A sports car is a term used to describe a class of automobile. Generally it is used to refer to a low to ground, light weight vehicle with a powerful engine. Most vehicles referred to as sports cars are rear-wheel drive, have two seats, two doors, and are designed for more precise handling, acceleration, and aesthetics. A sports carâ€™s dominant considerations can be superior road handling, braking, maneuverability, low weight, and high power, rather than passenger space, comfort, and fuel economy.
Sports cars can be either luxurious or spartan, but driving mechanical performance is the key attraction. Many drivers regard brand name and the subsequent racing reputation and history as important indications of sporting quality (for example, Ferrari, Porsche, Lotus), but some brands, such as Lamborghini, which do not race or build racing cars, are also highly regarded.
A car may be a sporting automobile without being a sports car. Performance modifications of regular, production cars, such as sport compacts, sports sedans, muscle cars, hot hatches and the like, generally are not considered sports cars, yet share traits common to sports cars. They are sometimes called â€œsports carsâ€ for marketing purposes for increased advertising and promotional purposes. Performance cars of all configurations are grouped as Sports and Grand tourer cars, or, occasionally, as performance cars.
A sports car does not require a large, powerful engine, though many do have them. Many classic British sports cars lacked powerful engines, but were known for exceptional handling due to light weight, a well-engineered, balanced chassis, and modern suspension (for example, Lotus Seven, Austin 7 Speedy). On tight, twisting roads, such a sports car may perform more effectively than a heavier, more powerful car.
Due to North American safety regulations, many sports cars are unavailable for sale or use in the United States and Canada. In the United Kingdom, Europe, and the Middle Eastern market (e.g. UAE), a flexible attitude towards small-volume specialist manufacturers has allowed companies such as TVR, Noble, and Pagani to succeed.
The sports car traces its roots to early 20th century touring cars. These raced in early rallys, such as the Herkomer Cup, Prinz Heinrich Fahrt, and Monte Carlo.
The first true sports cars (though the term would not be coined until after World War One) were the 3 litre 1910 Vauxhall 20 hp (15 kW) and 27/80PS Austro-Daimler (designed by Ferdinand Porsche).
Two companies would offer the first really reliable sports cars: Austin with the Seven and Morris Garages (MG) with the Midget. The Seven would quickly be â€œroddedâ€ by numerous companies (as the Type 1 would be a generation later), including Bassett and Dingle (Hammersmith, London); in 1928, a Cozette blower was fitted to the Seven Super Sports, while Cecil Kimber fitted an 847 cc Minor engine, and sold more Midgets in the first year than MGâ€™s entire previous production.