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Sports Cars - The Definitive Discussion



  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    First, in the event I gave the wrong impression, I enjoy this discussion and I would not take anything personally - as I hope you wouldn't.

    Regarding "genetic material" in the S2000 and Boxster, I'm not as convinced as you. The S2000 is a ground up roadster that shares almost nothing in common with other Honda products, as best I can tell. Not that that is good or bad, it's just a fact. The Boxster, on the other hand, is the first "poor man's Porsche" in a long time that actually gets some respect from the 911 purists. Certainly a lot more than the 924, 944 or 968 ever did. Probably even more than the 928.

    My ho-hum impression of the 2002 Boxster was based upon my sense that it was overpriced and underpowered. I was impressed with the steering and handling, but not the gearbox. Don't know which year S2000 you drove, but my 2002 was as good as anything I've driven, and that includes my friends 360. The 2000/2001 did have a grinding problem that was remedied for 2002, bu the short throw action has stayed fairly constant.

    I still prefer sports cars that are high rpm, relatively low torque so that you can "wind them out". I wouldn't take a Corvette if one was given to me. It's engine would blow up just as a Ferrari started having fun.

    To each there own, I guess. I'm going to try to get out this weekend to do some further test driving. Have a good one.
  • How many people do you think would jump at the prospect of an 7000+rpm, small block V8?

    We'll see when the ZO6 drops. Then you can make your allusions to Ferrari grandeur all you want as the 427 takes it's power past the F430 and stomps it's "relatively low" torque output.
  • starrow68starrow68 Posts: 1,142
    There are very few Ferrari's out on the open track days I go to, however, the one's I've seen are usually noted as I go by with my stock engine, stock suspension, street tire, 2002 Corvette Coupe. If these are 'serious' drivers I just don't get it, I'm not that experienced. The last was a 355, don't know which model and when I got a Time Trial result of 1.34.6 the 355 was running 1.35's with more HP, similar torque and better tires, he was in the race group while I was running with street cars in the TT. The following day I got down to the 1.34.0 and he did turn in a 1.33.9 but just his tires should be worth 3-4sec per lap not to mention the suspenson and lower CG. I have no doubt there are Ferrari's that can pass me, but what is the cost of a 355 a couple years ago vs. the $45k cost of my coupe? I guess I just don't care if anyone is impressed when they see it parked. There was a nice white Ferrari at the supermarket this AM, parked the wife's Yellow '04 Coupe nose to nose, not too close. I did figure most of the SUVs would stay away.
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282 about sensitive Corvette fans.

    The fact that I wouldn't take a Corvette if one was given to me is purely subjective. I also wouldn't go to a Nascar event if Jeff Gordon invited me personally, but wouldn't mind a front row seat at a Formula 1 Grand Prix event.

    The Corvette is definitely a contender for most horsepower for the buck. Not quite the bargain of the eco-box Subarus and Lancers that I've read about in other forums, but cheap thirills, nonetheless. Personally, I am probably never going to own an American car, at least not one from the big Three. I know all the arguments as to how they have improved in quality, fit and finish, reliability, etc., but they are still not up to my standards. And, if Shifty is permitted to voice a preferencefor the "feel" of German over Japanese, I'll voice my preference for the looks and feel of German and Japanese over American. I have yet to see an American car that wowed me with its ergonomics and crisp style. Not that everything European or Japanese is perfect, for sure, but they are generally a lot closer to my stylistic preference.

    As for the Corvette vs. the 430 in performance, might want to check that one again. I'll bet the road tests confirm my suspiscion that the 430 will get to 120 mph before the Corvette gets to 100. But my preference isn't for maximum terminal velocity, but how the car feels at sub-sonic speeds.
  • I, too, run my vehicle at open track days and am a bit surprised to see much higher cachet cars breathing my exhaust. I spent an hour after last month's event trying to figure out why I was pulling off consistently better times than an '02 Acura NSX that was running the same trial.

    I talked to the driver/owner and (after complimenting me on my vehicle's setup) he told me that he just couldn't find the "sweet spot" of the C32A DOHC bent six under the cover of his car.

    Even though there are a lot of factors that allow sports cars to truly perform, these factors can also limit them at some tracks. Fortunately for me, the short wheelbase of my car (with stickier Kumhos on all 4 corners) allowed me to thread the twisty bits without much negotiation whereas he needed to basically throttle steer his way through. I'll be the first to admit that my car isn't big on low end torque, but the gearing and engine speed freed from the lightened valvetrain made up for it in this instance.
  • The Z06 is not to be underestimated. Let's give them a mile (just like motor trend did in 2001) and I'm sure the result will be the same. The Z06 will undoubtedly be the victor. Not taking anything away from the new Ferrari, but the Z06 will take it in at least acceleration, if nothing else.
  • xkssxkss Posts: 722
    I still prefer sports cars that are high rpm, relatively low torque so that you can "wind them out". I wouldn't take a Corvette if one was given to me. It's engine would blow up just as a Ferrari started having fun.

    7,000 rpm isn't that bad for a sports car. The 505 hp LS7 in the new Z06 IS built to last, for performance, and to thrill.

    One awesome sports car is the Saleen S7. Unlike many supercars today, the S7 is raced (in the American Le Man Series).

    I hope GM learns a lot from the 2006 Pontiac Solstice like the fact that great steering feel counts.

    Another sweet sports car is the Panoz Esperante. It has an aluminum chassis and is raced BY THE FACTORY unlike too many sports cars today. Panoz has a passion that is hard to find in other car companies today.

