There is no denying that the landscape of the automotive industry is seismically shifting. Advances in autonomous driving, ubiquitous ride-sharing platforms and even new app-driven models for ownership, while convenient, do not seem to be inspiring the younger demographic to become motoring enthusiasts. Well, maybe this will help. As we are about to leave another decade in the dust, here’s a look back at what the last 20 years or so have brought us in the way of memorable supercars—apex models sure to rev-up the next generation of collectors.
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Ok, so the first one on this list is technically from the last century, the 1990s to be exact, but it’s here as a benchmark and baseline for the models that follow. A top speed of 231 mph. Back in 1992, no other production car had ever gone that fast. It was mind-blowing. But that’s what the McLaren F1 did; blow minds. With its feather-weight carbon-fibre chassis, single-minded focus on shaving weight, and a bespoke 6-litre, 627 hp BMW V-12 for power, it could sear to 60 mph in just 3.2 seconds.
Costing nearly more than £765,000 at launch, it was also mind-blowingly expensive. Today, however, in the rare chance that one of the 106 examples comes to market, expect to pay around £15 million. The ultimate supercar? Some would say there’s no question. Howard Walker
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An American outlier in a world of European trendsetters, Steve Saleen’s S7 debuted in 2000 at the Monterey Historic Races as a track-focused supercar that was far more extreme than most competitors from the other side of the pond. The heart of the mid-engined predator was an aluminium power plant derived from Ford’s venerable 351 ci V-8, which developed 550 hp and shifted through a six-speed manual gearbox.
The subsequent model S7 Twin-Turbo from 2005 made 750 hp from a 427 ci big-block V-8, and achieved a claimed top speed of 248 mph, staggering performance then and now. Produced through 2009, the Saleen S7 remains a rare collectible, and while no production figures are officially available, its numbers are estimated to be well below triple digits. Robert Ross
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Ferrari’s biggest sensation of the 21st century remains the Enzo, a V-12-powered, mid-engined monster named after the founder of the company, a man whose legacy continues to inspire the latest supercars from Maranello. Designed by then head of design at Pininfarina, Ken Okuyama, the car captivated its audience in 2002 at the Paris Motor Show.
All 399 units were presold, with production spanning 2003 through 2004. A 400th production example was built and donated to the Vatican for charity. While the power output of 651 hp and as-new price of around £500,000 seem quaintly modest by today’s standards, the Enzo was the benchmark of its era and remains one of the most coveted of this century’s supercars. R.R.
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With its six-speed manual transmission and wooden cue-ball shift knob, it’s understandable why many call the Carrera GT the last of the analog supercars. Absent the sophisticated safety systems of today’s latest-and-greatest, the mid-engined GT is a thrill-ride offering a taste of what might have been had Porsche set the GT’s sights on the racetrack.
A 5.7-litre V-8 develops 603 hp and has a sound like no other Porsche engine ever made. The Carrera GT does not suffer fools, requiring skill when engaging its sensitive clutch and commanding respect when managing the rear-wheel horsepower. Its shape, the handiwork of Porsche’s then head designer Harm Lagaay, seems timeless—and almost understated—today. A total of 1,270 units were made between 2004 and 2007. R.R.
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While never receiving the attention enjoyed by its supercar rivals, the burly SLR was a novel mash-up between Germany’s Mercedes-Benz and Britain’s McLaren, before the latter became a household name. The big GT was co-developed by both companies, and manufactured at the McLaren factory in Woking.
Its name references Mercedes’ 300 SLR race car from the 1950s. The 2003 coupe, styled by Gordon Wagener, was followed by a roadster in 2007 and, finally, a limited-edition speedster model. The entire run of 2,157 cars came to an end in 2010 when it was superseded by the less rarefied SLS AMG that year. Power came from a 5.4-litre supercharged V-8, developing a then-respectable 617 hp, which gave the vehicle a top speed of 208 mph. R.R.
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In 1966, lightning struck three times when Ford’s GT40 finished 1-2-3 at the daunting 24 Hours of Le Mans. The first consumer grade GT40s came out of homologation rules that dictated equivalent road cars were built alongside the racers. Fast forward to 2004, and Ford produced an homage to its famous competition machines, dubbing the supercharged sports car simply the GT.
