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Mongrel

2004 Ford Lightning Concept

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Mongrel
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this car will decimate all :lol: especially with the new "SuperCooler". 500 hp and 500 lbs of torque, i think it will be able to beat the srt-10.

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thepolarfoxqx
Geschrieben

it should easily take on an dodge SRT-10 RAM pickup. Word is supercooler will be able to get over 500hp, some say 550!

Mongrel
Geschrieben

i think that it already has 500 hp and the supercooler makes it 550 or more. :D i read somewhere that it is the equivelant of aftermarket nitris oxide.

thepolarfoxqx
Geschrieben

not quite. NOS is almost a cryo when it is quicly released from pressure, think of supercooler as an extra boost to the intercooler, remember for supercooler, you also get the parasitic drag of the A/C compressor.

LateNightCable
Geschrieben

If they put as much energy into cars as they put into stinking pickup trucks, there might actually be a handful of common American cars worth having in hot performance form.

Ford did to the F-150 Lightning what they should have been doing to the Mustang ages ago.

Only thing is, the American industry sells more pickups than there is moonshine at a Nascar hillbilly hoedown, so performance CARS get neglected.

thepolarfoxqx
Geschrieben

but pickups are the staple of the american automakers, sure they sell a lot of impalas and tauruses, but without the trucks they sink. Top selling cars at all 3 companies, and in general are the pickups. It is sad they aren't making better family sedans here, I agree. The new 240hp Impala SS will be an improvement, as with the 265hp Grand Prix Comp-G, and be careful who you call a redneck. Some of us have to tow crap.

cmill
Geschrieben

Will that Impala SS be front or rear wheel drive?

LateNightCable
Geschrieben

Front drive, nothing like the 94' - 96' Impala SS.

GIR
Geschrieben

Tow crap okay, but a supercharged 5.4l V8 pushing out 500 horsies is a little bit extreme isn't it? If you want to drive such a car you should settle for a diesel engine. Diesel engine's are more suitable for towing, pulling or transporting crap.

Just a little sidenote. We are working on a Feed Forward (FFRS) pump which corrects the rotetional speed of a diesel engine making it smoother and use less fuel. This project is contracted by DAF (a Dutch truck company). We are able to get a TDi like characteristic out the engine without the turbo.

For the people in the not knowing a diesel engine has it's torque spike early in the low rpm band, with the use of a turbo they are able to make this spike wider and extend it into the mid rpm range. So a TDi engine has it's torque spike real early and this spike continues into the mid rpm range but drops off real quick in the high rpm rang. This leaves you with an engine that will pull the crap out anything but it's topspeed isn't that high.

With this pump we are able todo the same and safe fuel at the same time, ideal for trucks and vans. Anywayz ssssst cause it's supposed to be a secret.

Mongrel
Geschrieben
Tow crap okay, but a supercharged 5.4l V8 pushing out 500 horsies is a little bit extreme isn't it? If you want to drive such a car you should settle for a diesel engine. Diesel engine's are more suitable for towing, pulling or transporting crap.

its not for towing, its for racing, at least that is what i would use it for. if i wanted to tow something i would get an f-250.

GIR
Geschrieben

It's highcenter of gravity and the added drag of the rear hardly make it practical for racing purposes. You could ofcourse drop in a powerfull engine and race it but on the track it will be beaten senseless. Ofcourse most Americans don't care about a track and will only look at what it can do in a straight line. Of the line it will probably beat most cars but building up speed and being stable at highspeed is a different story.

Also don't underestimate todays diesel engines. While they still lack topspeed, todays TDi and CDi engines can put down more torque much faster then their gasoline counterparts.

Lets compare the S400 CDi vs. S430. The S400 CDi has 560nm torque already available at 1700rpm and can keep this up untill 3000rpm while the S430 has 400nm torque at 3000rpm. The topspeed of the S430 is electronicaly limited at 250km/h but can go upto 310 while the S400 CDi has it's stopspeed at 180km/h.

If you want a car that can pull out from a redlight then a CDi or TDi engine is much more suitable.

LateNightCable
Geschrieben

These kind of trucks only exist for one reason, it isn't that they are such great speed platforms, there are certainly better ways of accomplishing that.

