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Best Of The Best: The Greatest Sports Cars Of All Time

Vukasin HerbezSeptember 7, 2022

It’s unclear who built the first sports car, and when. The need for speed has been around since the dawn of cars. People soon started to recognize performance machines and the passion behind their engineering. During the 1950s and ’60s, the sports car market exploded, eventually giving birth to the greatest sports cars of all time.

Today, after so many sports cars have graced race circuits and streets, we can safely say that those machines created the automotive community. They inspired and excited so many drivers around the world. The sports car scene consists of expensive and affordable machines. Below are the most influential sports cars that will go down as the best in automotive history. These are the true greats, so remember them fondly right here.

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Ford GT

The early 2000s supercar boost motivated many manufacturers to offer exotic cars, introduce new models, and revive old legendary names. Ford jumped on the bandwagon with a new retro-styled supercar simply called the GT, It was a clear and obvious successor to the fantastic Le Mans-winning GT40 from the late ’60s (via Auto Evolution).

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The heart of the Ford GT is Ford’s fabulous 5.4-liter supercharged V8 with 550 HP. The GT was capable of achieving a 0 to 60 mph time of just 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 205 mph. Although the Ford GT wasn’t constructed or designed with racing in mind, the car proved quite capable on the track in the hands of private teams.

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Mitsubishi 3000 GT

The 3000 GT is another 1990s legend forgotten by mainstream sports car enthusiasts, which is a shame. With pop-up headlights, rear panorama glass, and a big spoiler, the 3000 GT screams early ’90s car design. But there is much more about this car than contemporary nostalgia since it’s one serious driving machine (via Auto Evolution).

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Under the hood is a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 with 300 HP, which sends power to all four wheels over an intelligent AWD system. Maintenance can be expensive since the car is an authentic technological tour de force, but we believe it’s well worth the trouble for the 3000GT.

Lancia Stratos - Lancia
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Lancia Stratos

This small two-seater is one of the most recognizable wedge-shaped cars ever. In the mid-’70s, Lancia wanted to go rally racing and made their first purpose-built rally car in the form of the Stratos (via Lancia Stratos).

Lancia Stratos - Lancia
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However, they had the design, not the engine, so the company borrowed a compact V6 from Ferrari. Lancia powered by Ferrari created a legend and became world champion in 1977. The Stratos combined several essential factors to be recognized as a nearly perfect driver’s car.

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Subaru BRZ

This little sports coupe has a signature flat-four engine that delivers 205 HP from 2.0 liters. The BRZ is a light and nimble coupe whose secret is in the engine’s position. Since Subaru uses a flat-four engine, the center of gravity is lower than regular inline four-cylinder motors (via Motor Trend).

2017 Subaru BRZ - 2016 Subaru BRZ
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A lower center of gravity plants the car to the ground, improving the driving dynamics. This makes the BRZ easier to handle. It also has a six-speed manual gearbox, which helps the BRZ deliver a lively performance and engaging drive.

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Lotus Elise

When the Elise was introduced in 1996, it made a huge splash in the automotive world. Such a compact yet beautiful roadster with a lightweight body and precise handling was unique on the market and influenced many big manufacturers to produce similar models (via Evo).

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The Lotus perfectly captured the essence of sports car dynamics and introduced it in a sleek and balanced package. The early models had a mid-mounted 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and just over 100 HP, but that was more than enough for a lively performance.

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Audi R8

The sports car world was stunned when Audi presented the first-generation R8. Nobody expected such a bold move from Audi and a great sports car. The Audi R8 is a supercar with its mid-mounted V8 engine and design but at sports car prices that make it available to a broader audience (via Audi).

Audi R8 Spyder - Audi RS 6
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The engine is a true art piece. It is a naturally aspirated 4.2 liter V8 with 420 HP. Packed in a lightweight body and mated to a perfect dual-clutch gearbox, the R8’s V8 was capable of attacking some Italian exotics with no problem.

Toyota MR2
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Toyota MR2

Back in the mid-’80s, Toyota shocked the auto world by introducing the MR2, a small mid-engined sports car with outstanding performance. The MR-2 also brought excellent road holding and an affordable price into the fold. In those days and today, Toyota was considered a dull manufacturer of economy models without any interesting cars for enthusiasts (via Toyota).

Toyota MR2
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The MR2 changed all that since it was different from other Toyota models and appealed to all fans of spirited driving and dynamic handling. The first generation MR2 was introduced in 1984. It featured 1.5-liter and 1.6-liter four-cylinder engines mounted centrally behind the driver and between the cabin and rear axle, which gave this little car fantastic handling.

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Nissan MID-4

The 1985-87 Nissan MID 4 is a courageous and competent mid-engine sports car concept that unfortunately didn’t become a production model. Even though it’s mostly forgotten today, it is still a fascinating piece of engineering that deserves a better look (via Motor Trend).

