look into the generations and iterations of this remarkable car to see how far it’s come. Not all of the car’s modifications were good ones, but they will all be remembered as part in parcel of what it takes develop an icon through multiple decades.
Enough room for passengers, enough excitement to forget about 'em
When choosing a car for the track, it’s key to choose a ride with certain distinct criteria — things like sports-car dimensions and weight, great handling, two seats, an eye-brow singeing top speed and extreme impracticality for everyday driving. But what if your tool of choice just happens to be a luxury sedan? In that case, you obviously like challenges; maybe you’re the kind of guy whose idea of a workout is strapping a bag of rocks to your back and scaling a hillside in track spikes. Or maybe your choice of luxo-sedan just happens to be the 2014 Porsche Panamera ($78,100+). We hit the track in one at Atlanta Motorsports Park.
Though we lament the (hopefully temporary) disappearance of the “Scuderia” name from Ferrari’s newest street-legal sports car, the Ferrari Speciale doesn’t disappoint. In fact, it boasts improved aerodynamics, increased power and decreased weight for blistering acceleration and unparalleled handling. We have all the impressive Italian details in our breakdown.
Two that slice and dice
It’s practically every boy’s dream to own a sports car. Good news: it’s a lie that you have to either win the lottery or inherit a family fortune to afford one. Both machines here couldn’t be more different with regard to country of origin, styling and amenities — and they’re separated by 125 horsepower and over $35,000. What they both deliver, as we’re about to show you, is true driving pleasure. But which one’s for you?
The claws are out
Car guys dream of acquiring their own personal track monster. Some are bare bones beasts, as comfortable as a ride on the Coney Island Cyclone; others bear witness to modern sport-luxury. The Jaguar XKR-S GT clearly falls into the latter category, and the automotive world is a better place for it. Check out the nifty bits that $174,000 buys the fortunate in our breakdown of this masterful vehicle.
Frankenstein is alive and well
The Geneva Motor Show always showcases some of the most original (and still tasteful) automotive works out there, and the Italdesign Giugiaro Parcour is one of them — though no one’s quite sure what category it falls in. Part Lambo Gallardo, part SUV and all badass, the Parcour was designed as an “all-terrain GT” car.
Don't be ashamed of going topless
The wraps just came off the Corvette Stingray Convertible, which will be sold alongside the hardtop in the fourth quarter of 2013. Powered by the same potent 6.2-liter LT1 V8 engine with 450 hp, the convertible sheds the metal for a fully electronic top that can be deployed or retracted at speeds of up to 30 mph. It’s the perfect new recipe for fast, top-down driving, American style.
Just introduced at the Geneva Motor Show, the Spyker B6 Venator Concept should prove to be a step in the right direction for the Dutch exotic car maker. With more pronounced design features than the C8 Aileron, the Venator houses a powerful 385+ hp V6 engine that’s positioned behind the cabin for optimal performance and balance. It also may possess the most beautiful interior this side of a Bentley.
When fast isn't enough
If the 991 isn’t enough for you, look to the all-new 2014 Porsche 911 GT3 to satisfy your greedy longings. The GT3 delivers some serious firepower in the form of a 3.8-liter flat six engine that puts 475 hp to the rear wheels, giving the GT3 a 0-60 time of 3.3 seconds and a top speed of 195 mph. The question isn’t whether the GT3 is right for you, but are you man enough for it?
The History of America's Greatest Sports Car
Your loyalties may lie with other sports car brands, but the Corvette garners respect from all automotive circles for its remarkable capabilities, especially in light of its price. The Corvette is truly an American automotive icon and easily qualifies as America’s supercar, though it didn’t always boast the performance numbers of today. For at least the past three generations, it has been widely considered a bargain, as far as supercars go — with the speed, handling and track chops to make cars costing three times more quake in their brake shoes. Follow the Corvette as we detail its humble C1 inception to its modern automotive exotica in the recently released C7.
Mash the throttle, hold on and smile
As happy as we are to see a smorgasbord of automotive selections at the Detroit Auto Show this year, our pulses raced especially fast for sports cars. But even the definition of a sports car has changed. They don’t always have two doors anymore, and they may never even set tire on a track. But some things never change; what they still can do (at least the good ones) is perform and put a crick in your neck from looking too hard. Here are some of our favorites from NAIAS 2013.
