12 Cars That Raised the Bar for All Sports Cars


Like stories like this? You’ll see every article as soon as it’s published by reading the print edition of Grassroots Motorsports. Subscribe now.

Story by David S. Wallens • Photos Courtesy of their Respective Manufacturers

Sports cars are the backbone of our motorsports scene, but which ones propelled us from one automotive epoch to another? We have 12 game changers that helped revolutionize our world. Use whatever tired cliche you’d like: Each car on this list raised the bar, upped the ante, or simply blazed new trails.

1970: Datsun 240Z

As far as sports cars go, the 1970s were pretty much just a carryover from the previous generation. Don’t believe us? Exhibits A through G: MGB, Triumph TR6, Alfa Spider, Fiat 124, Porsche 911, Jaguar XKE and Chevy Corvette.

Datsun kicked off the decade with something new, though, giving us cutting-edge styling, a fully independent suspension, and that super-smooth inline-six. Oh, and it didn’t cost a mint.

Their 240Z was more than a flash in the pan, too, as it quickly raised the sports car bar. It dominated the day’s SCCA road races, and today it’s one of the few early Japanese cars to attract American collectors. It also caused everyone else to either learn to swim or leave the pool.

Parting thoughts: The 240Z ushered in the modern sports car era.

1983: Volkswagen Rabbit GTI

For years, stateside enthusiasts had heard the rumors of a factory-built, hotrod version of the VW Rabbit available overseas—remember, this was before the Internet, so news travelled a bit slower. Sure, Volkswagen had the Scirocco, but they still weren’t seen as the sportiest brand out there at the time.

How that changed. VW added the GTI to their 1983 lineup, giving American gearheads all the goodies: Recaro buckets, a front spoiler, tacked-on fender flares, a substantial steering wheel, a close-ratio gearbox and meaty—for the day—14x6-inch wheels. Where the Euro-spec cars made do with 1600cc of displacement, Americans got to enjoy a healthy 1800cc.

Those first cars gave Americans a taste of something that married sport with sophistication. The Golf replaced the Rabbit for 1986, although the GTI option package has remained more or less part of the formula ever since.

Parting thoughts: In 10 or 20 years, a fully restored Rabbit GTI will cross the block at a major auto auction.

1985: Dodge Omni GLH

Turbo cars aren’t that unusual today, but back in the Reagan years, not too many machines came from the factory sporting boost—especially inexpensive ones aimed at the masses. The Dodge Omni changed all that.

The Omni GLH actually debuted a year before it got a turbo, incorporating a stiffer suspension plus a few niceties into the garden-variety Omni. Credit Carroll Shelby with helping to whip up the formula.

Things got serious for 1985, however, when the turbocharger joined the GLH’s spec sheet. For its time, the GLH was stupid quick, posting 8.7-second zero-to-60 times. Not bad for a base price of around $7500, less than most family sedans of the day.

The GLH quickly became an autocross staple, yet production ended after the 1986 model year. Those last 500 cars came right from Carroll Shelby and featured even more goodies: a bigger turbo, a front-mount intercooler and real Koni dampers.

Parting thoughts: Despite their vintage, these cars are a Grainger valve away from running with today’s pack.

1985: Honda CRX SI

The big story of 1985 wasn’t the release of New Coke. Honda gave us the original CRX Si for that model year, not too long after teasing us with the plain-Jane version.

How potent was this pint-sized, two-seat prize fighter? The SCCA placed it in their A Stock autocross class, where it had to face off against the Porsche 911 and Lotus Elan. First year out, the CRX Si finished second at Nats. The CRX got flush headlights for 1986—as shown below—before the second-gen car appeared for 1988. This wasn’t Honda’s first sporty car, but it definitely was a taste of things to come, including later legends like the Civic Si, Integra Type R and NSX.

Parting thoughts: It’s small on the outside yet roomy and airy on the inside. Oh, and it’s quick and easy on gas, too.

1990: Mazda Miata

The traditional, open sports car was all but dead as the ’80s came to a close. Offerings from Europe’s MG, Triumph and Fiat had been gone for years. The Alfa Spider, another vintage design, was on its last legs. To be brutally honest, the day’s Corvette and Porsche 911 convertibles pretty much had zero motorsports potential.