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The MID 4 had a mid-mounted 3.0-liter V6 engine with around 200 HP, all-wheel drive, and a nearly perfect weight balance. Nissan envisioned it to fight sports cars from Ferrari and Porsche. Unfortunately, the company pulled the plug at the last moment.

Mazda Cosmo
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Mazda 1100 Cosmo

Back in the ’60s, the biggest news amongst car engineers was the Wankel rotary engine. The innovative concept of a single piston engine, which was far lighter and smaller than conventional units but with more power and revving capacity, captivated several significant manufacturers’ imaginations (via Auto Week).

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One of the first companies that were brave and confident enough to introduce such an engine in mass production was Mazda with a little sports coupe called 110 S Cosmo, which debuted in 1967. It was a sharp-looking two-seater with a modern design and a tiny 982 cc engine with 110 or 130 HP in later versions.

Ford RS200
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Ford RS200

Back in the mid-’80s, motorsports were all about rallying and the famous, dangerous Group B. Group B was a part of the World Rally Championship, which featured factory prototypes loosely based on production cars with insane turbocharged engines and all-wheel-drive systems. The vehicles were dangerous but still much-loved by fans worldwide (via Road and Track).

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One of the most prominent was the wild and crazy Ford RS200. Ford introduced it in 1984 as a mid-engine, turbocharged sports car. It featured lightweight body construction, a 2.1-liter engine with 250 HP, and two seats. Thanks to the all-wheel drive, it was capable of jumping from 0 to 60 mph in just five seconds.

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Toyota 2000 GT

This car was introduced in 1967 and turned the eyes of the car world to a small company from war-torn Japan. All car magazines of the period praised the ride and driving dynamics. Despite having only 150 HP from a high-revving 2.0-liter six-cylinder, the 2000 GT had decent performance and almost racecar-like handling (via Toyota).

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Unfortunately, due to high prices and poor brand recognition, the number of 2000 GTs sold was very low – exactly 351 cars until 1970. But, we couldn’t call it a failure. The 2000 GT did precisely what it was supposed to do; it showed the world that the Japanese car industry was the next big thing in the car landscape.

Honda CRX Si
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Honda CRX

Japanese brands dominated the market for affordable performance models in the early ’80s. The CRX is the perfect example of one of the most memorable cars from that era. Built from 1983 to 1991, the CRX was based on the Civic but with a lower and sportier body and only two seats. Since it was light, nimble, and precise, the CRX was a real sports car with front-wheel drive and up to 140 HP (via Road and Track).

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This model’s most significant selling points were its extremely light body, as the whole car weighed 1,800 pounds and a high-revving four-cylinder engine. Honda never repeated the success of the CRX, and the car is still remembered by enthusiasts as a blast to drive.

Dino - Sports car
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Ferrari 246 GT Dino

The Dino was a big step for Ferrari even if it was the smallest model they had ever made. Introduced in the mid-’60s as the 206 Dino, it was an entry-level model with a V6 engine. Purists were outraged since this was the first sports car Ferrari made without the big V12 engine (via Ferrari).

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The 246 Dino was introduced in 1968, and sales picked up, making this little car responsible for financial stability, which Ferrari always needed. But most of all, Dino was a blast to drive even though it had a smaller engine with fewer cylinders. This car showed that sometimes, less is more.

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Porsche 944 Turbo

This forgotten gem from Stuttgart is one of the best affordable sports cars you can buy. Designed as an entry-level Porsche, the 944 had an attractive layout with a front-mounted engine and rear-mounted transaxle gearbox (via Porsche).

Porsche 944
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It also had a 2.5-liter turbocharged engine that put out 250 HP. Due to its light weight, good transmission, and aerodynamics, the 944 Turbo was a fast car. The 0 to 60 mph time took only 5.9 seconds, and this car could top 162 mph. Even today, this little Porsche can outrun some modern sports cars.

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Porsche 356

The predecessor to the legendary Porsche 911, the 356, was the first proper sports car that the iconic company produced. Introduced in 1948 and sold until 1965, the Porsche 356 had a four-cylinder boxer engine closely related to Volkswagen Beetle and T1 Van engines.

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However, Porsche tuned this motor to produce much higher output and won numerous races with it. As you can expect, the flat-four sounded angry and aggressive even though it made modest power compared to later Porsche models (via Porsche).

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Lancia 037 Stradale

The 037 model was a pure racing car with a mid-mounted supercharged engine delivering up to 350 HP in full racing spec. However, to homologate this car for the infamous Group B rally series in 1982, Lancia needed to produce at least 200 road-going examples, so the 037 Stradale was introduced later that year (via Motori Online).

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This street-legal car was almost as extreme as the racing model. The Stradale featured a lightweight plastic body, mid-mounted 2.0 or 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine with up to 280 HP depending on the tune. However, most components were unchanged. The Stradale still got stiff suspension, Spartan interior, racing seats, plastic windows, and much more.

