5 Fastest Legal Road Cars of All Time
Road legal cars are a different animal to most other performance cars built for the track. The ability to hold high top speeds, corner efficiently while also adhering to strict road legal rules has always been a challenge. And the web is full of shiny Lamborghini and exotic Pagani photo shoots showing how their car is the best, the fastest, the most aggressive looking. But since we are looking at the top 5 cars of all time lets look at this through rose tinted specs, and look at the most iconic fast cars from the 50’s to the 90’s. Looking at how, not only they were the fastest but how they influenced the competition.
Mercedes Benz 300SL
Timed at 140mph in 1955 the 300SL was a truly German car, the chassis was designed to be tubular, saving weight yet keeping rigidity. This meant the sill had to be higher than usual so gull wing doors were fitted to help entry and exit of the car. Over 80% were sold in the USA and so became the first Benz to sell more vehicles outside its home market.
The 3ltr single overhead cam power plant pushed the monster to a dizzying 140mph. Not bad for a car made 10 years after the end of WW2. But the 300SL had a bigger story, adored by Hollywood and the elite of America, the 300SL marked a change in American attitudes toward German products.
Long gone were the Cadillacs and Packard’s in Beverly Hills, a star badge and gull wing doors were the only thing to arrive in at the red carpet.
Lamborghini Miura P400
When the Miura clocked in at 171 miles per hour, the doubts surrounding its 4ltr V12 power plant were quickly squashed, and even a while later when Ferrari released its 356GTB they sensed that maybe Lamborghini had changed things forever. The Miura started the super car revolution. Two seats, mid engine, high performance but not built for track racing caught on quicker than anyone had imagined. And with it’s loud colours and flamboyant design, the Miura back in 1966 must have seemed alien.
Ferrari 365GTB Daytona
Although the Ferrari 365GTB Daytona had been around since 68, its top end speed of 174mph reigned supreme well until the 80’s. Opting for a mellow Gran Turismo car, with an engine up front and power going to the back wheels. It was a thumb in the nose to Lamborghini. And with subtle Pininfarina styling, complimenting the classic 4.4 DOHC power plant that fired it to 60mph in just over 5 seconds, it was Ferraris stamp of supremacy. One that had Lamborghini reeling.
It seems like the 200mph hour barrier is a recent thing, but it was back in 1987 that the F40 smashed that with 202mph. But sheer speed wasn’t the issue, Lamborghini had the Countach, Porsche had the Group B rally derived 959, and Ferrari knew it had to shout to be heard. The 80’s were a hedonistic time as it were, but the 90 year old Enzo decided on one last swan song. The F40 was designed to be the ultimate car. And it was.
Even though built way back in 1993, the F1 still remains the fastest non surcharged car on the market. The 242mph tornado had a carbon fibre chassis, a central driving position and a precision McLaren 6ltr V12 engine. Pushing the monster to 60mph in 3 seconds flat. Such was the impact the F1 had on the world that no other manufacturer dared to compete with it until a full decade later when Bugatti announced the Veyron. And putting the cars side by side, the McLaren seems simple and sparse compared to the ultra engineered, highly strung Veyron. The F1 is still the milestone to beat, the Veyron has the power but the F1 is desperately pretty. And no super car should compromise looks for speed.
Bob is a guest poster who also writes for winacar.me.uk where they have competitions from across the web for a huge variety of vehicles.
5 Fastest Legal Road Cars of All Time