The best fast cars you can buy today

Welcome to Top Gear magazine’s round up of The Best Cars In The World. That might seem a trite observation, but after much deliberation, haranguing and three bouts of raised voices, the vehicles we will present to you over the coming week represent the cars that TG magazine would happily recommend to family and best friends, without reservation.

Any of these cars – within their brief – are the best at what they do. They are the TG benchmarks, the class leaders.

There are three loose price points to scale our ambition: an attainable version, an aspiration and a dream.

So, allow us to guide you through the cars you should consider before all else. Today, it’s the really quick stuff…

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Every time I drop into the driver’s seat of a Porsche Cayman, a single thought jolts my mind: “How can I get one of these into my life?” And sure enough it does this time, at 2,509 metres above sea level at the top of the Timmelsjoch at the Italian-Austrian border. The thought of the Cayman is enough to divert me from the views, tumbling down to valleys slashed in the landscape below and up to dizzying battalions of jagged Dolomite peaks crowning the horizon. And it’s even enough – just – to ameliorate my sad parting from the Ferrari 458 Speciale that’s lit up my day so far. And also enough to calm the giddy anticipation that tomorrow I’ll be swapping this Porsche for another, vastly more stellar: the 918.

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Ferrari reveals 458 Speciale A

The pre-Paris motor show reveals just keep on coming, but you’ll want to stop everything and soak this one up: it’s the Ferrari 458 Speciale A.

A stands for Aperta, which, if you know your Italian (or your old Ferrari specials), translates as ‘Open’. No prizes for guessing it’s the long rumoured Speciale spider, then, and despite having no fancy hybrid tech or dihedral doors, it looks set to steal a chunk of the Paris headlines.

It follows the same, simple recipe as the Scuderia 16M it effectively supersedes, taking the Speciale coupe – arguably the greatest supercar of the last decade – and lopping off its roof. Unlike the 16M, though, it doesn’t have a fabric roof, instead employing the same folding hard-top setup as the regular 458 Spider, which adds 50kg to the coupe’s kerbweight. The Speciale A tips the scales at 1445kg.

Underneath the skin, the Speciale’s mesmerising mash-up of screaming naturally aspirated power and mind-bogglingly clever electronics remains intact. That means a 4.5-litre V8 with 597bhp and 398lb ft of torque: enough for 0-62mph in 3.0secs, which is unchanged from the tin-top Speciale, despite the weight penalty. It also boasts an identical lap time to the coupe around the circuit in Ferrari’s back garden (known more glamorously as Fiorano).   More …
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What Will Ferrari Be After Luca Cordero di Montezemolo Leaves?

Luca Cordero di Montezemolo was forced to resign as chairman of Ferrari last week. What does this mean for the future of the Italian icon?

I WONDER HOW IT MUST LOOK from the outside: the 67-year-old chairman of the Italian sports car manufacturer Ferrari, forced to resign last week by the chief of parent company Fiat Chrysler SpA, reportedly in a dispute over production volumes. Who cares, right? Just another nattily dressed gentleman consumed in the fires of business history.

But this was the guy. When Luca Cordero di Montezemolo took the reins at Ferrari in Maranello, Italy, in 1991, the place was a venerated shambles. Enzo Ferrari had left the building long before his death, in 1988. The road cars were underachieving, the racing diffident and finances deeply troubled. In the U.S. in those days, Ferrari equaled “Magnum PI.”   more….

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Automotive Paint

In 1909, Model T Fords were painted with solvent-based varnish paint that had a relatively short service life. The paint was glossy, but it had such indistinguishable colors that greens, blues, and blacks all appeared the same color. When exposed to the weather and the environment, varnish paint quickly broke down and cracked, allowing rust and corrosion to set in.

In contrast, the paint used on late-model vehicles is vibrant, fade-resistant, and extremely corrosion-resistant. Today’s vehicle finishes are also multi-layered, water-based, and refined with a durable clearcoat.

How does the factory paint my car?
Modern automotive paint is a sophisticated blend of resins, binders, fillers, additives, and carrying agents (solvents or water). Some paint mixes offer high gloss, but at the expense of durability. Other paints are extremely durable, but lack the vibrant color of their glossy counterparts. Each manufacturer chooses a custom paint mixture for the vehicles they manufacture.

