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Sports Cars - The Definitive Discussion



  • You guys are trying to compare a sledgehammer to a scalpel.

    The fact that GM needs 7 liters of displacement to get 500 hp is not something I find impressive and certainly wouldn't brag about. Hand Ferrari 7 liters and they would be pushing 800 horsepower. Hand Honda's S2000 engineers 7 liters and they would be at 840 horsepower. Even the new BMW M5 I am eyeballing achieves 500 horsepower in less than 5 liters.

    GM's approach has remained fairly true to the muscle car approach from the 60's, wrapped in different sheet metal. To each there own. The contractor that built my house is about 6'2" and 275 lbs and absolutely loves his Corvette Z06. On the weekends, he competes in armwrestling events. My orthopedic surgeon drives a Ferrari 360. He is 6', 175 lbs and just ran the Boston Marathon in 3:15 at the age of 54.

    Anyone that seriously cross shopped the Ferrari 430 with a Corvette Z06 should be medicated for bipolar disorder.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    Eh, big deal. Cars that depend on revs to achieve hp do not make good street cars. And the closer you get to F1-type performance, the more disposable a car is. Ferraris are disposable. Kiss your money goodbye and light a cigar with a flaming hundred dollar bill just to remind yourself what you are doing. You can drive a Porsche cross country and love every minute of it. Not so with the screamers.

    Unless you track your car the engine should have equanimity or else it’s just going to wear you out IMO. That’s the biggest problem with the S2000. Too noisy plus it’s anemic at stoplights, highway entrances and hills. It’s a gas to drive but it has the demeanor of a 2-year old child who can’t sleep at 2AM. Porsches are decathletes. The new M5—wrong formula for a sedan. I think BMW is a little intoxicated on that 100-hp-per-liter thing.

    I saw a 430 yesterday. The styling is disappointing and it looks cheap. I like the 360 much much better. But remember, light those stogeys with hundred-dollar bills. Oh and yes, screen your orthopedic surgeon well. You don't want him garroted to his ego with gold chains and putting in your prosthesis with a sledgehammer.

    Now, I need to find my Risperdal or else I'll start talking about Corvettes.

  • The fact that a pushrod engine needs displacement to achieve horsepower is nothing new. I love the small block design and the packaging benefits thereof. The only reason the added displacement is necessary is because of the remote location of the camshaft, limiting reliable engine speed.

    Oh yeah, the small block turns 50 this year, if I'm not mistaken. Try to avoid down playing the fact that this represents 50 years of development. I'm not sure that I see any other engines that displace 6.0 liters or make 400bhp getting anywhere near 25+mpg on the open road.

    And I happen to be very fond of my sledgehammer, thank you very much! :P
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I saw a 430 yesterday. The styling is disappointing and it looks cheap. I like the 360 much much better.

    Intersting. I like the F430 overall, but those nostrills are just too much. They should have just used a mesh/wire something instead of all that black plastic.

    To me neither the F430 or 360 Modena looked as good as the F355, especially the Spider versions with their ill-placed roll hoops.

  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    As a former Honda S2000 owner, I am compelled to defend the car perhaps more than I should. My neighbor's Porsche that you can "drive cross country and love every minute of it." was in the shop for serious repairs at least 2-3 times a year. It also left them with the top stuck in the down position in two downpours. They had a particularly bad model year (2000), but our friends with a 2003 911 TT have not had a fualtless ownership experience either. Having had a completely hassle free experience with the S2000 is perhaps my biggest obstacle to now purchasing a 911S or Boxster S.

    I also must question what a "sports car" is supposed to be. The S2000 was not a Porsche 928 GT or my former Supra TT on the highway by any means. But the S2000 was far, far more of a sports car than those behemouth by comparisons ever were. I am dangerously close to turning 50 and I recall about 30-35 years ago the MGB's, Alfa Romeos and other roadsters that were the "real" sports cars of their generation. The 2,800 lb S2000 is a luxury cruiser by comparison. I put several 300+ mile highway trips on the odometer without any ill effect on me. I don't drag race at stoplights, but I can tell you there wasn't a single on ramp on the Washingon Beltway that I couldn't negotiate and reach illegal speeds long before merging. I also put much of my 18,000 miles on the car driving the streets of Washington DC and I still have all of my fillings in place. I'm not challenging any Corvette owners to an arm wresling match, but if the S2000 is too harsh for you, you've gotten soft in your old age. Thankfully, I haven't (yet).

