A brief history
1920 An advert for a high-performance automobile with a six-litre engine appears in The Times, proclaiming, “If you are interested in a supercar, you cannot afford to ignore the claims of the Ensign 6.” This is believed to be the first recorded mention of the term ‘supercar’, and the last recorded mention of the Ensign 6.
1948 Jaguar introduces the XK120. The ‘120’ in the XK’s name refers to its intended speed in miles per hour. This proves inaccurate: in reality, the XK120 goes significantly faster.
1954 Merc’s 300SL lands, replete with roof-hinging ‘gullwing’ doors. They prove utterly impractical, on account of a) clanging against low garage ceilings when opened and b) making it impossible to escape the car in the event of a rollover. No one cares because they look awesome. Hashtag supercar! Says no one for another 60 years.
1962 American car magazines regularly employ the phrase ‘supercar’ to refer to hopped-up, drag-strip ready sedans with pig-iron V8 engines. This proves America has never, and will never, truly understand supercars.
1966 A new era of supercar arrives in the shape the beautiful Lamborghini Miura. Its revolutionary configuration sees the engineers site the V12 behind the driver, almost definitely on purpose.
1987 The Ferrari F40 and Porsche 959 go head-to-head in history’s ultimate supercar showdown. The 959 is more technologically advanced, easier to drive fast and has more seats. The F40 has a massive daft wing, is way more expensive and frankly terrifying to drive, so therefore wins at supercars.
1992 Jaguar introduces the XJ220. The ‘220’ refers to its intended speed in miles an hour. Like the XK120, this proves inaccurate. Unlike the XK120, this isn’t because the XJ220 is faster than billed.
1993 The McLaren F1 redefines supercar-ness, not so much for its unprecedented speed and technology, but for being so insanely expensive to develop that it could never turn a profit.
2005 The Bugatti Veyron redefines supercar-ness again, not so much for its unprecedented speed and technology, but for being so insanely expensive to… yeah, you’ve got the picture.
2014 The McLaren P1 ushers in the era of the hybrid supercar, hijacking green technology in the name of speed. In retaliation, every Prius driver in Britain vows to drive in the outside lane of every motorway at 55mph, a vow they keep to this day.