MazdaRX7-1-1
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Mazda RX-7

If you know a thing or two about Japanese sports cars, you’ll understand that the RX-7 has a special place in the nomenclature of performance cars from the “land of the rising Sun”. The reason is the engine, and in contrast to all other vehicles on the market with conventional piston engines, RX-7 had a rotary Wankel engine from the beginning (via Evo).

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The third generation was presented in 1992 and discontinued in 2002. It had from 252 to 276 HP and strong performance thanks to its small weight and perfect balance. They are still affordable today, so hurry up.

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Nissan ZX 300 Twin Turbo

Car enthusiasts respect this model since the 300 ZX was a proper sports coupe with the technology and performance which could rival much more expensive and exclusive cars. The twin-turbo V6 engine pumped 300 HP. That meant the 300 ZX could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.5 seconds and top 150 mph (via Car and Driver).

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Since the ’90s, Japanese cars are slowly becoming more desirable. If you’re looking for a Nissan 300 ZX, you should find one as soon as possible since its value could skyrocket sometime soon.

2004 Lotus Esprit - 2002 Lotus Esprit
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Lotus Espirit V8

The Esprit was produced from the early 1970s to the early 2000s. It was always a fantastic sports car despite having smaller engines than the competitors. The last and the best version was the V8, which featured 350 HP and a lightweight body that could outrun many competitors while retaining its classic wedge look (via Supercars).

Lotus Esprit - Car
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The 3.5-liter V8 wasn’t particularly powerful compared to modern cars, but it was installed in a light and aerodynamically efficient body, making the Esprit V8 a blast to drive.

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Alpine A110

The Alpine A110 is a small, lightweight sports coupe with a rear-mounted engine and rear-wheel drive. It provides driving excitement and unparalleled road holding. That was the idea behind the new Alpine A110 (via Top Gear).

Automobiles Alpine - Groupe Renault
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This small coupe weighs just over a ton and has a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder behind the driver powering the rear wheels. The power is adequate at 252 HP through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.

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Noble M600

Most models produced in recent years are well known and sold in the U.S. However, there are a few models that flew under the radar. In fact, they never reached our shores, despite being fast. One of those cars is the Noble M600 (via Noble Cars).

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Using a 4.4-liter V8 from Volvo and bolting two turbochargers on it, Noble managed to squeeze 550 or 650 HP in a lightweight, sleek body. The idea behind the M600 was to produce a pure supercar without unnecessary electronic aids. Using all 650 HP, the M600 can reach 60 mph in just 3.0 seconds and top out at over 220 mph.

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Alfa Romeo 2000 GTV

One of the most iconic Italian sports coupes is the gorgeous Alfa Romeo Giulia Coupe, often called the Tipo 105 Coupe for its chassis code. Introduced in 1963 under Giulia Sprint GT, this little Alfa stunned the car world with its sculptured lines and perfect stance. Four headlights, wider tail lights, and a 2000 GTV badge can recognize the final versions.

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These cars have 136 HP and a glorious soundtrack thanks to the high-revving, all alloy engine (via Petrolicious). For a long time, Alfa Romeo Tipo 105 Coupes were pretty cheap, but the price spike has affected this model in recent years.

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Ferrari 308 GTB

The successor of the groundbreaking 246 GT was the 308 GT4 Dino, produced from 1973 to 1980. The 308 GT4 featured several exciting things such as an angular design by Bertone, not from Pininfarina as expected.

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It also boasted the first Ferrari road-going V8 engine and a 2+2 seating configuration to give it more space (via Ferrari). It was also considerably cheaper when new and intended as a Ferrari for everyday use.

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Triumph GT6

The GT6 project started in the mid-’60s when Triumph realized they needed a coupe version of their popular roadster. So, Triumph engineers installed a 2.0-liter six-cylinder engine with 106 HP, providing the GT6 with more power and performance than the similar Spitfire (via Auto Express).

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The GT6 was never as popular as the Spitfire, but it was arguably a better car and a cool-looking alternative to all other sports coupes.

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Fiat Dino Coupe

Back in 1967, Fiat introduced the Dino, a coupe and a convertible sports car that featured a Ferrari V6 engine straight from the 246 GT Dino. The coupe was designed by Bertone while Pininfarina styled the convertible. The two shared mechanics, motor, and performance, but the design was different (via FCA Heritage).

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The Fiat Dino Coupe was also officially sold in America, and one can be found in classified ads for as little as $15,000. That’s simply the cheapest way to own a piece of Ferrari magic for Ford Fiesta prices. Also, look for the later 2.4-liter V6 version since it’s better and faster than the earlier 2.0-liter model.

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Ariel Atom 500

This is quite possibly the craziest car on sale today you can put license plates on. The Ariel Atom 500 V8 weighs 1200 pounds and has 500 hp from a V8 engine mounted directly behind the driver.

