Monday, February 15, 2010

The three best German Super Cars taking a 1987 perspective: Porsche 959, Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing, BMW M1

In 1987 the German car magazine Sport Auto featured an article on the best German Sportscars ever. The three cars they put into the center were the mighty Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing, the BMW M1 and the Porsche 959. It must be said that Germany at that time was in an 959 euphoria. Clearly the 959 was an excellent car for its time! Even today its performance is impressive: 0-100 km/h in 3.9 sec, 450 hp, 315 km/h top speed, 3.2 kg/hp. And it was hugely expensive at DM 420'000, well that's at least what people thought. As we know today that kind of price tag is what you can charge for a super or hyper sportscar. Ferrari's answer to the 959, the Ferrari F40, at least came in exactly at the same price point. But if you compare the 959 with the M1, built 7 or 8 years earlier, it must be said that the M1 was at DM 113'000.- inexpensive in comparison. And it was fast too with 0-100 km/h in 5.6 sec and a top speed of 262 km/h. With a lower weight of 1'300 kg it had an acceptable power to weight ratio too with 4.7 kg/hp. And 33 years before the Porsche 959 a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL could be bought at DM 29'000.-. What may sound inexpensive was pretty much unaffordable at that time when a Volkswagen Beetle was probably around DM 1'500.-. But this car reached a mind boggling 250 km/h top speed and accelerated in 9 sec from 0 to 100 km/h while the Beetle could barely reach 100 km/h and you could cook your breakfast eggs in the time it took from 0-100 km/h. Now, one of the questions to ask is of course whether these were the three best German sportscars until 1987. I guess, it's a question of definition. Would you include cars like the Isdera, would the Mercedes C111 count, are street legal race cars like the Porsche 904 GTS or the Porsche Carrera 6 to be included? And what about pre war cars such as the Mercedes SSK? The three shown cars in the article are at least an attractive selection and could all go on any serious car collector's shopping list.


lupoch said...

This choice must have made more or less all German car fans happy: Merc, BMW and Porsche (just the Audi Quattro is missing...but that was probably not "supercar" enough...).
If they were to repeat the article today, I guess they would get the same winners... (unless you think a better contender was created in the past 23 years... Carrera GT maybe?)

Bruno von Rotz said...

Well today you probably might want to include the Audi R8 V10, the Porsche Carrera GT (and potentially the GT2), the Mercedes SLR McLaren (if that's a German car) and potentially the Gumpert Apollo (if you consider such small production vehicles). And I assume the Porsche Carrera GT is probably the modern replacement for the 959, though not as innovative as the older brother.