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Impermeable Supercar: What Makes an Automotive Legend?

It’s not just about speed – it’s about attitude.

By Audrey Davis
November 10 2021

That’s what many car fans will say when asked about supercars, the upper echelon of the automotive world. But you’d be forgiven for wanting a more precise definition of what these cars actually are, because while every supercar is a luxury car, not every luxury car is a supercar. Which begs the question: where do we draw the line?  

There are definitely certain capabilities that all supercars should have, but the easiest way to identify which cars fall into this category is actually by pedigree. Ever heard the term “race on Sunday, sell on Monday?” It refers to the common practice of developing and marketing vehicles based on successful racing models – think the Ford GT (which originated as the GT40), or a Shelby Cobra. The bigger the win, the more likely the road-going version will be a hit. But let’s not forget that supercars must also be capable of astounding speeds, or at the very least, whatever was considered astounding at the time they were built. By that standard, it seems almost impossible to crown any one car the King of the Supers, but we’ve combed through automotive history and selected a few worthy contenders. 

Back in the 1960s, Lamborghini was a new Italian brand looking to prove itself not just to consumers, but also to its arch-rival, Ferrari. So, what’s the best way to go from making tractors to making some of the most coveted supercars in history? Try redefining the entire genre. The Lamborghini Miura, introduced in 1966, was the first supercar to use the powerful, race-ready mid-engine configuration in a stylish, road-going vehicle. It seems like a no-brainer to us now, but this leap of faith revolutionized the industry at the time, and the Miura’s distinctive curves and low-slung design continued to influence high-performance vehicles built many decades later. 

As automotive engineering advanced, and supercars got faster and faster, it made sense to rethink the status quo once again. The McLaren F1, which debuted in 1992, achieved its top speed of over 220 mph by stripping away absolutely all the inessentials – and that includes the front passenger seat, which was scrapped in favor of an arrow-shaped three-seat configuration. Its stunning dihedral doors would also foreshadow the hypercar era, ushered in by Koenigsegg only two years later. 

But if you’re looking for a vehicle that truly bridges the generational gap between supercars and hypercars, look no further than the Bugatti Veyron, the car that brought Bugatti into the twenty-first century and floored auto enthusiasts with its massive 8-liter turbocharged W-16 engine. It’s supercar engineering at its finest, and that 253 mph top speed is enviable even by today’s standards. Is it the King Super? Hard to say, but in our book, it’s definitely one of the three greatest supercars ever made. 



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