It’s human nature to push anything to its limits, like the Concorde did with flight and Usain Bolt did with running. The automotive world is probably the biggest example of this, and that’s because it’s history has been entirely defined by innovation, speed, and the desire to achieve what is thought to be impossible. The 50 best exotic cars is an amount that doesn’t even begin to capture the incredible things the automotive world has done, but here’s why these 50 rightfully earn their place on this list.
This car was by far on more bedroom walls in the 80s than it was in garages because it was just as much a pop culture icon as it was an incredible car. It had an incredible 26-year lifespan, which was thanks to the fact that the Countach was a car that kept up with everything around it. By the time it was discontinued, it still clocked in incredible numbers among its much younger peers with a 185 mph top speed and 4.7 seconds from a standstill to 60 mph.
Being the last car that the legendary Enzo Ferrari would ever oversee the development of, the Ferrari F40 couldn’t disappoint. And with 4.2 seconds to 60 miles per hour, a 197 mph top speed, and the ultimate street-legal race car experience for its time, the Ferrari F40 went on to be one of the most desirable Ferraris to ever exist.
Porsche 918 Spyder
The hybrid “holy trinity” of hypercars was likely the most important thing to happen in the 2010s for auto enthusiasts. The Porsche 918 Spyder was a car that redefined hard and fast beliefs in the car world, most importantly the one that hybrids were boring. The 918 used it’s electric capacity to complement its gas engine and achieve the world’s first sub 7-minute lap around the ‘Ring for a street-legal production car.
The Murcielago was a car that earned the respect of just about anyone, because it was a thoroughbred Lamborghini: purely dedicated to incredible looks and incredible performance. Lamborghini proved as they had before that they were unwilling to compromise when it came to beauty and speed, with a top speed of over 200 miles per hour, which was probably why Dark Knight’s Bruce Wayne made it his vehicle of choice.
Porsche Carrera GT
Any childhood Need for Speed Fans who grew up with iconic titles like Carbon and Most Wanted know that there isn’t a car quite like the Porsche Carrera GT. It’s incredible looks have stood the test of time, and its sub 4-second 0-60 stat ensures that the Carrera GT doesn’t waste any. The Carrera GT is, beyond a doubt, a pure icon in Porsche history.
Mercedes Benz SLS AMG Black Series
The 2010 introduction of the SLS AMG was enough to completely rock the word for car enthusiasts: an incredibly performing grand tourer with the 300SL’s iconic gullwing doors and the world’s most powerful production naturally aspirated engine at the time. In the car’s even more incredible Black Series spec, 3.2 seconds to 60 and a 196 mph top speed were on the table.
In 2016, we didn’t see it coming. The Bugatti Chiron shattered expectations that car enthusiasts didn’t even know they had. The Veyron’s already unbelievable W16 engine was improved upon even more, giving drivers an unprecedented 1479 horsepower. On top of that, the top speed is electronically limited to 261 mph, and we might never know the Chiron’s true potential.
One could argue that the Buggati Veyron 16.4 was a car that marked the beginning of a new era for supercars, sports cars, and cars in general. Before that car was put into production, the world wouldn’t even imagine that a car with a 16-cylinder engine would be real and drivable. A world record for a 253 mph top speed later, the world was proven wrong.
Lamborghini Aventador SVJ
It’s not easy for a company like Lamborghini to go even further towards the cutting edge of innovation than it already is, but the Aventador SVJ managed that. Thanks to 759 horsepower and an all-new active aerodynamics system that Lamborghini developed just for the SVJ, it has the record for the fastest production car lap around the ‘Ring under its belt as we speak.
1.41 lateral Gs is what the Lamborghini Veneno can produce in a corner, meaning you can be pushed to the side at a force equal to 1.4 times the amount of gravity while cornering in a Lamborghini Veneno, without breaking traction. That statistic only scratches the surface of what makes this extremely unique and rare Lamborghini so special.
There’s nothing like the sound of a V10, but there’s really nothing at all like the sound of the Lexus LFA. So, when you’re using only 3.6 seconds to get to 60 mph, and revving the LFA all the way to 9000 rpm before switching to the next gear, you can thank not only Toyota but sound and engineering experts at Yamaha for the performance and sound you’ll be treated to along the way.
