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Sports Cars - The Definitive Discussion



  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    Again, that's just numbers on paper. When you drive real cars there are all kinds of other considerations. In the same way that an Elise may not be as "good as" a Corvette in certain areas (let's say comfort or reliability), so too the Corvette may not be as good as the Boxster S.

    Corvette has at least 3 things that will keep it uninteresting to Ferrari or Porsche owners: 1) it is made of fiberglass 2) it is a Chevrolet and 3) it has no record in international racing, only domestic. And while GM can't really do much about the first two---it could compete internationally however I think, since they finallly have a car that is competitive. Prior to that, Corvettes did not have the endurance for European racing. Basicallyl they blew up before 24 hours or fried their brakes or some such.

    To YOU (or me perhaps), no big deal these 3 things--I shop bargains, not snobbery--, but to buyers with deep pockets, those are significant things that affect their buying decisions.

    Add to those 3 above the issues of build quality or size or interior or styling or exclusivity, and you have a complex set of circumstances that determine who buys what.

    Last of all, these various cars have amazingly different personalities. A Corvette is NOTHING like a Porsche which is NOTHING like a Ferrari. It's not like we are jumping from Toyota to Nissan to Honda, where you can hardly tell the difference in how they drive or sound or even look.

    So you'd expect wild variations in buyer preferences. You like redheads, I like blondes, like that......

    Case in point: The Porsche I drive, a 928, is much like a Corvette in drivetrain, sound and size---and most Porsche buyers hated it.


  • xkssxkss Posts: 722
    1) Fiberglass weighs less than metals and is more resistant to dents.

    2) Not to be rude, but do you have facts to support your assumption that Ferrari and Porsche owners won't consider the 2006 Corvette Z06?

    3) Has no record in international racing? The Corvette doesn't have the racing heritage of a 911, but Porsche doesn't back the new 997 in racing.

    The following is from

    "[On July 10th, 1994] At the four-hour endurance GT Championship race at Vallelunga, Italy, A Callaway SuperNatural Corvette LM driven by Andreas Fuchs and Enrico Bertaggia finishes first in GT-2 class and second overall, behind a Ferrari F40."

    Two Corvette C5-Rs went 1-2 in the GTS class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2001, 2002 and again in 2004.

    Porsche has had a few RMS leaks (rear main seal) in its new 2005 911. The previous 996 suffered from them too along with the previous Boxster which first came out in 1997!

    I'm sorry to say it, but Porsche sold out when they made the Cayenne. Anyone with a driver's license can drive a 996 Turbo with an automatic transmission. The 911 Turbo used to be the wild 911, but is it with an automatic transmission?

    Not to be rude, but have you driven the 2006 Corvette Z06?
  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    1. I believe that shifty was talking about the Corvette from a historical perspective. Which is why, when he talked about competition in international racing, he said that "they finally have a car that is competitive."

    2. Check historical records for international racing for the Porsche vs. the Corvette. Yes, the current Corvette does the job but HISTORICALLY, you simply can't compare them. Does this impact the current performance of the two cars? Not a bit.

    3. As far as I know, no one here (unless we've got some Chevy engineers/test drivers lurking) has driven an '06 Z06. Have you?

    4. I'm not sure why this has turned into a Porsche vs. Corvette pissing match. They are both sports cars and I'm fairly certain that no one here has tried to say the Corvette is anything but. Do Corvettes go like stink? Yes. Do they offer in many ways better performance for less money than Porsches? Yes. Does this mean that one would have to be an poseur to buy a Porsche? No. All that is being said is that they drive differently and appeal to different types of drivers. If you want to take offense at that observation, well, sorry..
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129

    This "purist" notion of a sports car is funny. It’s like a bull-riding rodeo cowboy criticizing people who own and ride horses, or a Cigarette racer criticizing those who sail.

    None of us will be playing at Augusta National this weekend. I guess anyone else who swings a golf club is not a golfer. Elise, Boxster, Corvette, 911 and Ferrari owners are all 10-15-20-handicap golfers.

    As far as this Vette/Boxster thing, there is a reason why 5 out of 9 R&T editors chose the Boxster over nine other sports cars as their favorite, and it’s the same reason why you prefer wearing bluejeans.

