Today’s supercars might be faster and more powerful than anything that has gone before but have they lost a little of the madness that made them so wonderful?
Back in the 1970s people cared a lot less about crumple zones, ABS and safety tests and the cars were suitably unhinged. It just so happens that they were often beautiful too.
The Aston Martin DBS V8
Unusually for a supercar, the Aston Martin DBSV8 is a four seater. Its 5.9 second 0-60mph time may not seem rapid by today’s standards, but a 160mph top speed still just about cuts the mustard. Subsequent Vantage cars were quicker but there is something about the first lot of 8 cylinder DBS cars that makes them stand out. To be a true supercar you need stunning looks as well as performance and with its classic chrome grille and twin headlamps the Aston Martin DBSV8 had that in spades.
The Ferrari 512BB
The first ever road legal mid-engined supercar from the boys at Maranello was this car’s predecessor, the 365 GT4 Berlinetta Boxer, arriving in 1971. Ferrari had been making big flat 12 cylinder mid-engined beasts for their motorsport cars so using the same set up in a road car was a good bet, both because of the engineering experience and the rubbing off of some of that racing glamour onto the road car. The Ferrari 512BB built on the success of this car but increased the engine capacity and featured more torque, bigger tyres and a front spoiler. The result was a 1970s car that could top 175mph.
Lamborghini Jarama GTS
Even in the 1970s, safety regulations were beginning to change supercars. The Lamborghini Jarama GTS was brought in to adhere to new American safety and emissions regulations. Based on the unusual Espada model, the Lamborghini Jarama GTS replaced the ageing Islero car. It was designed by Marcello Gandini at Bertone. The car featured a 4 litre DOHC V12 engine, developing 350bhp and capable of 162mph.
For true 1970s nuttiness, nothing beats the Maserati Khamsin. Even back then, Maserati was being passed around between European manufacturers as various companies tried to make a go of the Italian carmaker. The Maserati Khamsin was born during Citroen’s short time at the helm. The crazy, angular styling is just the start (check out the transparent rear body panel). Underneath the skin, Citroen’s influence could be felt, literally, with French hydraulics managing the clutch, steering and brakes. Just touching the pedals or steering wheel makes the hydraulics spring into action, quite unnerving when you have a 5 litre 320bhp Italian V8 under the bonnet.
Porsche 911 Turbo 3.3
If the Maserati is clearly bonkers then the Porsche 911 Turbo 3.3 is the opposite. This is an endlessly efficient 3.3 litre 300bhp supercar that can hit 60mph in 5.3 seconds. These early models are proper Porsches, without the four wheel drive nonsense and with the engine and all the power going to the back, it makes for exciting handling. The shape too, with that huge rear wing, has now become a classic.