VROOM! VROOM! VROOM! Did you miss something that zipped passed you on the highway? Oh yes! These were some macho boys on the road, driving their supercars. Also known as big boys’ cars, these are powerful, bespoke cars with muscle, having unbelievable speed, panache, guile and, in most cases, available in limited numbers only.
You might be wondering what makes a car a supercar? Is it their elite style, power and performance, niche contours or custom-built character? I would say it’s all of these and more.
As long ago as 1920, Ensign 6 came out with the statement, “If you are interested in a supercar, you cannot afford to ignore the claims of Ensign 6.” So supercars is not a new phenomenon. But surely, after nearly a century of their existence, the supercars have gone through a series of evolutions that have transformed them entirely.
The first classified and documented car that claimed a supercar status was introduced in the year 1909. Named Blitzen, which meant ‘lightning,’ it came from the Benz stable. Its 200HP, 21.5-litre engine produced a top speed of 142 miles per hour (mph), which was twice as fast as the aeroplanes’ at that time!
And now we have the Hennessey Venom F5 at 301mph, a 1600HP beast, claimed to be the fastest in the world, post its official launch at SEMA 2017 at Las Vegas in the USA. I call it Insane, but that’s what the car’s designers would like to get called – people who are speed-savvy and torque-maniacs!
Word is going around that John Hennessey is slated to do cherry picking for V5 owners himself. That’s a long haul for aspiring owners if they are looking at V5 to stand tall in their Portico.
It is generally believed that the first supercar that came in folklore was the mid-engine V12. Extremely stylish, the 170mph+ Lamborghini Miura – the Italian star – blew away the world with its styling and speed at the Turin car show in 1965. This car show in a way paved the acceptance of supercar production within the automakers.
As we see, post Miura came a splurge of brands which were high-decibel in nature and carved a niche for themselves. These included Maserati Ghibli, Ferrari 365, GTB Daytona and the big daddy car, Lamborghini Countach. All these were supremely powerful, extremely quick and road rangers in themselves for a very long time – before the Porsche, Aston Martin, BMW, Bugatti’s and Mercs came on board.
So, what’s next? Is it going to be a high-powered flying car built around plutonium-based flux capacitor technology, as we would have seen in the sci-fi flicks, or are we expecting technology to create an altogether different niche?
That’s something which would be interesting to speculate, and try to guess what the innovators are thinking about in this space. But before we move to that discussion, let’s first understand the aspects with which supercars become that marvel, which ones can be classified under this category and considered as manmade miracles!
As Dave Pericak, the man behind the rise of Ford Motors and its performance division, once stated, “Supercars are not a big business, but using them as the pinnacle, we can develop technology and systems that you ultimately want to take into the rest of the line-up.” It does hold true to a certain extent, but there are many other ramifications and usage of supercars, which can go beyond the R&D aspect and bring forth the brand stature creation process overall.
Today, when automakers invest in these sensational feats of engineering and design, they go a lot beyond the maths and physics involved in it. They convert them into powerful beasts, faster sensations, expensive marvels that are extremely high-tech and most beautiful.
Some of the considerations kept in mind while producing these marvels would be their aerodynamic design, lighter and stronger structure, powerful engine and research around its creation, magical colours and new contours. And to define the elements let’s look at some of the brands and the innovations that they are introducing now.
Ford is working on its GT Model, which is based on 3.5L ecoboost technology, complimenting Ford’s ultra-efficient aerodynamics and design. Ecoboost is a pioneering technology, and a marketing term used by Ford Motors, to define turbo-charged direct-injection engines. The technology is equipped to deliver higher horse power, which can improve fuel efficiency by 30 per cent and control greenhouse emissions. Now Ford proposes to use the technology in its hybrid variety as well. Ford believes, by using this tech intervention, they have now entered an area of competence which will lead them into great times ahead.
Bugatti Veyron, which had discontinued its production post 2015, has now unveiled Chiron. The president of Bugatti Wolfgang Dürheimer feels, “It is part of human nature to cross boundaries and set new records – to run 100 metres faster than ever before, to fly even further into space and to enter new realms. This striving is also our driving force at Bugatti.” Chiron is expected to perform on the same lines as its president feels with 1490HP engine, generating 1180rpm torque, with an optimum speed of 300mph with a 0 – 60mph in 2.5 seconds! That’s just a whiff once its touches the road. And car lovers would be waiting to get a first glimpse of this upcoming marvel and get bedazzled.
Year 2018 seems to be even more promising for supercars, and why supercars only. The other segments that are being differentiated by auto manufacturers are hyper and mega car segments. With increased focus on green and electric vehicles, the segment seems to be warming up both from an engineering and consumer aspiration point of view.
Supercar championships organised across various continents add value to the belief. Australia holds a key in this regard as it hosts one of the largest championships on the globe. So, as an advice to all automakers, and auto professionals, I would say, build your own dreams in this segment, or someone may hire you to build theirs.
I am sure, now if you hear VROOM, may be you are about to see a supercar or a superbike. So watch out!
By Sanjay Banerjee, a tech enthusiast and a senior business leader at EFY