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The car is a Go-Kart with a spoiler, some place for two people, no trunk, no body panels, and no fenders (via Arielna). This amazing car is basically a bare chassis, a screaming V8 right behind you, 500 angry horses, a seven-speed sequential gearbox, and four tires.

Alfa Romeo 4C
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Alfa Romeo 4C

In 2013, Alfa Romeo introduced the 4C. Nobody expected a car like this from Alfa Romeo. The 4C was a “junior supercar” with a carbon fiber tub, lightweight construction, a cramped interior, and a four-cylinder turbocharged engine (via Car and Driver).

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The heart of the 4C is a tiny, 1.8-liter engine with a turbocharger that delivers 238 HP to the rear wheels. The performance numbers are impressive. The Alfa Romeo 4C can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds and top 160 mph.

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Honda S2000

This Honda model was a legitimate driver’s car with all the essential features like lightweight construction, ideal weight distribution, a powerful engine, and razor-sharp handling in an elegant open-top package.

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Under the hood was a 2.0 or 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine with 240 HP, which was the car’s main selling point. Its gem of an engine featured a 9000 rpm red line, four valves per cylinder, and famous Honda’s V-Tec system, which provided all the power in high RPMs and a fantastic screaming sound (via Car Throttle).

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MG B

One of the most popular and typical British roadsters from the ’60s is the MG B. Introduced in 1962, B was the successor of MG A, which helped establish the roadster class in the US. By the day’s standards, MG B was a reasonably modern car with unibody construction, a roomy interior, and decent suspension and steering (via Hemmings).

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Some of the contemporary tests call MG B underpowered and 95 HP, but for those who want more power, MG introduced the model C with a 3.0-liter six-cylinder and 145 HP and the MG B GT with a 3.5-liter V8 engine available only in coupe form. The best thing about the MG B is that this is a simple car to maintain.

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Triumph TR6

The TR6 was a successor to TR5 and US-market-only TR250, which all shared basic construction, dimensions, and design. The TR6 was introduced in 1968 and featured disc brakes, an independent suspension, and a 2.5-liter straight six engine with 145 HP. Thanks to the weight of just under 2200 lbs., the TR6 was pretty agile and was amongst the fastest power roadsters on the market in the late ’60s (via Auto Express).

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Production ended in 1976 after more than 90,000 were made, and today TR6 is a popular choice for classic roadster fans that want old-school looks and feel but with decent performance and speed.

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Porsche 928

The 928 was a Gran Turismo coupe with a powerful V8 engine in the front, a transaxle gearbox, ideal weight distribution, intelligent suspension, and space age design. In contrast to the 911, which still had some Volkswagen Beetle cues, the 928 looked like it came from another planet (via Porsche).

1995 Porsche 928 - Porsche
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For decades this model was in the shadow of the famous 911, but recently people started realizing just how good those coupes are. And, of course, prices started going up.

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Equus Throwback

One of the newest and most exclusive American sports cars is a new and sophisticated Equus Throwback. Under the highly-stylized body lies the Corvette C7 chassis and components. But Equus decided to improve every aspect of the car, from the suspension to its brakes, engine, and gearbox (via Road and Track).

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According to the press release, Throwback is available with an optional 1000 HP engine which gives the car 0 to 60 mph time of only 2.5 seconds and a top speed of over 220 mph.

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Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona

The Daytona debuted in 1968 as an essential Ferrari and advanced sports car. It featured four camshafts on an upgraded V12 engine, and an independent rear suspension (via Ferrari).

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It also had disc brakes all around, and a transaxle gearbox. Along with 300 HP, it made Daytona one of the period’s best and fastest GT cars.

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BMW M3 E36

Built from 1992 to 1999, the E36 M3 featured a newly designed six-cylinder plant. Earlier models had a 3.0-liter engine with 291 HP, but from 1995 until the end of production, the bigger 3.2-liter with 321 HP was installed (via BMW M).

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Available as a sedan, coupe, or convertible, the E36 M3 was popular and introduced new standards in handling and performance. The 0 to 60 mph times were around 6 seconds, and thanks to the good chassis, sharp steering was guaranteed, and the MNW’s driving dynamics were perfect.

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Fiat X1/9

Behind this strange name lies one of the most attractive affordable wedge cars of the ’70s. Introduced in 1972, Fiat X1/9 was a small two-seater with T-Top, a mid-mounted engine, and two trunks, one in the front and one in the back. Think of it as Porsche Boxster, just 20 years older (via Motor Trend).

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Despite fantastic wedge-shaped looks and technical layout, the X 1/9 was pretty underpowered, with just around 60 HP from its small 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine. The performance was not impressive, and most owners decided to fit more significant engines.

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BMW M1

Although M1 was not a commercial success and sold only 453 copies, this limited production sports car was tremendously crucial for the brand and BMW’s future. It is also one of the best-known wedge-shaped sports cars ever made.

