Sports Car Buying Guide

A sports car is a vehicle designed to provide high performance and look good on the road. With stylish aerodynamic body designs, lightweight frames, and powerful engines, sports cars provide drivers with speed and maneuverability. Though originally inspired by racing vehicles, many of today's sports models are well-appointed luxury cars as well.

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About Sports Cars

British manufacturers were responsible for two of the most reliable early sports models. Austin produced the Austin 7 which, by the mid-1930s had evolved into a dependable and popular sports model. In the early 1960s, MG introduced the Midget, a small, fast, two-seater convertible that eventually defined what a convertible roadsters was for decades.

The first American sports cars to catch on emerged after World War II. The Chevrolet Corvette, introduced in 1953, and the Ford Thunderbird, introduced in 1955, defined the early American sports car. In the 1960s, U.S. automakers introduced a host of sports models such as the (now discontinued) Pontiac GTO and Firebird, Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro, and Shelby Cobra.

European automakers also continued to excel at producing compact, speedy roadsters that could corner better than their American counterparts. These included models such as the Porsche 911, Jaguar XK, and the Mercedes SL convertible. Meanwhile, Italian manufacturers such as Ferrari and Lamborghini produced upmarket sports models that provided even more power than American muscle cars and had the maneuverability of many European roadsters.

Today's sports car market is diverse and competitive. The Japanese automakers, who are usually considered preoccupied with economy class cars, eventually came out with models such as the Nissan 370Z and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.

Sports Car Variations

Sport sedans, on the other hand, are larger than compact and midsize models. Many of these models are four-doors. Frequently, sports sedans have plush interiors with all the extras and add-ons one would expect in a luxury vehicle. Many vehicles in this category overlap with what could be considered compact executive cars or sportier versions of family sedans.

The muscle car is another variety of sports car. These models are typically American-made and equipped with powerful V-8 engines. Most models are two-door coupes. While they may not be designed to corner as well as Japanese or European sports models, muscle cars make up for it with speed, raw power (especially in a straight line), and style.

Supercars are ultra high-end sports cars designed with maximum performance and style in mind. Cars in this class are very fast, highly maneuverable, and very expensive. Examples of supercar models include the Ferrari 599, Bugatti Veyron, Aston Martin DBS Coupe, and Lamborghini Gallardo.

Sports Car Brands

German manufacturers such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi produce many of the top-selling sports models in the U.S. and Europe. Frequently, sports models released by European carmakers such as the BMW 760Li, Audi A8, or Volvo S60, are also considered luxury cars.

Japanese automakers are also responsible for several of today's best-selling sports models, such as the Mazda MX-5 Miata and Nissan's 370Z and GT-R.

Who Drives Sports Cars?

Sports models are ideal for drivers who crave style, speed, and high-performance. Younger drivers may opt for more affordable versions of sports cars that offer power with less luxury. Older drivers who can afford higher price tags and desire a more comfortable ride often choose luxury sports cars. Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Aston-Martins are primarily owned by the rich celebrities.

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