Having raced for McLaren’s F1 team during the peak of his F1 career, the late and great Aryton Senna has an incredible legacy in the McLaren brand. That’s why when they set out to build one of the most powerful and capable track focused cars the world had ever seen, it was him they wanted to honor. With 2.8 seconds to 60 mph and less than 10 seconds for a quarter mile, the Senna lives up to its name.
Dodge Viper ACR
With a melodic V10 engine designed by Lamborghini, and the perfect proportions of every enthusiast’s grand touring dreams, the Dodge Viper is a hard formula to beat. Add the ACR package, and it’s even harder. With less bells and whistles, and a laser focus on speed, the ACR offers its driver the most downforce of any production car at top speed, which is 1,763 pounds at 177 mph.
Any fan of Saleen knows that they are all about performance, between the Mustangs and F-150s that they have turned into monstrous machines, and the legendary S7. 2.7 seconds in 0-60 time and a 248 mph top speed make it clear that after 20 years, the S7 remains a source of pride in all-American speed.
Ferrari’s mid 90s flagship model wasn’t just known for its dramatic styling, it was a car that started some serious drama on the asphalt, too. Its 512 horsepower, F1-derived V12 packed a serious punch, resulting in figures like a 3.8 second 0-60 mph, and a 202 mph top speed, which for today are impressive, and for the 90s, are simply insane.
Pagani Huayra BC
The Pagani Huayra BC is something else. Its unorthodox, passionate styling suggests something otherworldly, but not nearly as otherworldly as the car’s performance. The BC edition is a Huayra that is made for the track (as if the regular Huayra wasn’t). What you get is a body made of a special “carbon triax” carbon fibre, and 745 horsepower, which means it has a power to weight ratio of 3.57 pounds per horsepower.
The Pagani that started it all was, is, and always will be a car for the ages. With a 7.3 liter Mercedes-AMG V-12 that pumps out 594 horsepower and carbon fiber construction meant that the car offered 218 mph in the way of top speed, and with only a 3.6 second 0-60, it didn’t take long to get there.
Lamborghini Huracan Performante
The Huracan is a wonderful car, with a V10 engine sitting behind the driver and a four-wheel-drive system that simply begs to be driven fast. The Performante turns that up a few notches. With 631 horsepower, extra stiffening, and incredibly intelligent active aerodynamics, the Performante can reach 209 miles per hour, and held the record for the fastest Nurburgring production car lap for nearly a year.
Mercedes Benz SLR McLaren
Butterfly doors and a hood that appeared to be miles long made it clear from the car’s outset in 2003 that it was a spectacle, and what was under that aircraft carrier of a hood was no different. Its 5.4 liter, 617 horsepower V8 took it to 60 in a mere 3.4 seconds and eventually to a top speed of 208 mph.
Ferrari Scuderia Spider 16M
It’s no secret that Ferrari is a force to be reckoned with, so when they said they were going to make a convertible that is incredibly competent on the track, they meant it. Thus, the 430 Scuderia Spider 16M was born: a gorgeous Ferrari convertible with a 503 horsepower that’s good for a top speed of 196 mph. What’s the catch? Only 499 of these incredible vehicles were produced.
McLaren 675 LT
The iconic McLaren F1 “Long Tail” GT was a historic edition of an even more historic car in McLaren’s lineup. In 2015, the “Long Tail” edition of the McLaren 650S paid homage to that model by incorporating a similar body style to increase downforce and improving upon the performance of the car it was based on. It’s good for 2.9 seconds to 60 mph and a top speed of a blistering 205 mph.
Chevrolet Corvette C7 ZR1
Gone are the days of the front-engined Corvette, but we’re glad that they at least went out with quite the bang. The ZR1 configuration of the ‘Vette gave its customers 755 horsepower thanks to a 6.2 liter LT5 engine and a 2.6 liter Eaton supercharger. Paired with magnetic ride control, front splitter, and a fixed wing for downforce and you’ve got an American performance beast good for 215 mph.
Ferrari 599 GTO
The Ferrari 599 is easily one of the marque’s most impressive, iconic, and beautiful Grand Touring Berlinettas. And when it comes to being street-legal, the GTO is the fastest 599. Ferrari took their insane 599 XX and made it just tame enough for public roads, and what they came up with was a gorgeous machine with a 3.3 second 0-60 and a top speed of 208 mph.
