What defines the term sports car and why are we so fascinated with them. Is it simply the flowing curves of the body design, the massive power output of the high revving engines or could it even be the distinctive throaty musical note of the exhaust pipes. Everyone will have a different opinion on what they think makes sports cars special and for the reasons why we love them so much. Even people who say they are impractical or unnecessary cannot help but to turn and look when one drives past displaying its beautiful contours hinting at the power hidden under the perfectly painted panels.
Since the development of motorised vehicles a small select group of individuals have always had the undying fascination of designing and building them bigger, more powerful and faster than they either needed to be or really should be with any regard to safety. This was no different with the motor car industry, from its relative simple and sluggish beginnings the car quickly developed into a very useful mode of transport and working tool. For some this new way to transport us around turned into an obsession of power and speed and welcomed the age of the racing cars and sports cars.
To begin with motor vehicles were built for more functional than aesthetically pleasing reasons and their ability to carry both people and heavy loads is what drove the designers and manufacturers forward. Humans though have an eye for beauty and a thirst for power and speed, combining these attributes the birth of the sports cars was inevitable.
As new developments occurred in the early motor industry a small number of designers, builders and drivers pushed the motor car to its limits on race tracks to test its abilities against other manufacturers vehicles. These races fuelled the next generation of cars and drivers. As engines became more powerful the ability to race these machines began to push the designs and needs to new levels this quite often was at the expense of someone’s life. Big powerful engines were placed into fragile frames and pushed to the limit often with dire consequences to drivers and spectators. But humans have a need to go faster and faster and this drove these brave and quite often reckless early pioneers to design better and more powerful machines and this began the start of the new age of the modern motor car. Safety was usually an after thought if it came up at all, the main focus was pushing the machines and drivers to their limits and beyond if possible. The engines power output quickly out grew the motor cars ability to handle these increases and the designers had to rethink the chassis and suspensions limitations. As with in the aircraft industry the designs of planes and engines regularly changed along with the abilities and reliability of the aircraft, the motor cars began to evolve along the same lines with new ideas and breakthroughs in technologies incorporating aerodynamics to help reduce drag and stronger building materials for chassis and bodywork.
Developing test vehicles purely for racing was the beginning of what we now class as the sports car. After the Second World War a new breed of sports car began to emerge. The once very high-priced and hard to obtain race bred cars that only the most wealthy and enthusiastic owners could secure began to evolve into a more accessible vehicle with the additional comforts and road functionalities, and what was even more important, a more affordable price tag making them more accessible to the average owner and driver. The sports cars had taken their first steps from the exclusive domain to main stream availability. Over the next few years as advancements were made on and off the racing circuit designs began their slow transformation into the popular modern shapes of today’s models. Many famous names have added their own distinctions to the sports car moulds and most can be easily identified by pure shape alone even today.