By on June 20, 2013

NISSAN_FAIRLADY_Z_Z34

Yes, we know that you’ve all been bombarded with endless stories about modular kits these last few days. While there is a camp of skeptics out there, the move towards modular architectures is happening, and it’s going to have an effect on the way that sports cars are made. My theory is below, feel free to disagree with it.

As companies move towards these kits as a means of standardization, cars are going to become ever more homogenous. Good for profit margins, but potentially not so good for those who like interesting, fun to drive cars. In a previous era, it used to be that sports cars could have their own distinct platform, powertrains etc, but today’s scale requirements have made that next to impossible.

The middle ground is something like the Nissan Z-car. Based on the Nissan FM platform, it still drives well and looks pretty sharp, but its impossible to escape its roots; since it shares a platform not just with the G37 but the FX crossover as well, everything needs to be beefed up appropriate, and that made the car unnecessarily heavy.

Now that pretty much all cars are moving to some kind of kit architecture, there are two possibilities: develop a longitudinal kit, ala Audi’s MLB architecture, or follow the Toyota-Subaru arrangement of jointy developing a sports car.

I think that this is going to become an increasingly common occurrence in the next few years. We already have the upcoming Toyota-BMW sports car as well as the Fiat-Mazda MX5/Alfa Romeo Spider. Mazda may be a small player, but if Toyota, BMW and Fiat find it hard to justify the investment costs on their own without resorting to a partnership agreement, that should tell you something about what it costs to develop a sports car and how little ROI they typically see from it.

From where I sit, the joint-venture method looks like the best way out. For traditionalists, it will be very strange: a BMW-developed MKV Supra seems as odd to me as the European practice of dipping French Fries in mayonnaise. But the auto industry seems to be moving towards this with increasing speed. Better get used to. Unless there’s another way out.

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64 Comments on “QOTD: How Will Sports Cars Survive In The “Kit Age”?...”


  • avatar
    PCP

    Well, it always depends on the mayonnaise…

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    “the European practice of dipping French Fries in mayonnaise”

    I didn’t know about this. I’ve done it just because ketchup is sometimes too acid or just to try something different. The best sauce for the fries is mixing ketchup+mayo. And after trying the local “tomato sauce” I abandoned ketchup altogether.

  • avatar
    niky

    If the kit architecture is flexible enough, then it’s possible for any manufacturer with a longitudinal engine platform to have a sports car. Mix and match the longitudinal kit with whatever light transverse kit they have, or create a new platform behind the firewall specifically for that model.

    Might suffer from Z-syndrome. Might not. With the focus on weight savings nowadays, chances are good it won’t.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Will it be any good though, is the question. How small and light can a sports car be when it shares architecture with an S-Class? You see this with the Z. A 2 seater that weighs more than a midsize sedan, with the shoulder line of an SUV… no thanks.

      I think and hope the future of performance cars lies in the proliferation of kit cars, which would really be ushered in by some kind of waiver/exception for all the damn safety regs they have on regular cars. Let companies build a second class of cars w/little to no safety regs and the OEM sports car market would be revitalized.

    • 0 avatar

      Whenever people get fixated on RWD for sports car, I remember how Eirich Heischulle beat Corvettes and BWMs in a Neon, not very modified Neon at that (granted it was an SRT/4, but nonetheless).

      These days, “hachiroku” is eating the ricer market, Civic is nowhere, and so WV is left standing to defend the FWD on the circuit and the street.

  • avatar
    ccd1

    Sports cars will survive, but will occupy a niche market. Kit architecture and its attendant cost savings will probably save the car, but just barely.

    There are a number of challenges for the sports car. First, what defines a sports car in an age where fairly pedestrian cars can speed from 0-60 in 6 seconds? How much do high speed capability really matter when speed limits remain 55 or 65 in most parts of the country (USA)? Why should anyone care how track capable a car is if you actually don’t track your car and most don’t???

    You can buy a dedicated sports car for those sports car moments in your life, but sports cars tend to be expensive with few exceptions. Few of us can afford a sports car that doesn’t also perform other functions in our lives.