The makers know that Americans like their pickups, and their Nascar, and their big motors, so a " supertruck " is a natural for marketing. As with so many American products, it has little to do with common sense, and a whole lot to do with " Look at me! "

thepolarfoxqx
Geschrieben

there is something to the wickedly fast pickup concept. True, they don't handle well, they are not ideal for going fast, but you grow up used to trucks, a fast truck just feels right. I drove on of the old 230hp Silverado 454 SS with the 7.4L V8, that was fricking fun, that sucker was violent, just having so much torque, it wasn't fast, but it was fun. I drove a lightening, and those 380hp were nice, it was a fast truck, and better yet, you had tons of power on tap, i mean, top that! my good freind is putting a 300+hp 5.0L V8 into his little ford ranger pickup truck, that isn't the ideal go fast platform, but it is small and light, so with that kinda horsepower, it'l move.

Mongrel
Geschrieben

It's highcenter of gravity and the added drag of the rear hardly make it practical for racing purposes. You could ofcourse drop in a powerfull engine and race it but on the track it will be beaten senseless. Ofcourse most Americans don't care about a track and will only look at what it can do in a straight line. Of the line it will probably beat most cars but building up speed and being stable at highspeed is a different story.

Also don't underestimate todays diesel engines. While they still lack topspeed, todays TDi and CDi engines can put down more torque much faster then their gasoline counterparts.

Lets compare the S400 CDi vs. S430. The S400 CDi has 560nm torque already available at 1700rpm and can keep this up untill 3000rpm while the S430 has 400nm torque at 3000rpm. The topspeed of the S430 is electronicaly limited at 250km/h but can go upto 310 while the S400 CDi has it's stopspeed at 180km/h.

If you want a car that can pull out from a redlight then a CDi or TDi engine is much more suitable.

if it sucks so bad at racing how can the old ones with 380 hp do a 1/4 in about 13.7 secs? this one is suppost to do it in under 13. :lol:

and i dont underestimate diesel egines, i have a f-250 powerstoke, and it has tons of torque but wouldn't come close to touch a lightning, the 250 was made for towing and haulin crap, the lightning was made for racing

GIR
Geschrieben

Sighs... 1/4 mile, like in straightline 1/4 mile? Like I said everybody can make a car go fast in a straightline and like I said this car will probably be able to beat most cars of the line. I highly doubt this car is stable at highspeeds and when the turns come, well lets say that those 380bhp won't do you any good.

thepolarfoxqx
Geschrieben

no, it still corners like a pickup, which means it doesn't.

Mongrel
Geschrieben

from what i heard it handled pretty good

thepolarfoxqx
Geschrieben

handles good for a pickup truck. If you try to follow a car like a vette, cobra, M3, or boxster through the corners in a lightening, it won't end well.

LateNightCable
Geschrieben

Yeah, you'll end up flying into a hay stack, right where that pickup truck belongs! :D

thepolarfoxqx
Geschrieben

you make a good point, while the lightening can't follow an M3 through the twisties, it'l survive plowing through the haystack (with an M3 or Boxster's sub 4" of ground clearance, you damn well better stay on the road)

Mongrel
Geschrieben

ACCELERATION NATION

What's the absolute quickest car you can buy? Let's go find out.

When it comes to cars, one thing, and one thing only, separates the United States of America from the rest of the world. The rest of the world judges a car's performance by its top speed. They all want to know how fast it will go. Americans, on the other hand, couldn't give a Thanksgiving turkey about top speed. Top speed is for wimps. Americans dig acceleration. Skull-crushing, eyeball-bursting, plant-you-firmly-in-the-seat acceleration. The kind of acceleration that sends toupees into back seats, spleens into spines and your body deep into the rich Corinthian leather.

Ask yourself: How many times in your life have you pegged the speedometer to see how fast your car could go? Probably never. But at least once in your life, you've floored it at a light, maybe even raced the guy next to you when the light turned green. Everyone has.

Yes, Americans want to know how quickly a car can accelerate, how quickly a car can jump from 0 to 60 mph or cover the quarter-mile from a dead stop. America is the Acceleration Nation.

How quick is quick? At the pinnacle of the first musclecar era, 1970, cars like the LS-6 Chevelle, W-30 442, GS-455 Stage 1 and the Hemi Mopars all ran 13-second quarter-mile times. And that kind of performance remains impressive 30 years later.