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The heart of this sports car was BMW’s famous M88 six-cylinder engine with 3.5-liters of displacement, advanced fuel injection, and 273 HP, which was a pretty high number for the day’s standards (via BMW M).

De Tomaso Pantera - De Tomaso
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DeTomaso Pantera

Maybe not as well-known as Ferrari or Lamborghini, De Tomaso is another Italian sports car scene legend from the ’60s. The first car was De Tomaso Mangusta, introduced in 1967, but Pantera, introduced in 1969, proved far more successful and popular, even though it shared a lot with the Mangusta (via DeTomaso Automobili).

De Tomaso Pantera
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The key to Pantera’s success was the modern wedge-shaped design, mid-mounted and powerful V8, and great performance. Also, Alejandro DeTomaso got the deal with Ford Motor Company. It meant that De Tomaso’s products were to be sold officially in America through the Lincoln-Mercury dealership network.

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Nissan 370Z

Available as a coupe or a roadster, the Nissan 370Z is a sports car legend in an affordable package. The handsome front-engine rear-wheel drive car has a potent V6 engine and limited slip differential standard. This feature makes it safe to drive hard and also makes it a favorite drift car. Let’s not forget this model’s enormous aftermarket support, which means you can easily tune and customize the vehicle (via Nissan USA).

370Z Via Motor Trend
via Motor Trend

Introduced in 2008, the 370Z brought a new design and an upgraded V6 engine to the market and has remained popular. The 300 HP engine and sharper and Nismo version make this model a desirable yet affordable sports coupe with near-perfect driving dynamics.

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Toyota Supra Mk4

This is one of the most iconic Japanese sports cars which has reached legendary status by appearing in many street racing movies like ‘The Fast and Furious’ franchise, racing video games, and music videos. You may think that Supra’s popularity is based purely on its several media appearances, but you would be wrong. This is one serious machine, especially in the Turbo version (via Fast Car).

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The base model was naturally aspirated and despite being quick, the most sought-after model is the 3.0-liter straight six twin-turbo variant with 276 HP. We know that 276 HP is not that much today, but the engine produced somewhat more than advertised and had fantastic tuning potential. So much so that today it is hard to find a stock Supra. With just a few bolt-on power adders, a bigger turbo, and an intake system, you can go all the way to 1000 hp on its rear wheels.

Jaguar F-Type
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Jaguar F-Type

Decades after Jaguar produced a proper sports coupe, we got the F-Type, a crazy and brutally fast muscle car from England with a powerful supercharged V8 and a glorious soundtrack (via Jaguar).

Jaguar F-TYPE
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Despite being somewhat heavy for a sports car and rough around the edges, the F-Type is fantastic, fun to drive, and an adequately fast machine. We’re sure that future generations will appreciate those characteristics and that this Jag will have a solid fan base in the future. The top-of-the-line SVR version is costly at over $100,000, but there are cheaper models and depreciation is quite strong with those kinds of vehicles.

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Honda Beat

The spiritual successor of the classic Honda S600 roadster is the ’90s Honda Beat. Introduced in 1991 and sold until 1996, thhe Beat was a small, nimble roadster with just 660 ccm displacements and 63 HP (via Super Car Nostalgia).

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In typical Honda fashion, the car was naturally aspirated and was equipped with 5-speed manual transmission. With just 1,656 pounds, driving was immensely fun, and over 33,000 were made in a five-year production run.

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Lancia Fulvia Coupe

In the ’60s, Lancia was an independent luxury manufacturer with very specific and highly respected cars that boasted unique designs and technical solutions. So, when the company presented the Fulvia Coupe in 1965, the car world noticed (via FCA Heritage).

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The Fulvia Coupe was a little 2+2 two-door car with a narrow-angle V6 in the front powering the front wheels. This unique layout was handled significantly well, and with the small weight of the vehicle itself, it produced vivid performance. Despite having 85 to 115 HP, Lancia Fulvia Coupe was a rally champion and an advantageous car to drive fast on winding roads.

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Porsche Cayman GT4

For years, the talk of the car industry was alleged conspiracy deep inside Porsche management. Somebody didn’t want the Boxster/Cayman combo to get an engine from 911. We are not sure this is true, but we were suspicious until Porsche announced the GT4 in 2015. Finally, we had a Cayman, which was not a 911 for poor people but a proper razor of a car with more than enough power to hunt almost any 911 on the twisting road (via Porsche).

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For the 2020 model year, Porsche announced a brand new 718 Cayman GT4 made with the same recipe. 4.0-liter flat-six engine from 911, precisely tuned chassis, brakes, and steering. The power output is more than respectable 414 HP. It means that the 718 Cayman GT4 is ridiculously fast and much more of a real sports car than the modern 911, which grew bigger, heavier, and more luxurious.

