When I originally set out to write TTAC’s list of “best track cars”, I didn’t do so all that originally. That is to say, you probably already know what cars were going to be on that first list, without ever having read it. The BMW E30, Porsche 944, and Mazda Miata were there, and the inclusion of a Consulier GTP could only come as a surprise if you’ve never read a Jo Borras article before. It was a good list, though – one that just about any seasoned SCCA/NASA guy or gal could get behind, I thought.
That’s when I realized I know a few seasoned SCCA/NASA guys and gals, so I tossed it over to my friends Brandan and Tyler over at Auto Interests driving school to see what they thought – and I didn’t really expect Brandan’s response.
“You would hate driving these cars,” he said. “You’re too slow.”
Ford has been getting into trouble over “track-ready” Mustangs after a few customers formally accused the company of erroneous marketing in 2017. A class-action lawsuit was even filed in March of that year, stating that the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 suffered from overheating problems that precluded it from being fully functional on a racetrack — specifically early examples of the car equipped with either the Technology Package or left in the base configuration.
Earlier this month, Federal Judge Federico A. Moreno certified statutory and common law fraud classes pertaining to the model in California, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Washington State. Additional approvals relating specifically to statutory fraud and/or implied warranty claims were made for Oregon, Missouri, Tennessee, and Texas.
Dodge has been rumored to be working on a Challenger American Club Racer (ACR) for a while, encouraging your author to enact Google Alerts anytime the applicable terms crop up online. We hit pay dirt Thursday when Allpar issued insider information on the vehicle’s progress.
While you may have encountered previous ACR models from Dodge, most were likely within striking distance of a racetrack or beating your britches off in virtual racing experiences. The formula is basic, even if the execution is not. Dodge models with a preexisting racing pedigree are modified to be more track worthy; typical alterations include upgraded tires/wheels, adjustable suspensions, bigger brakes, closer gearing, slick aerodynamics, and aggressive weight reductions that throw NVH concerns to the wind. They’re track-day monsters, with all other responsibilities being secondary.
Briggs Automotive Company, better known as BAC, doesn’t make a lot of announcements, but that’s not unheard of in the weird world of British sports car manufacturers that focus solely on low-volume, high-performance models.
When BAC launched the Mono in 2011, reviewers praised the car for delivering a unique driving experience and merging track-car dynamics with on-road legality. It became an overnight automotive celebrity, spending the next few years starring on programs like Top Gear, in video games, or on popular auto-themed YouTube channels. A decade later, little buzz surrounds the company.
Fortunately, BAC says it will bring forth another vehicle in 2019.
While Lexus has cranked out a few impressive sporting models over its lifetime, “performance” is not a term that’s synonymous with the brand. Instead, Lexus seems to evoke words like “reliability,” “luxury,” and “high resale values” from the collective consumer mindscape. However, the brand does do dynamics. You can log onto its website right now and discover that most of its fleet offers enough horsepower to make getting a ticket easy enough. It also has performance F variants of the GS, LC, and RC for customers of discerning tastes and the need for a 5.0-liter V8 powerplant.
Interested in going the extra mile to prove itself, Lexus plans to unveil a refreshed RC at the 2019 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, along with a special Track Edition of the already high-performance RC F.
In 1968, Ford issued a limited number of lightweight, “335-horsepower” Mustangs intended for the drag strip. While street legal, the vehicles were absolute beasts on the track thanks to the implementation of the 428 Cobra Jet engine. The powerplant utilized the racy 427 FE’s intake manifold and added ram-air induction, a functional hood scoop, and an engine bay full other performance modifications. It was serious business and produced far more horsepower than Ford claimed. Most estimates place the initial Mustang Cobra Jet’s output around 410 hp.
It’s now half a century later, and the model 50th anniversary is not an occasion you ignore. Ford chose to bring the Cobra Jet back for the occasion with iconic decals and mechanical upgrades that send it into the past and future, respectively. Unfortunately, onlookers can only enjoy the retro graphics and savage acceleration of this version at the track or in a garage. Because the Cobra Jet is way too extreme to be road legal.
