What is a supercar ?
What is a supercar ? This question might seem quite silly but it’s actually a very important one. First of all, the use of the word “supercar” is nowadays used indiscriminately, in pretty much every situation where a sports / luxury car is concerned. Second of all, I need to explain what exactly IS a supercar, according to ME. Because obviously, not everyone might have the same definition or feel the same way about what I consider a supercar to be. So read on, and tell me if you agree!
Let’s start by what a supercar is NOT. As I previously said, the word “supercar” refers to any sports or luxury car, provided it’s from an exclusive / well-known brand. It has become a generic term used by everyone: car spotters, car enthusiasts, journalists and media, and even sometimes by manufacturers themselves (oh boy). To be fair, it’s a completely natural and understandable trend: it’s far easier to simply say “oh it’s a supercar” then specify exactly the terminology of the car or its actual brand + model. Therefore using the word “supercar” is an easier and simpler way to communicate among petrolheads. When the term is used, you pretty much have a general idea of what you’re talking about. To be honest, I am part of this general trend and misuse the word a lot, for all the forementioned reasons. I’m not saying I would consider myself as part of the “problem”, but the fact that big media pages such as mine used (and keep using) the word all the time in every occasion certainly did NOT help.
What is a supercar? A supercar is NOT what you describe 90% of the time. Let me give you some *real* examples: it’s NOT a Ferrari 458 italia, it’s NOT a Maserati GranTurismo, it’s NOT a McLaren MP4-12C, it’s NOT a Ford Mustang GT, it’s NOT an Aston Martin DBS. Those are just a few examples to illustrate the idea. And I’m not saying in a degrading way, as to look down on all those models, saying they pretend to be something they’re not. This is NOT the case. It’s merely a generic term that has become part of the public language by force of habit Deep inside, most people are well aware of it, they know they’re misusing the term, though. These cars are NOT supercars, they are production series car built in GREAT numbers (at least compared to true supercars, according to me), part of a very vast category of sports & luxury cars.
Now let’s get to it. There are a few elements that can help you to decide what constitutes a supercar
- THE PERFORMANCE. To me, a supercar is the kind of car that goes beyond logic and fascinates the human mind. In general, a supercar is the epitome of technology for the brand, it is the flagship car. Well, at least it was when it was first shown to the public. Basically, a supercar is supposed to be more powerful, more responsive, faster, handle better: the best. It is meant to be THE final stage of excellence one can expect from a car (though they always manage to bring the game to the next level every time, LUCKILY FOR US)!
- THE NUMBERS. A supercar is usually a limited-edition vehicle (or at least built in very small numbers). That means that usually there aren’t that many to be found, there is more demand than offer. This makes it a rather rare sight both on roads or at events. I wouldn’t necessarily consider a car a supercar if there were more than 1000 units built in the world, though as always there *are* some exceptions, like the Porsche Carrera GT (+1300 units) or the Ferrari F40 (+1300 units). A supercar usually rhymes with one-offs and limited-edition: 499 units, 250 units, 10 units… a supercar represents the unobtainable, the exclusive and rare.
- THE PRICE. More often than not, a supercar is also very expensive. You can usually find them in a price range that goes further than your usual “luxury sports car from a big brand” (usually above the 400/500k euros), and this threshold keeps getting bigger and bigger as years pass: it seems like there is an unstoppable price augmentation for those kind of models. This means that not every sports car owner can afford to be a supercar owner. Their prices vary, obviously, but nowadays a modern supercar is worth more than a million euros. And it seems like there is a tendency for them to be worth MUCH MORE.
- THE LOOKS. The looks of a supercar are usually very unique. Unlike most “normal cars” (if I may), their design, their ligns and their aerodynamics have undeniable success. For most of the people and petrolheads, it’s a “WIN”. The looks of a car is a very very important part of the passion for me. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the first thing you see, it’s the first thing I saw and got me hooked: those pure lines, those beautiful and intemporal designs. A supercar simply speaks to you in a way a normal car wouldn’t. You feel you’re in the presence of something that is NOT supposed to be normal, not supposed to be average. It’s like if you put a Ferrari 430 next to a Ferrari Enzo. I might not be the most objective guy here, but I’m sure 90% of people can tell who’s the baddest cat around merely on the looks.
- THE WOW FACTOR. Last but not least, a supercar plays a huge role in the automotive world, having earned its place and its title in many different ways. Mainly in front of the general public, the general idea of a “supercar”, what I’ve always called the WOW FACTOR. It’s something unexplainable you feel when you see a supercar, you know you’re not simply looking at a sports car – it’s well-beyond that. The car has either always been an icon from day one (for example: the McLaren F1) or has also become an icon over time (for example: the Lamborghini Miura or the Ferrari F40 – not saying they weren’t always icons BTW lol) or gathered a certain love long after its release. Another thing, supercars also can be already commercialized and depicted as being THE supercar, best of the best of the brand. That usually applies to modern cars, to reply to a specific and very demanding clientèle: I’m talking about the likes of the Holy Trinity (Porsche 918, Ferrari LaFerrari, McLaren P1) and the new kids on the block like the Koenigsegg or Pagani models…
But have supercars always existed? I wouldn’t say that, considering you sort of need the public to feel it and categorize the cars as such: you needed performance, as well as LOOKS. So when exactly was the birth? What was the first true supercar? This is a very big debate, but a lot of people, myself included, consider the 1966 Lamborghini Miura to have been the first *real* supercar. I’m fairly certain a Ferrari enthusiast will say it’s a Ferrari, which is why everyone preaches their gospel and you have to make your own opinion on stuff (especially if it’s as trivial as this lol). It’s only a matter of opinion though, there is nothing set and definitive about this. It’s all about one’s perception and how one perceives a supercar to be.
The term supercar has now been explained, according to ME and only me. It’s just my point of view. That being said, I’m fairly certain the word will evolve over the years. Indeed, we also use the term to describe track-cars (like the McLaren P1 GTR or the FXX-K), though they’re playing in a completely different world, if you ask me. There is also an over-exageration with a certain group of cars that are part of a specific category: extremely expensive, extremely rare, with extreme performance. Some have used the terms “hypercar” or “megacar”, as to clearly show it’s beyond “SUPER”. I don’t really mind those terms. Not at all actually. I just find them “funny” and a bit useless, but that’s just me. The whole point is to understand each other when we talk and discuss cars! Hope I answered the question What is a supercar ” – according to me !