Though undeniably sexy, the new creation had no ostensible links to racing. Not until 2016, on the 50th anniversary of the Le Mans photo finish triple victory, did Ford venture down the GT road again, this time building a gorgeous twin-turbocharged game changer whose race equivalents won their LMGTE Pro class at Le Mans, completing a half-century circle with stunning symmetry. Basem Wasef
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A kissing cousin of the Ferrari Enzo, Maserati’s MC12 was built for the express purpose of competing in (and winning) the FIA GT Championship. A total of 25 customer cars were made in 2004, with another 25 in 2005, each priced at around £515,000, and all were presold. A final dozen were produced for racing only.
Frank Stephenson, then-director of Ferrari-Maserati Concept Design and Development penned the MC12, which was built on the Enzo chassis, but was larger in every dimension. Sharing the Ferrari’s same 6.0-litre V-12 engine, the Maserati was deferential to its prancing horse patriarch, making 621 hp and hitting 205 mph, versus 651 hp and 217 mph. While not street legal, the MC12 shines as one of the most voluptuous supercars of our century. R.R.
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Koenigsegg Automotive is the brainchild of Christian von Koenigsegg, whose Swedish atelier has been building wildly imaginative hypercars for the last quarter century. While early iterations were only street legal in limited markets (and built in extremely limited numbers), 2006’s CCX marked the carmaker’s first attempt to meet global standards for safety and emissions.
Though only 29 examples of the CCX were produced over four years, the 800+ hp cars introduced the boutique brand to America, stoking a worldwide appetite for these wildly innovative, carbon-fibre creations. B.W.
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Debuting at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show and built from 2007 through 2009, the Reventón—named after a fighting bull—was not a series-production car, but a limited run of special Lamborghini supercars whose styling was inspired, according to the factory press release, by “the fastest airplanes.”
The mechanical underpinnings beneath its carbon-fibre skin were derived from the Italian marque’s then-state-of-the-art Murciélago LP640, which featured a mid-rear-mounted 6.5-litre V-12 developing 641 hp and achieving a very respectable top speed of 211 mph. a mere 20 examples were made, with one additional for the factory museum. A roadster version, unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, followed the stealthy coupe. R.R.
Achingly gorgeous. Aston Martin’s super-exclusive ONE-77 hypercar is a true art form. Just 77 of these potent projectiles were built, each costing roughly £1.15 million. At its launch in 2009, this was the fastest, most technically-advanced, most radical Aston ever built. And, arguably, the most beautiful.
With a carbon-fibre chassis and hand-formed aluminium body, it was also light yet extremely rigid. And lightning quick, courtesy of its 750 hp, 7.3-litre V-12. How quick? Think zero to 60mph in 3.5 seconds and a 200 mph top speed. It’s the car Bond should be driving, but never has. H.W.
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Bugatti Veyron Super Sport
Bugatti stormed back to the modern age from the pages of automotive history with the 2005 Veyron, which announced its intentions with quad-turbo twin-V8s that made an astonishing 1,200 hp. Fast forward a half-decade, and the Super Sport version of the Veyron promptly claimed the Guinness Book of Records title in 2010 as world’s fastest production car with a 260 mph run at Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg test track.
The Veyron Super Sport has been eclipsed by the 1,500 hp Bugatti Chiron which, driven by Andy Wallace, recently hit 304 mph in testing. However, nobody is apt to forget the Veyron—the machine that made the modern version of Bugatti what it is today. Marco della Cava
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2013 was an auspicious year for supercars, with no fewer than three major releases debuting from McLaren, Porsche, and Ferrari and earning the “Holy Trinity” nickname. Though fiercely individual, each of the trio claimed a hybrid power-train layout.
Of the three, only the Ferrari LaFerrari boasted a V-12 engine— and a raucous, naturally aspirated one, at that. The LaFerrari also happened to be the most powerful (and, unofficially at least) the most charismatic of the wild bunch. Eponymously named to suggest it was the quintessence of the Ferrari nameplate, the 950 hp hypercar may go down in history not only as the pinnacle of its era, but also as one of the greatest prancing horses of all time. B.W.
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Of the three renowned hybrid hypercars that debuted in 2013, two (the Ferrari LaFerrari and Porsche 918 Spyder) hailed from long-established carmakers, while the other—the McLaren P1—was a relative newbie on the scene. Not that the British manufacturer hadn’t earned itself a spot in the hypercar pantheon with the 1990s-era legendary F1, but the lengthy absence made building this flagship like starting from scratch.
