What makes a car a sports car?

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Sorry for a stupid question...
Is it the power, drivetrain, or the number of doors?
My insurance company told me my Mustang has a high insurace rate because its a 2 door and is a sports car. But how about a 4 door performence car like Neon SRT? Is that considered a sports car too? This car actually had a lower rate than my V6 Muastang...

posted by  ed_7702

I think 2 doors wil have a higher rate. and number of cylinders too.

posted by  CarEXPERT

Not necessarily. Imagine, a Subaru WRX is gonna cost A LOT more than a Hyundai Accent 2 door. It doesn't matter how many doors it has, it really depends on the performance of the vehicle, or the image it portrays, for example, Mustangs aren't exactly very fast cars, but they cost a bunch of money to insure. Just the car's styling and powertrains make people wanna drive it fast.

Also, to answer the original question, I have previously talked about MY definition of sports cars, and i will state my opinion again.

A sports car is one that combines low weight and moderate or high power to get very good performance. Examples: Nissan 350Z and Chevrolet Corvette.

A SPORTY car is one that uses sports car characteristics to enhance the driving dynamics and experience. Most people are satisfied with sporty cars. Examples: VW GTi and Audi A4.

An exotic car is one that is carefully engineered to get the best performance it can. Usually these cars are extremely expensive and state of the art. Examples: Ferrari Enzo, Porsche Carrera GT, and Bentley's. (Although not straightforward performance cars, Rolls Royce's and Bentley's are still considered exotics because of their rare status and expensive price tags.)

There's my definition of Sports Cars, SportY Cars, and Exotics. Feel free to comment.

posted by  moostang104314

i kinda consider a RWD or AWD car more a sports car than a FWD car... like, i civic is not a sports car, but an S2000 is... just my opinion

posted by  mazda6man

As of right now, I agree, but lets say in the future, comes a light weight, 300 horsepower FWD car, it would be a Sports Car to me.

posted by  moostang104314

i sill wouldnt think so... like, most cars now have a sporty look, but theyre still not sports cars...

posted by  mazda6man

I can see what you mean though.

posted by  moostang104314

But a ae86 is a sports car, but a srt-4 or a prelude isn't? Not picking a fight, just pointing stuff out.

insurance companies don't base their rates on how powerful the car is, it's the likelyhood that the person will get into an accident with it. That's why the 3000gt SL's rates are the same as a VR-4 (gay, if you ask me). The take the percentage of X car's owners that crash/get into the accidents and base the insurance rate off it that precentage. A camry has something like a 2%, whereas a saleen mustang has like a 15%. That's the way the insurance companies work, but personal opinion differs, as moostang stated, which I mostly agree with.

posted by  Godlaus

so by your definition, my mustang v6 woudn't be a sports car but is really a sporty car with characteristics of a sports car?

Yeah the base Eclipse and gs-t version had almost the same insurance rate too, although the convertibles were more expensive, I think it's due to higher theft rates since they are easier to break into.

posted by  ed_7702

MGs, Fiat 124s and X1/9, Toyota S600 and MR2, Porsche Boxter, 911s, 912s, 914s, 356s, Honda S600s and S2000s, Datsun Fairladys, RX7s (1st and 3rd gen), Jag XKE, Lotus Super 7, Elan, Europa, 206 and 246 Dino, Austin Healy 3000, Miata, Alfa Guilia and Duetto, Lancia Stratos and Scorpion, Renault Sport Spider and A110 Alpine...

These are but a few of the world of sports cars. Not a damn one of them defined by 0-60 or 1/4 mile accelleration. Many are slower than hell in a straight line. Many don't handle as well as good family sedans. But all are considered to be sports cars by the people who should know: The ruling bodies with the authority to name them as such, the racers and journalists and engineers who have designed, built, driven, written about, and experienced them since cars began.

The magazine, "Sports Cars International" asked 12 of the top authorities on the subject to narrow down the "quintissential" sports car. Not just the definition of sports car, but the cars that best defined the breed. This panel included Chuck Jordan (retired GM design chief), race drivers Dan Gurney and Phill Hill, and others you may not know (engineer Norm Garrett, head of Mazda's Miata development team), and they came up with cars like the MGTC, Lotus Seven, and Miata.

Whenever magazines get people in the industry together to pick the best sports cars, these are the kinds of cars that come up. Once upon a time, when American cars were big and wallowy, sports cars were easy to spot. But because of advances in sports car design carried over to the rest of the production lines, that distinction has gone away. It used to be that it meant being able to be driven to the track, extraneous equipment removed, raced, and then driven home. But Alfa and Ford Cortina sedans in the early '60s started to blur that definition (and BMW's 2002 completely shattered it). GT cars used to be, by the rules, basically closed coupe versions of the open sports cars. When a roof was installed on a sports car, it automatically
*became* a GT, because that's what the rules said. But roadworthy mid-engined cars tended to be very hard to design conventional folding tops for, so they tended to be closed (or "targa" topped).

So, early on, "sports car" came to be defined as a 2 seat car, relatively lightweight, primarily useful for road course competition (hence the "sport" part of the name), but designed to be driven on the road. A GT car was a similar design (2 seat, or 2+2), with a bit more comfort features, designed to be driven long distances (hence the "touring" part of the name). After the '50s, however, with the advent of roll-up side windows on the sports cars of the day, street driveability was a bigger part of what the average sports car buyer wanted. And with top professional racing (and even top club racing) rarely resembling production cars anymore, the traditional sports car can't exist in production form. But, the spirit of the original sports cars lives on in cars like the Miata, Mr2, Fiat Barchetta (which we don't see over here), Lotus Elise, and the like.