Then the Miata came onto the scene sporting everything that enthusiasts craved: rear-wheel drive, twin-cam engine, five-speed transmission, balanced weight distribution and a double A-arm suspension at each corner. As a bonus, the top went down.

Suddenly, sports cars were hip. Sure, the Miata dominated autocross and road racing, but it also reignited interest in the segment. If there were no Miata, would we have had the BMW Z3, Porsche Boxster, Toyota MR2 Spyder and Honda S2000? Our Magic 8-Ball says No.

Parting thoughts: Just buy the nicest one within your budget and see what the fuss is all about.

1995: BMW M3

For the 1988 model year, BMW brought us the M3—box flares, big brakes, grippy buckets, giant wing and all. For most of us, it was the closest we got to seeing a real Group A race car.

Small issue, though: While a killer track car, that first M3 wasn’t exactly designed for daily use. The suspension was stiff, and that hyper-tuned, 2.3-liter four lacked torque.

BMW refined the M3 formula for their follow-up act, this one based on their E36-chassis 3 Series. Yes, the knobs were turned a bit down from 11—the car had subdued looks and relied on more parts bin sourcing—but that doesn’t mean this later M3 was a wimp. In fact, it excelled in just about every venue, from autocross to road racing. Oh, and it made a nearly perfect daily driver. Suddenly, our world had a car that did it all so well: The M3 could dominate any autocross, handle a track day, or comfortably cross the continent.

Parting thoughts: This one is the Swiss Army knife for enthusiasts.

1995: Dodge Neon ACR

Oh, to be an autocrosser or club racer back in 1995. The Chrysler Corporation,who had been a little quiet in the preceding years, dropped a humdinger at our feet: a competition-tuned version of their then-new compact.

No, it didn’t get a Hemi, but the ACR featured the upgrades needed for competition, including beefed-up front hubs, alloy wheels, four-wheel disc brakes, a revised ECU, a shorter (numerically higher) final drive and stiffer suspension.

A tape-and-stripe package this was not. In fact, the ACR didn’t receive any special badging. The main visual clue was the open, unfilled foglight holes in the front bumper.

Then there was the support program, which included technical help and contingency dollars. Those dollars, by the way, meant that campaigning an ACR could actually be a money-making proposition. The ACR, it turns out, dominated Solo and road racing through the second half of the decade. It also reminded the world—specifically those who produce automobiles—that motorsports and car sales go together quite nicely.

Parting thoughts: Will the ACR be our generation’s Hemi Dart? Who knows, but the thought patterns are similar.

1997: Chevy Corvette

During the ’60s, the Corvette was to be feared. Whatever the venue—from Bridgehampton to the local stoplight grand prix—the Vette called the shots.

Then something happened: It got older. And we don’t mean that in the graceful, George Clooney kind of way. As the ’70s rolled into the ’80s and ’90s, the Vette became more of a boulevarder than a thoroughbred. Sure, there were some standouts, but for the most part the Corvette had lost its track cred.

The fifth-generation Vette, released for the 1997 model year, fully restored that luster. This new car was fast, looked great and didn’t ask its occupants to make too many compromises. A rear-mounted transmission and hydroformed frame rails? Yep, they were part of the package, too.

Then GM got really serious, releasing the Z06 package for 2001. Its LS6 engine made 385 horsepower—later bumped to 405—while the brakes, suspension and pretty much everything else were upgraded to track-ready spec.

The C5 Corvette was replaced for the 2006 model year, and Chevy only continued to raise the bar: more power, more rubber and more brakes. While that C5 Corvette may seem tame considering the numbers of the just-announced C7 version, it put the Corvette back on the world stage while offering a track-ready supercar for the masses.

Parting thoughts: A decade and a half later, the C5 Vette still makes a great track car.

2002: Mini Cooper

Traditionally, small cars appealed to two set groups: cheapskates and the relatively few who realized that less mass generally equaled more speed. Notice that the well-heeled were not in that group. The new-for-the-millennium MINI changed all that. Here was the first modern, small car that wasn’t sold strictly on price.

