The first memory I have of Porsche’s exotic is this: I was driving around the Orange County suburb of Irvine at roughly 7:30 in the morning on a Saturday with almost nobody on the road. In front of me, at a stoplight, were two V10 supercars revving their engines and ready to bolt. One was a yellow Lamborghini Gallardo, and the other, a silver Porsche Carrera GT. As soon as I heard the throaty bellow of those massive 10 cylinder, mid-engined coupes, I was hooked. The light turned green, they both sped away with exhaust notes trumpeting the departure of two of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, while I was stuck with the less-than-ideal combination of piss poor fuel economy and tepid performance of my 2000 Mustang. One day, I thought. One day. Now the Carrera GT is mine, albeit in my non-physical Dream Garage, and one day I will break it out of its fantastical state.
For whatever reason, most of the material in online auto enthusiast circles regarding BMW’s history seems to begin with the E30 M3, or for more nostalgic writers, the 2002. Before those sport coupes made Bayerishe Motoren Worke a worldwide brand, the 507 roadster debuted in 1956, a car that is as exquisite as it was a dismal commercial failure. Costing nearly double the intended MSRP at $10,000, the 507 sold just over 250 copies due to BMW’s relatively unknown status outside of Germany and the convertible’s substantial price tag. The blow wounded the company as it was recovering from World War II, during which time BMW sold relatively few cars compared to the juggernaut that was Mercedes.
Photos courtesy of Ford
The retro car design revival spearheaded by the 1998 Volkswagen New Beetle resulted in a mixed bag of new cars on the market. Chrysler PT Cruiser: bad. 2005 Mustang: good. Plymouth/Chrysler Prowler: great design, poor execution. In the middle of all this, Ford released a new version of the legendary GT40 road car from the 1960s, and in the process made one of the coolest supercars of the last 20 years. The Ford GT featured a mid-mounted supercharged 5.4L V8 later used in GT500 Mustangs, and developed a Ferrari F430-beating 550hp. A six-speed manual was thankfully the only transmission offered, and in true Ford fashion, the power stayed the hell away from the front tires. Although wider and taller than the original GT40, the Ford GT was still low as hell compared to its contemporaries, and the ducktail spoiler pushing down on the 315mm-wide rear tires helped keep the car glued to the ground. Other than the scaled size, the Ford GT was practically identical to its ancestor; it’s one of the reasons secondhand GT prices routinely go for more than the original sticker price.
BMW 8 Series. All photos from bmw.com
Previous editions of the Dream Garage include my favorite car of all time, the first factory-approved, batshit crazy Mercedes, the greatest supercar ever built, a barely-legal Lotus, and a stunning Ferrari supercar. To that list, I add an early ’90s BMW meant to be driven everyday, even when the spotty reliability and high cost of maintenance may send off warning bells to prospective buyers. It has a German V12 that, in standard form, produces too little power and moves too much weight, and it is far too expensive to use as an everyday GT. And I love it for reasons that are hard to explain in words.
The Lotus Elise/Exige is one of the most wonderful purpose-built machines on the road today (other than in the US, of course). It works wonderfully on the track and less well on the street, due to its hard suspension, short wheelbase, thin seats, tight cockpit, and much more. It does, however, go like stink around a race track, with a 190hp 1.8L Toyota 4-cylinder pushing less than 2,000lbs; a supercharged S version can be had with 218hp. In European markets, an Exige S has been available since 2012 with a V6 borrowed from the Evora, making 345hp. With the Elise/Exige conforming to Lotus founder Colin Chapman’s emphasis on extreme weight saving measures, this incredibly inexpensive supercar could beat most anything around a track in the hands of a skilled driver. Roadgoing cars couldn’t get much more extreme, could they?
The Ferrari 288 GTO, along with the Porsche 959 (which will absolutely make an appearance in a future Dream Garage feature), is one of the greatest cars produced in the 1980s, and is a true supercar in its own right. That decade is really the first time auto manufacturers began experimenting with turbochargers as an effective substitute for high-displacement engines, and cars that pulled it off successfully have commanded premium prices in the decades that followed (see Buick Regal GNX, Audi Quattro, and really any homologated sports car from the era). Read More…
There are very few cars that are nearly universally beloved. Old muscle cars like the original Corvette Stingray, Dodge Challenger, and Ford Mustang were big hits in the U.S., while the Europeans can claim the Lamborghini Miura, Ferrari 250 and Jaguar E-Type as very significant as well. Auto manufacturers the world round were severely affected by the oil embargo of 1973-1974, with the public and government reaching the realization that fuel economy would be an important factor in the years ahead. As such, there were very few cars created in the ’70s and ’80s that are remembered fondly by automotive lovers, including the Porsche 959, Ferrari 288 GTO, and Buick Regal GNX. The ’90s were the first decade that really reversed the trend of performance-choked engines, and future classics were even making their way from Japan, including the Acura NSX and Nissan Skyline GT-R. Read More…