Super exotics haven't been true sports cars since they first came about in the mid '60s with the advent of the Lamborghini Miura. Actually, most exotics are more pure GT cars, but super pricetags and hyper performance has always been a small niche in the sports/GT world. Super accelleration and hyper top speeds are not what the sports car needs to be a sports car. Some sports cars were absolutely abysmal in their accelleration AND handling, even though they were capable of winning their classes with a good driver. And, as people got better at modding their cars, how the factory made them mattered less and less to competition use. The Fiero was introduced alongside a factory racing program that included everything from adjustible struts to complete tube frames. The Mr2 was a light, nimble little car with exceptional handling and braking capability, and a wonderfully
willing DOHC engine. X1/9s don't have much power to speak of, but get them in a twisty track, and they were the closest thing to a streetable formula car in their day (and very competetive still).

In the end, a production Sports Car stands for a 2 seat, lightweight, preferrably open top, reasonably nimble, reasonably affordable car designed less for practicality than for fun and style. Add luxury features, a fixed roof, and the desire to sustain higher speeds or go longer distances, and you have a GT car. Add a true back seat and more upright styling, and you have a Sports Sedan. Add a few zeros to the price and you have an exoticar. Add horsepower to an American GT, and you have a pony car. Add more horsepower and remove some handling, and you have a musclecar.

A lot of people have a problem with the traditional definition of a sports cr, becaeu they feel it's an insult to cal their performance GT a GT instead of a sports car. But it isn't an insult for a car to BE a GT or a Sport Sedan, any more than it's an insult to call an F150 a pickup truck.

THIS is what sports cars were all about:



posted by  ChrisV

Thanks for your reply! That explained it all.

posted by  ed_7702

AE-86 is FR

posted by  ToCkS

Two part question after all: What do drivers consider a sports car, and what do insurance companies consider a sports car.

Second part is easier to answer .... the insurance companies typically use some judgement, but really let the driving records and accident rates of the vehicles decide. If you have the type of car that appeals to thrill seeking teenagers that wrap them around telephone poles on a nearly regular basis .... your screwed on insurance rates. By a grandma mobile that doesnt have enough power to jump the curb to hit the telephone pole no matter how hard you try to stomp the pedal through the paper-mache floorboard .... your pretty safe.

Driver's definition of sports cars are another story. I dont believe there are any set standards ... but personally weigh power, performance, styling into the equation. By the way, based on that, a V6 Mustang is not a sports car in my book.

posted by  Topshelf

Another major factor in the insurance of cars is the vehicle. If the vehicle is a very high demand and very prestigous your insurance will be higher becuase of the stolen car rate. A hummer you may think to be cheap insuracnce becuase of the saftey of it. But the stolen car rate is high. Sorry for the bad typing im drunk as a cat on cocaine.

posted by  Stem

I didn't know hummers had high theft rates... that's crazy how people can steal that big ass SUV. What do you think they do after stealing them? keep them and drive...or take them apart in pieces and sell them?

posted by  ed_7702

yah here in hawaii roughly 1 in every 27 hummers get stolen, and they take em apart and sell them.

posted by  Stem


Doesn't show percentages of how many stolen and how many produced though..........

posted by  Godlaus

Right. A Hyundai Tiburon (sp?) V6 has 6 cyl. but is not going to cost more than a STi with 4 cyl. The Tiburon does have 2 more cyl and 2 fewer doors, but that doesnt matter in insurance because it has like 200 hp compared to a STi with 300 hp. :thumbs:

posted by  StiMan

Well the most general definition of what is sports and what isn't is by looking at it. The title doesn't entail racing, but does signify a sporty look. So to me a sportscar would be more of a Mustang, Eclipse, Tiburon, S2000, 240sx, CRX, GTO, Cobalt, M3, that one 3 door car, etc. They are sporty looking cars, not so fast but good accel., nimble is the right word, and lightweight. Power isn't as important as accel in defining sports car. A sport sedan is like a Galant or a Grand Prix. And basically anything that even looks like it might be fast will be expensive when it comes to insurance. Cause anything that looks like it might be fast will be driven fast by us kids...then crashed into other fast looking cars driven by other kids at the only time where fast looking cars driven by drunk kids prevail 1 in the friggin morning.

posted by  VMJYogi

So we can redefine any car any way we want to? Just because we have our own definitions? I can call a GTi a station wagon, or an Eclipse a minivan, 'cause they are to me? (not really but making a point).

The category of car came about DUE TO road racing. And it was a specific category of road racing cars. Formula cars were another. GTs were yet another.

Definitions came about so one person could talk to another person and know what they are talking about. Having different definitions of the same thing for differnt people makes communication difficult, when one person says one thing and the other thinks they mean something else.

posted by  ChrisV

sorry im late on this... but, no i dont really consider the srt4 a sports car... why? its a neon thats been better equipted... the prelude, a larg-er engined and heavier econo car

posted by  mazda6man

[QUOTE=ed_7702]so by your definition, my mustang v6 woudn't be a sports car but is really a sporty car with characteristics of a sports car?[QUOTE]

and last i knew, all mustangs are RWD so a mustang considered a ponie car actually... id say its just a bigger ended sports car...

posted by  mazda6man

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