    See it as you care to. As far as I am concerned a Miata is a sports car and I’m not ready to stop going to the gym because I am not Michael Jordan.
  • starrow68starrow68 Posts: 1,142
    Guess that's why I'm satisfied with the Corvette. I don't have any history in performance cars and a dozen years in an MG was fun but never gave me the illusion that it was anything but cheap fun. Then again I have always tried to get value when I expend hard earned $'s and don't understand most impulse buyers, I'm still a wage slave like the vast majority, so I have limits on what I can do. But with the kid out of college the Corvette seemed tame, $ wise, compared to the XK8 that I was thinking about, just glad I didn't go that route ;). I agree with designman in that we are all wannabe's in a world that only hears about world class.
    As for the Porsche thing with Vettes I'll defer to a buddy that used to race them, be a PCA instructor and has owned several performance ones, currently has a TT, in that he noted that he is a porcupine. Seems to be a Porsche inside joke. That leads me to believe that even in the Porsche camp there is some difference in attitude. That may be why it got to be so much fun passing Porsche's when I go to the track, some take it so badly. OTOH I've given rides to some Porsche drivers to discuss line and taken rides from others as well. Hey, people are different!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    I don't think anyone said that a Corvette wasn't a sports car, did they? I sure didn't.

    I think we were talking about why Porsche and Ferrari owners don't want Corvettes as a rule, and our general topic of conversation was preferences among sportscars and why there are preferences.

    We spoke of performance, history, style, heritage, prestige, resale value, "feel" of the car and exclusivity as all being factors in a buying decision, not just 0-60 and skidpad numbers.

    These are REAL THINGS, not "snobbery" or whatever. These are tangibles and people pull out their checkbooks for them.

    If people just bought numbers, the fastest car would always sell the best, but it doesn't.

    RE: Racing History

    Yes historically is the fairest way to factor the current impact of Corvette's past international racing history, because history is one of the reasons people buy Ferraris and Porsches. Couple wins here and there doesn't equal 60 years -----60 YEARS! of international victories!

    And even IF Corvette were to start winning really serious international races quite regularly, they'd pull out as soon as they won. American car companies never stick it out through thick and thin in racing, which is another reason people buy the heritage of Porsche and Ferrari. The cars are "winners" and everybody wants a winner, right? Americans race for marketing, Europeans race for love, is what I think anyway (not the drivers, I mean the factories).

    As for the fiberglass issue, people spending $100K and up want real metal. It's not a criticism of fiberglass, it's just making a point about why some people prefer Ferraris and Porsches to Corvettes. Maybe they are DUMB for wanting metal, I don't know.

    Aluminum siding is also a LOT better than redwood for old houses, but.....

    Last of all, being on a track is only one place a sportscar does its job...the sportscars we drive off showroom floors have to live in a variety of environments, and track work, while important, is only one of many levels of achievement a true sports car should be tested on.

    I don't want to get into where Corvette falls down but it isn't a perfect car and we all know that---nor is any car perfect.

    So we look at the whole picture and different buyers find different areas of importance to them.


  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    "Aluminum siding is also a LOT better than redwood for old houses, but..... "

    oh, that was just brutal.... :D
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    Now now that wasn't my intention....I was only pointing out that not every buying decision is fact I wonder if with sports cars ANY buying decision is rational....

    I remember one guy driving me around in Car X and his head was like scrunched up against the sunroof (I TOLD him not to buy one with a sunroof) and I commented on how uncomfortable that must be for him, and he downshifted, punched the gas and said "Yeah, but....."


  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    ...sounded like you were making a left handed comparison of Corvettes to aluminum siding. You know, redwood has so much more "history, style, heritage, prestige, resale value, "feel".....and exclusivity".

    I was kinda kidding with my last post, but the more I think about, the more I can see GM fans drawing that conclusion.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    I was only comparing the benefits of fiberglass vs. metal and the benefits of aluminum siding vs. redwood---because somebody else was saying that glass might be a selling point for a car, not a turnoff.

    Metal is traditional for a car and Wood is traditional for a house, yes?

    If you deviate from tradition you are going to a) attract people who like new materials and b) turn off people who like traditional materials. The B people don't CARE about wood rot and re-painting and all the rest. They WANT WOOD.

    So in other words, materials have aesthetics attached to them. They aren't neutral. And they have value judgements attached to them, right or wrong.

    Forget this kind of thing and you can go broke in the auto business.


  • starrow68starrow68 Posts: 1,142
    Your intangibles are great but if that is why someone spends $75k instead of $50k and I still have that in the bank and they have less performance, I'll take the numbers. As to Corvette having issues, no doubt. Drive even a Z51 performance suspension on the track and then ride in a Dinan M3 and you wonder what got left out. I hear your input but for me it doesn't make much sense because that isn't the way I think about things.
    And then on going to the track, I really am amazed at how many people I run into that are really shocked that anyone would take an expensive car out and put it and yourself at what they see as excessive risk. Something that you either have a passion for or for most can't understand. Makes the world go around, I suppose.
    :) Enjoy what you drive, I'm smiling!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    I was looking on other message boards (some run by well-known car magazines) and PLENTY of people are talking about this very thing----"glass" vs. "metal" and should I or shouldn't I?

