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      01-04-2010, 10:45 PM   #24
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Drives: 1998 BMW 740iL
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Location: Pikesville, MD

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1998 740iL  [3.00]
Originally Posted by CorneringSpeed View Post
Finally, I don't think it's the number of seats or the body style that makes a car a true sports car. I think it's more about the driving dynamics and how confident and agile it feels on the track when pushed hard.
Sports car is a type, not a feeling. It was an actual FIA category.

the problem is peopel that have no real knowledge dilute definitions until they are meaningless, and it's sad, because opinion has become more important that fact to a whole new genration of suppsoed enthusiasts, who, instead of learning about cars, argue with everyone who actually knew anything, thinking that half baked opinions based on lack of information and knowledge are more important.

Sports cars are not defined by 0-60 or top speed. Sports cars are lightwight open cars that were designed for road racing.

On October 2, 1948, a road race was held here on closed-off public highways. The 1948 Watkins Glen Sports Car Grand Prix was the first organized postwar sports car race in America (see sidebar), and it was the catalyst for all American road racing that followed. That race would likely not have been possible - or, at the very least, it would have been far less successful - without the MG TC.

It took the end of World War II for sports cars to make the trip across the Atlantic in any numbers. Then, as now, American motorsports was dominated by oval-track racing. As a result, stateside vehicles reflected the needs of that form of competition; compared with their European counterparts, few American cars wanted for power, but even fewer could stop or go around corners very well. Driving a true sports car required bringing one over from Europe yourself or finding someone who already had, and in prewar, Depression-starved America, neither option was cheap or easy.

Enter the American GI. During service in the European theater, more than a few U.S. soldiers had developed a healthy appreciation for light, nimble, and inexpensive performance cars. When those men began returning home, they often brought with them (or searched out on their return) small European sports cars. The British MG TC was simply in the right place at the right time; it was one of the only sporting machines that was widely available, relatively fast, and relatively inexpensive.

Even by the standards of the time, the TC wasn't intended to be anything special - complicated drivetrains and high-strung personalities weren't in its family tree. MG had specialized in sports cars since the early 1920s, but its products were always meant to provide maximum grins per dollar rather than outright speed. As a result, the company's cars often paired sedan-derived mechanicals with light, low-cost chassis. The end product wasn't always that fast, but it was almost always fun.

Like a great many cars of the period, much of the TC's fundamental design was carried over from the prewar era (in this case, the late-'30s MG TA and TB). The 1550-pound TC's simple ladder frame and leaf-sprung solid axles carried a long-stroke, 1250-cc Morris four-cylinder and a four-speed gearbox. And although as much as 100 hp could be extracted from the engine for racing use, production output was a relatively meager 54 hp at 5200 rpm. Nineteen-inch center-lock wire wheels held the whole package off the ground, and four nine-inch hydraulic drums stopped it. In a 1945 Autocar road test, the TC charged to 60 mph in 22.7 seconds, and its top speed was recorded as 75 mph. Heady stuff.

The TC, however, was more than the sum of its parts. At just under twelve feet long and five feet wide, the MG was dwarfed by the leviathans on American roads at the time. Its short-geared, relatively low-torque engine required the driver to work to go quickly, but over a winding road, the TC could humble anything made in America. The car was deceptively quick, visually arresting, long on character, and short on fragility. At a time when most American cars weren't capable of extended top-speed running, the TC's tiny four could sit at its redline for days on end without blowing up. That people became attached to the tiny MG - and that it soon was winning races - came as no surprise.

If you open up the definition to everything that performs better than a basic Camry, then it loses all meaning. Might as WELL say every red car is a sports car for all the meaning in the term at that point. Much like has happened to the term "roadster" once Mazda's Engrish marketing department got ahold of it... Dismissing existing definitions that work well and already cover cars in question in order to have a mere opinion...?

There's a reason the fast Porsche's are the GT2 and GT3. Porsche knows that a closed 2+2 is a GT, not a sports car. And that's not an insult to the cars. So did all the other companies that specialized in sports cars over the years. Ferrari, MG, Triumph, Bristol, Lotus...
1998 740iL