Sports car is an automobile designed more for performance than for carrying passengers or luggage. Sports cars are known for their speed, light weight, nimble handling, and distinctive appearance. Manufacturers usually make sports cars only in limited numbers. The cars also feature advanced equipment. Thus, sports cars are often expensive. People value sports cars for the thrill of driving them. They also value sports cars as symbols of social status.
Characteristics. Most sports cars have only two seats. Sports cars are built low to the ground. Their bodies have aerodynamic designs. Such designs enable them to cut through the air easily. Also, sports cars typically weigh less than other automobiles. Because of their light weight and powerful engines, sports cars can usually accelerate faster than other cars. Sports cars have wide tires and firm springs. These features enable the cars to get a firm grip on the road and therefore turn through corners at high speed.
Manufacturers often test new technology in sports cars. Such technologies have included advanced steering, braking, and engine designs. Later, these technologies may make their way into less expensive passenger cars.
2002 Chevrolet Camaro convertible
History. People began driving automobiles for sport in the late 1800’s. At that time, wealthy car enthusiasts raced one another on public roads from town to town. The first formally organized race took place in France in 1895. This race, and others like it, helped encourage the advancement of automobile technology. Soon, special cars were being built for racing.
Automobiles in the United States in the early 1900’s were light, rugged, and powerful. Well-known models of the time included the Haynes-Apperson “Jack Rabbit,” the Chadwick Great Six, the Lozier Briarcliff, the Mercer Type 35 Raceabout, and the Stutz Bearcat. Over time, cars became larger. By the 1930’s, the only sports cars made in the United States were the Auburn, Cord, and Duesenberg. The same company—Auburn Automobile Company of Indiana—made all three.
By the 1940’s, stock car racing had become the most popular motor sport in the United States. But in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, light, quick cars experienced a revival. A number of small, short-lived businesses sprang up to produce sports cars—among them the Kaiser Darrin and the Woodill Wildfire.
Meanwhile, sports car production was fairly strong in Europe before and after World War II (1939-1945). Among the most important sports cars manufactured in the United Kingdom were the MG, Austin-Healey, and Triumph. Beginning in the late 1940’s, such brands as Jaguar of the United Kingdom, Ferrari and Alfa Romeo of Italy, and Porsche of Germany became well known for racing and sports cars. American soldiers stationed in Europe after the war discovered such cars and brought some of them back to the United States.
American manufacturers soon responded to the appearance of European sports cars on American roads. In 1953, the General Motors Corporation launched the Corvette. The Ford Motor Company responded with the Thunderbird in 1954. But Ford eventually turned the “T-bird” into a four seater. Thus, the Corvette remained the only true sports car made in the United States until Chrysler Corporation introduced the Dodge Viper in 1992.
Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder
In the 1960’s, the Japanese auto industry introduced its first sports cars. They included the Honda S800 and Toyota 2000GT. Since then, Japanese automakers have built generations of fast, reliable sports cars. Among these are the Nissan 300ZX, Toyota Supra, and Mazda RX-7.
Since 2000, several automakers have made cars with vastly increased engine power. This increase makes sports cars potentially more dangerous and difficult to control. However, advanced stability control systems have also become more common. The Audi R8 isa typical modern sports car. It has all-wheel drive and a lightweight, all-aluminum construction.