    I do accept that there are some among us who want to be able to stomp the gas pedal and be thrown back in their seat with instantaneous torque. Some even prefer not to be bothered with a stick shift and take their so-called sports cars with automatics. Thank God it's a free country, because if that was the national definition of "sports car" I'd have to move.

    P.S. Wonder what my adversaries think of the Lotus Elise?
  • starrow68starrow68 Posts: 1,142
    The Elise looks great at the track, but at 6' 3", 195# I've been told not to even try getting into one. If I got in I may need the jaws of life to get back out. Most articles note that even at 6 foot it can be a tight fit before you consider a helmet. One of the major factors that got me into a Corvette was that I fit comfortably and I don't seem to be a poster child for the leading edge of the Baby Boom with my condition. Three volleyball leagues a week seem to keep some of the excess off.

    As to the S2000, I'd love to try one for a bit. Too tight and if I remember it had the same issue as the Boxster, the bulk head behind the seat. I drove an MGB for a dozen years and the recline made it a very comfortable ride from mid-20's to late 30's, I was a little slimmer back in those days. Based just on it's track performance the S2000 and the M3 are the best of what's out there today. Of course like the Vette, they are better if some aftermarket add-ons for suspension and tires are put into the mix. 240hp S2000's are one of the few things that regularly pass me, usually on race slicks but none the less, impressive.

    I think I already mentioned the visit to Sears Point when I said hi to the Ferrari driver who was swapping tires at lunch after I'd passed him in the sessions before lunch, from his street rubber to D0T-R tires. His wife then made a big deal about how fast I must have been, she seemed to be crusing for a brusing, so I didn't get much info on his ride, too bad, I was interested. Some times things just don't work out like you hope for.

    Enjoy what you drive, I do!
  • skeezixskeezix Posts: 45
    Do you seriously believe that a "Ferrari 7 liter, 800 horsepower engine" or a Honda 7 liter, 840 horsepower engine would fit under the hood of a new Corvette? The entire Overhead Vs Underhead Cam thing has been explored over and over again and the "packaging factor" often gets ignored. The fact that GM can put 7 liters in a smallblock should be a engineering achievement, not ridiculed as same-old, same-old.

    Some posters need to open their eyes to "today". Should I let my S2000 purchase be determined by Honda's rust-out problem from 30 years ago?
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,403
    the fact that GM can put 7 liters in a smallblock should be a engineering achievement, not ridiculed as same-old, same-old.

    Question: if a small block displaces 7 liters (427CID) is it still a "small" block? :confuse:
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I was going to ask you what you thought of the Elise. I've seen a few and they really look like fun, but nothing I'd want to drive everyday by any means. There is one in the gym parking lot most days, but I haven't been able to figure out who drives it yet. Going by the very interesting analogies provied earlier comparing the Corvette and Ferrari drivers I should have been able to tell by now... :)

  • I doubt you'll find the owner at the bench press. You may want to start at the treadmill. Someone who can lift their own body weight and handle themselves well. Like a gymnast. Wouldn't surprise me in the slightest.

    Oh yeah, look for a fading smile as they walk through the door.
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    Although the Elise is probably the purest sports car out there, I doubt I would ever own one. I pulled next to one in my S2000 a couple of years ago (it was clearly an imported Eurpopean model with a big oval license plate). The degree to which I looked down at the opposing driver (in view angle, not status) was almost scary. I'm not sure what one's head height is when they are driving an Elise, but I don't think I could be sharing the DC Beltway with 18 wheelers in that car.

    And one of my requirements of any car was that it must be able to hold my golf clubs, and one other person. The 911 barely qualifies, by having my golf clubs in the back seat. The Elise would need a roof rack or trailer, neither of which would help its performance.
  • rfisherrfisher Posts: 11
    The standard C6 does 0-60 in 4.1 not 5.2 sec...your facts are incorrect. Ferrari's are peices of junk anyways. The engine goes out in them after 10k miles.
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    Well, 4.1 seconds is just tad slower than 3.5 - check the June Road and Track.

    As for the junk comment, I have now heard it all. Guess all those folks with an average net worth of $15+ million that are on a 3-5 year wait list for a 430 should come to you for advice on how to prudently invest their money or for a lesson on Chevy vs. Ferrari quality?
  • This debate is over the performance of the C6 chassis'd ZO6, and the F430. Those folks that you speak of aren't buying performance. They're buying Ferraris. There's a big difference.