Now part of the BMW family, the MINI packed gobs of luxury features into a small footprint. Xenon headlights, panoramic sunroofs and funky leather interiors were just a few of the available options.

The MINI wasn’t all show and comfort, though. It was quick, too, and could tackle a slalom. The “standard” Cooper quickly became the must-have car for SCCA’s H Stock autocross class, while the supercharged Cooper S was no slouch either.

Despite sailing into uncharted waters, the MINI was a hit. People gladly waited for their cars, while used examples depreciated rather slowly—a total rarity for this segment. BMW introduced an updated MINI for the 2007 model year, and the brand has expanded to include roadsters, wagons, cute-utes, two-seaters and more.

Parting thoughts: If there were no MINI, would we have received the Fiat 500? Probably not.

2002: Subaru Impreza WRX

Like the original Volkswagen GTI nearly two decades earlier, the Subaru Impreza WRX was one of those cool cars that wasn’t available here. It had the full monte: all-wheel drive, a turbo engine and a bona fide rally heritage. It could even be ordered as a wagon, and as we all know, wagons are cool.

The WRX finally arrived here for the 2002 model year. It wasn’t one of the race-tuned Type R models or even an STi, but that first WRX blazed a trail. Hotter variants would follow, and Mitsubishi soon joined the fray with their Evo models. Remember when a Supra Turbo dazzled us with 300 horsepower from 3.0 liters? The WRX STi did that with only 2.0.

Parting thoughts: Sure, later WRXs are faster, but that classic bug-eyed face only gets better with age.

2005: Ford Mustang

Few would accuse the Ford Mustang of being overly complex, but that didn’t make it any less lethal. By the mid-2000s, however, despite some sheet metal redos, the Mustang’s foundation was a bit dated. We’re not knocking the stick axle, but the 2004 Mustang shared some serious DNA with the 1979 version. It was time for a makeover.

Ford’s 2005 Mustang may have sported some retro lines, but it upped the ante—solid performance, good ergonomics and that healthy V8. At the time, the 4.6-liter V8 found inside the Mustang GT produced a solid 240 horsepower. The car immediately became a success both on the showroom floor and on track.

My, how times have evolved. Chevy and Chrysler have since entered the pony-car wars, and have you checked Mustang specs lately? The V6-powered base car makes 305 horsepower. Care to go nuts? More than double that figure is available with the optional supercharged V8.

Parting thoughts: Today’s pony-car scene didn’t start in 1965; it truly began 40 years later.

2013: Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S

Around 15 years ago, the reasonably priced sport coupe was a big deal. Toyota sold a ton of Celicas, the Honda Prelude was a major player, and Nissan’s 240SX added some much-needed rear-drive fun to the mix.

And then, poof!—the genre pretty much disappeared. The masses traded some sport for jacked-up SUVs.

The Hyundai Genesis Coupe may have been the first spark, but it looks like Scion and Subaru have brought the sport coupe back from the brink with their FR-S and BRZ twins. Yes, it’s an unexpected marriage, but in reality the finished product works nicely—good torque and a well-balanced, rear-drive chassis. It looks good, too.

Parting thoughts: Is this the start of something new? We can only hope.


Like stories like this? You’ll see every article as soon as it's published by reading the print edition of Grassroots Motorsports. Subscribe now.

Join Free Join our community to easily find more BMW, Chevrolet, Datsun, Dodge, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Mini, Scion, Subaru and Volkswagen articles.
Comments
View comments on the GRM forums
Wizard_Of_Maz
Wizard_Of_Maz New Reader
6/27/18 3:50 p.m.

Glad to see the E36 M3 here. Though the internet hivemind (not this forum, but those less in the know) deems it the least M of all M3s, I'd argue that in some ways, it is the most M. The hoards of them you see at the track resonates more with the spirit of motorsport that the M brand originally aimed to capture. It is truly an enthusiast's car. 

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
6/27/18 4:51 p.m.

As the owner of an FR-S,  is it wrong that I almost want a GLHS more? 

Kreb
Kreb UberDork
6/27/18 6:27 p.m.