Those who had a Ferrari Enzo poster in their bedroom as children are only just becoming adults today, yet still the Enzo is, only 16 years after its production, a legendary symbol of just how beautiful a supercar can be. It’s incredible looks are still unparalleled and instantly recognizable, and also unparalleled are its ability to rocket to 60 mph in 3.1 seconds and top out at 221 mph. There’s a reason the Enzo is the supercar of a generation.
Aston Martin V12 Vanquish S (2004-2007)
Vanquish was the name given to Aston Martin’s flagship coupe for many years, and the Vanquish S of the mid 2000s pulled out just about every stop to live up to its title as the cream of the Aston Martin crop. Drivers received 60 more horsepower than the regular Vanquish (grand total: 520), better aerodynamics, and improved suspension, steering and brakes. Until the One-77, it was the fastest Aston Martin ever.
Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera
The Lamborghini Gallardo was the beginning of an era for Lamborghini, that of V10 powered supercars that are smaller than their flagships but no less beautiful, exotic, and fast. The Superleggera configuration of the Gallardo was lighter and more powerful than usual, with a 3.2 second 0-60 and 204 mph top speed.
Since its inception, Koenigsegg has been known for making some of the most powerful, dynamic vehicles on the planet. The only bars they have to raise are their own, and they raised their own bar with the Jesko. With E-85 fuel, the Jesko’s driver can expect to have 1,603 horsepower at their disposal, and the limits they can push that power to aren’t even officially known to this day.
When Ariel made the Atom, they decided that less is more. By focusing on an incredible power to weight ratio, they created a car that competes with giants while only occupying a fraction of the footprint. Thanks to it only clocking in at 1,349 pounds, 321 horsepower is all you need for an undeniably incredible 2.8 second 0-60 time.
Only a car as incredible as the DeTomaso Pantera can have a practically unchanged production run of 21 years. It’s aggressive design and strong performance solidified the Pantera’s status as an automotive cult classic, and with 350 horsepower and a 174 mph top speed, it had bite to match its bark.
Mclaren 720S Spider
If you want an ultimate performance car experience, look no further than the McLaren 720S. And when a Mclaren 720S provides open air exhilaration, it doesn’t get much better. Because of the integrity of the structure of the 720S Coupe, the Spider offers a top down driving experience with virtually no compromises. The 720S Spider makes once impossible performance numbers like 2.9 seconds to 60 and a 202 mph top speed with the top down very real for its lucky driver.
Bentley Continental GT3-R
The modern Bentley Continental was a revolution, known for being an incredibly competent vehicle on all fronts. It rocked the world by being an opulent luxury grand tourer that wasn’t shy in the power and dynamics department either, and the GT3-R was the ultimate iteration of the Continental’s performance potential. By ditching the backseat, turning the power up to the tune of 572 horses, adding a new titanium exhaust, and taking a whole host of other measures, the GT3-R became capable of reaching 60 miles per hour in a mere 3.3 seconds.
The Jaguar XJ220 is arguably the quirkiest and most underrated car on this list. Its turbulent history was marked by breaking Guinness World Records, and almost financially breaking Jaguar, but in a Van Gogh fashion, it’s appreciated now for how brilliant it actually was. With 542 horsepower coming from a twin turbocharged V6, the XJ220 reached a top speed of 217 miles per hour, making it the world’s fastest production car in it’s time, while still managing to provide a sumptuous Jaguar experience.
Acura NSX (First Gen)
The spirit of Formula One runs through the veins of the NSX, and that’s because late and great F1 legend Aryton Senna oversaw the development of it. With the world’s first production all-aluminum body, VTEC variable valve timing that was incredibly novel for its time, and a 175 mph top speed proved its dedication to performance.
Porsche 911 RUF CTR Yellowbird
Porsche knows how to make an incredible sports car, but RUF knows how to push an incredible Porsche to its absolute limits. The CTR made waves all over the world when it was introduced in 1987 by taking a 911 Carrera 3.2 and upping the displacement to 3.4 liters, twin-turbocharging it, and swapping out the factory transmission for their own. With all of that modification, the Yellowbird was the fastest car in the world when it came out, topping out at 213 mph.
It took a century of innovation, ingenuity, and pedigree for Germany to earn its reputation for engineering in the automotive world. If one car made sure that said reputation would last forever, it was the Porsche 959. The amount of technology (in the name of automatic ride height adjustment, incredibly clever all wheel drive, and hollow magnesium wheels that allowed for an onboard tire pressure monitoring system) made this car a World’s Fair on wheels. All that tech made the 959 top dog of its era, with a 3.6 second 0-60 and a 198 mph top speed.