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Nissan Skyline R32

Everybody who played racing games in the last 20 years will know about the R32. This crazy powerful all-wheel drive Japanese coupe was on top of many American enthusiasts’ wish lists for a quarter of a century, and now it is eligible to import. For those who want facts, let’s just say this.

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It’s a two-door coupe with intelligent all-wheel drive, a 2.6-liter turbocharged engine with 276 hp stock, and a lot of tuning potential (via Nissan USA). Unfortunately, all R32s are right-hand drive models, mainly produced for the Japanese and Australian markets. But for true JDM fans, this just adds to the appeal.

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AMG GT

After the success of the SLS AMG, Mercedes decided to attack its neighbor from another side of Stuttgart, Porsche. Knowing that Porsche’s leading sports car is the everlasting 911, Mercedes thought that a smaller, lighter, and more conventional version of the SLS would perfectly keep up with the venerable 911 (via Mercedes Benz USA).

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That is why AMG presented the GT, a 4.0-liter turbocharged V8-powered coupe or roadster. It featured better performance, more power, and higher top speed than most 911 versions. With incredible driving dynamics and several versions, AMG GT is not only a very successful sports car but also a championship-winning race car with the AMG GT3 version.

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Plymouth Prowler

Hot Rod culture is one of the critical ingredients of the American automotive landscape. However, no company dared to present a factory-built Hot Rod. Until 1997, when Plymouth gave the Prowler, It was a retro-futuristic roadster with a V6 engine and fantastic looks (via Car Throttle).

Plymouth Prowler
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Imagined as the follow-up of the Viper, the Prowler was a hit on the show circuit and Chrysler wanted to capitalize on that. Despite initial success, the car was a failure mainly since customers expected V8 and not V6 power.

TVR Cerbera Speed 12 - TVR S series
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TVR Cerbera

The Cerbera was one of the best affordable sports/muscle cars on the British market in 1996. Designed as a two-seater coupe with a V8 engine up front, it was a cross between a classic coupe and a muscle car (via TVR Car Club).

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The design was retro-futuristic with a long hood and aggressive silhouette. Today, even at 22 years old, this car still looks great. The best engine option was TVR’s 4.7-liter V6 engine with the interesting “Red Rose” performance pack. It delivered 440 HP and exhilarating performance.

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TVR Sagaris

Introduced in the early 2000s, it was an exciting and innovative design from a company known for brutally fast and sleek sports cars. Propelled by TVR’s 4.0-liter high revving six-cylinder engine with 406 HP, the Sagaris was lightning-quick, taking just 3.7 seconds to 60 mph with a 185 mph top speed (via Auto Car).

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But the coolest thing about this crazy sports car was its design. Named after a battle axe from Greek mythology, Sagaris was simply hard to describe. There are very few cars that have such an aggressive design but still manage to look elegant and fast even when standing still.

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Shelby Series 1

The Series 1 was introduced in 1999 and featured a gorgeous roadster body, low silhouette, and design that could be traced back to the mid-’60s. However, everything was brand new under the body, and the car used Oldsmobile 4.0-liter V8 engine delivering 320 HP. Since the car was light, the performance was great and 0 to 60 mph times were around four seconds, which was fantastic for the late ’90s (via Hemmings).

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Unfortunately, US regulations regarding car manufacturing stopped Shelby from producing Series 1 as a regular model, allowing it to be built only as a kit car, which he refused. Due to limited availability and high price, the production was low at only 250 examples.

Photo Credit: Top Gear

Aston Martin DB5

The DB5 was available as a coupe or gorgeous convertible. Despite being pretty powerful for the day’s standards, DB5 was more of a luxury cruiser than a sports car, with acceleration figures of around 8 seconds from 0 to 60 mph. The heart of the vehicle was a 4.0-liter straight six engine with 282 to 315 HP depending on the trim and model (via Aston Martin).

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It proved pretty popular, and Aston made over 1000 examples until 1965, a big success for a small boutique manufacturer. But this car is most famous for being James Bond’s car of choice and appearing in quite a few Bond movies.

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Nissan Skyline GT-R R35

The R35 Skyline GT-R is a car that doesn’t need a special introduction. One of the fastest, most capable, and best-handling sports cars you can buy is globally famous for its sublime characteristics and performance (via Nissan USA).

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The most significant part of its appeal is the engine, and the Skyline has a signature turbocharged 3.8-liter V6, which delivers 570 HP or 600 in NISMO trim. In combination with intelligent all-wheel drive, the GT-R can achieve 60 mph in less than three seconds.

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Jaguar XK 120

After the War, the British car industry was in ruins and desperately needed a good export product. This was especially problematic for Jaguar as a luxury car company. But what was a better way to do it than to make a fantastic sports car and draw the attention of US customers?