In reply to Appleseed :

I saw a roached out GLHS the other day. It was really terrible, which is a good thing, because I was able to restrain myself from buying it!

 

AnthonyGS
AnthonyGS New Reader
6/27/18 9:20 p.m.

Nice article and these 12 cars would make a nice collection.  I’d opt for the glhs Omni though.   And don’t ever forget without the 1990 ZR-1, there’d be no LS1 to make the C5 and later generations so great.  

Vigo
Vigo UltimaDork
6/27/18 9:30 p.m.

I've only owned 4 of these,  but i've driven 9 so that's good!  

That 8.7s 0-60 on the GLH would have been for a carbureted model. GLH could be had either carb or turbo.  If you find whatever the 0-60 is for a turbo GLH, go ahead and knock a few tenths off for modern tires. I would guess around 6.9-7.2 for stock turbo GLH in good running condition on modern 205/50/15s (factory size iirc). Then comes the $15 boost controller..

irish44j
irish44j UltimaDork
6/27/18 9:33 p.m.

I looooove old Z cars, but I'd have to argue the "cutting edge style" of the 240Z. It is a beautiful car, but most of the style features were essentially derivative of the (greatly inferior overall) Triumph GT6, which had existed for several years already....raised fenders and inset headlights, hood bulge, hump over the rear fender, and the general proportions. Granted the Z substantially modernized the overall look, but the design was more evolutionary than cutting edge, I'd say. YMMV.

Sadly, the GT6 was such a mediocre car in every category other than looks, most people pretty much just forgot about it lol...

Image result for 1970 triumph gt6

irish44j
irish44j UltimaDork
6/27/18 9:42 p.m.

And though I agree with the entire list pretty much as-is, I'm a bit surprised the Porsche 944 (or its various derivatives) aren't in there, as one of the first modern "mainstream" sportscars from a high-end marque that a middle-class person could afford and daily drive. 

And though I don't love them personally, the absence of the RX-7 is notable if only for it being the car that made rotary engines mainstream to some degree. 

I would argue that one of those two should probably replace the (admittedly cool) Omni GLH since the Rabbit GTI is already on the list and pretty much created that niche (and sold a lot more) .

 

irish44j
irish44j UltimaDork
6/27/18 9:56 p.m.

One other thing - I love this kind of clickbait "top 10" list kind of article, but this whole article (aside from the BR-Z) is giving me major deja vu. I feel like 7 or 8 years ago GRM basically published the exact same article with the exact same cars and even pretty much the same pictures. Or am I just morphing together other articles I've read in GRM?

Kreb
Kreb UberDork
6/27/18 10:04 p.m.

In reply to irish44j :

Agreed abut the RX-7. The car scene was a wasteland in 1978. The RX-7 and the 5.0 Fox body Mustangs were promises that there might be decent times ahead in the post-smog world. The 924 was cool too, but the engine was uninspiring. 

pinchvalve
pinchvalve MegaDork
6/28/18 8:38 a.m.

Close, but you forgot one of the most significant sports cars of the last 25 years: 

 

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
6/28/18 9:20 a.m.

In reply to irish44j :

This was an older article.   We've been posting past editorial up on the website.  We have over 30 years of material to choose from, so you'll be getting deja-vu occasionally.  

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
6/28/18 9:43 a.m.
irish44j said:

And though I agree with the entire list pretty much as-is, I'm a bit surprised the Porsche 944 (or its various derivatives) aren't in there, as one of the first modern "mainstream" sportscars from a high-end marque that a middle-class person could afford and daily drive. 

That segment hasn't really taken off though, in fact it's debatable whether it's gone extinct - today the cheapest sports cars from high-end manufacturers are the Porsche Boxster and the Lotus Elise, and I would argue that they're priced clean out of reach of the middle class when new.

racerdave600
racerdave600 UltraDork
6/28/18 11:23 a.m.

