Showing posts with label 2000s Sports Cars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2000s Sports Cars. Show all posts

TVR Sagaris

TVR Sagaris 2000s British sports car

If you bought a TVR Sagaris new, you got a fiver change from £50K. It did not, though, come with any airs and graces attached. Built in Blackpool - on England's NW coast - the Sagaris delivered no-frills performance - and plenty of it. No-frills, yes - but not no-thrills. A top speed of 175mph made sure of that.

A swift glance at the Sagaris spoke volumes. The transparent rear wing could not have been clearer ... in terms of the car's intent, that is. If you were still in doubt, an array of bonnet vents gave the game away. Does a road car need to breathe that deeply? Nikolai Smolenski - TVR's new owner - obviously thought so. He was a young Russian oligarch - and was taking no chances. In the past, TVR had caught flak over build quality. To be fair, as a small manufacturer of exotic machinery, it was always a risk. Smolenski, then, opted to up the ante, reliability-wise. How much he succeeded is a moot point. Anyway, a sturdy roll-cage was duly installed - which took care of over-zealous pedal-prodders, at least!

Certainly, the Sagaris' straight-six engine called for care. The all-aluminium unit was deceptively pretty. On top of a 406bhp output, it turned over 349lb/ft of torque. As a result, the Sagaris rocketed from 0-60 in 3.7s. 0-100 took just 8.1s. Figures like that mean precision engineering. With a bit of Northern grit thrown in, of course. After all, sports car development is no bowl of cherries! But, while the TVR Sagaris did not stand on ceremony, it was bespoke - not basic!

Maserati MC12

Maserati MC12 2000s Italian supercar

The Maserati MC12 cost £515K. 50 were sold - twice as many as were needed to let the competition version race in the FIA GT World Championship. For your half a million quid, you got a Ferrari Enzo, into the bargain. Well, sort of! Much of the MC12 was based on the Enzo - as a by-product of the Ferrari Maserati Group partnership. Replication ran to the carbon monocoque, V12 engine, steering wheel and windscreen. The MC12's 6-litre motor was detuned a tad from that of the Enzo - but still managed to provide a cool 622bhp, at 7,500rpm. Top speed was 205mph. 0-60 took 3.8s.

Remarkably, the MC12 took a mere twelve months to make. Maserati's engineers were, of course, aided by the Ferrari Enzo factor. Even so, to take a top-grade supercar from drawing board to production line in a year was impressive, to say the least. Design duties fell to Frank Stephenson. He had previously masterminded the Mini Cooper. In terms of the MC12's aerodynamic package, a quick glance told you all you needed to know. Seriously slippery was understatement!

The MC12's white and blue paint mirrored Maserati's 'Birdcage' racers. The Tipo 60/61 machines had competed in sports car events in the early Sixties. The racing theme continued inside. Lightweight carbon-fibre was used for the MC12's cabin - including the fully-harnessed seats. Practical problems arose from the rear window - or lack of it! A quick removal of the targa top, though, soon sorted the shortcoming. Other than that rear visibility 'glitch', the MC12 was reasonably user-friendly. Sequential gear-changing was straightforward, steering nimble and the ride smooth. The sole issue, then, for owners, was sourcing spare parts. Best way around it was buying a Ferrari Enzo as back-up. Or - better still - two MC12s. Maserati probably preferred the latter option!

B Engineering Edonis

B Engineering Edonis 2000s Italian supercar

B Engineering began as an offshoot of Bugatti - when the latter went bust, in '95. A small group of ex-Bugatti staffers banded together to create their own take on a supercar. Not just any old supercar, mind - a one-of-a-kind supercar. Enter the Edonis! Arguably, the best tagline a car could have would be 'Made in Modena!' Certainly, the Italian city is now synonymous with automotive excellence. B Engineering never used that slogan. But - while 'B Engineering' may not have quite the same cachet as 'Ferrari' - it can still hold its own in high-calibre company.

'Edonis' is Greek for pleasure. In the case of a supercar, the kind of pleasure that 720bhp generates. It came courtesy of a twin-turbocharged V12 engine. The Edonis' top speed was 223mph. No surprise, then, that it broke the lap record at the Nardo racetrack. When it came to the car's colossal power output, every other component was clearly supremely in sync with it. Edonis project director Nicola Materazzi led a crack team of engineers. Between them, they had worked for all of the top supercar marques. Jut 21 Edonis units were built. The figure referenced the 21st century.