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XK 120 was one of Jaguar’s quintessential sports cars and one of the fastest models of the decade. It debuted in 1948 with a powerful straight six engine, sleek, streamlined body, and a top speed of 120 mph. The top speed was the inspiration for the name XK 120 (via Hemmings).

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Caterham/Lotus 7

Lotus started as a kit car company operating from a shed. It used components from mass-produced cars covered in unique bodies creating special cars which appealed to a broad audience. But everything started with the legendary Lotus 7 (via Caterham Cars).

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First presented in 1957, Lotus 7 was a bare-bones sports car with a small four-cylinder engine in the front, two seats, and nothing more. It was the purest form of sports car driving legally possible, and it was very influential.

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Lamborghini 350 GT

This is the first car Lamborghini ever and one of the best GT sports cars of the ’60s. Lamborghini presented an extremely competent coupe with a 3.5-liter V12 engine, independent suspension, and sharp handling despite being the first car attempt (via Lambo Cars).

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The 350 GT evolved through the years into the 400 GT and even the 400 GT 2+2 with more interior room, but it always retained characteristic styling, perfect balance, and undeniable performance. Many classic car experts agree that the 350 GT is a far better car than anything from Maranello (Ferrari).

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Mercedes SLS AMG

The SLS AMG is one of the most excellent sports cars of our time. Several aspects support this bold claim. First, it was built from scratch by AMG using Mercedes research and development experts amongst the best in the business (via Auto Express).

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Second, the chassis, transaxle system, and suspension were designed and constructed using advanced materials and techniques. Third, drivers had a sublimely good 6.2-liter V8 under the long hood and fourth, the Gullwing doors opened the same way as they did on the 1955 Mercedes 300 SL some 55 years before.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

BMW M3 E46

In October of 2000, the E46 M3 debuted. It featured an all-new engine, drivetrain, and components. The E46 M3 is amongst the most sought-after sports cars. Its combination of a high-revving engine and great chassis is timeless.

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All M cars are a blast to drive, but the E46 M3 significantly improved over the E36 M3 from the ’90s and is one of the last analog sports cars you can buy. With a 343 HP straight six-cylinder engine, almost ideal weight distribution, excellent chassis, six-speed manual transmission, and still respectable performance, the E46 M3 soon won the hearts of car enthusiasts all over the world (via BMW M).

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Acura Integra Type R

If you are a Japanese car industry fan and want to own something equally important historically and a blast to drive, Acura Type R is a car for you. It is still especially popular among enthusiasts for its swift performance and fantastic handling.

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

Honda’s engineers managed to design and produce a front-wheel-drive setup, which worked with the rear axle in perfect balance. This is why Integra handled neutrally and had few understeering problems and excellent steering feedback. Despite just 187 HP from its high revving 1.8-liter engine, the Integra Type R had outstanding performance even by today’s standards (via Motor Biscuit).

Corvette Stingray
via: Hot Rod

1966-1967 Corvette Stingray

The Corvette Stingray didn’t change much in appearance during its life on the market. In 1966, for the first time, big block power was available for performance-craving Corvette fans.

Photo Credit: Mecum

This is why the ’66/67 Corvette is on this list as one of the most important years in the model’s long history. The introduction of the big-block engine, first in the form of a 396 and then as a 427 V8 unit, turned the Corvette into a powerful monster with 390-435 HP on tap (via Corvsport).

Photo Credit: Mecum

Dodge Viper RT/10

This legendary sports muscle car debuted in 1992. It was a monster of a V10 engine in the front, a sleek and aggressive body style, and rear-wheel drive. But the Viper was dangerous and its power and lack of handling were notorious.

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Under the hood was an 8.0-liter fully aluminum V10 with 400 HP and 465 lb.-ft of torque which was unheard of at the time and secured Viper’s place as one of the most powerful new models on the market. Dodge Viper was a breath of fresh air to Dodge’s lineup and a legend in its own right. The GTS version was also successful on the race tracks (via Car and Driver).

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Acura NSX

Honda planned this model for a long time. The basic idea was to introduce a sports car with supercar technology, uncompromised performance, power, and design. That Honda succeeded in all that would be an understatement since the NSX was brilliant. The buyers got Ferrari performance and looks for supermarket prices along with Honda’s signature reliability and maintenance costs.

Photo Credit: Acura

The heart of the NSX was a 3.0-liter V6 with 274 hp and later 3.2-liter V6 with 290 hp. Since the car was light, its 0 to 60 mph was a lightning-quick five seconds and its top speed was over 170 mph. The introduction of the NSX stunned the competitors and the car market (via Supercars).

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Jaguar E-Type

Despite Jaguar’s long-lasting tradition of building fine sports cars, the E-Type was years ahead of its time. It boasted a superb design, four-wheel disk brakes, independent rear suspension, and powerful straight-six engines (via Classic Driver).