    Finally, the line between sports car and GT is getting blurred, in part because, IMHO, the things that tend to make a car a GT (added weight excepted) also make a car more liveable on a day to day basis. And VERY few of us, when is comes down to it, really want a stripped down, Elise, type of car under any conditions

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Elise is extreme, but goes way beyond requirements for being as “sports car.” It’s really more of an exotic, but with the focus more on light weight than power and bling.

      The Miata is more of a standard “sports car.” As is the 86. Or S2000. Even Boxster, despite it becoming larger and more GTish over time.

      It’s kind of sad that, due to cost, and massive income redistribution towards the extremes of society, the market for sports cars amongst those most likely to appreciate it, is being destroyed. Instead, you get silly, overpriced concoctions marketed as stable horses for bailout babies looking to flaunt their awareness of some German racetrack that some supposed driver supposedly drove around at high speed in a car similar to the one sitting in their particular garage.

      But I guess that’s what progressivism is all about.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        “But I guess that’s what progressivism is all about.”

        Huh?

        This kit thing is about economies of scale, in an era where we have good CAD/CAM/PLM/simulation and so can get the design mostly right before the first prototype is built.

        Politics doesn’t come into it.

        BTW, I’m an engineering enthusiast and a progressive who grew up in a small business family. Progressives don’t love corporate welfare, and have pretty much the same resentment about how the people responsible for the mismanagement of large businesses continue to benefit personally from their actions. There’s a lot more to it, but I’d rather talk about cara and the car business.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    The Fiero and every generation of MR-2 shared significant parts and even subframes with GM and Toyota compacts. Just put the front module in back. The FR-S will be hard for other automakers to copy because Subaru is the only company making a cheap and light longitudinal platform. Subaru did what we all wanted to do, strip down an Impreza and disconnect the front half shafts.

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      Lot of modifications to the frame to get the weight balance right, though. And it’s compromised by the boxer engine, which negatively affects steering rack routing, possible turbocharging (at least in factory form) and limits suspension choices to MacPhersons up front.

      These are compromises which the MX-5 doesn’t have.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        And the Miata compromises by having a taller, longer engine. The taller engine negatively impacts the CG and requires a taller hoodline while the longer engine requires you to either push the cabin further back (thus reducing cabin size) in order to keep the bulk of the engine mass within the wheelbase or sacrifice where you locate the bulk of the engine relative to your turning wheels. Moral of the story: every engineering decision has compromises (considering similar cost).

        I love both cars… along with the S2000. They all have their better traits and they all have their worse traits. When it comes time to put my money down, it will be on the twins. I have a daughter that is far too young to be in the front seat of a Miata or S2000. I generally prefer a hardtop, too.

        • 0 avatar
          niky

          Or you could do as Mazda did, and push the wheels out to the corners. Despite the theoretical benefits of the boxer layout in CoG both vertical and horizontal, it’s still nose-heavier than the MX-5. You can feel that… though it’s not a big thing.

          The MX-5 issues in rear seat space are mostly a design decision in terms of market positioning and weight saving. They could put them in, but then the MX-5 would be heavier. Contrawise, they could take them out of the 86, and it’d be lighter.

          A child seat would just about fit in the rear seat, but not comfortably. Not well. If I were looking for a sports car which I could fit kids in the back of, the Genesis would be a top pick. It’s not as nimble or as lightweight as the Suboyota twins or the MX-5, but it’s got a good turn of speed, better than decent handling and a nice and a lot of rear legroom.

          A lot of people praise the everyday usability of the 86 platform. Having two kids and a wife, I just don’t see it. It’s cramped in both rows, extremely low to the ground and hard-riding. Still… can’t fault anyone for buying one as a toy. Nice little cars.

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            If you assume that the wheelbase is centered within the overall length, the distance from the front axle to the front of the Miata and the twins is 32.8″ and 32.75″ respectively (same for the rear axle to the rear of the vehicle). The Miata doesn’t really have an option for rear seats as a 2+2 because the cabin is pushed back to keep the front-mid-engine layout and the wheelbase is 10″ shorter. It isn’t a bad tradeoff; both cars are still what I’d consider MR. It is just a tradeoff of passenger space. It really drives home that the Miata makes brilliant sense as a 2 seater convertible.

