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Sports Cars - The Definitive Discussion



  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    Well, it's nice to see that at least somebody knows what to do with that 602 hoprsepower 12 liter AMG monster. And a real six speed no less. ;)

    Thanks for the highly entertaining link. Doesn't tempt me to trade in the 911 (where would the little ones sit?), but certainly has me thinking that I need to take one of those performance driving courses. :)
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,403
    Thanks for that Merc, the Zonda is pretty awesome. When I first saw it I thought it was ugly but then I read about the lengths to which Pagani had gone to make it a great driving car. The bubble canopy gives it the best outward visibility of any mid-engined car (as well as the look of a jet fighter).

    Did anyone notice the high rank of the Ariel Atom in the track times at the end of that clip?
    It's different kind of sports car>>


    Ariel Atom story
  • carlisimocarlisimo Posts: 1,280
    I feel a little out of place among all the Porsche and Ferrari talk. I can only try to get there someday. For now though, I'm in the sports car thread asking people to talk about the cheap ones...

    I won't count the sport coupes, but the line's sometimes unclear. Among what I think are sports cars... the Miata, MR2, MR-S, and Solstice seem to be all there is on the bottom rung. The 350z and RX-8 start in that price range too, and used ones are as affordable as a new Accord.

    Do any of them manage to be sports cars, despite the cost-related compromises? How low can a "real" sports car go?

    (And why does that Dodge Caravan in the parking lot outside have a "Sport" badge on it? Makes me wonder if there's any point to the "sports car" label at all.)
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,403
    The lighter and simpler a car is the sportier it can be so there is no stigma against cars that are small and cheap or even not particularly fast. One of the sportiest cars I ever drove was the old Bugeye Sprite which retailed for less than $2000 in the early 60s. Options were limited to wire wheels, tonneau cover and an AM radio.

    You could buy lots of go fast stuff from the aftermarket (Weber carbs). The Sprite Mk I was a pure blast to drive with all of 75 horses under the hood.

    IMO the Miata, MR2 and Solstice are not only real sports cars but offer a more pure sports car experience than many more expensive and powerful cars.
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    Everybody's definition of what makes for a desireable sports car for them is a little different. So what might constitute a "real" sports car to you, may not make the cut for me and vice-versa.

    Case in point, the 350Z. I guess I'll reluctantly agree that it's a sports car, since what else would you call it? But it weighs several hundred pounds more than my 1995 Maxima and shares an updated version of the same engine that is tweaked to power everything from a current Maxima to a Pathfinder. Sports car, I guess. "REAL" sports car, not in my book. The old 240Z was truer to the term.

    Back to your question. While I fully agree that a real sports car doesn't necessarily need to be "real fast", when I was shopping back in 2001, I wanted something that was at least fairly competent in all performance categories. The $32k Honda S2000 was my ultimate pick. Not as inexpensive as a Miata or some of the other cars you mentioned, but performance that could match or beat the base Boxster, Z4, SLK and other more expensive cars. Even today, you would need to spend nearly $60k for a Boxster S to have a better performing sports car, IMO. And the S2000 was designed from the ground up and hand built. The build quality, paint finish, etc. were right up there with my current 911.

    I drove my S2000 for 2.5 years, 19,000 miles and got over $23k on a trade-in. Had I wanted to go through the hassle of selling it privately, I probably could have gotten close to $25k for it. In the 2.5 years the grand total maintenance on the car was under $320, including 4 Mobil 1 oil changes. The tires were on there last legs. My point is that the least expensive car to own isn't necessarily the cheapest to buy up front. Anything American is not going to come close to matching Honda resale value.

    Good luck.
  • starrow68starrow68 Posts: 1,142
    The S2000 from what I've seen at the track for a couple years is the best performance choice, where the Miata is the best economic choice. The Miata is fun and quick in stock form but you can reach its limits pretty quick. The S2000 on the other hand is really fast and for experienced drivers it is something that can be tuned to very high performance levels.