How many of today's cars can run with the legends? We wanted to know, too. So we came up with a list of 17 cars we thought had the muscle. Besides being able to run the quarter-mile from a standing start in under 14 seconds, eligible cars had to be products of a major automaker - no tuners and no specialty car builders - and for sale in the United States right now. We invited all those we thought qualified to join us at the Pomona Fairplex in Pomona, Calif., home of the National Hot Rod Association's Winternationals. We even hired a few NHRA guys to run the clocks, so there would be no questioning of the numbers. We arrived at the track on a cool March morning to find 13 vehicles, one rented, all ready to do battle on the same dragstrip where guys like John Force wage war.

Some cars didn't show. They were the BMW M Coupe, the Lamborghini Diablo, and the Ferrari 456 and 550 Maranello. BMW declined participation, citing concerns about car abuse. Who us? Ferrari's representative told us "we just don't have a car to loan you right now," and Lamborghini forgot to call us back five times. We figured they were all scared. Scared their cars just wouldn't have the yank to justify their megabuck price tags. Scared their delicate drivetrains with their spindly little halfshafts would snap like Slim Jims after a few hard launches. Scared their effete little sports cars wouldn't be too impressive on a good old American dragstrip.

Before we hit the track in the 12 cars that did show up and the one rental, we filled the cars with gas, set all the tires at each manufacturer's suggested pressure settings and turned off all the traction control systems we could. Then we made run after run, sacrificing years of tire life to prove that these cars deserve the respect of the American public.

So without further gab, we present the 13 quickest production cars you can buy, in reverse order. And no jumping to the end to see which car came out on top.

#13 FORD SVT LIGHTNING

This is a real sport utility vehicle. This pickup can tow up to 5000 pounds, carry 800 pounds in its bed and still scorch the quarter-mile in 13.62 seconds at 101.16 mph. Believe us, you've never gotten to Home Depot faster.

Engineered by Ford's Special Vehicle Team, the Lightning is powered by a single-overhead-cam V8 topped by a Roots-type supercharger pushing 8.0 pounds of boost.

Best times were turned by putting the column shifter in Third gear, holding the truck with the brakes, and bringing the revs up just over idle. Any higher than that, and the rear meats melt like candle wax. When it's time to go, left foot up, right foot down. The truck comes out of the gate like an angry rodeo bull, pinning your head back to the top of the bucket seat. Before you remember your name, the automatic transmission bangs Second, which is geared numerically perfect, and keeps the push in the small of your back. Throughout the run, the Lightning spews a musical combination of V8 roar and high-pitched blower whine, even when it shifts into Third gear just before the traps.

The Lightning lights our fire. Maybe it's the 13th quickest vehicle you can buy, but it's the absolute quickest, and coolest, truck on Earth.

Test Summary:

Ford F-150 SVT Lightning

Base price: $29,995, Price as tested: $30,600

Engine: 5.4L/330.0 CID SOHC 16v supercharged V8

HP: 360 @ 4750 rpm, Torque: 440 ft.-lb. @ 3000 rpm

Trans: 4A, Drivetrain: front engine/rear drive

Rear axle: 3.55:1 limited-slip w/9.75-in. ring gear

Curb weight: 4670 lb, Weight/HP ratio: 13.0

Horsepower per liter: 66.7, Tires: 295/45ZR18

Acceleration: 0-30 mph: 2.04 sec. 0-60 mph: 5.34 sec.

1/4 mile: 13.62 sec. @ 101.16 mph

#12 JAGUAR XJR

This is the musclecar for the tea and crumpets set. Slam the hammer down in this 370-hp sedan when your passengers aren't ready for it, and you'll have Grey Poupon all over your Connolly hides.

A supercharged (11.6 psi) double-overhead-cam V8 makes it the penultimate quickest sedan you can buy (check out No. .

Launching is easy. Shut off the traction control, bring up the revs against the brakes and nail the gas.

As the revs climb and this bullet rockets down the track, the force of acceleration is constant. This silky engine has no nooks or crannies in its power curve, and the gear changes are firm. In fact, the Jag's best time, 13.62 at 104.21 mph, was made letting the automatic do its own thing. Which is click off gears just before the electronic ignition cutout hits at 6200 rpm.

