The definition of the word ‘supercar’ has often been more cultural than technical. The first use of the word ‘supercar’ can be traced back to the 1920s — but it was not until the 1960s that supercars as we would recognise them today started to appear.
This was the decade that Ford introduced its GT40, derived from its racing counterpart. Though this is often considered the world’s first supercar, others prefer to hand that accolade to the Lamborghini Miura — a ‘60s marvel that, unlike the GT40, was initially conceived as a road car. The beautifully designed and mid-engineered Miura epitomised what many people have come to associate with supercars – a boatload of power, exclusivity, beautiful styling and a wild nature that’s just not replicable in any other genre of car.
Today, the Collins dictionary continues to define a supercar as “a very expensive, fast or powerful car with a centrally located engine”.
However, a broader — and perhaps more fitting — definition is put forward by the Cambridge Dictionary, which describes a supercar as “a very fast car, usually, one that is an unusual or rare type”.
The loose definition of the word ‘supercar’ has led many people to judge a vehicle’s supercar credentials from the feelings of prestige that the product generates rather than a highly technical list of specs and features.
Good examples of landmark cars that have been released over the decades and given ‘supercar’ status include the Lamborghini Countach and the Ferrari F40, two iconic poster-cars that were every young petrolhead’s dream throughout the 70s and 80s. In the 90s the McLaren F1 arrived, setting new supercar performance benchmarks, including a world record top speed that only the ridiculously powerful 1000bhp Bugatti Veyron could beat in the mid-2000s.
While an array of more traditional supercars have remained on the scene, forward-thinking brands like Rimac have demonstrated how electric motors are able to match internal combustion engines when it comes to delivering immense power.