    The problem with all of these and the more expensive competition noted is that what fits when you are 20/30 seems very tight when you arrive at 50 and more than 1/2 the baby boom is there. I loved my MGB from 1972 to 1984 when I was about 180 lbs but at 198 all those tight fits just don't work any more. I'll take the compromise and have space for the wife and a couple bags when I'm on track with the 350hp in the Corvette, sportscar enough for me!
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    Hey, watch it, I'm moments away from 50 myself and don't need to be reminded that I've gained more than 18 lbs from my "fighting weight". ;)

    As far as the S2000 goes, it did take me on my annual golf outing for 3 years with a set of clubs, large duffle bag and various other items in the trunk. The mandatory beer cooler went in the passenger seat. I had a friend that had an MGB from 1975-1978 +/- and that was indeed a tiny tiny car in comparison to the 2,800 lb S2000.

    Enjoy the New Year. :)
  • I think the Lotus Elise is a great car but for $40,000 plus??? The new 2007 Ponitac Solstice GXP has a 4 banger also with 260hp, turbo charged engine for less than $24,000! The Elise is only pumping out 190hp!!! I know the Solstice weights about 490 - 500 lbs more but is that enough to warrant a price difference of $16,000 plus???
  • carlisimocarlisimo Posts: 1,280
    If you think it's about the power, then no. The Elise is not worth it for you. To many, the Elise was already an amazing car when it only had 120hp.

    (And the Elise is 500lbs lighter than a Miata. 900lbs less than a Solstice, probably more in the GXP's case.)
  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    Like carlisimo said, the Elise is at least 900 (that's NINE HUNDRED) pounds lighter than the base Solstice. I don't know what a GXP version weighs, but I'd be very surprised if it weighed the same as a base Solstice.

    Now, think about this: extra HP will help you in acceleration and can help overcome the additional weight. But when braking (and turning), what does the Solstice GXP have that can make up for that 900 (that's NINE HUNDRED) pounds of additional mass?

    For perspective, imagine putting a 300 lb offensive lineman in the passenger seat of the solstice and then strapping a fully stocked refrigerator to the deck lid. Now imagine what that does to the handling/braking on a track......

    ps - according to the specs, you also get 0.2 cf more storage space in the Elise... :P
  • starrow68starrow68 Posts: 1,142
    GrassrootsMotorsports has a good comparison to the new MX5 and the prior base Miata that was set up for the track. As they note, it was a surprise, that the Solstice did as well as it did against the new Miata and was the winner in their comparison. However they said the older Miata was the quickest of the bunch on track with a specific set up.

    I think the Elise weight would make it the clear winner also since it is about 10 lbs. /HP which is close to a Corvette vs. the Solstice at 11/12 lbs. That is a huge difference to overcome in performance.
  • I agree with the weight comments above, but would add that if you've seen how the Elise is constructed (aluminum chassis) it's hard to compare it to a Solstice or Miata.

    Much like with bicycles, weight reduction in cars equates to performance, and it gets expensive. So while GM can use a pretty typical unibody-over-shared-chassis design to keep the bean counters happy, they can't really touch the little Lotus' technical prowess.

    The Solstice is a cool little car, but the Elise is more in the low-end exotic category just for its construction. To its credit, the Solstice is also a more "normal" car when it comes to ingress/egress, dealer support, etc.
  • Purchased a new Elise in November. Difficult to enter and exit, but once inside it's well worth the money and the effort. Test drove the new Corvette prior to my purchase.
    The corvette was much more comfortable, but really did
    not enjoy the driving experience as much (perhaps one can really appreciate the power of the Corvette on a racing track). I preferred the feel of the Elise. :D
  • starrow68starrow68 Posts: 1,142
    Interesting comparisons, it's surprising to many how close the Corvette coupe and Elise are on track. The wt/pwr is slight advantage to the Vette and the size/handling is all advantage Elise so they run close, as far as I can tell and then it gets to grip and set up. Track dynamics are next, tight turns and short straights, lots of passing by the Elise, longer straights and fast corners and the Vette shines. I've found several Elise drivers that like dicing with a Vette as much as I like chasing them down. When they run D0T-Rs I have trouble catching some of them. Much more capable than the Boxster S and many of the base 911's.