            The twins could have an S2000-like engine placement if they pushed the cabin back, ditched the rear seats, and cut the wheelbase 5″ or so, and thus likely giving it a real 50/50 weight distribution. For my needs, though, I’m glad they chose to do what they did. We have a MINI Cooper S as the fun car right now, and my daughter’s rear facing seat fits in the back with the front passenger seat in the most forward, most upright position. Obviously, this isn’t going to be the vehicle of choice when the whole family is out. Our Prius v and 4Runner are vastly superior for the whole family. But for dad to have a sports car that still plays nice with the family and to be as small as possible, the twins are untouched, IMO. The big question is if I can justify putting another $10k into my fun car (selling the mini, buying a twin) when I don’t really get to drive the MINI all that often anyway. That is a lot of money just so I can have RWD and high revs over what I have now.

          • 0 avatar
            niky

            Aw man, that’s a decision I’m glad I don’t have to make. The twins obviously have a much wider dynamic envelope than the MINI, but stock-to-stock, the MINI is comparable in terms of the “fun factor” and has much better on road pace (turbocharged powerband).

            The shorter-wheelbase MINI also holds its own well against the rear drive twins in most situations short of track work (you can push hard and deep in the FWD MINI with a bit less worry), though once you give the Toyobaru some decent rubber, that situation changes.

            Still… wherever the heart takes you…

          • 0 avatar
            william442

            The kid sat on the floor. The dog had the back seat of our TR 4.

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            The MINI is a riot. We have the limited slip diff and a relatively stripped out model (moonroof being the only option that really adds weight and hampers performance). Ours is the supercharged one, BTW. There is just something about rear drive that is calling me. I also worry about the long term durability of the MINI. It has exceeded my expectations so far, but it is over 8 years old now and MINIs really aren’t known for how well they age.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        My point is that the economies of scale and platform/parts sharing achieved with the FR-S/BRZ will be hard for other companies to copy. Nobody else has a longitudinal engine cheap compact car like the Impreza that can be turned RWD. As a pure sports car the Miata is better than the FR-S and BRZ, but now that the RX-8 is dead it doesn’t share its platform with anything else Mazda makes. Lucky for the Alfa deal or it may have been killed off.

  • avatar
    Macca

    I realize this is only a tangent to thesis of this article, but as a Z-car enthusiast I find the oft-repeated “370Z is too heavy” argument a bit stale. It certainly isn’t *light*, but given it’s stats, it holds up well with the current crop of cars that it could be lined up against.

    In fact, I’d argue that the Z is a great example of how a sports car can survive in a platform sharing environment.

    All acceleration figures below are from C/D.

    Car…………………..….HP…TQ….WB….Weight…0-60…Qtr Mi….lb/hp
    370Z (auto)…………332…270…100.4….3368…4.6…13.1@108….10.1
    2013 Mustang V6..305…280…107.1….3530…5.2…13.9@102…11.6
    2009 Cayman………265…221.…95.1….3104…5.1…13.7@102….11.7
    2010 Camaro V6….304…273…112.3….3807…5.9…14.5@99….12.5
    2013 FR-S (auto)…200…151.…101.2….2799…8.1…16.3@90….14.0
    1989 300ZX…………222…198….96.5…..3341…6.7…15.0@93….15.0

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      To be fair, the porkiness actually set in with the 300ZX, so it isn’t the fault of the FM platform.

      I think people consider the Z heavy based on what it started as. The 240Z may have been somewhat of a Sports GT rather than a pure sportscar, but it was light enough that it got the job done with a relatively small motor.