But remember, this is a Jaguar. Its interior is laden with plenty of what was cows and trees. Very little of the V8 orchestra makes it into the interior. Even the blower whine is all but absent here. Pity.

Test Summary:

Jaguar XJR

Base price: $68,450, Price as tested: $69,060

Engine: 4.0L/244.0 CID DOHC 32v supercharged V8

HP: 370 @ 6150 rpm, Torque: 387 ft.-lb. @ 3600 rpm

Trans: 5A, Drivetrain: front engine/rear drive

Rear axle: 3.06:1 w/electronic traction control

Curb weight: 4026 lb, Weight/HP ratio: 10.9

Horsepower per liter: 92.5, Tires: 255/40ZR18

Acceleration: 0-30 mph: 2.23 sec. 0-60 mph: 5.41 sec.

1/4 mile: 13.62 sec. @ 104.21 mph

#11 FORD MUSTANG COBRA

For '99, Ford has equipped the Cobra with its first independent rear suspension, which does wonders for the car's handling, but hurts the Mustang's dragstrip performance.

Dump the Stang's clutch with too many revs and its halfshafts wind up, causing enough wheelhop to hack the wax from your ears.

What works best is to come out of the hole just off idle and allow the DOHC V8 to bog a bit. This way, you take the rear suspension completely out of the equation. The Cobra's tires hook up, and it's all up to the engine's torque to pull the car.

And pull it does. The engine revs slowly and it's geared tall. The engine falls flat at 6200 rpm, 600 short of its redline, so we made our two gear changes on that mark. That's right, two gear changes. The Cobra goes through the traps at 103.45 mph in Third gear, which is odd. Every other car with a manual transmission, except the Mitsubishi, finishes in Fourth.

Shifting the Cobra is a snap with its strong clutch and short throw shifter, and full-throttle powershifts reward the driver with rubber in Second and Third.

This car's definitely one of the quickest Mustangs of all time, but it would be quicker with shorter gearing and a live rear axle. And we'd love to see what it could do with the Lightning's blown V8.

Test Summary:

Ford Mustang Cobra

Base price: $27,995, Price as tested: $28,190

Engine: 4.6-liter/280.0 cu.-in. DOHC 32v V8

HP: 320 @ 6000 rpm, Torque: 317 ft.-lb. @ 4750 rpm

Trans: 5M, Drivetrain: front engine/rear drive

Rear axle: 3.27:1 limited-slip w/8.8-in. ring gear

Curb weight: 3430 lb, Weight/HP ratio: 10.7

Horsepower per liter: 69.6, Tires: 245/45ZR17

Acceleration: 0-30 mph: 2.25 sec. 0-60 mph: 5.41 sec.

1/4 mile: 13.51 sec. @ 103.45 mph

#10 MITSUBISHI 3000GT

Putting the power to the pavement is the name of the acceleration game. The Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4 has 320 hp, much less than the Jag and Lightning, and the same power rating as the Mustang Cobra. So what gives the Mitsubishi the advantage over them? Traction.

This is the only all-wheel-drive car in this test. That means no wheelspin. Launching the Mitsubishi is so simple, it's like flying into outer space - even a monkey can do it. Just tach up the DOHC twin-turbocharged V6 up near its 6000 rpm power peak and drop that clutch. Granted, this isn't the best thing for the car's durability, but it sure gets this 2+2 off the line like a slingshot. All four 18-in. tires dig in, the 3000GT squats like Mike Piazza, and you are gone.

Don't expect any rubber when you throw gears, either. Tire slip in this car is harder to come by than a date with Pamela Anderson. Shifter action and clutch takeup could be a bit smoother, so quick gear changes aren't easy. But the V6's surprising amount of low-end torque really gets the heavy Mitsubishi going. And the motor pulls right up to its 7000 rpm redline.

One thing missing from the Mitsubishi's stellar performance: the right sounds. Its hair dryer exhaust note just doesn't cut it.

