Jay Leno tests drives the 2017 Acura NSX which he loves. He talks about the original NSX which he says was the original Japanese supercar, and made the Italians up their game. Now we have the new NSX and Leno gets to have some fun with it.
The styling and performance of American cars have always historically reflected the feelings of the times that they were made in. Just like the land yachts of the 1950s with their elevated tail fins were a symbol of post-WWII prosperity, the powerful muscle cars of the 1960s illustrated the fascination America was developing with pure performance and speed. Courtesy of , we survey some examples American Sports cars that perfectly represented the feelings of the times.
The brainchild of race car driver Carroll Shelby, the Cobra was born when he arranged a deal to stuff various Ford V-8 engines into British AC lightweight roadsters. The 427 Cobra, built from 1965 to 1967 with Ford’s big block 427 V-8, was Shelby’s tour-de-force with flared fenders, massive leg pipes, and insanely high horsepower. While it wasn’t a financial success in its day, the Cobra was a powerful, brute force sportscar that set the bar for raw performance during its day.
The Roadrunner Superbird was built by Plymouth for one reason, to compete at the 1970 NASCAR series. While its pointed beak and large rear wing made a difference on the track, its looks were considered goofy by the average car buyer and it didn’t sell very well. However, driven by Richard Petty at the 1970 NASCAR series, the car won many races and firmly established Plymouth as a manufacturer of serious racecars.
Located in Cornona California, Saleen is a custom car manufacturer that build its reputation on tuning and supercharging Mustangs. After a few decades of hoping up Mustangs, they built the S7 in 2000. The car’s unique hand-built chassis and 7.0 liter Ford V8 mounted amidships made the S7 a true world-class supercar. The first 550 HP version could accelerate from zero-to-60 in the low-three second range and successfully competed in the prestigious 12 Hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Le Mans races. Production of the Saleen ended in 2009, but with a top speed of 248 miles per hour, the S7 is still one of the first American supercars that could to go toe-to-toe with the finest international exotics.
The original Ford GT40 has some significant automotive history behind it. As the story goes, Henry Ford II wanted to see some Ford machinery compete in the world famous Lemans races during the 1960s. Knowing that Ferrari consistently won Lemans, Henry approached Enzo Ferrari to develop a chassis for his effort. Negotiations did not go well, and Henry decided he would build his own world class race car from the ground up. The result was the original GT-40 and it soon became famous by winning the 1966 Lemans in the first three places (1-2-3). Fast forward 40 years and Ford released the GT, a modern incarnation of Ford’s iconic GT40 racer. The 21st century GT was powered by a 5.4 liter supercharged V8 and rocketed from zero-to-60 in the mid-three second range.
In 2005, the Bugatti Veyron transformed the super car landscape by becoming the fastest and most powerful car ever built. Refusing to be in second place, Texas-based Hennessey Performance Engineering unleashed the 270 mile per hour Venom GT. Following the same basic blueprint set by Carroll Shelby with his Cobra, the Venom GT starts with a lightweight body and chassis from Lotus and crams a 7.2 liter Chevrolet American V8 offering 1244 horsepower behind the seats. Hennessey plans to produce only 10 of the $1 million cars a year, making the Venom GT one of the rarest super cars in the world.
The DeLorean DMC-12 was made famous by the 1985 Bob Zemeckis movie: Back to the Future. In the movie, the car is turned into a time machine by one of the main film characters, Dr. Emmett Brown, and it plays a central role in the film. Besides the starring role in Back to the Future, few know that there is a fascinating history behind the Delorean DMC-12 and, as you might imagine, it revolves around its creator: John Z. DeLorean. Here’s the story:
John Z. DeLorean was born in 1925 in Detroit. As a young man, DeLorean was mechanically talented and tinkered with just about everything he could get his hands on. After high school he attended the Lawrence Institute of Technology and eventually earned a master's in engineering from the Chrysler Institute. After graduation, he worked for Packard for a while but soon left to go to work for General Motors. It didn’t take long before Delorean was thriving at GM and was quickly moving up the corporate ladder.
But, things weren’t so good at the top for Delorean. Part of the reason is that the 1970s were difficult times in Detroit. DeLorean in his autobiography, DeLorean, wrote that the ethical and business problems he had with General Motors and the way they did business had become so substantial, that he simply wanted out. Truth be told, this allowed him to become a well-paid independent consultant whereby he could make a lot of money which allowed him to raise funds build his own dream car.