Good golly. It sure seems like there’s a bunch of unnecessary high performance cars under development that pass well beyond the limits of most normal people’s purchasing power. Maybe it’s our imagination, but there appears to be some sort of performance car renaissance taking place at the moment.
Throw another one onto the pile. Ligier, a company you’ve probably never heard of unless you’re seriously into vintage Formula One, present-day Le Mans 24 Hours, or French mini cars, is developing a road-going sports car. While it should have an almost semi-reasonable price tag for a boutique model, it’s still going to be more expensive than most people want to pay. Also, like so many of these specialty cars, we’re not going to bet on it spending much time outside of Europe — which would be a tragedy, since this thing sounds absolutely incredible on paper.
Toyota’s return of the Supra has to be the most exciting vehicle nobody knows anything about right now. We know it was co-developed with BMW using the same platform as the new Z4 and we have a pretty good idea of what it will look like in production form. But the void of technical specs has left us digging for any morsel of information that might sustain us.
A new morsel has come in and it might be disappointing to those of you living outside the bonds of reality. The new Supra will not be an easily affordable automobile.
This shouldn’t be incredibly surprising. The Supra Mark IV wasn’t exactly automotive history’s greatest bargain. In the late 1990s, you could purchase a Mustang SVT Cobra and a Honda Civic DX for what it cost to acquire a base-model Supra. So there is no reason to assume the forthcoming edition will be intended for 86 or BRZ shoppers that recently received a modest pay increase from Best Buy.
Despite being off the market for 16 years, the Toyota Supra remains relevant as the brand’s most famous performance machine. That’s partially because the automaker never built a worthy successor but, even if it had, the Supra had already cemented its identity as an absolute monster before ending production in 2002.
You’ll find countless hours of footage where the model embarrasses high-end exotics in straight-line speed, usually thanks to heavy modifications. Likewise, its appearances in film and video games saw it coveted by automotive enthusiasts well before they learned how to drive.
That puts a lot of pressure on the automaker to deliver something that can live up to the hype; as a result, Toyota’s been very cagey on the Supra’s progress. However, we now have something resembling a production vehicle. The Toyota GR Supra Racing Concept is a hypothetical track version of the roadgoing fifth-generation model we’ve yet to see.
Intended to be the best of both worlds, crossovers deliver the ruggedness of a sport utility vehicle with the handling characteristics of a sedan. At least, that’s the theory. In practice, we’ve often found them lukewarm — sacrificing the best traits of either segment to deliver something that can bridge the gap between them. If that’s what you’re looking for, then there isn’t much of a problem. But we’ve often thought you’d be better off in a hatchback or a more traditional SUV.
Crossovers do have a role to play, however. I find petite examples particularly adept at city duty. But there aren’t many crossovers offering driving excitement below the $40,000 mark, and none of them are particularly svelte. Toyota seems to understand our plight and, in continuing its attempt to rebrand itself as a bold automaker, decided to make something genuinely thrilling out of the ho-hum C-HR.
It’s called the “R-Tuned,” and the manufacturer claims it’s the quickest CUV ever to grace God’s green earth.
Chevrolet’s Camaro ZL1 is already renowned for its ability to put down massive amounts of power in the corners and the straights. When General Motors switched over to the Alpha platform, it made sure that the ZL1 was a serious contender on the track, drag strip, highway, or any other evenly paved road. For 2018, the ZL1 1LE aims to add additional grace upon closed-course tarmac and transform an already track-capable car into a street-legal racer.
With more wings than a flock of birds, it certainly appears as if it would be more than competent at a track day and the black hood, mirrors, and wheels further enhance the definitely-not-a-street-car look. However, unlike the dark paint, the oversized carbon fiber rear wing, bumper canards, and deflectors provide functional downforce for cornering in addition to an extreme image.
I was too busy examining considerably less powerful race cars last weekend at Michigan’s Gingerman Raceway to track down the owner of this fine machine and ask the many questions it inspired. Just one glance at the engine, however, tells us a terrifying/awe-inspiring power-to-weight story.
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