The sports car has come a long way since the days of this early-model 1964 Porsche 911, a car that would go on to become the most famous sports cars of all time. Surprisingly, this first 911 was modest, sporting a 2.0-liter flat-six with a single overhead camshaft, a very organic 5-speed manual transmission, and a curb weight of under 2400 lbs. It was the 911’s simplicity and unadulterated driver connection that made it so dynamic and entertaining to drive. Fast forward fifty years and forced induction abounds, manual transmissions are scarce, and electronic aids interrupt the driving experience. However, a few pure sports cars do exist for those who prefer the analog and are in search of the ultimate connection between road and driver.
1) 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28
Sporting a giant 7.0-liter Z06-derived LS7 V8, lightweight carbon ceramic brakes, and a very old-school 6-speed manual transmission, the Camaro Z/28 can be a track scalpel if the driver is up to the task. No laggy turbochargers or unnecessary weight here. Chevrolet used very little sound deadening, forwent a radio, utilized special lightweight wheels and tires, and deleted the A/C option to keep the Z/28 at a reasonable 3800 lbs. All of Chevy’s toils pay off with the Z/28 running 0-60 in the low 4-second range and the quarter mile in under 13 seconds, all while providing an exhilarating driving experience. Electronic aids do exist in the Z/28, but Chevy’s Performance Traction Management can be turned off or minimally intrusive, something that can prevent dangerous, high-speed spinouts. And redline? A cool 7000 RPM of American V8 howl.
2) 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata
Regarded as one of the most tossable, entertaining cars ever produced, the MX-5 Miata makes it easily onto the “pure sports car” list. On paper, the Miata doesn’t intimidate with a 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated 16V 4-cylinder producing a meek 167 horsepower, and a base 5-speed manual transmission sending power to the wheels. But the Miata’s near perfect 50:50 weight distribution and 2480 lb. curb weight (with manual transmission) make for a roadster with telepathic handling and an uninterrupted connection with the road. Important, too, is that Mazda has forgone the move toward electromechanical steering, prioritizing steering feel over fuel economy with a traditional hydraulic rack. It’s no wonder why the Miata has won close to 180 driver awards throughout its storied 25-year history. Regardless of its horsepower or cockpit space deficiencies, nothing can replicate the organic, light-on-its-feet feel that has made the Miata so famous.
3) 2014 Lotus Evora
The Lotus namesake has always been synonymous with superior handling and unparalleled balance, and the Evora is certainly no exception. Weighing in at just over 3,000 lbs. with its short 101-inch wheelbase means that harsh turn-in and corner exits breeze by, while a 276 horsepower 3.5-liter V6 sourced from the Toyota Camry provides torque to rocket the Evora from 0-60 in 5 seconds. The tried-and-true naturally-aspirated V6 under the Evora’s hood is simple and reliable, as is the standard 6-speed close-ratio gearbox. Traction control is basic and unobtrusive, the interior is highly Spartan, and the driver cannot manually adjust the steering or suspension. The Evora is simple and pure, but it delivers a mechanical connection between machine and operator that exists in few other sports cars.
Please enjoy this TFLcar.com video documenting the history of the Mazda Miata.
Frank caught automotive fever early in life. Hailing from a long line of car fanatics, he was able to recite the year and model of every car that passed him by age five. His passion and love for the automobile have only grown since then. When not thinking about cars, he is reading, writing, learning, or dreaming about them. His area of expertise is in the realm of German and Italian cars, of which Porsche is a favorite. Frank currently resides in the heart of NASCAR country in Charlotte, North Carolina, with his family. He enjoys driving exotic cars in the beautiful Carolina weather.