I like most of the list, except the GLH probably doesn't belong.  I don't remember it having much of an impact the way the GTI had.  It's just an extension of the same segment.  What's missing is the MG-TC that started it all in the US.  I would through out the Dodge and add the MG.  In the case of the Mustang, I might get rid of the 2005 model and add back the 1982 GT.  It had far more of an impact the 2005 redesign.  

irish44j
irish44j UltimaDork
6/28/18 1:14 p.m.
GameboyRMH said:
irish44j said:

And though I agree with the entire list pretty much as-is, I'm a bit surprised the Porsche 944 (or its various derivatives) aren't in there, as one of the first modern "mainstream" sportscars from a high-end marque that a middle-class person could afford and daily drive. 

That segment hasn't really taken off though, in fact it's debatable whether it's gone extinct - today the cheapest sports cars from high-end manufacturers are the Porsche Boxster and the Lotus Elise, and I would argue that they're priced clean out of reach of the middle class when new.

True, but one could use the same argument against the 240Z. After all, the 2-seat (or 2+2) fastback has almost completely disappeared from existence these days. I mean, the only one I can really even think of is the long-in-the-tooth 370Z, I'd actually argue that the "relatively affordable" luxury marque entry-level car segment is far stronger than the "sport fastback" segment these days - look at the entry-level offerings from BMW (1-series), Benz, Audi, etc. None of them technically "sports cars" - but then again, this list includes Neon, Rabbit, and Omni - none of which are "sports cars" by many definitions

mikell17
mikell17 New Reader
6/28/18 1:30 p.m.

Too bad the BRZ and FR-S are selling horribly.  I thought more people would've jumped on these.  I bet they would if they had a decent amount of horsepower.  They're great taking turns but not so much light to light. 

jj
jj HalfDork
6/28/18 2:23 p.m.
mikell17 said:

Too bad the BRZ and FR-S are selling horribly.  I thought more people would've jumped on these.  I bet they would if they had a decent amount of horsepower.  They're great taking turns but not so much light to light. 

I agree with you.  I test drove them twice when I was in the market.  The midrange was absolutely dead, and I couldn't live with it day to day.  

racerdave600
racerdave600 UltraDork
6/28/18 2:40 p.m.
jj said:
mikell17 said:

Too bad the BRZ and FR-S are selling horribly.  I thought more people would've jumped on these.  I bet they would if they had a decent amount of horsepower.  They're great taking turns but not so much light to light. 

I agree with you.  I test drove them twice when I was in the market.  The midrange was absolutely dead, and I couldn't live with it day to day.  

I bought one new, this was exactly my issue, along with a few others.  Every mom in her minivan could leave you dead at a light.  I'm sure on track or at an autocross it was a joy, but day to day living I really didn't enjoy it.  If I were back in my 20's again, I'm sure I would have had a different opinion however.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
6/28/18 2:55 p.m.

The 4UGSE/FA20's dead spot can be fixed with as little as an ECU tune, it's a shame the manufacturers won't do that for some reason.

NOHOME
NOHOME UltimaDork
6/28/18 3:04 p.m.

As my definition of "sports car" only includes two seat cars ( or ones with vestigial non usable rear seats) it is interesting that I pretty much cover the bases with having owned a  1970 240Z, a 1990 Miata and a 2013 FRS. Note that all three were first(ish) year models. 

The entire British car sports car industry had a spike driven through it's collective  Zombie heart the day the 240Z was unleashed upon the world. 

 

I await the next Messiah. 

But not patiently.

 

Pete

parker
parker Reader
6/28/18 5:18 p.m.
racerdave600 said:
jj said:
mikell17 said:

Too bad the BRZ and FR-S are selling horribly.  I thought more people would've jumped on these.  I bet they would if they had a decent amount of horsepower.  They're great taking turns but not so much light to light. 

I agree with you.  I test drove them twice when I was in the market.  The midrange was absolutely dead, and I couldn't live with it day to day.  

I bought one new, this was exactly my issue, along with a few others.  Every mom in her minivan could leave you dead at a light.  I'm sure on track or at an autocross it was a joy, but day to day living I really didn't enjoy it.  If I were back in my 20's again, I'm sure I would have had a different opinion however.

You do know they rev to over 7k RPM right?  I have never had a mom in a minivan leave me at a light.  The twins are as fast as an MR2 turbo or an old school musclecar.  You just have wind them out.  

 

livinon2wheels
livinon2wheels New Reader
6/28/18 5:18 p.m.

