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Opinion: Supercars, hypercars... what name do they get next?

By Tim Keen, 07 Jun 2020 Features

Opinion: Supercars, hypercars... what's next?

Tim Keen makes the case that 'wowzersmobile' should be the next rank up from hypercar

Once, there were just cars. You had a car, I had a car, and maybe your car was faster than my car but hey, they were all just cars. Then came the supercar.

In the 1970s, someone looked at a Lamborghini Miura and thought to themselves, “That’s no mere car – it’s too super for that!” And suddenly there was a distinction in the car world, and the class war had begun.

And so we had the original supercars, like the Lotus Esprit or the BMW M1 or the De Tomaso Pantera. And for a long time, that was enough – you had cars and supercars, one type for commuting and one type for hanging on the bedroom walls of teenage boys.

The 120,000km Ferrari F40 GT

Then, maybe a decade ago, someone looked at a Bugatti Veyron and thought to themselves, “That’s no mere supercar – it’s too hyper for that!” And lo, we needed a new word to describe the Ferrari LaFerrari, or the Pagani Huayra, or the McLaren P1. What’s the difference between a supercar and a hypercar? A hypercar needs Ritalin to pass maths.

And the class war intensified, and the supercar owners seethed with impotent envy at the hypercar owners swanning about in their Sennas, thinking they were just so, well, hyper.

But now we’re probably overdue for another tier above the hypercar. Because after humanity goes extinct from coronavirus in the next few months, the cockroach-human hybrids that take over the world will be driving a new crop of frankly insane beasts that will make the hypercar owners grind their teeth in superheated jealousy. Like the Mercedes-AMG One, the Aston Martin Valkyrie or the Koenigsegg Jesko, which sounds like a character from the extended Star Wars universe that only virgins have heard of.

Nought to 100 in one-point-something. Quad-turbo electrically-assisted flux capacitor drivetrains. Minimum buy-in, 1000 horsepower. Sticker price, two million and up. In short, the sort of numbers that look like typos compared with the supercars of today.

So what should the next stage in the class war be called? The ultracar? The gigacar? The insanocar? A few years ago we could have gone with the ubercar, but now that just makes it sound like a Nissan Qashqai that will take you to the airport.

The good news is, we can just go crazy with the adjectives now. There’s no need to save an adjective for another level of super-hyper-meganess above the next crop, because the next level after that probably isn’t even a car at all.

We’re reaching the outer limits of what engineers and designers can achieve, if only because we’re reaching the outer limits of what tyres can withstand. When Hennessey first unveiled their Venom F5 concept, everyone oohed and aahed at the projected outputs, but it was all theoretical since there was no rubber on the planet that could keep eleventy gazillion horsepower tethered to the ground.

Hennessey Venom F5 exterior

If they take the next step and invent hovercars, will they even really be cars? Won’t they just be low-flying planes? Once you cross certain technological barriers, you’ve surely created a whole new thing, not just improved the old thing. Otherwise the Ferrari SF90 Stradale would be called the world’s most advanced horse and carriage.

Green hypercar energy: Koenigsegg Gemera

So what do you reckon? What gets your vote for the next genus of automotive evolution? Personally I’m voting for “wowzersmobile”, just to stop the owners getting too smug about owning one. But my vote probably won’t matter, since I’ll just be a meat-battery plugged into the Matrix to power our robot overlords.

Or maybe we go the other way, and like Bernie Sanders says, end the class war. Erase the distinctions. Restore equality. You’ve got a McLaren Speedtail, I’ve got a Fiat Panda, but they’re all just cars. Can’t we all just get along?

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