    Were my net worth in that range (give me 5 years) and I found myself wanting a real Ferrari, I'd go for a 1959 250GT Passo Corto (3.0 liter Colombo-based V12 with 280bhp@7000rpm!) or a 1960 250GT 2+2. Not to downplay the passion of today's cars, but those are real Ferraris. I'll cease fire on that issue (with which I have a huge case) and get back to the point.
  • wfbwfb Posts: 10
    Your perspective is right. There are a lot of cars out there with "sport" or "sporty" in their name but a true sports car seats two, has a convertible top, and a manual transmission (you ain't drivin' it if it's doing the shifting for you).

    The first sports car I ever drove was a TR3 and I fell in love with sports cars then. I've owned a Fiat 850 Spider, a TR250 (aka TR5) and a Triumph spitfire and loved them all. Today's sports cars have way too many unnecessary and expensive items tacked on. Who needs power windows and remote keyless entry in a sports car? Those early sports cars didn't have power tops or air conditioning or huge power plants but that didn't make them any less fun to drive.

    But they did have one thing that none of today's sports cars have; A low sticker price.
  • starrow68starrow68 Posts: 1,142
    When I was taking a racing class at Sears Point last year we do exercises and lapping the first two days and then just lapping the last day. Former students can pay for just the third day and do lapping. While we had all parked up in the paddock, it's not like there isn't plenty of room, on the third morning down the inside of the hot pit lane behind the garages comes a new Ferrari, the guy steps out in his driver's suit and gets shown to a car by an instructor. He has full rev's at I think 6800, while we have at that point just 6 or 6.2k revs, but hey we're still learning, so him passing us isn't much of a comparison of driving skill, but he was much faster.
    After lunch I asked him about the car, he is a long time Ferrari owner and said if he didn't already own one he would not have gotten the new one. Basically all the new ones are spoken for to prior clients and the way to get on the list is to buy a used one. It was a stunning light blue. I have no idea as to model or price level at this point, although at the time, I think it was discussed in the pits. Different view on car ownership that those of us who worry about MSRP and discounts, rather than if the car is even available to us.
  • rfisherrfisher Posts: 11
    Just because people are on the waiting list does not mean that it's a mechanically sound car. Goes to show there are alot of things you can buy in life, but a brain is not one of them. Ferrari puts all of their money into their F1 RACING program, thus their street cars are junk. I guess if you can afford a Ferrari then you can afford the repairs. If Ferrari really thought they had a good product they would be offering atleast a 3 year warrenty. As it is now, new Ferraris come with NO warrenty.
  • Sound like you have a serious case of the "have nots" envy, mixed with a little ignorance.

    Ferrari's come with a 2 year, unlimited mileage warranty. My surgeon's 360 has 20,000 miles ( a lot for a 2 seat sportscar for a guy with 4 kids) and he has never had a single repair or mechanical problem of any kind. I have researched this, since I would consider buying the car from him, if he elects to get a new 430. By comparison, his wife's Chevy Tahoo has been to the shop repeatedly for a variety of large and small problems, and they are now trading it for either a $32k Honda Pilot or $40k Acura MDX. So they are hardly a "snobs" that don't apprecate value (and quality).

    GM/Chevy would kill to be able to "put all of their money into F1 racing". As someone else pointed out, their's is all going into UAW pension plans and health care costs (and, in fairness, excessive executive compensation, I'm sure). From which company would you rather buy a sports car, one that has a racing heritage second to none, or one that is a bloated dinosaur flirting with extinction?
  • wfbwfb Posts: 10
    Golf Clubs? In a SPORTS CAR? No, no --that's what your OTHER car is for. You know - your everyday, haul the family around car. The sports car is for FUN! Stay off the highways and take the back roads. But if you do find yourself on the highway in an Elise - don't worry about 18 wheelers - you can drive right under them.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,692
    Ferraris are hardly "junk". They are built for endurance. I dare say no showroom stock Corvette will run with a Ferrari that fast that long and at maximum RPM. Anyone who thinks a Ferrari "delicate" needs to do more homework I think.

    But aside from all that, to me a sports car has to have a very "visceral" feeling about it, with all the parts like an orchestra. The entire car is thoroughbred, electric, exciting and nervous. The best sports cars are, to me, thrilling.

    I never felt that in an S2000....but it was fun and very competent.

    I was also underwhelmed by the earliest Boxsters and I complained mightily on this board some years back. But the S is really a great car and worth the price I think.

    It may not do EVERYTHING the best, but it does more things best than any other car I can think of in the approximate price category.
This discussion has been closed.