    Sorry I can't join you in enjoying the experience but at 6' 3" the Elise isn't on my list of things to squeeze into.
  • I'm new to this board so my apologies in advance if this has already been discussed. I usually post on the Subaru boards since I own a WRX and an Outback, but I'm considering a used 2004 Mazdaspeed Miata. I live in the Bay Area and the traffic has been terrible on the Bay Bridge going into SF, so my fiancee and I are considering a 2-seater to be able to use the carpool lane.

    Anyway, one concern I have that people have mentioned to me is "cowl shake". I've never owned a convertible so I don't know much about it at all. How pronounced is this w/ the 2004 Miata & how much of a concern is it? A friend of mine who owned a 2001 Miata said this was a real concern for him so he changed his car to an S2000. Is this something that will compromise safety? Any information would be greatly appreciated.

    I'm also considering a pre-owned '02 or '03 S2000. How would you guys compare an '02 S2000 to the '04 Mazdaspeed Miata? Performance, reliability, safety, comfort, etc. These are the two cars I'm thinking of purchasing, so please fill me in if you've had experience w/ these two cars. Want to know the pros and cons of each car.


  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    I owned a 2002 S2000 for 2.5 years and 19k miles. A good friend owned a late 90's Miata during the same time.

    I cannot comment on the 04 Mazdaspeed Miata, but there really was no comparison between my 2002 S2000 and my friend's Miata. The S2000 was much more powerful, had go cart like handling and steering and had a Ferrari like 9,000 rpm redline. Not to mention that it was built as tight as a drum - every bit as tight as our 2005 911 Cab S. Cowl shake was non existent.

    The Miata was smaller inside, lighter weight, but far more "flexible" evidenced by cowl shake and rattles. The performance was O.K., but comparatively anemic and "loose" if you just came out of the S2000.

    It seems to me unfair to compare the Miata - a low price very nice lightweight fun roadster - to a more serious performance oriented sports car like the S2000. At the time I was shopping the $32k S2000, it beat out the $40k Z3/Z4 3.0 and the $45k base Boxster and SLK 320. You had to go up to the $55k+ Boxster S to match the performance and feel of the S2000.

    In 2.5 years and 19,000 miles, I spent a grand total of $300 on maintenance, including 4 Mobil 1 oil changes. The tires were on their last legs, but it never went into the shop once for a repair. It was probably the best built car I have ever owned.

    Comfort was fine for me and the Recaro seats in the S2000 fit me like a glove. The interior, although spartan of techno do-dads, was clean and attractive. No low slung roadster will fare well in a collision with an SUV, but the structural integrity of the S2000 is best in class.

    Good luck.
  • If you have to ask a question, of is the Elise worth the extra money since it is only xxx pounds lighter, well then you should not even be talking about the Elise becuase you certainly are not interested in a performce car. Weight people, there is no substitute. Light weight costs money, fat is cheap, go hit up a McDonalds if that is what you want. There is no comparison to the Elise. I sold my overweight Fiero (which was about to receive a major steriod injection) becuase you cannot match the low weight for initial performance. There are more turbo kits coming on the market every day. At least 3 quality ones for the Elise currently if you want to up the HP even more.

    Pontiac Fiero - traded in for the Elise

    Lotus Elise
  • One other point on the "Is the Elise Worth the extra bucks" topic. You will never get as many heads turning in a vette or solitice....
  • starrow68starrow68 Posts: 1,142
    "If you have to ask a question, of is the Elise worth the extra money since it is only xxx pounds lighter, well then you should not even be talking about the Elise becuase you certainly are not interested in a performce car."

    Well, you have to ask worth it for whom? Surely not anyone 6' and over, and we do drive on track. The Elise is just not an option. Sure it is light and great handling, I was running with several at Laguna yesterday and one was a lot faster than my street tired Vette coupe, I passed several others so it gets back again to set up and driver. As a guy with a lower HP car said today at Thunderhill Raceway after a ride in the Vette, 'If I had the money, I'd have more HP'. It is fun!
  • elise is not for everyday. You will have to make appointments with chiropracter every week. Especially if you are over 40, think it through carefully before you go for it
This discussion has been closed.