Photo Credit: Jaguar

But the best thing was the price. The E Type had the looks, power, and performance of high-priced Italian exotics but only cost a fraction of the price. It stayed in production for 15 years until 1976 and sold over 74,000 copies, most of them here in the US.

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Aston Martin V12 Vantage

The success of the Vantage inspired the engineers to think further. What if they took the regular V8 Vantage and installed the mighty V12 engine from the top-of-the-line DBS model?

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The V12 engine with 510 hp transformed the nature of this compact sports car. It turned it into a British muscle car with fantastic road manners. The acceleration and top speed were brutal, and the big V12 didn’t affect the weight distribution or balance (via Cnet).

Lexus LFA - Sports car
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Lexus LFA

From the moment Lexus debuted in 1989, Toyota’s luxury division craved recognition and respect. They made a decision to produce the best sports car in the world. After many years of development, the LFA saw the light of the day in 2010 as a production-ready model (via Car and Driver).

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The heart of the new super capable sports car was a 4.3-liter V10 engine which developed 560 HP. The shifts were fast and accurate. The rest of the car had equally advanced features, innovative materials, bespoke components, and perfect craftsmanship.

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Shelby Cobra 289

In 1962, retired American race driver Carroll Shelby got several engineless bodies on the transport ship to his Venice Beach shop, where Ford’s 260 V8 engines were waiting to be put in new bodies. The small but powerful American V8 in a light and elegant body proved to be a match made in heaven. Soon, Shelby installed the 289 V8 with 271 HP, which brought some serious performance to this little roadster (via Autoweek).

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Of course, Shelby’s main goal was racing. The Cobra was a race track terror. It dominated domestic championships and beats all Corvettes, Ferraris, and Jaguars. But Shelby wanted to go to Europe and prove his concept. So in 1963-64 with immense help from Ford, Shelby campaigned Cobras all over Europe’s finest racing tracks, repeating the success.

Photo Credit: Mecum

1953 Corvette

The Corvette was the first car with a fully plastic body. Chevrolet was one of the pioneers of fiberglass construction. This incredible innovation was the basis of Corvette’s lightweight construction, and to this day, The ‘Vette body is made out of fiberglass (via Corvette Story).

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The price of $3490, the 1953 Corvette wasn’t affordable. But it was cheaper than a Jaguar XK120 or a Ferrari 166. However, despite the significant interest from the general public in the first year, the Corvette production was only 300 examples. All examples were white with a red interior.

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BMW i8

You can easily make a mistake and think of the i8 as a spaceship or something from another planet. This car makes such an impression with its design and futuristic technology (via BMW).

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This is a hybrid-powered, mid-engined sports car with fantastic performance and sublime looks, and it still is environmentally friendly. Introduced in 2014, the i8 was immediately a sales success. The company never anticipated such popularity, which caused waiting lists for a year.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette - Sports car
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Chevrolet Corvette C8

The revolutionary C8 Corvette debuted in July of 2019 as a 2020 model. Already we can say that this is one of the most critical Corvettes ever. First, it has been a new architecture since the early ’80s and C4 generation. Second, it is a new concept with a mid-engine layout (via Chevrolet).

Photo Credit: Motor 1

Third, with a potent small-block V8 engine, a host of upgrades, and fantastic firepower. The C8 is already beating the European competitors on and off the track.

Photo Credit: Japanese Nostalgic Car

Datsun 240Z

The 240Z was the first highly successful Japanese sports car on the American market. A legend that is still highly desirable even today. The 240Z was a proper sports model. It featured a bigger engine, better construction, and more power and performance than anything coming from Japan in those days (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credit: Japanese Nostalgic Car

The early models had 150 HP from a 2.4-liter six-cylinder which was more than enough for lively performance. Over the years, Datsun improved the original model with more significant engines (2.6 and 2.8-liter units) and several restyles.

Photo Credit: Mazda

Mazda Miata

The Miata’s secret was simplicity, lightweight, and balance. Mazda didn’t try to invent something new; they just copied the basic concept of a classic British roadster. Added modern materials and design and made the whole thing reliable and agile (via Car and Driver).

Photo Credit: Tuner

With 116 HP from a twin-cam 1.6-liter engine may not sound as much. However, in a 2,200-lb. car, it’s more than enough. Don’t forget that many aftermarket options can transform your little Miata into a supercar killing machine if you want to.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

Porsche 911

The Porsche 911 is one of the most exciting models in car history. A continuing success story lasting over 50 years. On the other hand, the story of 911 is a saga of constant effort. Story of evolution and detailed work on developing and perfecting a concept that wasn’t so promising.

Porsche 911 Carrera RS
Photo Credit: Silodrone

Porsche invested an unbelievable amount of time and effort in perfecting this model. Today, over 50 years later, the 911 is the best overall sports car in the world with over a million sold. It is and always will be a benchmark model in terms of performance and handling in the sports car landscape. This shows that anything is possible if you put enough effort into it (via Top Gear).

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