In 1974, in pursuit of his dream car company, DeLorean founded Composite Technology Corporation (CTC) CTC was specifically developed to research and develop new, cutting-edge automotive construction materials. Many of these were based on projects of DeLorean’s at GM and involved exotic composite materials and construction techniques.
Then in 1975, DeLorean founded The Delorean Motor Car (DMC) to build his first dream car, the DMC-12. To make his DMC-12 cars DeLorean chose Northern Ireland to build his factory. The factory's formal opening was in 1981. As the story goes, the first 70-80 cars to roll off the assembly line were so bad they were parked, unfinished, along the factory's fence for weeks while rework procedures were worked out. In fact, still plagued with quality problems, DeLorean had to set up facilities on the East and West Coasts of the U.S. just to fix completed cars before they could be delivered to dealers.
Despite the setbacks, though, the DMC-12 was a major hit and there were orders for thousands of them. DeLorean soon tried to ramp production up to 14,700 a year to meet demand but cash flow problems developed. Then in 1982, John Z. pursued “questionable sources of funds” to keep his company afloat and ended up in a dramatic DEA cocaine bust that became a world-wide news event. By 1984, he was found not guilty of all counts against him, but his car company was gone by then.
For all the car collectors out there, the DeLorean Motorcar legend is being kept alive by the DeLorean Motor Company in Humble, Texas. They purchased the DeLorean trademark and most of the original parts left behind when the original company collapsed. Today, you can buy fully remanufactured DeLorean automobiles and maintenance parts from them.
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Like any or list – greatest songs, Ashton Kutchers worst rom-com, most delightful hamburger combination – there is always, without a doubt, a hot debate over the dinner table which usually results in someone with a sausage and a spoonful of potato mash in the face. There is one debate that has been raging on for years and probably will for years to come: The top five stylish rides. We don’t care about the performance or the power, this is all about cars that are dripping in cool factor. Rides that make you want to don your finest suit and tie. Ones that make you want to roll down the windows are glare at the common folk. And in return they’d think, wow that guy is a douche. We are talking cars that, as Top Gears James May Esq would say, make you all a bit fizzy. So without further a-do here is our pick for the top five stylish rides.
Can’t think of a better way to spend that $4 million you’ve got stashed in your secret underground ? Yeah? Me either. Might as well spend it on that dream you’ve always had to own a 1964 Aston Martin DB5 – the quintessential ride for any would-be James Bond. Use your newly acquired suit and tie to re-create one of the most legendary images in cinematic history - Sean Connery resting on the side of the the bonnet; your smouldering gaze not giving away a single emotion. Of course, on the inside you’re absolutely giddy!
Taking a stroll through the cobble-stoned alleyways just ain’t what it used to be. The young’uns have no respect for your good ol’ fashioned monocle and pipe. How uncouth! Show them how common they are with a 1932 Bugatti Royale. Those darn kids won’t be taking up your cobblestones anymore, this twenty one foot beast is big enough to force them off the roads.
Ok, so we had to add a vehicle to this list that was actually attainable – to some degree (I don’t know your fiscal situation.) This bad boy is hot off the press, and by press I mean manufacturers line. It asserts itself as the most dynamic model built by Jaguar. It’s set to be released for the showrooms early 2015, so you’ve got plenty of time to scrap together your pennies and put a deposit on Jaguars new bloodline, otherwise you can get your heart racing and at any dealer.
Ferrari La Ferrari may not get the award for most creative model name (Italian for The Ferrari) but what it lacks in name, it makes up for in sheer style. While we didn’t want to discuss power or performance, you can’t ever prepare yourself for feeling when you hit the defibrillator on this bad boy and boost yourself up to 950 horse power. Once again, I have to disappoint, Ferrari is only handing out these vehicles to the rich and elite. However, a casual scroll through Dubai Craiglist and you might pick yourself up a second hand one.
Perfect for cruising around the cliffs in the countryside, the Mercedes 300SL Gullwing is by far the sexiest and most stylish coupe ever. If ever you wanted to make the ladies swoon, this is the car to do it in. So what if the brakes are poor, or the chassis is unstable. That doesn’t matter when you are driving the first car to ever receive gullwing doors.