Faster than family cars, cheaper than supercars, sports cars will always have a special place in the hearts of gearheads. Most automakers even have their dedicated motorsport divisions that take care of the research and developments of sports cars.
From video games, animes, to movies; sports cars has always been an eternal part of the entertainment industry. In fact, that’s how most of us got into the fast cars scenario. There is no denying that we have been freaking out over these beasts; slaying circuits, mountain roads, and extreme terrains with the unique shrieks and shrills of their engines. So, here are the top ten iconic sports cars of all time, which have created permanent place in our hearts.
10 Ferrari 458 Italia
The Ferrari 458 Italia is probably the most iconic mid-engine V8 sports car from the prancing horse team. It initially came as a successor to the F430, but with more modern F1-inspired mechanics. The famous 4.5-liter “Ferrari/Maserati” F136 V8 engine made up to 568hp at 9000 RPM. It’s high-pitched shrieks, made it one of the unique, and most recognizable V8 engine sounds. The Getrag dual-clutch automatic 7-speed gearbox was the perfect match for this sports car.
The Ferrari 458 Italia features a suspension system with double wishbones at the front and a multi-link setup at the rear. Additionally, the car is equipped with advanced E-Diff and F1-Trac traction control systems, which work together to enhance the car’s cornering performance. Keeping Ferrari’s tradition the 458 Italia’s body was designed by Pininfarina and its interiors were made consulting with Michael Schumacher.
9 Porsche 911
The Porsche 911 is undoubtedly the most iconic sports car of all time. Its origin goes back to the sketches made by Ferdinand “Butzi” Porsche himself. The 911 hit the market for the first time in 1964, as a faster and more modern replacement for the Porsche 356. Since the beginning came in several variants, with different powertrain and body kits. To name a few: 911 Carrera, 911 Targa, 911 Turbo, GT2, GT3.
The first 1964 Porsche 911 came with the iconic air-cooled 2.0-liter flat-6 engine, making 130hp. From 1979, the newer 996 models featured water-cooling and a more modern body design, which Porsche is following till now. The much later 991 GT2 boasted a 3.8-liter twin-turbo flat-6 engine, making 690hp at 7000 RPM. The Porsche 911 won many esteemed titles, including Daytona, Le Mans, and Targa Florio.
8 Chevrolet Corvette
“America’s Sports Car”, the Chevrolet Corvette, is another iconic sports car which is still in production. It was first showcased in 1953 GM Motorama, as a convertible concept car. Since then, this American sports car has gone through eight generations (C1 to C8). The first generation Corvette was an old-school convertible with a powerful 150 hp 3.9-liter second-generation “Blue Flame” inline-six engine. In 1955, Corvette got its first major upgrade: a much more powerful 4.34-liter small-block V8 engine.
The second generation (C2) of Corvette sported a radically sporty-looking coupe body design. Finally, in its C5 generation, Corvette got the modern, sleek, more aerodynamic body overhaul; which laid the foundation of the current generation Corvettes. Those days of fuel-hungry large V8s have seemingly gone, clean energy is he future. The recently revealed Corvette C8 E-Ray is going to be the first electric-powered Corvette, featuring a hybrid 6.2-liter LT2 V8 engine, with a combined horsepower of 655.
7 Mazda RX7
An engine that looks like a Dorito, and sounds like a swarm of furious bees. Yes, we are talking about the iconic rotary engine found in the Mazda RX7. The Wankel-rotary engine is what makes this car so iconic. Instead of pistons, Wankel engines use rotors for combustion. Its nimble-handling, and perfect balance of power, made RX7 a legend in the drift scene. The first generation RX7 featured a 12A carburetted rotary engine, and later, an optional 13B engine with electronic fuel injection.
RX7 started getting more popular with the second gen FC series. It came with a much more aerodynamic body, Dynamic Tracking Suspension System (DTSS), and the iconic 13B twin-rotor rotary engine. And just like the 13A, 13B also had a turbo version. The third and final generation (FD) of RX7 is the most powerful one. Although the Mazda RX7 has gone out of production, but fans are still buying, modifying and racing this iconic JDM.
6 Nissan Skyline GT-R
The infamous “Godzilla” of racing tracks, Nissan Skyline GT-R is one of the most iconic JDM and sports cars of all time. The “Skyline” name came from a sedan made by Prince Motor Company in Japan. Later, Nissan merged with Prince, acquiring the name. It all started with the Prince Skyline 2000GT (S54B-2), that won the Japanese GP in 1964. And only five years later, the first GT-R (Gran Turismo-Racing) came into production.