B Engineering's links with Bugatti stayed strong. Its owner - Jean-Marc Borel - had been Bugatti's vice chairman. 21 carbon-fibre tubs - originally earmarked for the Bugatti EB110 - were duly used for the Edonis. The latter's 3.7-litre engine was developed from that of the EB110. It was hooked up to a 6-speed gearbox. The Edonis cost a cool £450,000 - from a manufacturer without a proven pedigree. Those in the know, though, did not baulk at the price. After all, the crème de la crème of the car industry had contributed. For the B Engineering Edonis, then, quality was never going to be an issue!

Spyker C8 Laviolette

Spyker C8 Laviolette 2000s Dutch supercar

In the past, the Netherlands was associated with tulips and windmills. These days, it is as likely to be supercars - like the Spyker C8 Laviolette. Spyker's roots stretch back to 1880. In '89, they built the Golden Carriage. It still transports the Dutch royal family, on state occasions. During World War 1, Spyker made fighter planes - including their engines. The firm also found time to build cars - for both road and track. Well, they did until '26 - when Spyker went bankrupt.

Thankfully, though, that was not the end of the Spyker story. In '99, Victor Muller - a Dutch business magnate - bought the Spyker brand-name. He duly set about resurrecting the marque. Supercars would be Spyker's new stock-in-trade. The Spyker Squadron team was formed. It specialised in endurance racing. Visits to Le Mans, Sebring et alia duly followed. In '06, Spyker entered F1. It bought the Midland équipe - or Jordan, as it had previously been. Two years on, the team would be sold to Force India.

Spyker's C8 Laviolette debuted at the 2001 Amsterdam Motor Show. Its aluminium bodywork took visitors' breath away. Beneath, the space-frame was made from the same lightweight material. The dramatic upsweep of the 'scissors doors' was spectacularly state of the art. When open, they revealed quilted-leather seats. The Laviolette's 4.2-litre V8 produced 400bhp. Suspension was via F1-style Koni inboard shocks. Ventilated disc brakes were suitably solid. The Laviolette's top speed was 187mph. 0-60 came up in 4.5s. Of course, the price tag was sky-high. £210,000, to be precise. For that kind of wedge, you got to watch your car being built. That came courtesy of a Spyker factory web cam. Among the options was a Chronoswiss Spyker wrist-watch - complete with your car's chassis number engraved on it. That was a snip - at just £24,000. An add-on set of bespoke luggage cost a mere £12,350. There was even a Louis Vuitton tool-kit available - a bargain at just £2,500. In financial terms, then, the Spyker C8 Laviolette was not for the faint-hearted - or, indeed, cash-strapped. Most of us could not afford the extras, never mind the car itself!

Nissan GT-R

Nissan GT-R 2000s Japanese sports car

Launched in '07, the Nissan GT-R followed on from the Skyline GT-R. The new model was effectively two cars in one. Insomuch as it was equipped with a speed switch - to toggle between performance and cruise modes. Full-on, its 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V6 put out 479bhp.

Key to the GT-R's success was its exotic drive-train. It comprised a paddle-shift transmission, twin-clutch transaxle and 4-wheel drive. With all that in place, the GT-R's power delivery was straightforward to manage. A 6-speed gearbox helped, too. 0-60 took just 3.5s. The GT-R maxed out at 194mph.

Despite such high-performance credentials, the GT-R sported a well-appointed cabin. The deep front seats were a deliberately close fit - to assist quick, but controlled driving. Soft leather upholstery kept things comfortable. If you liked cutting edge sounds - as well as cars - there was a high-tech music centre in situ. It came complete with downloading capabilities, of course. There was even an LCD screen - courtesy of Sony Playstation. As filed under ultimate all-rounder, then, the Nissan GT-R was pretty hard to fault!