      Then the Z moved upmarket. Good or bad, that did give us the amazing 300ZX turob and the pseudo-muscle 350 and 370 generations. The Silvia slotted in underneath to fill the spot the pre-300ZX Fairladies left behind, but we all know what happened to the Silvia…

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      Not to hate on the Z, but I would suggest that, apart from the thrill of driving a rocket ship that does a quarter mile in 12 seconds or less (which is mostly in your head, since there are few public roads where you can actually exercise that thrill), the thrill of driving a sports car is NOT delta-vee. Indeed, until fairly recently, sports cars were not known for their drag strip capabilities . . . if we define sports cars as the two-seaters that emerged after World War II from Germany, Italy and England (Porsche, Triumph, MG, Jaguar, Alfa-Romeo). The common element among all of these is light weight. Today, there are only a few cars that adhere to that dictum: the Miata and the FR-S and (formerly) the S2000.

      On your list, there is only one car that weighs less than 3000 lbs. As the owner of a car that weighs less than 2700 lbs. and would lose a drag race to all but the Camaro V-6 and the FR-S, I would venture that I have more fun than the owners of the faster, heavier cars. In particular, I drove a Mustang V-6 for a week and while I found the engine plenty powerful, overall, I would not say it was “fun to drive.” Mostly, I got a sense of the car’s mass and size . . . neither of which make for a “sports car.”

      In the United States, at least, having fun in a sports car does not involve bombing down the Interstate at 80 (about the fastest you can go anywhere without getting stopped by the cops, and faster than you can go in some places in the East.) It involves driving on a two-lane at lower speeds unless you want to kill someone who is exiting a driveway that you can’t see, etc. At those speeds, and on those roads, in the right, light car, you can have plenty of fun driving a car that takes longer than 13 seconds to do the quarter mile. In fact, I would venture that you would be hard pressed to have more fun than you would driving a 4-cylinder Porsche 356 Super 90, which, if I recall correctly, takes more than 10 seconds to reach 60 mph.

      Obviously, track driving is a different universe.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        Correct on your first point. Our 2007 MX5 was a sport model – only a 5-speed manual, was murder on the highway, 65 mph, 3,500 rpm, no cruise control, but was a ball around town, especially on twisty roads where you can row the gears to your heart’s content.

        Would that long commute be that bad if I were younger? Hmmm…

        Now, IF ours was a Touring or Grand Touring model, we might have kept it, AND if it was an automatic, wifey would have driven it more…

        For the foreseeable future, no more toys.

      • 0 avatar
        Macca

        DC Bruce: Point taken – I’m aware that the ‘sports car’ of yore is not represented by most modern ‘sports cars’. I too appreciate the thrill of tossing around a light and even slow car.

        That said, I have a blast tossing around my 370Z, so I’ll decide what’s fun for me.

        • 0 avatar
          NMGOM

          I think we have to blame all the required built-in safety stuff that involves airbags, crash-protection frame-members, crumble-zone designs, gas-tank enclosures, hidden roll-over bars, reinforced A-pillars, and so on. Add to that all the convenience items involving electric motors to operate convertible tops, windows, and seats, —— and voilà, you have just added 500-700 lbs to a little sports-car that would have been 2500 lbs 40 years ago.

          I don’t think that modular architecture has anything to do with this factor, necessarily.

          —————

      • 0 avatar
        mitchw

        I agree with DC Bruce. I’d add a few more qualities that make a sports car.

        1 No computer between your foot and either the engine or brakes. You are responsible for staying out of trouble as well as getting out of same.

        2 Not too much grip from the tires. You must balance the car to maximize the traction at whatever corner it is needed. You also must have enough power from the REAR wheels so that the threat of snap power oversteer is real.

        3 Steering feel

        4 As a plus, I’d ask for a low polar moment around the low and centered CG.

        5 Fewest possible creature comforts and luxury features.

        Why, why, why, did I sell my Miata?

      • 0 avatar
        william442

        My Olds 98 was very heavy. I never lost to a Hemi!

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        I still think the 370 is a GT car as it was when it started out in the 1980′s 300Z. The current car runs similar or slightly slower performance numbers than a modern day Camaro SS. Similarly the 1980′s 300 ran same times as my Beretta GT back in the day. They were very close on the street too as my Beretta had a few tussles with them. Today’s Z put it in 1990′s Corvette territory, hardly sport car like.

