With the invention of the car came the desire for speed. Cars quickly evolved from practical to sporty to satisfy the desires of those that wanted to race.
The first sports cars started to appear at the latter end of the 1940’s. Ferrari, Lotus, Jaguar and Porsche all had sporting road car designs. When you think of today’s supercars you think of sleek design, high speed, high power and even higher price tags and the sports cars of the 1940’s were the first steps towards today’s technological wonders.
Throughout the 1950’s and early 1960’s sports car performance progressed. 1954 saw the arrival of the Meredes 300 SL Gullwing – the first road car to top 150mph. It was capable of a top speed of 165mph and is now considered to be one of the all time classic road cars.
The Gullwing was first shown at the 1954 New York Motor Show and it wowed the public. It has distinctive ‘gull wing’ doors and was made from a lightweight aluminium body. The Gullwing had a 3 litre engine and 240bhp, and in its day was the fastest production car available.
1400 Gullwings were built between 1954 and 1957. The design was superceded by the open Roadster.
It was Ford that created what many people believe to be the first supercar. Their GT40 made its debut at the Nurburgring in 1964 but it wasn’t until 1966 that Ford took their place in American racing history by finishing Le Mans in the top three positions, beating Ferrari. The GT40 has now won more prestigious races than any other road racing car in history.
The Lamborghini Miura made supercar history because it was the first production car to feature a mid-mounted engine (normally only seen on F1 cars). It looked radically different to any road car that had come before. The Miura was unveiled to the world in 1965 at the Turin Auto Show by Ferrucio Lamborghini himself and was named after Spanish fighting bulls due to the aggressive body styling.
In terms of pure speed, after the 150mph title was claimed, 200 mph was the next great speed barrier to try for. The prize for that went to the Ferrari F40 – the last car commissioned by Enzo Ferrari and revealed on Ferrari’s 40th birthday.
The F40 was available between 1987 and 1992. Its top speed was 201mph and it managed 0-60mph in 3.9 seconds.
The F40 is rated by many as the greatest supercar of all
The price of an F40 reached in excess of half a million pounds during the late 1980’s and even now is holding its price well.
The SSC Ultimate Aero TT (made by Shelby Supercars) is the world’s fastest production car to date with a top speed of 257mph. The Guinness World record run clocked the car in at 255.8mph. The 2009 version can reach speeds of 270mph and is reported to accelerate from 0-60mph in 2.7 seconds!
Modern technology has allowed the creation of some amazing cars. They have come a long way but are not yet at the peak of design so it remains to be seen what the cars of the future wow us with.