Lamborghini Murciélago

Lamborghini Murcielago 2000s Italian supercar

The Lamborghini Murciélago was styled by Belgian Luc Donckerwolke. He had been chief designer at Audi - which, in '98, was taken over by Lamborghini. Traditionally, the latter had recruited Italian design houses. On that basis, Bertone were briefed to create the new car. And indeed, their work was ready to go into production. At the last, though, the Bertone project was canned. The design reins were duly passed to Donckerwolke.

When the Murciélago was launched, it was with no lack of fanfare. Sicily's Mount Etna provided the backdrop. The accompanying son et lumière show was equally spectacular - including, as it did, a volcanic eruption. Well, a virtual one, at any rate!

Designer Donckerwolke decked the car out in razor-sharp lines. Bodywork was carbon-fibre and steel. The chassis was fashioned from high-tensile tubing. Given the supercar's shape, a low drag coefficient was a gimme. As a result, top speed for the Murciélago was a searing 205mph. 0-60 appeared in 3.85s. Notwithstanding, steady torque delivery - and electronic engine management - rendered the car relatively tractable. Suspension and brakes were, naturally, state of the art. Late in the day though it had been, Lamborghini's decision to give the design gig to Luc Donckerwolke paid off. The Murciélago exhibited plenty of Italian flair ... as well as a dash of Belgian panache!

Ferrari California

Ferrari California 2000s Italian sports car

The Ferrari 250 California - released in '57 - was one of the most iconic cars ever created. A tad over half a century later, came another California. Designed by Pininfarina, seamless aerodynamics were key to the new car's styling. And the 2008 California was light. Both chassis and body were aluminium.

The F1-style steering-wheel featured Manettino dials. They modulated the gearbox, suspension and traction-control settings. The latter came in the form of the F1-Trac set-up. Should those systems' limits still be exceeded, an automatic roll bar was deployed. As well as front and side airbags. The California could be set to Comfort or Sport mode, too. At track-days, however - or, indeed, at any other time - the safety controls could be switched off. Apart from ABS braking, that is.

Ferrari's 4,300cc V8 engine made 460bhp. That catapulted the California to 193mph. Torque was on tap from way down low. The 7-speed semi-automatic transmission saw to that. Unlike some supercars, the California's cabin was roomy and comfortable. There was a retractable top. And plenty of luggage-space was provided. So, the Ferrari California was built for speed. To that extent, it echoed its fabled 250 predecessor. But - in common with that design classic - it was kitted out for cruising, too, if required.

Ascari KZ1

Ascari KZ1 2000s British supercar

The story of Ascari Cars - and the KZ1 - began in '95. The firm was based in Dorset, England. It was named after Alberto Ascari - the first double F1 champion. The new enterprise had a single objective - to build a supercar. The result was the Ascari Ecosse. It was designed by Lee Noble - who would later start up his own supercar marque. The Ecosse was fast ... as in, 200mph fast! Only 17 Ecosses, though, were sold. That was sufficient, however, to get the attention of Klaas Zwart - a Dutch business magnate. He subsequently bought Ascari. The company relocated - to Banbury, Oxfordshire. It is a region renowned for high-grade motorsport and its associated activities.

Released in '03, the KZ1 was nominally a roadster. But, it had racing running through its finely-tuned veins. The beating heart of the car was a V8 engine. It had been transplanted from the BMW M5. Ascari's engineers, however, hauled out 100 more horses from the standard saloon car unit. Asa result, output rose to 500bhp. The motor was mated to a 6-speed CIMA transmission. The chassis - sorted by ex-Lotus staff - was race-bred. The tub and body were cut from carbon-fibre. The KZ1 had a drag coefficient of just 0.35. Slippery stuff, indeed! Nonetheless, super-stiff ventilated discs stopped it on a sixpence.

Like its Ecosse predecessor, the KZ1 topped out at 200mph. 0-60 arrived in 3.8s. 0-100, in 8.3. As you would expect, stats like that set you back £235,000. But, you also got a leather and polished-aluminium cockpit, for your outlay. And air conditioning. Plus - last but not least - access to your own purpose-built test-track. As a KZ1 owner, 'Race Resort Ascari' was at your disposal. CEO Klaas Zwart built it for his own private use ... and for those who purchased his products. Zwart's custom design 'borrowed' corners from the world's finest circuits - and shifted them to Spain. Perfect, then, for putting your new KZ1 through its paces. Alberto Ascari would surely have approved!