        Sports cars like Bruce mentioned are blessed with well under 3,000 lbs weight are a hoot to drive quick in even if it isn’t fastest in a straight line. My base Saturn Sky with 2.4l Ecotec has had light weight seats, wheels, and a Braile battery for a sub-2,900 lbs with a turbo/plumbing for 350 hp/400trq and is a blast drive slow or fast. Gets a better than hybrid 40+ mpg on the highway and has only one look-a-like in town. Top up or down it gets allot of thumbs up.

        • 0 avatar
          Quentin

          How did GM go bankrupt with cars capable of 350hp and 40mpg?

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            Shhhhh….Quentin, it’s our secret:

            http://www.turbosystem.com/ProjectVehicles/New_Folder/SolsticeStage3pdf.htm

            For the 2.0T GM dealership installed, backed warranty of 290hp/340trq…back in 2007 or so. More power than a Tundra back then?

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            I don’t doubt that it can make the power through the aftermarket. I doubt your insane claim that it gets 40mpg.

            http://www.fuelly.com/car/saturn/sky

            All these other Sky owners seem to average 25 with 1 owner getting 33… and that owner claims to have driven 277 miles on 3.2gallons of gas.

            This must have come out of the same factory as your 45mpg Saab.

            BTW, the Tundra made 381hp in 2007. That was the first model year of the 5.7L V8.

        • 0 avatar
          epsilonkore

          I traded my 2.4 2008 Saturn Sky Carbon Flash (only 240 made, the rarest of the special edition Sky’s) for my 2013 FR-S, and I can say that I miss its rarity, damn good looks, and smooth (almost floaty) ride while retaining excellent grip. But no matter what exhaust, intake, chip, weight saving battery I put on it, I could never produce above my city average of 22MPG and hwy 29MPG. I would feather foot it, and hypermile it (kick in the clutch and go down hills) and I NEVER got close to 40+MPG. I traded it with 29,000 miles in excellent condition (and restored back to stock) partially on the basis of reliability (had it in the shop 18 times in the 29,000 miles) AND its poor economy for only averaging acceleration. The turbo 2.0 redline gets better mileage and performance than the 2.4 ever could. My FR-S? 28MPG city, and Ive hit as high as 35MPG on a 350 mile tank of gas (interstate) and no problems other than the well documented “chirping fuel pump” that prefers pure gas over ethenol blends to stay silent. Gunning it full blast I have hit as low as 24mpg average for the tank, but that Sky would dip as low as 18 if I did the same thing.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            Not sure what your wheel alignment was or if you got to swap out the heavy stock tires but just increasing tire pressure would help a bunch in fuel economy. The Sky has the same drag coefficient as Scion xB so the higher the speeds the worst the fuel economy.

            The 2.0T in my Turbo Verano netted 39.3 mpg on one tank during the daily commute of 120 miles round trip. That figured by hand but would have been higher if I didn’t go on one errand. That’s 60 mph average and tires at 45 psi with hardly broken in 7,000 miles on the odometer. It has gone 44 mpg two way average of 52 miles and the car computer always reads lower than actual computed mpg. Worst is 38 mpg with ac on and side roads. The Verano’s underside is almost full covered to smooth out airflow. So I know a Sky Reline, with taller final drive, could be into the 40+ mpg range. Top up of course as I lost almost 2 mpg with the top down.

          • 0 avatar
            epsilonkore

            Right, I dont doubt the Redline 2.0 direct injected turbo got better mileage, I for one think the 2.4 standard should have never been put in that car. You stated that yours was a 2.4, even running lighter rims and hard over pressure tires isnt going to overcome its poor CD at speed (and I had “GM” alignment checks/corrections every 5000 miles, and all the latest software updates for the engine). I frequently hit above 40MPG going down a hill, or after letting off the gas on the instant MPG meter, but I never AVERAGED above 30 under any feather footed circumstance with a 2.4 short of dropping it off a cliff. One thing I will give you though, the hand assembled Solstice/Skys had VARIANCES between each one that were astonishingly bad (found another Carbon Flash with completely different stitching on the door from the seats from mine), so maybe there was some variance in the build of your car and mine.

