Are new cars really better than old cars? The reputation some of these classics have make them seem untouchable on the street or at the track, and with restomods muddling the line between classic styling and classic performance, it’s hard to tell where these cars stand.
At around $100,000, the Nissan GT-R is right in the middle of the modern sports car market. It’s cheap enough to be within the reach of regular people, but it offers performance on par with any supercar. It’s also a standard production car with creature comforts and a warranty from the factory. How does it stack up to the performance records of cars for sale over 25 years ago? The results may surprise you.
The 427 Cobra was the king of the muscle car era, combining a light British chassis with a big American engine. Although not primarily a dragster, it could do a quarter mile run in 12.2 seconds. The Ford Thunderbolt’s stripped interior and Plexiglas windows made it all but undriveable on public roads, but this homologation car was considered “stock” by the NHRA. Owners regularly performed runs in the mid-11’s. A GT-R with the track pack beats both these cars with a time of 10.8 seconds.
Getting a good 0-60 mph time takes traction as well as power, so it should be no surprise that a sophisticated all-wheel drive system lets Porsche’s legendary 959 reach 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. That may be a phenomenal time even by today’s standards, but Motor Trend recently got the GT-R Black Edition up to 60 in just 2.8 seconds.
It seems like every performance car sold these days spent at least a little time at this extremely difficult track for suspension tuning, but the competition between automakers to clock the fastest time in their production cars is a relatively recent phenomenon.
The first company to use the track’s reputation to show the performance of their road cars was Porsche tuner RUF. Their claim that their CTR Yellow Bird was the “fastest car of the world” could have been backed up by its world-beating top speed, but in 1987, they cemented the car’s reputation by setting the production car record on the Nurburgring. That time? 8:05.
The last time Nissan’s engineers took the GT-R out on the track, it faced a wet tarmac, hampering traction. Even in these conditions, it managed a lap time of 7:24.22, 44 seconds faster than the RUF.
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