|My Most Favourite cars are (from 2000-2004) :
Saleen S7 $395,000
Exotic supercars are extreme in every sense. But what to make of this claim: According to the Saleen S7 press release, its aerodynamic ground effects are so effective, and create so much down force (what holds a car to the road at high speeds), that even if you drove the S7 upside down at 160 mph on some sort of Hot Wheels roller-coaster track that exploded into real-life scale, the car wouldn't lose its contact with the road. Of course they didn't explain how they know this, and, sorry, we're not volunteering to test out the theory.
Meanwhile, the S7 power plant is decidedly less outlandish than its ground effects. The motor is derived from a Ford Mustang, then deeply modified. It's made entirely of aluminum, has stainless-steel valves with titanium retainers, and a high vacuum dry sump and stainless-steel exhaust. It breathes through roof-mounted intakes and is mated to a six-speed manual transmission. Power output is a claimed 550 horsepower, with performance of less than four seconds to 60 mph and a top speed in excess of 200 mph.
The S7 can look beyond super--it can look cartoonish.
And the S7 has some fairly clever components: a video monitor instead of a rearview mirror (since how could you see anything aft via a conventional mirror, anyway?), and a removable steering wheel to ease entry and exit into the tight-fitting cabin.
But we still have to ask: With a new Lamborghini on the market, as well as a new Ferrari 575M Maranello coming, who wants a Ford-powered supercar?
BMW Z8 $130,645
The BMW Z8 is a car that has polarized the automotive press. Some love the car for its smooth, easy-to-drive accessibility--the thing that makes autos like the modern Jags such a pleasure. Others feel it's too softly sprung and not "immediate" enough--it doesn't feel as if it's as engaged with the road as a lot of other exotic sports cars are.
We can understand both camps but tend to side with the former crowd, because the Z8 makes you feel like a champion driver without forcing you to break a sweat every time you go for a spin.
In fact, that's the BMW DNA at work in the Z8, for just about every BMW gets progressively more sporty the harder you drive it, but never beats you up if you just want to cruise at a more stately pace.
And even though the Z8 gets the very hot, 394-horsepower V-8 from the BMW M5 (about 60 more hp than you'll find in the BMW M3), there's nothing violent about the on-rush of power that comes from under the hood. Torque is there in a downshift whenever you want it, but the rest of the time power is almost seamless--think, and you're passing someone at 95 on the expressway.
You could almost accuse the Z8 of being lazy for that reason, but not when you throw it hard into a turn, where its excellent aluminum suspension and chassis flex and respond in kind to the pace you've set, and its taut rack and pinion steering transmits just enough information back to your hands for you to respond in kind to the road. Here the Z8 becomes alive and thrilling.
Granted, if you can afford this car, you might as well have the GT2 Porsche, but that's not where we'd say the competition is coming from, since the BMW is so much more relaxed and easier to drive daily. Rather, that Maserati Spyder we mentioned as an alternative to the Jaguar XKR 100 seems like a fair alternative to the Z8 as well, and for considerably less money. Thing is, the BMW has the coolest interior of the bunch, the Maserati gets the best-sounding engine this side of a Ferrari and the Jag is the sexiest. Can't buy all three? Time to go for a few test drives, then.