Welcome to true-blue petrolhead territory. This is 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 like it here.
The cars we’re saluting are genuine immortals of speed and excitement. Some of them are so exciting, in fact, that they don’t really belong on the road at all — although all are road-legal with numberplates. But all are cars you’d be in the market for if you wanted a money-no-object track-day tool to enjoy through the summer months — and something you could drive home in afterwards.
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, don’t stay around for long, and the best remain relevant long after they’ve disappeared from the sales brochures.
To chart 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?
The latest model in McLaren's special 'Longtail' series is not without its flaws, but as an explosive tour de force in the upper echelons of the 'trackday supercar' world, it takes some beating.
For one thing, the effort and expense that has gone into the 765 LT deserves recognition. Removing weight from something as light as the 720S is no mean feat, and has necessitated extreme measures such as the use of titanium wheel nuts and thinner glazing, which help save 80kg in total and give the car's powertrain frighteningly little to hold it back. That powertrain consists of McLaren's 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 – what else? – only tuned to 755bhp for this application and with a shorter final drive, for truly neck-snapping acceleration.
However, where the LT really departs from the dynamic template set down by the 720S concerns its more flighty balance and limit-handling. Simply, the car wants to play, and is probably the most entertaining car that McLaren has ever built. It'll take some yaw at all stages of the corner, perhaps sacrificing some speed in the process, but it's this combination of dynamism with McLaren's hallmark steering and sense of levity that makes the driving experience so memorable. The catch? The 765 LT isn't so easily mastered, so drivers need to show their mettle.
The supreme hardcore focus, track-day hardiness, handling brilliance, driver involvement and performance value of the Porsche 911 GT3 make it a car that absolutely demands recognition. It has become the default answer to any number of questions a newly inducted petrolhead might ask about which car they should buy to maximise 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 should extend to the next-generation, 992-based car, which we've already experienced, albeit from the passenger seat.