From the C7th Circle of Hell
The Bowtie has pulled the wraps off its pride and joy, the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, and the result is impressive: design language is evocative of past Corvettes, while embarking on a more aggressive, more sophisticated look.
Little engine that can
The new 2013 Porsche Cayman borrows plenty of tricks from its droptop Boxster brethren, including double stacked headlights, an integrated rear spoiler, gaping side-scoops as well as a new front clip. Combined with a slightly longer wheelbase and wider track – this evolution of the Porsche progeny is a raw and visceral looking little beast…
From birthplace, to race
Visiting a foreign country is always an experience, but doing it behind the wheel of a bespoke, high-performance automobile like the $200,000+ Bentley Continental GT leaves a deeper impression than usual. To say that the GT has presence is an understatement. The updated design captures the best of both worlds with its elegant lines and…
The sound and the fury
If ever there was a car that could make you an instant superhero with the neighborhood elementary school boys (and girls, for that matter), it would be the Porsche Cayman R, specifically painted in Peridot Metallic (a.k.a., Chernobyl Green). Consider it the ultimate Hotwheels sports car, come to life. We had the chance to toss…
Toyota’s sports car submission has been woefully absent from the automotive scene since the MR-2 Spyder bit its last customers in 2005. Well the Scion FR-S ($24,930) has something to say about that. Recently introduced with its sister vehicle, the Subaru BRZ, the FR-S is a game changer for the automaker. Initially, Toyota wasn’t too…
Not so mellow yellow
Stick a random sampling of certified “car nuts” into a room with instructions to create a top ten list, and you’ll likely find the 1989 Porsche RUF CTR, better known as the Yellowbird, on that list. While we usually don’t consult eBay for you, our discerning readers, one of only six aluminum Yellowbirds ever produced,…
The current Ferrari California, we confess, is a might overstyled and definitely gravitationally challenged. Nevertheless, it’s a Ferrari and we don’t besmirch many of them (except perhaps the Mondial). For 2013, they’ve improved upon it with the Ferrari California Handling Especiale, which bumps up the power output by 30 horsepower and drops nearly 70 pounds….
“What happens if we mix the sound of a classical orchestra with the modern tones of a powerful motorsound? What’s the outcome if we try to use the momentum of a melody and blend it to the deep sound of a V8 or the high tone of a biturbo engine?” These are the questions the…
A Polish Supercar? Indeed.
Okay, so it sounds like an Italian pasta special, but the Arrinera is a bonafide high-powered supercar out of… Poland. Though it certainly doesn’t break any new ground, design-wise, except for possibly the insanely busy and somewhat disjointed rear end, it does echo some of the same elements from recent Lamborghinis, such as the Murcielago….
Just My E-Type
Jaguar has officially sloughed off the traditional designs that stood for decades. The new design era is officially in full swing, and they’ve not only penned but created the next star in their lineup, the Jaguar C-X16 Concept, which will show up in Frankfurt next week. This one’s got some big shoes to fill, as…
Here's to the Forgotten Roadster
When you think of the classic British sports cars of the 1950s and ‘60s, MG, Jaguar, Aston Martin and Triumph tend to come to mind first. But arguably the most beautiful of the genre was the series of roadsters made by Austin Healey during the company’s short run, with their long sweeping haunches, short rear…
Old Dog, New Tricks
The Chevrolet Corvette is pretty much as American as it gets. Although the current C6 is a head-turner, a classic 1960′s vette is that much more noticeable. Well, Karl Kustom Corvettes combines the best of both worlds, taking the svelte body of what are referred to as the “Mid-Years,” 1960′s coupes and convertibles and incorporating…
How do you say "Ninja" in German?
Fact: silver is not the new black. Black never left. One need only look at the numerous special black edition cars emerging from the darkness these days for confirmation. Porsche is clearly no exception to this, with the new 2012 Cayman S Black Edition. With a 10 horsepower bump to 330, the 3.4 liter flat…
Ferdinand would be proud
Porsche churns out versions of its classic and never long-in-the-tooth 911 like the Alien mother drops chest-bursters, furiously. Now, they’ve come up with their final iteration of the 997 chassis, the 2011 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 ($185,000), the most powerful naturally aspirated 911 today. Let’s do the numbers. 4.0 liter 6-cylinder emitting an overly…