Noble M15

Noble M15 2000s British supercar

When it came to machines like the M15, Noble's sports car credo was simple. Let the driver do the driving! That was in sharp contrast to many other manufacturers - who were happy to let gizmos have half the input. To Lee Noble, half the input meant half the fun! Founded in '99, his firm shot straight out of the automotive blocks. The Noble M10 - released the same year - did 170mph. And with a normally aspirated engine! Its light plastic bodywork was key to that speed. The Noble M12 moved things up another gear. Its turbocharged Ford motor was really more racer, than roadster. Time to throttle back a tad.

The M15 was launched in 2006. Pundits - Top Gear amongst them - praised its performance. 185mph was on tap - with 0-60 coming up in 3.4s. The twin turbocharged Ford Duratec engine made 455bhp. And the power was smoothly delivered. As Lee Noble had clarified - his cars were about the total driving experience. The M15's motor was mounted longitudinally. That evened out weight distribution - helping handling. The M15's purposeful poise was propped up by a space-frame chassis. Topping things off was an integral rollcage.

The M15's cabin was more than comfortable. There were electric windows - and sat-nav. Traction control and ABS, too. Did that border on computerised hand-holding? Possibly ... but, then, Noble did have a duty to protect its customers! And their wallets, for that matter. By supercar standards, the M15 came cheap. £74,950 was loose change compared with some of its peers!

Porsche Carrera GT

Porsche Carrera GT 2000s German supercar

The Porsche Carrera GT was shot through with motorsport. Nominally a roadster, number-plates were about as far as it went! It started as a Le Mans prototype - one that was subsequently shelved. The roots of its V10 engine were in F1. Porsche had built it for the Footwork team, in the early '90s. The Carrera GT concept car was launched at the Geneva Show, in 2000. It set off a tsunami of excitement. Showgoers jostled to get out their cheque-books. Porsche knew they had hit pay dirt. A limited-edition run was swiftly announced.

The Carrera was chock-full of competition-calibre components. The monocoque chassis was carbon-fibre. Diffusers and venturis were the stuff of F1. Wheels were super-light magnesium. So were the seats - with added carbon-fibre. Stainless-steel push-rods compressed the suspension - rigorously developed for rock-solid strength. The clutch was ceramic - as were the disc brakes. Natch, there was a 6-speed 'box.

The Carrera GT's bodywork was streamlined - to say the least. Huge ducts cooled the engine and brakes. Rear wing action kicked in at 75mph. The cockpit was moved forward - adding to the dynamism of the design, among other things. Porsche's brief to self was to create a cutting edge supercar. The Carrera GT was proof they had delivered!

Koenigsegg CC

Koenigsegg CC 2000s supercar

Christian von Koenigsegg was a Swedish tycoon. He was also a man on a mission. In '94, he decided he would build the fastest road-going four-wheeler. The result would be the Koenigsegg CC set of supercars. F1-derived technology would help. It was factored in. In 2000 - six years after von Koenigsegg conceived the project - the carbon-fibre-skinned fruit of his labours appeared. The prototype - unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show - was the Koenigsegg CC8S. The production version went on sale in '02. In '04, it was followed by the CCR. That car clocked in at 241.63mph - at the Nardo test track, in Italy. Which made it the quickest roadster on planet Earth. Von Koenigsegg had delivered. His small-scale Swedish firm had cocked a snook at the world's biggest players. Like the mighty McLaren, for example.

If the CCR was the stuff of boyhood fantasies, the CCX introduced some real-world charm. While way out of reach of the average buyer, it sought to address everyday issues. Air pollution, for one. US safety and emissions regulations are stringent. Von Koenigsegg's cars, though, met them head-on. Their engines, for instance, were squeaky-clean. Koenigsegg HQ is in Ängelholm, Sweden. An environmentally-friendly V8 was developed. Specialised heat treatment reduced the amounts of aluminium used. Two centrifugal superchargers were fitted. The result was a staggering 806bhp - from just 6,900rpm. The engine's dry-sump lubrication let the centre of mass be lowered. That helped the CCX handle. The gearbox was 6-speed. There was a custom selection of gear ratios on offer - to suit owners' personal driving styles.