In reply to Vigo :

You are correct...8.7 for the GLH because its heavier brother the Shelby Charger 83-84 vintage had the same engine and was a tick slower at about 9.0 seconds 0-60. Still decent for the day. The NA Chargers had 195/50-15 tires and I think the Omnis did too. You had to have a turbo to get the 205/50 tires. The wheels were the same size so a tire upgrade was a no brainer and everyone I knew that had one upsized their tires to the 205 size for the added grip in spite of the gearing disadvantage. By the time I was done done with mine, I was in the low 7 second range 0-60 thanks to a froggy engine rebuild and DCOE Webers...boy that thing sounded good at 7 grand! :)

irish44j
irish44j UltimaDork
6/28/18 5:22 p.m.
jj said:
mikell17 said:

Too bad the BRZ and FR-S are selling horribly.  I thought more people would've jumped on these.  I bet they would if they had a decent amount of horsepower.  They're great taking turns but not so much light to light. 

I agree with you.  I test drove them twice when I was in the market.  The midrange was absolutely dead, and I couldn't live with it day to day.  

ditto, I drove one and didn't like it as much as I thought I would. A Miata is a better driver, hands-down (except I don't want a vert at all), so I really really wanted to like the BRZ. Doesn't help that a non-turbo car with a 2.0L engine, that's lightweight and low c/d.....STILL gets pretty mediocre fuel mileage. I mean....24/32??? A four-door GTI with more power, more weight, more luxury, and more drag beats that. Hell, that's only a few MPGs better than an AWD WRX with way more power. The BRZ/FRS have all the disadvantages of low power (compared to most modern cars) without the upside.......

Also, I would love the Twins far more if they were, again, a full fastback rather than a little notchback. Hatchback = more space.

parker
parker Reader
6/28/18 5:29 p.m.

Hatchback = more weight.  I've never gotten less than 30mpg in mixed driving.  32-33 when mostly highway driving at 75-80 mph.

 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
6/28/18 5:40 p.m.
Joe Gearin said:

In reply to irish44j :

This was an older article.   We've been posting past editorial up on the website.  We have over 30 years of material to choose from, so you'll be getting deja-vu occasionally.  

Which begs the question - would you change anything if you published it today? For example, were the FRS/BRZ twins as influential as you hoped they'd be at the time of publication?

aircooled
aircooled MegaDork
6/28/18 6:00 p.m.
irish44j said:

I looooove old Z cars, but I'd have to argue the "cutting edge style" of the 240Z. It is a beautiful car, but most of the style features were essentially derivative of the (greatly inferior overall) Triumph GT6, which had existed for several years already....raised fenders and inset headlights, hood bulge, hump over the rear fender, and the general proportions. Granted the Z substantially modernized the overall look, but the design was more evolutionary than cutting edge, I'd say. YMMV.

Sadly, the GT6 was such a mediocre car in every category other than looks, most people pretty much just forgot about it lol...

Image result for 1970 triumph gt6

You mean the car that was clearly derivative of the Ferrari 250 GTO?  cheeky

 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
6/28/18 6:02 p.m.
aircooled said:
irish44j said:

I looooove old Z cars, but I'd have to argue the "cutting edge style" of the 240Z. It is a beautiful car, but most of the style features were essentially derivative of the (greatly inferior overall) Triumph GT6, which had existed for several years already....raised fenders and inset headlights, hood bulge, hump over the rear fender, and the general proportions. Granted the Z substantially modernized the overall look, but the design was more evolutionary than cutting edge, I'd say. YMMV.

Sadly, the GT6 was such a mediocre car in every category other than looks, most people pretty much just forgot about it lol...

Image result for 1970 triumph gt6

You mean the car that was clearly derivative of the Ferrari 250 GTO?  cheeky

 

If you're going to be derivative, that's a pretty good choice.

irish44j
irish44j UltimaDork
6/28/18 6:28 p.m.
aircooled said:
irish44j said:

I looooove old Z cars, but I'd have to argue the "cutting edge style" of the 240Z. It is a beautiful car, but most of the style features were essentially derivative of the (greatly inferior overall) Triumph GT6, which had existed for several years already....raised fenders and inset headlights, hood bulge, hump over the rear fender, and the general proportions. Granted the Z substantially modernized the overall look, but the design was more evolutionary than cutting edge, I'd say. YMMV.

