In Case You Were Wondering What Defines a Supercar

There are a lot of worthy pretenders that call themselves supercars. We’re here to settle this matter, once and for all.

Back in 1987, the Ferrari F40 rolled out of the fastidious Ferrari works in Maranello, Italy. It was the last car that founder Enzo Ferrari oversaw and signed off on, and it was at the time the fastest and most expensive car he would ever sell to the public. The F40 was a featherweight 2,500 pounds, with a raging twin-turbo V-8 that pushed out 490 horsepower and drove the car to 60 mph in just under four seconds. The stats are impressive, though by modern standards they seem a little pokey considering the F40’s price tag of $400,000 (adjusted to $830,000 and change). And compared to the LaFerrari, a sci-fi vision that generates 950 horsepower and drives more like a Formula One racer than a sports car, the F40 is a somewhat crude instrument. For God’s sake, it does 0-60 in just 2.6 seconds!

Nevertheless, we consider the F40 to be the first of the great supercars. Why? What exactly is a supercar? The answer differs depending on who you ask. But here’s the truth: A supercar is something that is risky, rare, really goddamn expensive (better bring $1,000,000, pal), and—crucially—something that rolls of a production line ready to rock and roll. The past couple years have been a particularly exemplary ones for the supercar. There’s the LaFerrari, the ungodly fast Porsche 918 Spyder, the insanely responsive McLaren P1. The Porsche and the Ferrari both have gas-electric hybrids that close in on 1,000-horsepower, and they both have price tags in the million-dollar zone. 

These cars join an exclusive pantheon of the real supercar, alongside the soon-to-retire Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse, the Pagani Huayra, the Koenigsegg Agera R. What else? How about the Lamborghini Veneno? Its bat-wing design is divisive and sinister, and its price tag of $4.5 million something that nearly breaches the morality barrier. It is, nevertheless, a supercar. As for the exotics and sports cars we love so much and want to think of as supercars—the Mercedes SLS, the Audi R8, Porsche 911 GT3 RS, the Bentley GTR, Rolls-Royce Wraith, the list goes on and on—we have to draw the line.