FORD GT SUPERCAR
Shawano Cleary  /  AP file
The Ford GT — with a base price of $141,245 — is one of two true American supercars, according to Forbes.com's Dan Lienert.
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updated 11/15/2004 10:23:34 AM ET 2004-11-15T15:23:34

Supercars — spelled as one word — are different from super cars. Were this a story about European cars, we could have titled it "European Supercars," because Europe has plenty of supercars. But because we wanted to write about America, where only two bona fide supercars are in production (the FordGT and Saleen S7), we had to expand the term into two words, hence the title "American Super Cars."

Supercars are hard to define. Lew Strong, secretary of The Supercar Drivers Club in Britain, writes that “there is no definitive answer to the question, ‘What is a supercar?’” but that supercars originated from a market demand for “the fastest, the most exclusive and the most charismatic vehicles that money could buy.”

Supercars are a mixture of cost and performance — but we're talking about a special type of performance here. While DaimlerChrysler's DodgeViper SRT-10 has the same horsepower as Ford Motor's GT, the Viper — like General Motors' Chevrolet Corvette — could still work as a daily commuter car (albeit for hardcore drivers), whereas you would probably want to save the GT for the track.

A vehicle like the Saleen S7, which is built in Irvine, Calif., is intended almost exclusively for the track, where it has excelled in endurance racing. That said, the aforementioned lack of true American supercars prompted us to include expensive, high-performance automobiles that one might find in the garages of wealthy people, not just at pit stops.

The slide show showcases the American cars that best combine extreme performance with extreme sticker prices. We excluded certain American vehicles that perform impressively — such as the ChryslerCrossfire two-door and 300C sedan and the Chevrolet Silverado Heavy Duty pickup — because they are comparatively inexpensive. In a list where the cars' prices begin around $45,000, you will have plenty of other reasons to remember that the Americans still build world-beating cars — even some that might make the Germans and Japanese jealous.

© 2012 Forbes.com

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