TIME FLIES, BUT BY WHAT PROPULSION?
The year is 1978. Two beloved manufacturers go into a deal to produce a car that would take on legendary status. The BMW M1, despite the roller coaster ride to produce 461 examples, became the template for supercars of the modern era.
We turn to 1988 and we have a full assault of revolutionary automobiles (i.e. Audi 5000). The Porsche 959 dazzles everyone with its mythical numbers, exotic materials and intriguing specifications. Not to be upstaged, Ferrari released a counterattack in the form of the F40. This was the Genesis of the modern day Super Car War.
Almost a decade later, from 1992 to 1998, the world was smitten by the amazing feats of Gordon Murray and Ron Dennis. The McLaren F1 was the world’s fastest science experiment, exploring the boundaries of what an automobile was capable of. With a BMW-supplied 6.1 L 60-degree V12 engine producing 618 bhp and 480lb-ft of torque, it would seem to be trounced by a Ferrari Enzo. However, raw power was not the F1’s claim to fame. Murray designed a car that would use a well balanced chassis and lighter materials to render supernatural speeds.
Twelve years later, the automotive world was clamoring to get their hands on the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport. Forget 12, give us 16 cylinders! For those who found 1,001 horsepower to be passé, Ferdinand Piëch happily provided 199 extra horses and 10 fewer cars as long as you provided one million extra bucks. The staggering numbers and mind-boggling technology made the McLaren F1 a distant memory. This was the pinnacle of vehicular strength.
And now we have witnessed the next phase in exotic car propulsion…..Million-Dollar Hybrids. The Ferrari LaFerrari and McLaren P1 with their hybrid powertrains have attracted the press and enthusiasts like magnets. Will these cars carry the same legendary reverence that their predecessors had? What will our children read about on their MotoringExposure holograms? The push for environmentally conscious vehicles could make the next M1 verses F1 more fuel efficient — if they use fuel at all. Heroic cars of the future may give us sub 3-seconds to 60mph and 200+mph on corn oil, hydrogen or maybe even full electricity. What will the next ultra-light, high profile car be made of, some mix of construction paper and recycled plastic? When I read about the Lamborghini Countach, I thought that this was the be-all, end-all in supercars. Never once did I consider the LFA’s and Koenigseggs to come. I now see that the sky is the limit. We just need to figure out which direction we will go with technology. These are the cars that dreams are made of. It won’t be twelve cylinders that power the next hyper cars — it will be dreams, indeed.