Sadly, the GT6 was such a mediocre car in every category other than looks, most people pretty much just forgot about it lol...

Image result for 1970 triumph gt6

You mean the car that was clearly derivative of the Ferrari 250 GTO?  cheeky

 

Edit: I see you meant the Z was derivative of the 250 GTO, which makes sense. 

Ironically, the GT6 was likely modeled off of the original 250GT/Berlinetta, as both of them were designed by Michelotti). So the Z could have been an amalgamation, really. The main point I was making was that the Z wasn't a "cutting edge" style but really Mr. K just designed his own version of many European fastbacks and GT cars that already had that general look in the 60s/70s, whether that be the GT6/MGB GT or the Ferraris, or several others.

Ferrari 250-GT Berlinetta Lusso cars 1962 wallpaper

 

G_Body_Man
G_Body_Man UltraDork
6/28/18 6:49 p.m.

Small bit of pedantry here, didn't the 2005 Mustang GT have 300 horsepower from a 3v 4.6 V8?

te72
te72 Reader
6/28/18 9:07 p.m.

In reply to G_Body_Man :

This sounds right to my memory as well. Couple numerical issues I noticed. The Supra was quoted as having 300hp from 3.0 liters, when in US spec, it had 320hp, and I suspect that might have been a bit underrated myself.

 

Another numerical error was in the same comparison, the STI was quoted as being a 2.0 liter. In Japan and other markets, this might have been true, but here in the US, we got a 2.5L, which, while it did deliver decent power, it has a fun habit of puking rod bearings and head gaskets from everything I've seen. It's almost like the good old days of "if your DSM isn't broke, you are" haha.

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
6/29/18 7:10 a.m.
Keith Tanner said:
aircooled said:
irish44j said:

I looooove old Z cars, but I'd have to argue the "cutting edge style" of the 240Z. It is a beautiful car, but most of the style features were essentially derivative of the (greatly inferior overall) Triumph GT6, which had existed for several years already....raised fenders and inset headlights, hood bulge, hump over the rear fender, and the general proportions. Granted the Z substantially modernized the overall look, but the design was more evolutionary than cutting edge, I'd say. YMMV.

Sadly, the GT6 was such a mediocre car in every category other than looks, most people pretty much just forgot about it lol...

Image result for 1970 triumph gt6

You mean the car that was clearly derivative of the Ferrari 250 GTO?  cheeky

 

If you're going to be derivative, that's a pretty good choice.

Clearly a Shelby Daytona derivative.

 

 

Kreb
Kreb UberDork
6/29/18 9:06 a.m.

About the "derivative" theme, car design doesn't follow an orderly path where Ferrari makes a car, then Ford says "Hmm now how am I going to react to that". Projects are done in parallel, designers quit, projects get shelved, et cetera. If you didn't have an eye for detail, you could say that all mid-engined supercars look the same, or hot-hatches, or muscle-cars.... 

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 UltimaDork
6/29/18 9:53 a.m.
Joe Gearin said:

In reply to irish44j :

This was an older article.   We've been posting past editorial up on the website.  We have over 30 years of material to choose from, so you'll be getting deja-vu occasionally.  

So basically, we're getting summer re-runs?

 

 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
6/29/18 11:15 a.m.
Kreb said:

About the "derivative" theme, car design doesn't follow an orderly path where Ferrari makes a car, then Ford says "Hmm now how am I going to react to that". Projects are done in parallel, designers quit, projects get shelved, et cetera. If you didn't have an eye for detail, you could say that all mid-engined supercars look the same, or hot-hatches, or muscle-cars.... 

Iirc, the roofline on the Z is aaaaawfully close to that of the 250 GTO. It's possible that it's a little more than convergent evolution in this particular case. 

