When it comes to high speed and bragging rights, nothing beats horsepower. Now, as car fans, we know it takes a lot more than a herd of Clydesdales under the hood to make a fast car; aerodynamics, tires, gearing and weight all play equally important parts in making a car blindingly quick, let alone the braking and suspension.
But none of those aspects are as sexy as horsepower. Even torque, arguably a more useful measure of a car’s power in the everyday world of stoplight drag races and dynamometers, lacks horsepower’s timeless cool. You don’t have to agree with it, you don’t have to like it, but it’s hard to disagree: at Fast Car Statistics High School, horsepower is king of the prom.
But the last fifteen years have seen the relative value of the horsepower suffer some serious deflation. Objectively speaking, one horsepower still gives just as strong of a kick in the ass as it ever has, but subjectively, one horsepower is worth a lot less than it used to be. When soccer moms drive Toyota Camrys that make as many horses as the 1995 Porsche 911 Carrera, when anyone with $31,795 can walk into a Chevrolet dealership and walk out with a 426 horsepower Camaro SS, when plastic surgeons tool around Santa Monica in 621 horsepower Mercedes-Benz S-Classes…how many horsepower does a sports car need to bring to the table to really set itself apart?
Even in this age, only a handful of car makers have the orbs to sell anyone with a fat enough checkbook a production car with 700 horsepower or more. Ferrari doesn’t. Porsche doesn’t. Lamborghini doesn’t—at least, not yet, though the Murcielago’s replacement will likely change things at some point. So we decided to serve up a tribute to eleven production cars who’ve broken through that 700 horsepower barrier on pump gasoline. (We’re counting only old-fashioned SAE ponies, too—none of that metric horsepower crap.) Some of these cars you know; some of them you may be meeting for the first time. But they’re all worthy of respect.