    Germans cars don't have the build quality that they used to have just a dozen years ago.
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    It's probably against Town Hall rules, but I'll give you even odds on any amount of money up to $100k (enough to buy you two Corvettes, if you win), that the factory Corvette will not beat the Ferrari 430 in a one mile straight run. If you are so sure the result will be the same as 2001, seems like you should take my offer.

    Before you do, however, you might want to consider just how much more powerful the 430 is than the outgoing 360. According to Edmunds, the Corvette and 430 are within 20 lbs of each other in weight. The 430's 4.3 liter engine puts out 490 horsepower, 90 more than the Corvette's 6 liter. The Corvette does have 57 more foot lbs of torque, but, given the Ferrari's 8,500 rpm redline, it has a lot more room to wind out, before shifts. The lower torque is also easier to control off the line. I'm sure you are aware that the average Formula 1 car has less torque than the 430.

    Edmund's lists the current Corvette's 0-60 time at 5.2 seconds. If that's correct, that's about 0.4 seconds behind a $50k M3 and a 4,000 lb M5. And light years behind the couple of early 430 tests I've read that were in the 3.8 second range. Even the Porsche 911 S which I am considering, at only 355 horsepower, beat the Corvette in a recent head to head acceleration test by one of the car magazines. The gobs of torque advantage that the Corvette had could not be put to the ground with nearly the efficiency and effectiveness of the rear engine 911. When it came to handling the twists and turns, the Corvette was even further behind the 911.

    The Ferrari 360 was, IMO, a great car. But the 430 is leaps and bounds above it in power. My friend with a 360 has test driven a 430 and admitted the difference is astounding. If any $190k car can be considered a a good deal, the mere 10-15% more that the 430 costs than the former 360 is indeed a relative bargain.

    So, take my bet if you remian confident. But be assured, I wouldn't be wagering the price of a 911S if I wasn't equally confident and had done some research to back it up. I would also accept a friendly wager of a couple of beers, if that is more appropriate to the spirit of Town Hall rules.

    P.S. On a sad note, I don't think any of the top 100 executives at GM care about our debate. They are desperately trying to keep the company afloat. As Jim Cramer of CNBC's "Mad Money" said, if Kirk Kerkorian hadn't stepped in, the next call from GM would have been Dr. Kevorkian. From my business associates who know Ferrari, they claim that everyone there is passionate about one thing - building the best race cars and sports cars in the world. Their management doesn't have unfunded pension liabilities or skyrocketing employee health care costs occupying 90% of their workday. I feel somewhat sorry for the pickle GM finds itself in, but I predicted it nearly 30 years ago when I bought my first Datsun while my parents' hard earned money was being pissed away on excessive repairs and maintenance on GM products.
  • I'm completely aware that the F430 would walk away from a C6 in any acceleration test. I was, however, referring to the Z06 version of that model. There's no doubt in my mind that at the end of a mile the Z06's nose will be the one poking past the Ferrari's. It may not be by much, but since we're comparing stats, let's compare stats shall we?

    As far as the engines go and how they make their power, we're dealing with a 7.0 liter pushrod V8 that makes [email protected] and [email protected] Ferrari is packing a 4.3 liter DOHC flat crank V8 that achieves [email protected] and [email protected] The two employ dry sump lubrication. Both of these engines are wonderful designs that both benefit from trickled down racing technology from F1 in the case of the Ferrari, and Le Mans in the case of the ZO6.

    Taking a look at the chassis of both cars gives us two different means to a common end, low weight and a high degree of stiffness. The 430 rides on an all aluminum chassis and double wishbones at all four corners. It has optional carbon ceramic brakes which, when coupled with it's outstanding weight distribution, will undoubtedly give it the edge in the braking department. The ZO6 differs from the standard coupe by having an aluminum/magnesium chassis wrapped in a carbon fiber/fiberglass body. It rides on transverse leaf springs suspended by Sachs monotube shocks (ready for the track!). The Vette houses vented brakes 14" and 13.4" front and rear, respectively.

    In the tire department, the F430 houses nineteen inch wheels, 7.5" in front, and 10" out back. The ZO6 uses an identical diameter wheel/tire package that lays 10" in front and a full foot of rubber in the rear.

    As far as getting down the track, I don't think the ZO6 will be that off. If the staff of Motor Trend knows anything about launching sports cars and collecting data, then the base C6 Coupe is 6/10ths off of the Prancing Horse's time through the quarter mile with 5.8 mph separating them (which is due to the difference in horsepower). I'm sure the ZO6 will improve on the base coupe's times significantly.

    As a counterpoint (like we need anymore of those), torque control has absolutely nothing to do with the actual output. It's the access to that torque (read clutch smoothness) along with a suspension design that more properly controls how the torque reaches the rear wheels. Tire compound is also a factor in achieving quick, consistent times. This is what I've come to discover since I began drag racing.

    I don't drink, so a beer is out of the question. However, if I happen to see you on a racetrack one of these millenia, our wager will have been settled regardless of the victor. I think that would be more appropriate to the spirit of Town Hall rules.
  • starrow68starrow68 Posts: 1,142
    I'll just keep driving my American muscle at the track and when the faster car shows up in the rear view, I'll wave them by, seems I learn a few things when I get to follow those not too much faster than I am. And, since I can afford the Corvette and would have to go beyond what I find as a value to get a $190k car, I don't think I'll ever get to experience what you are comparing. Anybody wants to run SP, LS, TH, BW, Reno-Fernley or Spring Mt., please let me know, I just might show up! :D
    Now I just have to figure out how to rent something and set up a trip to the east or south and hit some historic tracks, a fantasy.
  • 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: 19,688
    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:

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • 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 [email protected]!) 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.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 61,791
    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.

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