    • 0 avatar
      Ion

      I always thought the Z was light. Your chart however makes me realize how heavy a Z actually is. A little less than 200lbs less than the Mustang that’s nearly twice the size of the Z is really heavy.

  • avatar
    7402

    The sports car will survive as the hot hatch and the sport sedan. Convertible versions of either a hatchback or a 2-door version of the sport sedan are easily made on the same kit.

    Suspension mods, forced induction, gearing tweaks, and sports-themed accents will contribute to sportiness.

    But as far as small, light, RWD platforms go, I’m going to agree with Derek.

    Enthusiasts tend to overestimate the demand; for most people a sports car is just a convertible with pop-up headlights.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I’m not sure if this is a bad thing or not, as I’ve owned and driven larger cars which were not considered sports cars in any sense, including the 1964 Impala SS convertible I once owned a long, long time ago.

    Our 2007 MX5 was fun to drive, so perhaps the sports car market will continue to be a niche market and not so much a mass-market.

    It’s all about the Benjamins, unfortunately, especially since those who pine for cars that are “fun to drive” won’t buy them new anyway, like most commenters on TTAC, either because they’re young and can’t afford one, or old guys like me whose bodies can no longer take it after about 15 minutes!

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Of course sports cars will survive, they’ve always been the most popular kit cars. I fully expect Caterham to thrive and of course as always, the demise of General Motors.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    I think GM had a good thing going with whatever underpinned the Solistice/Sky. I really liked the Nomad concept they had out and was hoping they would put it through. Maybe even build a very small pickup off of it.

  • avatar
    rolladan

    I see a benefit to this because if they share platforms you can parts swap between the sports cars. Just an example is mr2s doing Camry v6 swaps or subaru foresters with Sti suspension. While pure sports cars will be hard to come by you can make what you want by taking parts off another model. Like grown up Legos…..

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    Another potential route sports cars will take is not being cars:

    http://thekneeslider.com/polaris-patent-reveals-a-side-by-side-three-wheeler/

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    I would say the homogenous look of cars has more to do with aerodynamic and internal space requirements than the “Kit” architecture. I would also say the kit architecture will help manufacturers change the outward appearance per model on shared kit more than say, a badge engineered car.
    The kit approach could also help bring about more models and some could be cars that look like sports cars and lets face it, just being lower, lighter and better engine will make the car more sporty. Does that make it a true sports car? Maybe it does.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    If you want a sports car, build one.

    If you want a sporty car, they will always make those.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      Landcrusher – - –

      This is a very good point. It could be that “kit cars” (in the real sense) may end up being the only way to get a real sports car in the future, outside of Derek’s thesis about joint-ventures by major car companies, which WILL be much more expensive.

      Q: Do “kit cars” at present have to meet the same safety standards as “commercial” automobiles? How about replica cars? How about home-made original cars (not a kit)?

      ————–

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        The answers are no,no,and no. I think it varies by state, but there is no crash testing for obvious reasons. AFAIK you still must have safety glass and seatbelts, and other required equipment.

  • avatar
    carguy

    If we are talking real sports cars (R8, 911, Corvette etc) as opposed to sporty cars (BMW 335, Audi S4 etc) then the answer is that they will get more expensive relative to mass produced cars as they won’t benefit from the savings of kit architectures. However, there is always demand for sports cars and they will always be made.

  • avatar
    08Suzuki

    Theoretically, I can actually see kit architecture making sports cars lighter. The way I understand it, the easiest way to explain it would be in relation to a platform: a platform has few big pieces, but a kit not only breaks all these pieces down into many, many smaller pieces, but also introduces a lot of other many, many smaller pieces into the mix too. This means you can substitute lighter pieces and architecture where appropriate. However, I still see the sports car market shrinking and the Z fading away (again). It’s got nothing to do with engineering. It has everything to do with marketing.

    As I’ve said on Jalopnik (and no doubt controversial) but perhaps the tsunami and currency crash has been the worst thing to happen to the Z: precisely because those two things put Nissan within spitting distance of overtaking Honda. Nissan no longer has to settle for being a “niche brand.” They can play the mainstream market with the big fish. It’s all in the current Altima: sure, it’s powerful, but it’s even more of a boat than before. And the Z (as explained on this very blog) is a slow seller. Companies aiming for the big leagues tend to dump slow sellers.