    So it looks like people do think about this when purchasing a car. I can't direct you because they are competing forums but generally the vote is split. Some do remind everyone that the C5 and newer cars are really composites, not fiberglass per se.

    Also I didn't know that the Maybach is carbon fiber body. That is pretty radical.

    The reason people spend 20K more even though they don't get better numbers than a Vette is because they get an entirely diffrent experience. It's a whole other movie. Driving a Vette/Porsche/Viper/Ferrari are all radically different experiences.

    So if you want the Ferrari "feel", the Porsche ain't gonna cut it for you, or you want all that American V-8 stuff, a Honda S2000 is not going to work for you.

    Ferraris are really exciting to drive, there's no explaining it. They feel like outer space cars or something, alien technology....soooooo different from other cars.

    So that' s what gets people to fork up big bucks I think.

    I'm really glad that different sports cars feel so different from one another. Unlike passenger cars, there is great individuality in today's sports cars.


  • Do most people care what their car is made from? Corvettes are fiberglass but weigh about the same as a 997. Audi A8's are a aluminium as are Aston Martins and offer no significant weight advantages over their rivals. Isn't the Carrera GT made from carbon fiber? Again, I believe it weighs about the same as a 997 (little faster though). Why do I have a 997? The same reason I own a $9000.00 lawn tractor, a $1500.00 espresso maker and a $6000.00 TV. I'm nuts!! Honestly, If you crave quality, attention to detail, exclusivity (ok, snobbery) along with the fact that the Porsche 997 has been called by one auto mag "the best all around sports car in the world for less than 100K" those are the reasons why people buy 'em. it has nothing to do with the Corvette. Porsche buyers don't consider Corvette's for purchase and the opposite is true as well.

    It's comparing apples and potatoes. You can pick which is which :-)
  • To take a different path, I'm going to refer to some vehicles I've driven that have fallen into the category of "sports car." I'm sure it's no surprise that it's not only the Germans and Italians who've been getting good at this sports car thing.

    Let's not forget Honda. That special little car company that has been quietly breaking new ground in the automotive industry for the better part of the last 17 years. Even though there are only 2 valid entries into the sports car club, the NSX and S2000 each defined the term "sports car" to a tee while maintaining an impressive record of reliability when compared to other sports cars. I've driven each around Willow Springs, and they both prompt huge smiles.

    The S2K in the turns is magical. I found the nature of the stock tires on the 2002 model lacking in balance. They made the car too on/off in nature when switching from understeer to oversteer. A simple switch to SP Sport 9000s cut about 3 seconds off of my time and the 9000RPM limit was being hit more than a heavyweight boxer.

    As for the NSX, I couldn't find a better ride/handling trade off anywhere. And I've driven most sports cars. Factoring that in with communicative steering, lightweight aluminum construction (production car first!) and a VTEC screamer under the hood and a sweet transmission, and I think you have the makings of a truly progressive sports car builder.

    And unless you've been hiding under a rock in recent years, Honda has been the primary vehicle provider of the sport compact scene. I've rarely seen a more devout following. These kids are getting higher specific outputs from these already wonderful engines than a lot of our coveted automakers. Who's to say that some high school student's 1991CRX is any less a sports car than the new Vette or 997? As mentioned earlier in this forum, a key ingredient to a sports car is the smile on the driver's face. These kids drive their cars daily and tear them up on the weekends because they love the way their vehicles drive. It's all about the drive for them.

    That's what sports cars are all about.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    Can't accept that last definition, as much as it does speak of brotherhood and good will. If you allow that a sportscar is whatever makes someone smile, then a Checker Cab with a Flowmaster and Koni shocks is a sports car to someone, and you are once again in "meaningless land". That's the rub. Your intentions are good but you render the word "sportscar" worthless by making it wayyyyy too broad.

    A CRX is a two door sedan, or to be kinder, a "sporty" coupe. That differentiates it from true pure sports cars like the S2000 or the NSX, which are both great sports cars but really lousy for groceries, kids and toting two mountain bikes.

    Thank heaven.

    It is the very "narrowness" of purpose that helps to define any car more clearly.


  • I apologize for not being more clear in my previous post. Please don't think that the weekend racers I was referring to are out there modifying Chevy Astros, Crown Vics and Checker Cabs. They're starting out with some good cars as foundations, and modifying them to the point that they become sports cars. Now, maybe that's not what the intention was when the vehicle left the assembly line, but that's what the car is to that particular person.

