Many sports cars of the past have graced the "best of" lists of numerous car publications and owner fan clubs. For example, what list of sports cars would be complete without the 1949 MG TC, the little British, 54-horsepower two-seater that joined the word "sports" to the word "car?" Or how about the amazing gull-winged, 220-horsepower 1954 Mercedes-Benz 300SL? In the United States, enthusiasts had for decades been taking normal two-seat and even four-seat coupes and sedans and improving their horsepower and performance. It all came together with the first-generation 1953 Chevy Corvette, a fiberglass-bodied two-seat, small-block-V8 performance machine that soon became known as "America's sports car." Of course, no list of historic American sports cars would be complete without the Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro of certain time periods. Still and all, many sports car enthusiasts of today would say that we're now in an even greater era for sport-oriented automobiles, and that this golden age of the sports car offers a wide variety of great cars. In no particular order, these automobiles include:
1 - The Mazda MX-5 Miata
First introduced in 1989, the Mazda Miata instantly climbed to the top of more than a few sports car lists, and since then it's attained near-legendary status. This tiny two-seater features a snappy 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine mated to a standard six-speed manual transmission and more than enough performance as well as amenities to make anyone happy. Entire amateur and semi-pro racing leagues dedicated solely to the Miata, along with legions of fan clubs around the world, attest to the little Japanese sports car's enduring popularity.
2 - The Chevrolet Corvette
The Chevy Corvette has enjoyed almost 60 years as one of America's most noteworthy sports cars, and the 2021 version is no exception. In fact, it might be the best ever. This newest version of the Corvette now sports a mid-engine design and performance that rivals any supercar's while also delivering enough comfort to serve as a daily driver. Moving the eighth generation (the C8) Corvette's engine behind the seats and redistributing its weight has finally given the 'Vette the kind of road-hugging performance seen only in sports cars costing much more.
3 - The Volkswagen Golf GTI
Speed costs, so how fast do you want to go? That axiom often describes some of the fastest and most famous sports cars in the world today, but not the Volkswagen Golf GTI. This VW is simultaneously a roomy practical car (it's a 5-seat, 4-door hatchback) and a sharp-handling performance ride. For starters, the Volkswagen GTI features a 210-horsepower turbocharged 2.0 liter, four-cylinder powerplant and manual transmission combo that delivers quick off-the-line acceleration to this lightweight automobile. Add in a tech-loaded cabin and there's little to dislike about Volkswagen's sports car for the masses.
4 - The Subaru WRX
At one time, no sports car featured four doors, but the market today features plenty, including the Subaru WRX. Like all "Subes," the WRX puts the power to the pavement via all-wheel drive, and the turbo 4-cylinder, flat-4 engine delivers a lot of it, at a sterling 268-horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The STI version adds a healthy dollop of performance as well, with a serious tire and wheel setup complemented by a giant trunk-mounted spoiler. Well-bolstered sports seats help keep the driver and front passenger in place while the WRX's traction and steering tame the road beneath.
5 - The Ford Mustang
No sports car list is complete without a Ford Mustang, especially one that's outfitted in classic muscle car configuration. The 'Stang comes in many different power and performance combinations as well, including a turbocharged 4-cylinder EcoBoost or a V8 that delivers seemingly endless amounts of horsepower and torque. Any Mustang can also be equipped with track-conquering bits and pieces and interior accoutrements that complement its performance looks and capabilities. The Mustang's come a long way from its 1964 debut, when it was largely fashioned from the staid and underwhelming Ford Falcon.