These Six Supercars Are The Last Of Their Breed: Manual, Analog, Perfect
This article is sponsored by Putnam Leasing, a company you should certainly get in touch with if you would like to park one of these cars in your garage. Below each car they’ve included a handy breakdown of how much it might cost to drive one of these dream cars. The quotes are based on 60-month terms, do not include sales tax, and are dependent on individual credit history.
In relation to the first bearers of the mantle, today’s supercar set is effortless to live with. You exit refreshed instead of drenched, heroic not humbled. Modern Nürburgring record-setters have buttons to mute and dampen and swaddle, chins that lift themselves up over bumps, HD camera-fed screens to park by, and a buffet of other gizmos just a touchscreen tap away that have collectively made a segment that was once the ludicrous pinnacle of overdoing it into a slurry mix of world-beating performance and world-class comfort. What used to catch on fire if it sat too long in traffic is now a superbly fast thing you can commute in every day.
It’s only evolutionarily natural that the rest of the machine is upgraded with its drivetrain, but to us Peak Supercar came and went in the decade between the mid 1990s and mid 2000s. This was a significant period that will only be seen as more so as the years continue to stack on, for this was the last time that the manufacturers of poster cars gave them three pedals and the last time time that the experience was still driven first and foremost by how well you could drive. Here are six of our favorite examples from around the world from the last generation of analog supercars.
Porsche Carrera GT
Besides being capable of passing the 200mph mark, churning over 100 horsepower per liter from its mid-mounted V10 (which is a proper screamer, redlining at 8400rpm with a 12:1 compression ratio), and having a pretty trick inboard coil and damper setup to suspend its carbon monocoque inches from asphalt, another impressive aspect of the Carrera GT was the fact that Porsche somehow made money on each one. That could be because much of the power plant’s R&D costs had already been allocated to the company’s F1-turned-LMP1 motor that never raced but eventually begat the Carrera GT’s 5.7L dry-sumped V10, but without looking at the ledger we’ll never know.
Whatever the case, Porsche built about 1,270 units and sold them all before the first was delivered, making it among the most commercially successful supercars of its time in addition to one of if not the least forgiving. Offering a notoriously un-nannied deliverance of its potential, the six-speed manual-only Carrera GT can easily lap the Nordschleife in under eight minutes (it did it in less than seven and half with the correct driver mod in place), but it only rewards those who know how to handle a car that isn’t interested in coddling anybody. The mature aesthetic makes some of its peers look overwrought in hindsight, and the bodywork housed a mechanical package that was antithetical to posers. An alpha wolf in the fur of a Siberian husky.
Estimated current market: $750,000 // Down payment: $150,000 // Estimated monthly payment: $7,619 plus tax
It seems that any company with foreign financing and the ability to brag about the spec sheets of machines that haven’t been built yet can call itself a supercar manufacturer these days, but much like Ferruccio Lamborghini before him, Christian von Koenigsegg proved that a talented newcomer could usurp the status quo in the real world. At just 22 years old, he founded his eponymous car company in Sweden and set about drawing the first shapes for what would eventually become the Koenigsegg CC in Microsoft Paint. 10 years after the first CC prototype was tested, the CCX was released and became the world’s fastest production car, using an engine that was designed largely from scratch, in-house, by a company with less history building cars than a pre-teen paying off a mortgage.
The CCX is powered by an 817hp 4.7L twin-supercharged V8, and though the full package was an exercise in cutting-edge well beyond the early MS Paint days, the car was still offered with a manual six-speed as an alternative to the more whizzy paddle-shift. When the CCX was sold to the public as a 2006 model year machine, the last time the prospect of changing gears by foot-and-hand rather than fingertip on the way to speeds upwards of 245mph was in the McLaren F1. When the greatest road car of all time—fact—is your only benchmark, it speaks volumes. Koenigsegg would continue its reign atop the production car speed and lap record leaderboards with the CCX’s successors, but none were offered with three pedals. And it’s not like 245 is snailish, so what are you really giving up?
Estimated current market: $1,500,000 // Down payment: $500,000 // Estimated monthly payment: $12,695 plus tax
The Ferrari F50 was famously slower than the Ferrari F40, and to steer journalistic attention away from this fact it was touted as being the closest a civilian could get to taking a Formula 1 car on a grocery run. A pretty hackneyed marketing maneuver surely, but it wasn’t a completely meritless one. The suspension was made up of a wishbones and pushrods with horizontal coils and dampers, the F50’s engine shared its block design with the 641 F1 car, and the naturally-aspirated 4.7L 60-valve V12 was a fully-stressed member bolted directly to the carbon tub, as were the front suspension’s mounting points. In other words, not a good choice of automobile for the sciatically challenged but one that might get a head nod from Jean Alesi.
