As a child of the eighties, I grew up around some truly great sports cars of the motor industry…
I got a bit nostalgic and decided to look back at the vehicles that fueled my passion for the automotive industry, new and old.
You may not agree with them all but these ten cars stand out in my mind as some of the most iconic cars ever created!
Before I even knew how an engine worked, I knew full well I loved this. The Dodge Viper was designed as a modern twist on the classic muscle cars and its ten-cylinder engine, was all speed, tire-smoke and drama – not much in the way of twisty turns but back then I didn’t really appreciate a proper all-rounder so the faster, more beastly the better.
The Dodge Viper premiered in 1992 model year. Completely raw and unrefined vehicle, its centrepiece was its engine; originally designed as a truck engine and based on the Chrysler LA engine, Lamborghini, then a division of the Chrysler Corporation, revamped Dodge’s cast-iron block V10 for the Viper by recasting the block and head in aluminium alloy, and giving the engine a significant power boost.
20 years later, it still turns heads.
The 911 is exactly what I think of when I hear the words “sports car.” The most consistently recognisable car over a 50 year period is a feat in itself and the 911 GT3 RS will forever be top of dream cars to own! Regardless of how new or old it is, no one would ever mistake a 911 for anything else.
The first Porsche 911 was produced in 1964. Using a horizontally-opposed “boxer” engine in a rear-engine layout.
Countach/Diablo…Countach/Diablo – which one to pick. One of the two was every 80’s kid’s dream car. The Lamborghini Countach is arguably the most iconic exotic car of all time. First produced back in 1974, the last one rolled off the production line in 1990. The original version came with a 370-horsepower V-12 but in its final year, the car’s twelve-cylinder power plant produced a mind-bending (at the time) 447 horsepower.
Defining the modern concept of the exotic car. The Lamborghini Miura was created to test the abilities of the Lamborghini company’s engineers – expensive, unnecessary, but inspiring.
All of these characteristics are displayed in the Lamborghini Miura with its design, amongst the most beautiful of all time — designed by Italian Marcello Gandini. Lamborghini’s later Countach and Diablo models, as well as many other well-known vehicles, were also Gandini’s work. At the time of its release in the mid-1960s, V-12-powered Miura was the fastest road-going car in the world.
Daytona was released shortly after the Lamborghini Miura and by contrast, was elegant and classic. The Ferrari was a front-engine, Pininfarina-designed shape with a handmade 4.4-litre V-12 powering the rear wheels. The car produced a maximum of 352 horsepower, which was enough for 0-60 mph time of about five and a half seconds and a top speed of over 170 mph.
Ferrari Testarossa can be considered the automotive embodiment of the wild-partying 1980s – The Testarossa was the car for extroverts and attention seekers. The mid-engine Testarossa was produced from 1984 till 1991. The car’s name means “redhead” in Italian. This is a reference to the red-painted cam covers on the V-12 engine.Like most Ferraris, Testarossa’s exterior was designed by famed Italian design house Pininfarina. The model stands out not only because of its dramatic aesthetics but because of how much care was taken with aerodynamics.
A focused race car for the streets, the F40 was a pure, unadulterated performance vehicle. It set the mould for the showstopping F50, Enzo and LaFerrari models that followed. The F40 remains a fanboy favourite, coming at a time before traction control, onboard computer systems and is the ultimate example of the traditional supercar.
Produced between 1987 and 1992, only approximately 1,000 of them were made and when it debuted, it was the fastest and most expensive road car the company had ever made, the car’s low production numbers and historical significance have made it a hard-to-find collector’s item.
The original, 240Z went on sale in 1969 and today has become a sort after classic Japanese sports car due to its iconic looks.
The more modern versions, the 350 and 370Z were an immediate hit with buyers being reasonably cheap, good looking with typical Japanese performance – also highly tune-able and making a big impact in the Drift Scene in 2015/2016. I’ve owned one and to this day remains one of my favourite cars to drive.
TOYOTA SUPRA MARK IV
Mark IV Supra is arguably the most iconic Japanese sports car of the ’90s. The notoriously bulletproof 2JZ engine came in a non-turbo and turbo variety, I’ve owned both and the Supra tops my table – it was the thing of dreams, certainly as I was growing up and I feel incredibly satisfied to have owned and worked on them. Of course after the first instalment of the Fast and the Furious film franchise its popularity, already high hit the roof. Highly tuneable, gorgeous and reliable – prized by import car tuners and amateur racers and relatively easy to tune 400bhp giving it supercar performance for less than £10,000.
Still being bought and modified by the nations hardcore car enthusiasts – and I hope it continues for a long time.
Revered by Ayrton Senna, and who would argue with him, the NSX was Honda’s answer to the question: “Can we build a car to rival Porsche and Ferrari?” Honda was determined to build a world-class high-performance sports car. The NSX was the result, precise and high-tech machine that perhaps wasn’t the fastest car available, but it was beautifully balanced, carefully-tuned and had great performance. Legendary Formula 1 racer Ayrton Senna assisted with the development of the car.
Now being re-released in amongst a revival of these Japanese Sports Cars, the original had a 3.0-litre V-6 engine and a typical Honda redline of 8,000 rpm, which was also more like a race car than a typical road car.
NISSAN R35 GT-R
Whilst the Skyline badge has carried weight since the ’60s, the perhaps best-known incarnation of this car was the 90’s R32, R33 and incredible R34 GT-R.
All of which could easily top this list, however, I decided to include this particular model because of the incredible job Nissan did produce a vehicle with such impressive technology that has set a new benchmark for affordable performance vehicles – all the supercar performance for a fraction of the price, heavily reliant on the technology included. Nissan set out producing a vehicle that could eat supercars for breakfast whilst maintaining a reasonable price tag. Featuring a high-tech twin-turbo V-6, a dual-clutch semi-automatic transmission and Nissan’s ATTESA E-TS all-wheel-drive system. An absolute must for the bucket list!
The S2000 is a beautiful, small, affordable rear-wheel drive sports car packed full of technology that was way ahead of its time. Using Formula 1 technology it revved to 9000 rpm, with the V-tec kicking in at about 6,500 revs. Combining incredible handling, light chassis, high-performance engine and lovely exterior styling. Repairs and maintenance were infrequent and affordable. A serious drivers car, but be careful in the wet – it gets incredibly twitchy and is therefore rated as a high risk in the insurance industry.