  • avatar
    JMII

    I think the real problem is cost. A company could make a unique platform for a “sports car” but how much more would they have to invest? However aren’t sports cars by their very nature usually the most expensive choice in a markers line-up?

    As for keeping weight down they just need to pick a lighter chassis to base said sports car on. As long as its RWD and a manual is fitted you can make a sports car from several starting points. Granted the shape might not be right, but it could work in the important other areas (handling / acceleration). Case in point: the Golf R.

    In general sports cars are a dying breed, the “kit age” is going to make it worst, but someone will always provide such a vehicle. This is why I applaud what Toyota and Subie did with FR-S / BR-Z. They just forgot the acceleration part by leaving the turbo out of the engine bay.

    FYI one of the reasons I bought a ’03 Z = weight. Each year they gained HP but also got fatter, thus speed stayed about the same. Given the age of my Z it runs in the same league as a ’13 V6 Stang. My Z is 3,247 lbs which compares nicely with the “heavy” (at its time) 300ZX. Do I wish it was lighter? Sure, but having a carbon fiber or all aluminum version would mean Corvette (plus) money. So I’m back to square one: you can make a sports car but at what cost?

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    It doesn’t matter. Between CAFE and CO2 limits, all vehicles will have sub-1-liter 3-cylinder hybrid drive trains with 1950s-level acceleration, and there will be no place to park them – the parking spots and roadway shoulders will all be striped for bicycles, and parking lots converted to community gardens.

    • 0 avatar
      Charliej

      You are probably not old enough to remember the sixties. The same things were being said. All cars would be slow pieces of sh!t, nothing to compare to the muscle cars of the late sixties. However, many cars being made now are faster than the muscle cars of the sixties. I am not sure why, but car enthusiasts seem to believe that there is a plot to deny them the cars that they want. The truth is that car companies simply go where the money is. Enthusiasts are such a small niche that they can be ignored, so they are.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Today’s market seems brutal for niche vehicles, particularly sports cars. It becomes harder and harder to justify dedicated vehicles, and what you end up with are cars—or whole platforms, as with the aforementioned Nissan front-midship platform—that are jacks of many trades, and masters of none. It makes for a whole bunch of rather unmemorable products, if you ask me.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      Hi Kyree – - –

      It may depend on the market niche and price. Super-cars and hyper-cars seem to have such a roaring business that people like Ferrari, Pagani, and Koenigsegg can’t make enough of them and have waiting lists.

      There is even a Greek fellow who is starting to build super-cars:
      http://jalopnik.com/korres-project-4-the-greek-supercar-with-a-corvette-he-513671156

      And some offerings are beginning to be made in the Middle East and Russia:
      http://autos.yahoo.com/news/diamonds-are-a-car’s-best-friend–middle-east’s-first-supercar-to-cost–3-4-million-195257614.html
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marussia_Motors

      Certainly Jerod Shelby and John Hennessy have no concerns about being able to sell their Tuatara or Venom GT, respectively:
      http://www.sscnorthamerica.com/tuatara.php
      http://www.hennesseyperformance.com/venomgt.html

      ———————

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    I think the future of sports cars is bright so long as we don’t limit ourselves to sports cars as being front-engine, rear-wheel-drive. With the advances in light-weight materials turning the tide against car bloat, and fuel economy requirements blunting the horsepower war we will see traditional sports car attributes returning. To me at least that would mean an emphasis on emotional stimulation and fun over penis substitution through horsepower.

    However, the cars will more likely be in either the hot-hatch/CRX mould, or like the original Toyota MR2 (essentially a two-seat Corolla with the drivetrain flipped). If anything, kit production methods make the idea more viable. The parts bin would be deeper and production costs/complications reduced.

    At least, that’s how I see it. Now if only Honda would wake up, dump the new NSX and build me an EV-Ster with the motor from the next Civic Type-R. Seriously, what’s cool about $100k exotics? $30k exotics are much greater achievements.


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