DEFINING THE SUPERCAR
A step down inside the gullwing door has you giddy with excitement - reassuring this experience will be unlike any other. With the addition of direct line fuel injection, Mercedes has crossed a threshold with their new 300SL, providing unadulterated power to the driver that, up until this point, was reserved for only race cars. A turn of the key has the straight-six engine humming and an unprecedented 240 hp resting beneath your right foot. The year is 1953, and you're about to rev the fastest production car of all time into high gear.
"What is a supercar?" It's a common question for SWAE and anyone inside the high-end automotive space. It was originally coined with the unveiling of the Lamborghini Miura in 1966 to adequately describe a new class of vehicles that had been speeding onto the market since the early 1950s. A performance-based vehicle with race car components tuned to be street-legal. A vehicle faster than a sports car but still suited for daily driving.
In the early 1950s, with a post-war American economy booming, the world began looking for new luxury pursuits. With Mercedes winning the Le Mans 24-Hour Race in 1952, a revolutionary idea began formulating in the minds of engineers at Mercedes-Benz Group. They envisioned a Grand Prix-style car available to motor enthusiasts and speed demons on the open market. As it turned out, it was precisely what the cash-happy American market was looking for. Mercedes-Benz was able to capitalize on a demand for speed and luxury. Mercedes Benz SL300, designed with direct fuel line injection and gullwing doors. Features that had been standard on race cars and Grand Prix vehicles but never before available to the general populace burst onto the scene, and the "supercar" was born.
These days, mentioning a "supercar" doesn't conjure up images of Mercedes or BMW. While these companies specialize in luxury vehicles, it is Ferrari, Lamborghini, and McLaren that people worldwide imagine when you say supercar. It is partly due to each company's distinctive design language - allowing the potent engine to accelerate the car furiously forward at maximum velocity. These iconic body kits propelling thousands of pounds of steel and carbon fiber flawlessly through the air have come to define the look and feel of the modern supercar.
However, even supercars have now been outpaced. High-performance vehicles took another leap in the 2010s and created an entirely new class of cars, the "hypercar." With price points starting at a mere $1,000,000 and sometimes reaching above $2,000,000, hypercars are truly in a league of their own. Seeing one on a roadway is akin to seeing a shooting star. Brands like Bugatti and Koenigsegg are now considered the kings of the asphalt, loading their base models with 1000 horsepower and aerodynamically perfect designs.
Luxury and performance wrapped into a seamless package. These engineering marvels are incredible testaments of humanity's engineering prowess. A storied history that stands tall and is beyond reproach in how breathtaking they are. For SWAE, these machines are merely an element of our pursuit, a vehicle that takes us down the pathway to our dreams. There will always be a faster car with more horsepower, but the stories we dream about behind the wheel make us who we are. So be it a Toyota Prius or a Bugatti Chiron, pursue with pride.
Photo Credit: goldRush Rally.