Adding to the impressive analog credentials of its chassis construction, the F50 was devoid of power steering and power-assisted brakes, and had none of the traction and stability crutches the unskilled lean on nowadays. Plus, no ABS meant overzealous inputs would produce tire smoke on both directions of the acceleration equation. Fun stuff. It did have some electronically controlled damper adjusters of the many-times-per-second variety, but thankfully the attempts to port futuristic motorsport tech into the road car didn’t go as far as paddle shifters, which meant the F50 the last Ferrari supercar with a manual gearbox. Design-wise the verdict is still by and large out on whether it’s a triumph of the 1990s or a reminder to be wary of them, but we think the completely composite-constructed body does an admirable job of updating the F40’s blockiness into the vogue swoops of the era that followed.
Estimated current market: $3,000,000 // Down payment: $600,000 // Estimated monthly payment: $33,495 plus tax
Considering how awful the majority of American automotive design was in the 1980s and 1990s compared to the brilliance exhibited in the 1960s, the push toward New Retro in the new millennium was a wise shift in trajectory, and nobody did it better than Ford. The 2005 Mustang bucked the directionless trend (oxymoronic, but you know what we mean) and started one that coincided with the second great age of the muscle car. But if channeling the original Mustang was a risky gambit, doing the same with the GT40 was tantamount to betting your house against the house on a single roulette slot—getting the reincarnation wrong could have fundamentally separate the modern company from its definitive motorsport success of the past. Trust would be lost if Ford was seen to have lost its way.
The fact that the Ford GT had to conform to the regulatory standards of road cars produced nearly half a century after the race car it was meant to evoke seems like a large enough challenge to keep the project on the perpetual sketchpad, but the realized design of Camilo Pardo and J Mays looks every bit the part despite its comparative girth. Visually it’s the perfect update to the Le Mans-winners, immediately identifiable while avoiding the look of a kit car stretched over a chassis from a very different mother. Better yet was the fact that the 5.4L aluminum-alloy V8 had a chunky supercharger sitting in the 90-degree vee, which helped the Ford GT do the 0-60 in less than three and a half seconds. It would also hold an independently reported 1.3 lateral Gs. This from a company that spends tens of millions on pickup truck advertisements during Monday Night Football. Of course a six-speed shift-it-yourself was the only option.
Estimated current market (higher for heritage editions): $250,000 // Down payment: $25,000 // Estimated monthly payment: $3,239 plus tax
Though it was a bit squishier, the Murciélago improved on everything the Diablo got wrong. More importantly than flatter power delivery and better panel gaps than its predecessor though was the fact that this was last super Lambo that didn’t look like a razor-faced Transformer that wanted to kill you and your pets. The iterations toward the end of the Murciélago’s lifespan started to take on a bit of that vibe by adding more and more angles and air inlets and outlets, but the first version was an overall tidy and concise and almost volumetric design—in Countach terms, think Periscopica instead of 25th Anniversary.
Like the other members of this list, it was also the last of its kind in regards to pedal count. Seeing as this was the first car from Sant’Agata Bolognese under its new German ownership (you can guess which group, it rhymes with Folkswagen), the Murciélago was generally a higher-quality machine than the one it replaced, but a more civilized and softened one too. That said, the Murciélago can’t be described that way in absolute terms, as it’s still a space-frame supercar clad in carbon fiber panels with a 6.2L V12 not-resting behind your head. Plus, compared to the others on this page, these are performance per dollar bargains. Raw? Not overly so, but not overdone either—and who doesn’t love the concept of a 575hp low slung slice of a car with a gated shifter between its scissor doors?
Estimated current market (depends on model): $275,000 // Down payment: $55,000 // Estimated monthly payment: $2,795 plus tax
The EB110 is the oldest of this group, but even now it’s hardly an antiquity. Some of its pieces—like the wood panel on the GT version’s instrument cluster—are met with deserved snickers today, but there are no jokes to be made in the face of four camshafts and four turbochargers. Even with that quadruple serving of escargot, the 3.5L V12 still revs deep into eight thousand territory, and at one point in its development phase the EB110 even toyed with fan-generated a la Chaparral’s and Brabham’s infamous race cars. To say the Veyron was the brand’s return to exotic engineering points to a hilarious ignorance of the EB110.
In the late 1980s, after decades of dormancy, the rights to the French automaker’s name were purchased by an Italian named Romano Artioli who set up a factory outside of Modena in Campogalliano and set about building one of the most advanced and complex cars ever to wear a license plate. The ground-up project featured a design from Marcello Gandini, a carbon fiber chassis tub, a 560-plus-horsepower V12 built in-house, and a few years later Bugatti was bankrupt again. But despite running the company dry (though it may have well been the purchase of Lotus that precipitated this) the EB110 was a spectacular triumph of engineering funneled through its drivers via three pedals and six gears—the speeds that you could reach in the most of them vastly illegal outside of Autobahns.
Estimated current market: $1,000,000 // Down payment: $200,000 // Estimated monthly payment: $10,159 plus tax