Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Definitions are critical in the world of science. For all intents and purposes, science is an arbitrary set of rules and regulation used to standardize the world for the sake of easy communication.

As such, I like defining things. It's always so easy. For example, the definition of supercar has been having a hard go, recently. With cars like the Nissan GT-R crushing cars that cost four times as much in performance figures, and the Corvette ZR1 destroying everything ever, what is a supercar anymore?

I propose a definition that can be easily and universally applied. A supercar is a car that,

  • Costs in excess of six times the median annual income of a United States household.

  • Has 0-60mph times and top speed times in the upper 1% of production automotive performance by model volume and not production volume.

  • Is street legal with all performance numbers done on street legal tires.

  • Can seat at least two people.

I chose the six-times figure because that results in allowing the Lamborghini Murcielago onto the list, which I see as the baseline supercar. It also eliminates everything Porsche, Ferrari, and Aston Martin make. Porsche is too accessible, Aston is too soft, and Ferrari uses the Enzo as their performance baseline, meaning it's their supercar, so it's mine too.

I figure the most obvious metric for a supercar is its performance. The super-rich are classified as the upper 1%, so why not classify supercars as the upper 1%.

The street legality parameter is flexible since what constitutes street legality changes from state to state, and country to country. For example, the Porsche 959 was never certified in the United States merely because the four cars required for crash testing were never supplied by Porsche. An event such as this should not have any effect on the classification of the car. I like Top Gear's measure of a car must being able to clear a speed bump.

I chose the street legal, two-seat parameter to eliminate street-ready race cars. Race cars are very fast. Of course they are. Supercars should be fast street cars, not slow race cars.

All of the measures must be compared at the time of production. So the Porsche 959 would not be a supercar now, but it certainly was when it was produced in the late 80's.

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