PH Blog: the death of the scary supercar

These days you really can have it all, your coffee can have extra everything, you can send an email from a park bench and you don’t need to leave home to do the weekly shop. Long gone are the days when you needed a specific tool for a specific job, or had to choose what you wanted an item to do.

Neighbours 'delighted' by another noisy V8
Neighbours 'delighted' by another noisy V8
About six years ago I had my first drive of a Lamborghini after years of dreaming about the Countach and being in no doubt that a Diablo would kill me immediately due to my lack of driving prowess. I was nervous as my drive was to take me down a soaking wet motorway from Manchester to London and the car I was driving was a Gallardo with E-gear and it was ... easy. Too easy. Audi climate control kept the screen clear, I could see out of the large mirrors, the ’box was simple to use and it was all rather pleasant. Within 30 minutes I was listening to Radio 2 with relaxed posture and that was that. Sure it would go fast but it was happy playing the role of cruiser. Try that in a Countach. It seems the modern mainstream supercar has become a very simple tool to use; there are exceptions of course but I’m speaking broadly.

SLS truly great but TVR still thrills
SLS truly great but TVR still thrills
Right now there is an SLS Roadster sitting in the PH car park which has 571hp from a rather vocal V8, it can travel at 197mph and gets to 60mph in 3.8 seconds. If I handed the keys to my nan (who has an automatic only licence) she could drive it home happily holding up queues of traffic at 22mph as she peers over the wheel. It’s that easy to drive. I love the SLS with all my heart and scariness is merely a few button presses away, but this is a genuine supercar you could drive with one arm on the armrest, at 30mph listening to The Archers without breaking a sweat. (Or go to the ’ring and lap in 7:40, same as a 911 GT3 – Ed.)

A few weeks prior I was in a Caterham for the commute. It was hot, it was loud, the clutch hated traffic and the harnesses ruined my shirt. When I finally managed to prise myself out of it my clothes smelt of exhaust fumes. You were left in no doubt as to the fact that you were driving something made for track use before road use. Same goes for the TVR in a way, the clutch gets a bit upset with too much crawling traffic, the cabin gets hot and it still commands my respect in damp corners to this day. But, if I want to travel any distance in comfort I’ll take the Lexus, the TVR isn’t owned as a do-it-all car.

Not quite as user friendly but more thrilling
Not quite as user friendly but more thrilling
In an age where anything and everything is possible I miss the reputation that supercars used to have. When I take one out I want it to make me sweat, I want it to make my palms sticky and for it to sit on the drive growling as it scares pedestrians and gives the impression it wants to kill me and run off with the Mrs. I’m not sure I’m ready to have my flat white extra shot in a cupholder next to my iPhone as the car drives me along in comfort at 180mph while I rush back to meet the chap from Ocado … not yet anyway.


Comments (82) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Dr Imran T 11 May 2012

    Well, I would say that there is a car out there for everyone. There are still some supercars that command respect i.e Noble M600.

    I like the Merc and I like the fact that it is civilised and a hooligan when the mood takes smile

    Oh and I hate creased shirts!

  • George H 11 May 2012

    Seems only 2 minutes ago PH were complaining about the V12 Vantage being too scary! wobble

  • Jasandjules 11 May 2012

    Slightly too much nannying these days, even with cars...

  • V8 FOU 11 May 2012

    100%. The other aspect is that in a "proper / scarey" supercar you have to concentrate all the time. If you relax or turn on Radio2 you might just use a bit too much throttle coming out of a roundabout.... Traction control for the wet? Nah - just come out of said roundabout in 3rd instead of 2nd.
    When you take your TVR / Lotus Esprit / early 911 out and it's raining you do get sweaty palms and white knuckles (?) But the rewards are good. You know the reason you haven't crashed is because you are in control, or a driving god, or a bit scared.
    Good bragging rights too. You can dismiss all talk of tcs,abs,understeer control etc etc - you, the driver are the control.
    Go back to early F1 to the likes of Moss, Stewart, Hunt, fittpaldi etc - did they have all the driver "aids" no. Is it any wonder that the Caterhams and all their clones are so popular? Real driving. Be afraid.

  • VidalBaboon 11 May 2012

    We don't like change round here. We want rack and pinion steering, 4 speed box, no ABS, wire wheels and cross-ply tyres. rolleyes

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