While the original Model Ts were painted entirely by hand, nearly every modern vehicle is painted using an automated process on a vehicle assembly line, which produces a consistent, high-quality paint job. Hand painting is still done today, but since it is very labor intensive, this type of painting is limited to only very expensive or limited-production vehicles.   more…

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First drive: Jaguar F-Type Coupe

Ah, the F-type with the roof. Make much of a difference, does it?

Just a bit. The F-type coupe is the stiffest car Jaguar has ever made. In fact, the more engineering savvy among you will appreciate that a figure of 33,000Nm per degree makes it one of the most rigid cars ever. The F-type convertible is as solid as convertibles come. This thing is twice as stiff. It’s a proper prize-fighter, an impression that’s firmly underlined with the addition of a roof. The convertible is the image builder, and with more than 10,000 sold since it arrived a year ago it’s doing the job for Jaguar. But this is the one we’ve been waiting for. It also looks mighty, particularly as your eye arrives at the rear end.

So how does it feel?

Uncompromising. Jaguar let us loose on a circuit called Motorland, deep in the northern Spanish wilderness. It’s an FIA level one approved track, 3.2 miles long, and a MotoGP venue. It’s also extremely tricky in places with the sort of hard-to-sight apexes and blind crests that challenge the driver and punish a wayward chassis. The F-type R – coincidentally Jag’s fastest ever car round the ‘Ring, with a 7 min 39secs lap time – is stupendously good. More…

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For sale: Four Ferraris for $30 million+

Another day, another multi-million dollar Ferrari auction. Today it’s the turn of the effortlessly graceful 250 GT California Spider that headlines a spectacular line-up of Prancing Horses.

Ah yes, the GT California Spider. Easily the prettiest Ferrari ever made, no? This is a SWB version, with the covered headlights that Scaglietti only applied to 37 of the 56 Spiders built.

Not only that, but this particular car comes with a hard-top as well, again one of few California drop-tops to feature it. We’re told it’s lived a charmed life, including ownership in the custody of Oscar-nominated actress Barbara Hershey, as well as featuring at events like the Concorso Italiano and Cavallino Classic.

And after a 14 year period, this car is now coming up for sale at Gooding & Company’s Pebble Beach sale in August. The price estimate? A whopping $15 million, which is around £8.8 million. No surprise, given that Chris Evans spent £5.5 million in 2008 on a California Spider.   More…

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Aston Martin takes aim at future Ferraris with new models

The British luxury and GT car company wants to reinvent itself as a true supercar maker and is planning a car to compete with the best that the Prancing Horse can offer by 2016.

Aston Martin has never had any problems in competing with its rivals in terms of comfort or style. Even when the company has been in the throes of bankruptcy it has somehow managed to keep building cars that redefine automotive attractiveness.

However, in terms of out-and-out performance, it has been falling slowly behind its main rivals for a number of years, and today’s range of cars are still a beauty to behold, but are starting to lack in other departments.

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See if you can find $89,000 in damage on this new Ferrari California

 

If you like to while away the hours paging through salvage car auctions looking for that one misplaced gem you could buy for a song, you can’t help but rubberneck at the misfortune of supercars. At any given moment several new Ferraris or Lamborghinis sit in salvage yards, typically because they were either caught in flood waters or fell victim to their owners’ lack of control behind the wheel.

But this 2014 Ferrari California, sold new for $278,000, tells a different, and more unusual, story. It’s only been driven 430 miles; it’s bone dry, and if you walked past it on the street you might think it was in perfect shape. Yet it’s been totaled and cast into the salvage yards for the economic burden of its repair costs, estimated at a shocking $89,000.

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It’s the Mini Superleggera concept

Good God. It’s the Mini Superleggera concept

 

Press your red trousers, internet, because concourse season is upon us. Which spurred Mini to team up with legendary coachbuilders, Touring Superleggera, and create this one-off EV speedster… thing.

But unlike most concepts, which have loosely tangible purposes like previewing styling ideas, the Mini Superleggera Vision seems to have been built for absolutely no reason beyond some lawn ornamentation at Villa d’Este. A bit like those retrogasmic efforts from BMW we got excited about last month.

So, the facts. The Vision’s been put together like a proper superleggera (translation: superlight). That means that there’s an alloy spaceframe (lots of thin alloy tubes) chassis, which is covered in large hand-beaten alloy sheets – that explains why there aren’t any panels gaps.

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