Bodywork-wise, too, the CCX was well-crafted. Carbon-fibre and Kevlar came as standard. Aerodynamics were key. The car's underside was flat - save for venturis cut into the back. An optional rear spoiler added downforce. Yet - for such a state-of-the-art supercar - the CCX was compliant. Its doors were dihedral synchro-helix. They rotated forwards and up! When the sun came out, the targa top could be detached - and stowed beneath the bonnet. That was not, perhaps, the best time to test the top speed. 259mph was on tap. 0-60 arrived in 3.2s. The Koenigsegg CC range, then, fused supercar performance with practicality. Swedish supercar performance, that is!

Gumpert Apollo

Gumpert Apollo 2000s German supercar

Roland Gumpert - developer of the Apollo - was a man on a mission. He had previously been Audi's Director of Motorsport. Engineering-wise, then, the Apollo was in the surest of hands. Indeed, few cars could hold a candle to it, technically. Visual design was by Marco Vanetta. The jury has long been out on the Apollo's looks. Its shape has been critiqued as a bit 'boxy' by styling pundits. And even as downright odd, by some supercar observers!

Configuration-wise, the Apollo was, in fact, far from radical. Its two-seater, mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive set-up was pretty much par for the supercar course. But the Apollo wrung every last drop out of the layout. Its tubular steel frame was rock-solid. The fibre-glass bodywork light as a feather. Suspension was double wishbone all round - with the dampers fully adjustable. They were joined inboard by 6-piston ventilated disc brakes. The Apollo was impressively aerodynamic. On top of its wind-cheating shape, it sported a subtle rear spoiler. Beneath, lay a finely-hewn undertray. Two venturis stretched the length of the car. They generated huge amounts of downforce. The Apollo's engine dictated that. The turbocharged 4.2-litre Audi V8 produced 641bhp in base form. That was upped to 690bhp by the sport version of the motor. There was a third engine option - tuned specially for racing. Top speed - even in standard trim - was 224mph. 0-60 appeared in just 3s.

The Apollo, though, did have its docile side. Controls were power-assisted. The V8 grunt was manageable for most drivers. And cruising was a breeze. Supercar-style gull-wing doors allowed easy access. Compared with many a highly-strung rival, the Apollo was user-friendly. Its cabin was roomy and relaxing. Four-point safety harnesses were standard. So, in many ways, the Gumpert Apollo was a real-world runabout, rather than a star-chasing retro rocket. Albeit, one in a suitably space-age skin!

Ferrari Enzo

Ferrari Enzo 2000s Italian supercar

Technically, the Ferrari Enzo was a roadster. And 'technically' is about as far as it went. Red-blooded racing ran in its veins. Its name alone told you all you needed to know. Founder of the myth that is Maranello - and its most famous firm - Enzo Ferrari's legacy is secure. 'Professor' Alain Prost - French F1 legend - once said he did not know why racing drivers do what they do. Cars like the Enzo - with its 660bhp power output - probably provide a few clues!

There were strong links between the Enzo and the Ferrari F1 car at the time. Its CFC/Nomex body panels, for starters, bear a striking resemblance. Beneath those panels sat a carbon-fibre monocoque - similar, again, to that of the GP car. Even the Enzo's V12 engine was cut from the same F1 cloth ... in terms of layout, at least. On the underside, huge venturis mimicked 'ground effect' - the set-up by which GP cars stay 'glued' to the tarmac. The Enzo was even equipped with 'active aerodynamics' - a system not too far removed from that of the top-flight competition cars. Its brake discs were carbon-ceramic composites ... of course!

To match the Enzo's tech spec visually, then, was always going to be a challenge. Pininfarina, though, stepped up to the plate. The great Italian design house had long been associated with the Ferrari marque. They fulfilled the Enzo brief to perfection - supplying carbon-fibre solutions, inside and out. Ferrari, however, had issues when the car went on sale. Not because of any problems with the product. Indeed, just the opposite. So sought-after was the Enzo - even with its £425,000 price tag - that all 349 units sold out within hours. To try to placate frustrated would-be buyers, Ferrari scaled the number up to 400. It is unlikely that was enough. One of the most finely-wrought supercars ever made, the Ferrari Enzo was a fitting tribute to the man who inspired it!