Later, in 1985, came the R31 Skyline. It featured several major upgrades, including the iconic RB series engine. But, it was the launch of the R32, when the GT-R started wrecking havoc in circuits and rallies with the nickname “Godzilla”. The final Skyline GT-R R34 was the most powerful and popular GT-R ever made. The 2.6-liter RB26DETT I6 twin turbo engine created up to 327hp was also the most powerful engine in the RB lineup.
5 Dodge Viper
Former Chrysler president, Bob Lutz, wanted to make a modern day Cobra, that’s how “Team Viper” was assembled in 1989. Soon after that, in 1992, Dodge started selling the first gen (SR I) Viper model, named as RT/10 Roadster. It was powered by the first 8.0-liter 400hp Viper V10 engine, made in collaboration with Lamborghini. The third generation Viper went through a major redesign by the SRT group. This year, the SRT-10 replaced both Viper GTS and SR/10.
It featured massive aerodynamic redesigning and a more powerful 500hp 8.3-liter V10 engine. In fifth gen (2008), the power output was even increased to a whopping 600hp, in ZB II models. This year, the infamous crossover exhaust system was also removed, and the electronics received a big overhaul, with VENOM EMS. The fifth gen Viper (VX) was completely made under the SRT division, before going out of production in 2017.
4 Lotus Elise
The Lotus Elise is an iconic British roadster sports car. Its Series 1 (1996-2001) came with a 1.8-liter Rover K-series I4 engine. In 2000 Lotus released the Exige, a hard-top version of the Elise. Due to new European crash sustainability regulations, Lotus couldn’t continue the Series 1 after 2000. At this time, Lotus joined hands with General Motors, to develop the Series 2.
The Lotus Elise 111R featured a Toyota 1.8-liter twin-cam DOHC 2ZZ-GE engine for the first time. Later in Series 3, Toyota completely took over as the engine and transmission supplier for the Elise. This era introduced the more popular Elise Sport and Elise Cup models. Just in 2021 Lotus stopped production of Elise, Exige, and Evora. On February, that year, Lotus launched the Elise Sport 240 and Elise Cup 250 final editions.
3 Ford GT40
The Ford GT40 is history on wheels! It is the most iconic American sports car ever built, that became a nightmare for Ferrari in 1966 Le Mans. In 1963, Henry Ford II nearly acquired Ferrari, he wanted to use their technology to get into the endurance racing scenario. But, at the last stage of the deal, Enzo Ferrari declined the offer. He still wanted to remain as the sole operator of Ferrari’s racing division. Enraged Ford ordered his company’s racing division to create such a battle machine, that will beat Ferrari in endurance races.
A team of automobile experts started working under the supervision of Harley Copp. The first GT40 MK I model was developed with a 4.7-liter small-block V8 engine and a redesigned body of the Lola MK6. It didn’t achieve the expected success. Thus, the GT40 project was handed over to Carroll Shelby, and Ken Miles. The MK II revision model packed the famous 7L FE V8 engine. In 1966, the GT40 won all three podiums in Daytona, Sebrina, and Le Mans. Ferrari’s unbeatable legacy on Le Man was shattered.
2 BMW M3
The BMW M3 was a more powerful version of the popular BMW 3 Series. The first M3 was based on the BMW Series 3 E30, and sported a 2.3-liter BMW S14 DOHC I4 engine. After that, came the E36 model, it dismissed the boxy design and sported a more aerodynamic look. And then, E46 M3 GTR was the first M3 with a V8 engine. The popular video game Need For Speed Most Wanted (2005), made the M3 GTR a cult-favorite.
The E90, E92, and E93, all came with S65 V8 engines only. The F80 generation had a smaller 3.0 L S55B30T0 I6 engine, but the upgrade from natural aspiration to twin turbo, gave it a little push(from 414hp to 425hp). The G80 and G81 generation models got into the production line in 2020, and it is the current generation of the M3. And BMW seems to be determined to keep its legacy alive in upcoming years.
1 Toyota Supra
There’s an interesting history behind how Toyota Supra went from being an okayish sports car, to the 2JZ beast. In 1978 Toyota released the Celica XX in Japan. It came with M-EU and 4-ME engine variations, generating 123hp and 110hp respectively. Later, Toyota renamed the car as Celica Supra. In 1981, Toyota redesigned the entire Celica lineup, introducing the new A60 chassis. In the United States, it became widely known as the Supra MK II.
In 1992 Toyota introduced the new 276hp twin-turbo 1JZ-GTE engine, in Japan. The A80 (MK IV) model’s naturally aspirated 2JZ-GE made up to 220hp, while the twin-turbocharged 2JZ-GTE managed to make 276hp. And what made this engine special is that anyone with a fair bit of knowledge could easily tune this beast to up to 500hp! After a long pause, Toyota joined hands with BMW and reintroduced a newer Supra J29/DB in 2019.