The Daytona Coupe, not so much. There are some styling elements and a rough silhouette in common but that's about it. 

racerdave600
racerdave600 UltraDork
6/29/18 11:28 a.m.
parker said:
racerdave600 said:
jj said:
mikell17 said:

Too bad the BRZ and FR-S are selling horribly.  I thought more people would've jumped on these.  I bet they would if they had a decent amount of horsepower.  They're great taking turns but not so much light to light. 

I agree with you.  I test drove them twice when I was in the market.  The midrange was absolutely dead, and I couldn't live with it day to day.  

I bought one new, this was exactly my issue, along with a few others.  Every mom in her minivan could leave you dead at a light.  I'm sure on track or at an autocross it was a joy, but day to day living I really didn't enjoy it.  If I were back in my 20's again, I'm sure I would have had a different opinion however.

You do know they rev to over 7k RPM right?  I have never had a mom in a minivan leave me at a light.  The twins are as fast as an MR2 turbo or an old school musclecar.  You just have wind them out.  

 

Well aware, and used to own a MR2 Turbo.  There is no comparison, the MR2 would walk away from the BRZ on torque alone.  By comparison:

Honda Odyssey

0-30 2.6 sec

0-30  6.6

BRZ

0-30  3.3 sec

0-30 6.5 sec

It's going to take you a while to catch and pass it after being almost a second behind at 30.  

FSP_ZX2
FSP_ZX2 Dork
6/29/18 1:58 p.m.

 The '78 RX-7 and the '83 944 are the two obvious omissions in my mind.

 

 

Team_Blitz
Team_Blitz New Reader
6/30/18 12:24 p.m.

A monumentally influential car, the Ford Capri mk1 (1969-74), should be on this list. It was a massive and reasonably-priced seller (the #2 top selling BRAND! of foreign car in 1973, only VW sold more imports than L-M selling the Ford Capri in North America that model year). It was a dominant racing car - even if Ford didn't push that in the USA/Canada after ending the Total Performance program - winning class at LeMans and 10th overall in 1972, the ETCC in 1971 and 1972, and the Tour de France in class 1972 and 3rd overall (just a handful of examples). It had hearty engine choices like the I-4 OHC 2.0L Pinto motor and V6 Colognes. MacStrut front, Rack & Pinion, power front DB, Radial tires standard, full instrumentation, 4-speed, bucket seats standard - these were bleeding edge equipment in its price niche. Light, tossable, highly favorable contemporary reviews.

dculberson
dculberson UltimaDork
6/30/18 12:38 p.m.

Guys this isn’t intended to be an exhaustive list. It doesn’t say “the only 12 cars that..” it says “12 cars that..”

PT_SHO
PT_SHO New Reader
6/30/18 1:08 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

I haven't looked up sales figures, but there are 4 autocross classes (SCCA) that the twins either dominate or are competitive in, this is within sight of what the Miata/MX-5 has done and in a lot shorter period.  I'm not sure what GRM/CM used as criteria for influential.  I'd guess it involves journalistic consensus and awards, sales, aftermarket, and staying power.  The twins are pretty solid there.  It remains to be seen if they will really last - first sales here were 2013 but the real update isn't coming until maybe 2021.

Oh, and a comment to GRM - your reprint/retread articles have until now stated their initial publication date in the header.  Can you go back to including that please?

wspohn
wspohn Dork
6/30/18 1:41 p.m.

I count at most 4 sports cars in your article.

You have a very liberal definition fo the term 'sports car' if you think that a bunch of sedans merit inclusion.

ROARRR
ROARRR New Reader
7/11/18 11:42 a.m.

The SCCA has been the standard of motorsport for several decades, they have had classes for sedans separate from sports and GT's pretty much forever, Jaguar raced the 120's AND the MK-VII saloons -which weren't considered sports cars but saloons/sedans! YES, modern technology has enabled almost anything to accelerate and pull big G's but a family sedan is still that!

 

mad_machine
mad_machine MegaDork
7/11/18 1:52 p.m.

I am surprised the X 1/9 did not make the cut. This was the cheap mid-engined sports car that was the template for the MR2, Scorpion, Fiero, and Elise to follow

Our Preferred Partners
RDCTI29QC79vGAEHEO1I7kI0HSTzILHIv2f144pR6t737irSjcP7miO8xXIA71NR