    Here's what I've come to understand looking at the automotive world in a holistic fashion. Cars intended for sporty driving by having handling biased suspension designs, low drag coefficients and optimal weight/power ratios are sports cars by definition. This fact does not exclude cars that were initially built and designed with more plebeian intentions, and later modified to include the aforementioned criteria. Even though I was using the CRX as an example, who's to say that a 2-door sedan can't be a sports car? I've seen BMW M3s tear it up at the racetrack and the autocross. Through the streets of Willow Springs in 2001, the Acura Integra Type R maintained a higher cornering speed than your aforementioned Porsches and Vettes. That Acura is about as 2-door sedan as you get. Front wheel drive, even!

    The point is that there is no set definition of what a sports car is. It may behoove you to try to let go of your preset terms of what a sports car is. Even though two seat, two door sports cars are still being produced every day, they themselves don't define the genre. They're just the best of the breed, and rightfully so.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    What a car looks like is as much a part of the definition as what it does I think. A Type R is certainly very competent but it looks no different than a commuter car variant Integra. By your standards, if I post great numbers in my modified Checker Cab and beat a Miata on the track, then I have a sports car....but really you don't believe that, right?


  • starrow68starrow68 Posts: 1,142
    I'd have to agree that many modified small coupes do very well vs. their power to weight competition. A good driver in one will often pass 'better' cars when the driver of the Vette, Boxster, 911, etc., is new to the track. But another day with NASA at Sears Point and I can tell you that even with modest skill, nobody in any coupes were passing the leaders of the pack. A G35 got out in the lead in the cold pit line up but was passed by the two Z06's, one with Hoosiers that had passed me in lap 2 when I was passing the G35, well driven but just too big to be agile. About 6 laps in I was catching and passing the back of the pack which the Z06's had made much shorter work of. When the drivers are close, the sports cars on track really do show their stuff. That doesn't mean that the modded coupes weren't generating smiles, but I doubt they were bigger than mine. :)
    As to the comment about Porsche drivers don't look at Corvettes, the Z06 seems to have changed that some, based on some Z06 drivers I've come across. Interesting to see how few will be able to afford to track the new '06 Z06!
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    There is considerable interest in the new Z06 among Porschephiles. It frequently comes up on the enthusiast sites. But in general the Corvette goes against the nature of the Porsche lover. Hey, things change and not every Porsche aficionado is happy with their MO these days what with looming RMS problems, broken half shaft problems and having to spend over 100 grand to get the died-and-went-to-heaven dry sump that used to come standard on Carreras.

    Porsche culture is a scream. It's not one culture, rather a bunch of subcultures under one roof. As far as I can see, each platform has its own subculture and they sometimes are at each other's throats. Being a 911 owner is not enough to define your breed. Also, I know of a 964 owner who accused cappuccino-swilling Boxster owners of single-handedly ruining Porsche. Man, that's funny. Thank goodness for humor, but now I have an identity crisis every time I go to the coffee bar at Barnes and Noble.

    I think the media has to be more stringent with the definition of car segments because you can't be comparing a Miata to an SL. However my opinion is much looser with defining a sports car. You have to look at the element of SPORT which spans a spectrum of criteria. Karl Malone started playing basketball with a milk crate nailed to a tree. A young Sammy Sosa cobbled baseball gloves using paper cups. The purity of sport is quite evident at the grass roots level. Accordingly I accept CRX tuners and sport sedans into the sports car club. If you have to draw lines, fine, but I fail to see much significance.

    As ultimatedriver mentioned, the vehicles that are honed for higher levels of competition are merely the best of the breed and are conventionally categorized as sports cars. However, a little league baseball game is no less sport than late October at Fenway Park.

    By the way I have read that the new Z06 will be around $63K. However, a Vette-owning friend of mine who knows people who claim to know, says it will be around $75K. Any further knowledge of price?

    Also Car & Driver says… get this… that Cayman, the imminent Boxster coupe, will be positioned between the Carrera and Carrera S at around $75K. Something doesn't add up. One of three things could be happening here:

    1 - C&D is mistaken
    2 - Porsche is laying a big surprise on us
    3 - Porsche is out of their minds because C&D also says Cayman will come with the 3.4 liter 291 hp engine.

    Now, is the SL is a sports car? That baby is more than a ton heavier than Elise. Where does Mercedes fit in here? Boggles my mind how the SLK350 has a stick but not the SLK55.

    Starrow, I can see you really love your car. Seems like a perfect match. That's the way it should be.
This discussion has been closed.