Welcome to this true-blue petrolhead territory. It’s where incredible outright grip and pace, vivid driver engagement and thrill, supreme handling poise and track-day-ready specification and purpose all abide. You’ll enjoy it and amaze me here.
The cars we’re saluting can be immortals of speed and excitement. Some of them are burning of excitement, the reality, they don’t belong on the road at all, but also, all are road-legal with numberplates. But all are cars you’d be in the market for if you wanted an extra money track-day tool to enjoy through the summer months — and something you could drive home in afterward.
Here, we rank both current production machines as well as those that have gone off sale but have yet to be replaced; because these kinds of cars don’t come along often, try to not stay around for long, and the best remain relevant long after they’ve disappeared from the sales brochures.
We offer to you 10 of these cars without counting those that are technically defunct would be to deny some amazing driver’s cars the recognition they’re undoubtedly due. But which are due the most?
10. Porsche 911 GT3
The important hardcore focus, track-day hardiness, handling brilliance, driver involvement and the Great performance of the Porsche 911 GT3, make it a car that demands the highest recognition we can afford. It turned to be the default answer to any number of questions a newly inducted petrolhead might ask about what is the car they should buy to maximize return on investment for speed, excitement and driver reward. The only fly in the ointment is that these days, everyone knows it, and so GT3s have become highly sought after.
This isn’t a car that advertises its brilliance particularly loudly on paper. The car’s 493bhp 4.0-liter flat-six makes it look a bit outgunned in this company, and even in Porsche‘s model range, there are many 911 Porsches with the highest performance. But no rival has the GT3’s blend of pace, grip, balance and usefully positioned weight; none has the all-around dynamic precision and outstanding controllability needed at once to set blistering lap times and set your imagination racing on the track. And few seem as well suited to road use once the pitlane has closed.
Through 3 generations and as many mid-cycle revisions, the GT3 has become better and better since the very first Porsche appeared in 1999. Counting some very closely related GT3 derivative offshoots, it has won Autocar’s annual Britain’s Best Driver’s Car contest four times. Porsche 911s of various types have won it 7 times. For the record, no other sports car in three decades could win the competition against those cars.