McLaren used advanced carbon-fibre construction based on their lesser, more approachable (relatively) offerings, but the top dog P1 claimed a screaming 903 hp and a remarkably lightweight chassis, which made it a more than worthy contender against the supercar establishment of the time. B.W.
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Porsche 918 Spyder
The 918 Spyder was a true game changer, demonstrating the potential of plug-in hybrid technology in the supercar stratosphere. A naturally aspirated, 4.6-litre V-8 with 599 hp got added power from two electric motors, for a total output of 877 hp ad 944 ft lbs of near instant-on torque.
Penned by Porsche’s chief designer, Michael Mauer, the 918 was first shown at the Geneva Motor Show in 2010 as a concept to gauge market interest, going into production in late 2013 with a base MSRP of £650,000. The entire allocation of—surprise—918 units, sold out by the end of 2014, so eager were VIP Porschephiles to acquire the most powerful street-going Porsche ever made. Production ended by mid-2015, and the 918 remains a highly desirable collector car today. R.R.
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The Bugatti Chiron is all about the sum of its glorious parts. Sure, one can marvel at the 1,500 hp W-16 engine, or coo over the Art Deco inspired exterior, or rave about the jewel-like interior. But to separate out these ingredients is to miss the majesty of the meal.
The Chiron, named after the famed Monegasque driver Louis Chiron, is at once a vehicle from the future and a modern reincarnation of the 1930s Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic. To pull up somewhere in a Chiron is the unequivocal calling card that says you’ve arrived—not just to your destination, but in life. M.C.
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Sweden may be known largely as the home of proletarian transportation king Volvo, but sports car enthusiasts also know it as the land of Koenigsegg. And one of the mightiest models to leave that factory is the Regera, brainchild of company founder Christian von Koenigsegg who was, reportedly, inspired after a few sprints in a Tesla Model S P95.
The Regera, however, runs on hybrid power combining three electric motors with a 5-litre V-8. The power-train configuration, in total, produces a staggering 1,700 hp—all of which completely and wonderfully upends the image of Swedes being models of self-restraint. M.C.
PHOTO : GRZEGORZ CZAPSKI/SHUTTERSTOCK.
Lamborghini Huracán Performante
Lamborghini’s Huracán was no slouch, a flying wedge of a car powered by a 10-cylinder engine producing a touch over 600 hp. But four years after the model’s debuted in 2014 debut, it was decided that this Italian raging bull needed a track-focused makeover. Carbon-fibre bumpers, skirts and an adjustable wing removed weight and added downforce, while an engine massage bumped horsepower up 5 percent and took the coupe’s zero-to-60 mph time down to just less than 3 seconds.
The interior was just as race oriented, with sports seats and digital speedometer off the Aventador. All that added up to a brief but celebrated 2016 track record at Germany’s haloed Nürburgring, not bad at all for a company whose roots were in tractors. M.C.
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Pagani Huayra Roadster
Follow-ups to massive debuts are tough nuts to crack. But Argentine engineer Horatio Pagani did just that with the Huayra, the successor to his stop-the-presses Zonda. Back in the engine bay is a monstrous AMG-tuned power plant, this time a 6-litre twin-turbo V-12 producing 738 hp.
Wrapped around the driver and passenger of this roofless wonder is a tub made from a combination of carbon fibre and titanium for greater stiffness and lighter weight. But those are just the raw specs for a vehicle perhaps best known for being as meticulously refined as a Swiss watch, a true tastemaker’s triumph. M.C.
PHOTO : COURTESY OF MCLAREN AUTOMOTIVE.
McLaren’s reentry into the supercar game launched in 2011 with the MP4-12C, an awkwardly named but impressive debut whose angry twin-turbocharged V-8 put the establishment on alert. But it wasn’t until 2017 that McLaren’s threat became imminent with the 720S.
Taking everything the brand had become known for—carbon-fibre construction and an ambitiously complex hydraulic suspension system—the 720S stunned the competition with its breathtaking speed and incredible breadth of abilities. Tomorrow’s top supercars may be anyone’s guess, but the McLaren 720S maintains its positions as one of the finest offerings of the decade. B.W.
