Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Art & Spirit of the Exotic Sports Car

Anyone who has seen the Lamborghini Reventón or the Aston Martin DBS knows that unmistakable feeling. It's the thrill & the allure of the exotic sports car, overhauled & updated for the 21st century. Since their inception, sports cars have continually pushed the boundaries of both engineering & art. These are the cars that exemplify speed, power and beauty.
Alfa Romeo: The Grandfather of Exotic Sports Cars

Alfa Romeo first began producing racecars in Milan, Italy in 1910. Their first endeavor, the HP 24, turned some heads with its superior speed and handling. Chief Designer Giuseppe Merosi worked on all Alfa Romeo models from 1910 to 1923. When Merosi retired, racecar driver Enzo Ferrari persuaded Vittorio Jano to leave Fiat and take over Merosi's work.

In 1925, Alfa Romeo unveiled the P2 Grand Prix Car, Jano's first car with Romeo and widely considered the first "supercar." The P2 was powered by a straight-8 cylinder supercharged engine, and placed first in 14 Grand Pix races between 1924 and 1930. Today, the P2 Grand Prix is considered one of the most rarified of the collectible antique cars, with less than a dozen still intact.

This year marks the return of Alfa Romeo to the United States. Their current sports car, the 8C Competizione, is stunning with its sleek lines, 4.7L 6-cylinder engine & a top speed of 181 mph. This car is destined to send ripples throughout the US market.

Ferrari: High Performance, Luxury Cars

After racing Alfa Romeos in the 1920's & 30's, Enzo Ferrari decided that he wanted to build his own racecars. He prototyped a few models in the 1940's, but it wasn't until after World War II that he found success. Notably, Ferrari's exotic sports cars took first place in the Formula 1 World Championships, 24 Hours of Le Mans and the World Sportscar Championships throughout the 1950's.

Ferrari's Gran Turismo series remains its most successful lines, with the 2007 599 GTB Fiorano bringing even more luxury and innovation to the table. Patrons of the Ferrari Club of America cite performance as the primary reason for purchasing a Ferrari over other collectible cars.

Lamborghini : Exotic Sports Cars for a New Generation
Ferruccio Lamborghini had a successful business building tractors in Italy before his eyes turned to the exotic sports car. And it wasn't a love for performance that stirred his fire, but a disdain for Enzo Ferrari.

According to Lamborghini's family, Ferruccio purchased a Ferrari 250 GT in the early 1960's and was unhappy with the handling & response of the clutch. He brought it into Ferrari's factory and met with Enzo Ferrari to voice his concerns. Ferrari was immediately upset with Lamborghini's complaints so he mocked Lamborghini and sent him away. Lamborghini went home, dismantled the car and discovered that the clutches installed in Ferraris were from the same manufacturers he used for his tractors. He installed a new clutch and vowed to create a higher-quality, luxury sports car than Ferrari.

While Lamborghini has countless models that produce awe and wonder in car enthusiasts, it's the 1974 Countach that remains their most iconic. Designer Marcello Gandini, then just beginning his career, placed his focus on style over aerodynamics. With its scissor doors, sharp lines and low, wide frame, the Countach raised the bar for Lamborghini. The Diablo, the Murciélago, and even the 2008 Reventón follow in its wake.

Aston Martin: Unforgettable Collectible Cars
Aston Martin

Britain's Aston Martin was founded by Lionel Martin & Robert Bamford in 1914. They designed exotic sports cars and drove in competitions, but it wasn't until David Brown became managing director of the company in 1947 that they were able to establish themselves as a maker of high-quality, high-performance sports cars. They introduced the DB line (DB standing for David Brown) in 1950, and many of their models have become synonymous with antique and collectible cars.

Newer DB models include the luxurious DB-7, which was designed by Ian Callum and produced from 1994 to 2001. This model won the Jim Clark Award in 1995, and remains Aston Martin's most successful car to-date.


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car blogger said...

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