Hennessey Venom GT
Off of Interstate 10 in what seems like the middle of nowhere in Texas is Hennessey, a shop known for pushing cars like the Dodge Viper farther than the average person could even imagine, and making every car they got their hands on into a performance monster. That was until they made their own. The Venom GT, while technically an unrecognizably modified Lotus Elise, was their 1,244 horsepower twin-turbo LS7-powered, 270 mph capable beast. The Venom GT made permanent automotive history from the middle of nowhere in Texas.
There’s plenty of reasons as to why the McLaren F1 is a unique vehicle. Maybe it’s the butterfly-style doors, maybe it’s the fact that the driver sits in the dead center of the cockpit with not one but two passengers’ seats on either side, or maybe it’s the innovative carbon fibre monocoque body. What really speaks volumes, however, is 3.2 second 0-60 time and 240 mph top speed, making it clear that McLaren intended to break boundaries, and very much did.
The Ferrari F12tdf takes the beautiful and dynamic F12berlinetta and perfects it on the performance front. With 769 horsepower under its sweeping, massive hood, and 243 pounds of weight shaved off the base car, the F12tdf is capable of a 2.9 second 0-60 and 211 mph in total, as well as the second-fastest lap around Ferrari’s own test circuit, second only to the legendary LaFerrari.
Audi R8 V10 Plus
The Audi R8 has, for the last 14 years, provided its customers with one of the most solid and foolproof performance car formulas to ever exist. With the dynamics of a mid-engine layout, Audi’s tried and true Quattro system, and a highly spirited V10 engine, the R8 is a tough car to beat. The V10 Plus offers 611 horsepower, making for a 3.1 second 0-60 and a 205 mph top speed.
Porsche 911 GT2 RS
There is only one Porsche 911, and there only ever will be one Porsche 911, and the GT2RS is just about the best 911 Porsche has ever made. The latest GT2RS comes with 691 horsepower, and magnesium and carbon fibre all over to save weight, resulting in a 211 mph top speed and a 0-60 of just 2.7 seconds, which are truly ultimate Porsche numbers.
Ferrari 488 Pista
While Ferrari is more known for their V12-powered cars, the 488 Pista proves that their V8 offerings are not to be discounted. The Pista improves on the already incredible 488 by leaving 200 pounds of weight behind and bringing along 40% more downforce, with an end result of 2.8 seconds to 60 mph and a top speed of 211 mph.
Koenigsegg The One:1
The only type of car that can outdo a Koenigsegg is a better Koenigsegg, and when the world was already wowed by the Koenigsegg Agera R, they were blown away yet again by the impossible One:1. It’s name comes from the fact that when power to weight is measured in PS and kilograms, the ratio is 1, or equivalent to a megawatt. Because of this Koenigsegg coined a new term “megacar” for the One:1, and rightfully so.
Aston Martin One-77
It’s a shame that the world will only get to see 76 of this car (one has been totaled), with its perfect proportions, wide, but still very elegant stance, its trademark swan doors and gorgeous interior. But there’s more than just that to write home about when it comes to the Aston Martin One-77. With a 3.5 second 0-60, and a 220 mph top speed, the One-77 doesn’t just have a pretty face.
The 90s were quite the era for supercars, and with many supercar models from the era simply being street-legal versions of GT1 race cars, these 90s legends are still unique and unforgettable today. With a 7.3 liter V12 producing 604 horsepower, the CLK-GTR managed 3.8 seconds to 60 mph and a top speed of 214 mph.
McLaren has a lot to be proud of, and the list of their achievements as a brand seems to only grow exponentially as the years go by. That’s why their latest Ultimate Series hypercar, the Speedtail, pays homage to the F1 in plenty of ways. These include the F1’s iconic seating arrangement, an incredibly long, teardrop-shaped rear end akin to the F1 LM, and most importantly, an F1-worthy top speed figure of 250 mph.
IE stands for Intenza Emozione, or Intense Emotion in Italian, which is an understatement for what the prowess of this vehicle evokes. The IE’s modified Ferrari V12 was developed with HWA AG, a cousin of AMG, and what they came up with was 780 naturally aspirated horsepower. Paired with a construction made almost entirely of carbon fiber and what you get is a 2.7 0-60 and 208 mph in top speed.
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