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Ruf CTR 30th Anniversary Edition
Ruf’s 211 mph Yellowbird may have looked like a slightly tweaked Porsche 911, but the heavily modified creation was nothing short of groundbreaking, vanquishing titans like the Ferrari F40 and Lamborghini Countach in a 1987 Road & Track magazine cover story. Its legend became cemented with a Nürburgring-shredding session in the “Faszination” video.
The latest CTR, marking its 30th anniversary, once again appears approachable at first glance, but this time around it boasts an entirely bespoke carbon-fibre chassis hiding a cornucopia of exotic hardware, from inboard suspension to a quick-revving 700 hp power plant. At once classic and futuristic, the CTR marks a momentous milestone against the original Yellowbird, offering a wildly capable supercar that hides in a discreetly familiar body. B.W.
PHOTO : COURTESY OF BENTLEY MOTORS LIMITED.
Bentley Continental Supersports
To make a 5,400-pound, big-bodied two-door coupe go fast, really fast, you need a big engine. Which is what made Bentley’s last-generation Continental Supersports arguably the greatest production Bentley ever.
Technical wizardry managed to up the horsepower of the Supersports’ turbine-smooth 6-litre twin-turbo W-12 to a nice, round 700 hp. The result: zero-to-60 mph acceleration in a hard-to-comprehend 3.4 seconds, and a top speed boosted to a blistering 209 mph. It was simply the fastest four-seater you could buy. Just 710 examples were built during 2017 making them a collector’s dream. H.W.
PHOTO : COURTESY OF AUTOMOBILI LAMBORGHINI.
Lamborghini Aventador SVJ
The Miura, Countach, Diablo, Espada and Veneno. All great Lamborghinis. But the greatest Lamborghini of all? To us, that accolade goes to the raging, snorting bull that’s the Aventador SuperVeloce Jota, SVJ for short.
With a 6.5-litre naturally aspirated V-12 channeling 760 hp to all four wheels, it can catapult this blunt instrument from Sant’Agata to 60 mph in a mere 2.5 seconds. Around the Nürburgring, there’s no production car that’s faster. And it comes with all the theater and howling soundtrack you expect of any modern-day Lamborghini—only with the volume turned up to 11. H.W.
PHOTO : COURTESY OF SSC NORTH AMERICA.
To reach 300 mph. That’s the target that Washington State–based SSC North America has for its new SSC Tuatara hypercar. To hit that mark, the carbon-fibre–bodied Tuatara—named after a spiny lizard found in New Zealand—carries a 5.9-litre twin-turbo V-8 packing a massive 1,726 hp.
Production has already kicked off with the goal to build 100 examples, each priced at around £1.2 million. SSC isn’t new to the high-speed business. In 2007, its 1,287 hp Ultimate Aero clocked 256.14 mph. The record stood for three years before Bugatti’s Veyron Super Sports came along. Time to take the record back. H.W.
PHOTO : COURTESY OF ASTON MARTIN.
Aston Martin Valkyrie
Supercar greatness is on its way. When Aston Martin’s Valkyrie hypercar comes off the line early next year, it will set a towering new benchmark for street-legal production car performance. It’s what happens when you bolt a 1,000 hp, 6.5-litre V-12, along with a 160 hp Rimac-developed hybrid-electric system, into a lightweight, super-strong carbon monocoque.
And if that wasn’t impressive enough, remember the car has been designed by Adrian Newey, Formula 1 design rock star and current chief technical officer for Red Bull Racing. Production will be limited to 150 examples, each costing around £2.45 million.. H.W.
PHOTO : COURTESY OF FERRARI.
Ferrari SF90 Stradale
While the days of Maranello’s 12-cylinder halo rockets may be fading in today’s eco-climate, the eight-cylinder SF90 Stradale more than delivers. Billed as a street car tribute to Ferrari’s SF90 Formula 1 machine, the SF90 Stradale is an unabashed hypercar boasting 1,000 hp from three electric motors and a twin-turbo V-8.
Its combination of exceptional hybrid power-train performance and dramatic looks pull from the best of existing aft-engined models. Note the nod to the 488’s flank scoops as well as to the marque’s racing pedigree—the nose simply screams motorsport, which this car salutes by name: Scuderia Ferrari, 90 years. M.C.