Famous classic sports cars that offer precise handling and stunning performance are tempting. But, imagine the scenario of watching Civics taillights disappear into the distance.
Honda should be proud of the success of the Type-R. The transformation from sedan to pocket rocket is pure genius. But it does raise a few questions in the process. What is that? Is it a sports car, hot-hatch or sports sedan? Despite the confusion surrounding his identity, reducers never tire of it.
Here’s why. The Honda packs a smooth-revving 2.0-liter VTEC turbocharged engine developing 315 hp. That, even in the hands of a novice, through some electronic magic manages to tame all that power. Channeling as much power through the front tires with little fuss, the Type-R is as fast as anything on the road. Sprint to 60mph in 5.1 seconds, heading for a top speed of 174mph.
But, this is not a case of these classic-status sports cars getting any slower. On the contrary, the Civic is super fast, beating several supercars around the dreaded Nürburgring.
ten Ferrari 250 GTO
The cars don’t get any rarer or more exclusive than a Ferrari 250GTO. As a status symbol, buying one of these thoroughbreds required the blessing of Enzo Ferrari. If the odds in 1962 were slim, today it would take tens of millions in the bank.
But, these looks are worth every penny. As is also the 296 hp 3.0-litre Tipo V12 engine derived from Ferrari’s racing program. Owning one for any gearhead is a dream. Performance compared to a modern Honda is a mixed bag. At the top, it’s a draw, with both cars posting a top speed of 174 mph. But, in a sprint race, the 250 GTO lags a few tenths behind.
9 Jaguar E-Type 4.2 Series 1
The most beautiful car in the world? Ask Enzo Ferrari. Jaguar’s E-Type is one of the most iconic sports cars of the 60s. When it was launched, it wowed gearheads around the world with its performance, value and style. For a time, Jaguar had launched the fastest production car money could buy.
The fastest title would not stay long. Jaguar in turn upped the ante with a larger 4.2-litre inline-six, developing 265bhp. But, for all the changes, you’d be looking at 60 mph in 7 seconds, and if you believed Jaguar, a top speed of 150 mph.
8 Porsche 930 Turbo
Novice drivers do not need to apply. The Porsche 930 turbo single-handedly kicked off the entire era of turbocharged sports cars. But, driving it required a specialized skill set associated with racing drivers. The Porsche Widowmaker was a handful.
Of all the Porsche 911s, the 930 turbo is one of the gearheads and non-car enthusiasts associated with speed. The kick for acceleration came from a 3.0-litre Porsche flat-six and a KKK turbocharger. By placing the 260 hp engine on the rear axle, Porsche benefited from improved traction. In a dash to 60 mph, the 930 turbo posted a time of 6.1 seconds.
seven Lamborghini Miura P400
Daring to be different is what made the Miura special. Prior to the mid-engined Miura, it was common to have the engine in the front driving the rear wheels. Where Lamborghini dared to differ, Ferrari countered with the front-engined 365 GTB Daytona. Choosing between the two is a painful exercise.
Having the first mid-engine V12 in a supercar is what made the Miura famous. Finding space behind the cockpit was pure genius. Unveiled in 1966, the Miura was fitted with a 4.0-liter V12 producing 345 hp which proved to be too powerful for its chassis. Despite this concern, the Miura P400 is said to reach a top speed of 171 mph.
6 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500
Affordable, practical performance for blue-collar workers is how Ford introduced the Mustang. The Mustang, 60 years later, still holds the record for best-selling car of all time. But, more is better, and teaming up with Carroll Shelby resulted in hotter Mustangs. Step into the 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500.
On paper, the Civic is much faster in a drag race, and flat out too. But the Mustang is the fastest car. Not only is Ford’s 7.0-liter V8 more powerful at 355 hp, it also sounds faster. It’s a psychological human weakness that stronger is faster, the Honda Civic doesn’t stand a chance. Back in the real world, the GT500 tops out at 128 mph.
5 Aston Martin DB5
The most famous Aston owes its reputation more to cinematic magic than to any real ability. In Bond’s hands, the DB5 could outperform and surpass anything. The harsh reality is that Aston Martin erred on the side of luxury GTs rather than true sports cars. Still, you couldn’t name another sports car that attracts so much envy.
Sports car or luxury GT, in any case, the DB5 is outclassed by the Honda Civic in all areas. Under the hood of the DB5 you get a 4.0-liter straight-six developing 282 hp. Out of power and heavier, the DB5 is three seconds slower at 60mph and short of grunt at 145mph.
4 Mercedes-Benz 300SL gull wing
The 300 SL Gull Wing is a classic that commands immense respect from collectors to the tune of $7 million. As a halo car or status symbol, the coupe’s sleek bodywork and Gull Wing doors scream quality. Of the 3,258 units made, about half are Gull Wing coupes. Born from Mercedes’ racing programme, the 300 SL shares a 3.0-liter straight-six engine with the W194 racer.
The use of mechanical direct fuel injection increased power to 215 bhp, giving the 300 SL a top speed of 161 mph. Fast in its day, the Mercedes is still a fast car. But, faced with a modern turbocharged engine, sometimes it’s better to leave the past in the past.
3 Jensen SP Interceptor
The Interceptor is a muscle car like most gearheads have never seen. Produced in small numbers, designed in Italy with American V8 engines and assembled in England. The story continued when Jensen acquired surplus Chrysler 7.2-liter Six-Pack engines. The Interceptor SP peaked at 385 hp.
It was a short-lived collaboration that lasted only one year. During this period, Jensen released 232 Six-Pack cars, the brand’s fastest to date, peaking at 145 mph.
2 Ford GT40 MKIII
The Ford GT40 beat Ferrari at Le Mans, topping speeds of over 200mph along the Mulsanne straight. Road cars, however, are much slower. The Mk III GT40 is a low number look-alike geared towards more practicality. More practicality equals compromises, especially under the hood.
the ford 4.7 liters got downgraded to 306 hp, robbing the iconic racer of his winning speed. Flat, the MK.III runs out of breath at 160 mph. At least offline, the GT40 can hold its own against the Type-R.
1 Acura NSX
A stablemate and distant relative, the NSX should be a closer performance rival. Launched in 1990, the NSX features a lightweight chassis that compensates for its smaller engine. Acura, Honda’s luxury brand, had hoped to benefit from the success of Ferrari and Porsche customers.
The NSXs almost succeeded, but never got the success they deserved. Not fast enough with a 270 horsepower V6 engine peaking at 270 km/h and without interest, the NSX did not sell in numbers. By comparison, the Type-R is faster, more engaging, and more popular with gearheads.