Automakers were producing some pretty amazing performance cars at the beginning of the 21st century, though many of them unfortunately were overshadowed by the more advanced models that succeeded them.
During the early 2000s, supercars weren’t as technical as their modern day counterparts, in which nearly every feature is managed by the electronic control unit. However, they also weren’t as raw as high-performance cars from the 1990s. As a result, some people simply think of supercars from the turn of the millennium as compromised models that are too new to be considered classics, but no longer meet performance benchmarks.
In a way, that’s too bad. These nine supercars from the early 2000s aren’t considered the best of the best anymore, but they’re still significant in automotive history.
Porsche Carrera GT
Photo via Porsche
The term “race car for the road” frequently gets thrown around in regard to light-weight versions of supercars, but it actually applies to the Carrera GT even without any additional weight saving. Not only did the Carrera come without stability control, traction control or ABS like many race cars, the V-10 engine it used actually was developed for motorsport. Porsche decided to put it in a road car, however, after Volkswagen pulled the plug on its endurance racing program in 2000.
Photo via Lamborghini
Lamborghini’s new V-12 flagship model, the Aventador, incorporates things such as advanced torque vectoring to help it handle well. The Murcielago, however, felt like the monstrous beast it was, as it had a more conventional all-wheel-drive system.
Photo via Lamborghini
The Gallardo, too, was more simplistic in nature compared to the modern V-10 Huracan. That said, it still was an extremely capable car, and that became even more true as Lamborghini upgraded it throughout its lifetime.
Photo via Ford
The first-generation Ford GT has the misfortune of being overshadowed by both the GT40, which it’s designed to look like, and the new GT that shares most of its underpinnings with a 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning race car. However, the GT’s appeal lies in its simplicity. With a supercharged 5.4-liter V-8 that made 550 horsepower mated to a six-speed manual transmission with a gated shifter, the GT truly was the GT40’s spiritual successor.
Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren
Photo via Daimler
That’s right, not all supercars have their engines mounted behind the drivers’ seats. A decade after it rocked the automotive world with F1, and before it launched a standalone company with the 12C, McLaren partnered with Mercedes to produce the SLR. The front-engine rear-wheel-drive SLR was fitted with an automatic transmission, but it certainly wasn’t an ordinary GT car — as was evident from the side pipes. It’s 5.4-liter supercharged V-8 produced 617 horsepower, which was enough to send it past the 200-mph mark.
Photo via Ferrari
Ferrari named the Enzo after the company’s founder because it was the ultimate expression of what was technically possible at the time, with its use of active aerodynamics, carbon ceramic brakes and a carbon fiber bodywork. Enzo probably wouldn’t think the car is a fitting tribute anymore, though, given it’s been replaced by the LaFerrari as the brand’s range-topping model.
Photo via Ferrari
The F430 was more old-school than the Enzo. That’s evident from the fact that its body, while attractive, features a less functional design than cars that have come out of Maranello, Italy, since.
Photo via Lotus
Lotus has been repackaging the same car for more than a decade, and somehow it works. Essentially a hardtop version of the Elise, the Exige put Toyota’s V-6 engine to good use at a time when the Japanese manufacturer wasn’t producing anything very exciting. Since its introduction, Lotus continuously releases lighter-weight variants of the Exige that each improve on the car’s go-kart-like performance.
Photo via Flickr/Derek Walker Photo
The Zonda was as crazy as it looks, and with each special edition model it released, Pagani only made it more insane. Despite that, the Zonda doesn’t really spring to mind when people hear Pagani anymore, given that the Huayra looks just as amazing, and is much, much faster.
Thumbnail photo via Porsche