Manufacturers aren't innocent in this game either. Prime example? Has to be the BMW M3, the first of which was arguably a race car for the road. Or, speaking accurately, a road car to enable the E30 3 Series to go racing. The four generations of M3 since (and now the M4) have traded heavily on this 30-year motorsport heritage while lacking any meaningful link to racing cars, the stripped and caged GTS models taking this idea into pure parody.
the Ford GT and hear some moans that it was, y'know, too much like being in a racing car. Which makes me laugh, given supercar buyers have for years craved pseudo motorsport trimmings as proof of their virility, be that through carbon trim, fire extinguishers in the passenger footwell, uncomfortable fixed bucket seats or inconvenient harnesses. But it takes more than Alcantara and racing stripes to turn your supercar into race car for the road, the complaints about the GT being too cramped, noisy and uncomfortable an amusing reminder to be careful what you wish for.
Because having sat through a fascinating 45-minute geek-out on the GT with Ford Performance engineering boss Jamal Hameedi I'm reassured to understand quite how close Le Mans winner and road car actually are. The details are fascinating (and too complex to detail this time around) but the necessities of building a competitive car capable of winning Le Mans on its first outing and also delivering customer street cars before the year was out to satisfy the homologation rules meant there was no choice but to run the programmes in parallel. It's there in the fundamental architecture of the 'keel' hull and narrow cabin, respectively optimised to improve underbody downforce and frontal area. It's there in the choice of a highly evolved Ecoboost V6. It's there in the FIA spec roll cage integrated into the structure. It's there in the fact the switchable 70mm Track ride height is to within millimetres of what the LM GTE car runs. And after a tantalisingly brief go with it I can confirm it's there in the way it drives. If you don't believe me then ask Olivier Pla, factory Ford driver who was there on the day and hadn't actually driven the street GT before - he seemed honestly surprised at how close they are in feel.
*Bonus point if you can name the honourable exceptions!