Test Summary:

Mitsubishi 3000GT

Base price: $44,600, Price as tested: $45,140

Engine: 3.0L/181.0 CID DOHC 24v twin turbo V6

HP: 320 @ 6000 rpm, Torque: 315 ft.-lb. @ 2500 rpm

Trans: 6M, Drivetrain: front engine/awd

Final drive: 3.87:1 w/center viscous coupling

Curb weight: 3737 lb, Weight/HP ratio: 11.7

Horsepower/liter: 106.7, Tires: 245/40ZR18

Acceleration: 0-30 mph: 1.70 sec. 0-60 mph: 5.00 sec.

1/4 mile: 13.44 sec. @ 101.79 mph

#9 CHEVROLET CAMARO SS

This one is a mystery.

This Camaro SS, powered by the same 320-hp LS1 V8 as our Pontiac Firebird Formula WS-6, ran a 13.42 at 106.15 mph - more than quick enough to beat archrival Mustang and assure its place on the quickest-Camaros-of-all-time list. However, it's not even close to the blistering time delivered by the Pontiac. Why?

The answer, again, is traction. The Camaro is very difficult to launch cleanly. Too many revs, like anything over 1500, and the tires go up in smoke for all of First gear. Too few and the car bogs. The Firebird, however, is very easy to launch. Tach up to 2500 rpm, ride the clutch just a bit and you're out of there. Why the difference between the two seemingly identical cars? That's like asking why two socks go in the laundry and only one comes out. It's one of the mysteries of the world, especially when you consider that both cars wear the same-size Goodyear Eagle F1 tires, have the same engine, same gearing, etc.

Despite being slower than its GM brother, the Camaro is still one of the most fun cars to blast down the track thanks to its awesome engine, its strong clutch, its short throw shifter and its musclecar soundtrack. This car rumbles up to the line. It launches with a roar from its two exhaust pipes and it sounds like Steve McQueen's Mustang running after that Dodge Charger on the gear changes.

Test Summary:

Chevrolet Camaro SS

Base price: $20,870, Price as tested: $27,466

Engine: 5.7-liter/346.0 cu.-in. OHV 16v V8

HP: 320 @ 5200 rpm, Torque: 345 ft.-lb. @ 4400 rpm

Trans: 6M, Drivetrain: front engine/rear drive

Rear axle: 3.42:1 limited-slip

Curb weight: 3439 lb, Weight/HP ratio: 10.8

Horsepower per liter: 56.1, Tires: 275/40ZR17

Acceleration: 0-30 mph: 2.27 sec. 0-60 mph: 5.27 sec.

1/4 mile: 13.42 sec. @ 106.15 mph

#8 MERCEDES-BENZ E55

This is the quickest four-door sedan you can buy. To squeeze the last bit of performance out of the E55, you just floor it and hold her straight. It's that simple. Result: a decorum-shattering 13.39 at 106.06 mph, run after run. The E55's super torquey V8 engine, perfect gearing, precise automatic transmission and ASR traction control system, which is always on, make this one of the easiest fast cars in the world. Maybe the easiest.

The ASR system can be outmuscled with a very heavy right foot. Brake rev this Benz like the Jaguar, and time is lost while its tires light up like New Orleans during Mardi Gras. However, if the driver just floors the gas off idle, the E55 rockets off the line with practically no wheelspin but gobs of neck-straining thrust.

A product of AMG, Mercedes's high-performance tuner division, the E55 is the world's most wicked family sedan. Hold on, kids.

Test Summary:

Mercedes-Benz E55

Base price: $69,100, Price as tested: $72,290

Engine: 5.4-liter/330.0 cu.-in. SOHC 24v V8

HP: 349 @ 5500 rpm, Torque: 391 ft.-lb. @ 3000 rpm

Trans: 5A, Drivetrain: front engine/rear drive

Rear axle: 2.82:1 w/electronic traction control

Curb weight: 3746 lb, Weight/HP ratio: 10.7

HP/liter: 64.6, Tires: f: 245/40ZR18, r: 275/35ZR18

Acceleration: 0-30 mph: 2.23 sec. 0-60 mph: 5.32 sec.

1/4 mile: 13.39 sec. @ 106.06 mph

#7 PORSCHE CARRERA

With its water-cooled, flat-six-cylinder engine hung way out back, the Porsche has the majority of its weight over its rear wheels. On paper, this would seem ideal for drag racing. It's that traction thing again. It's more important even than horsepower. However, in the real world, this works against the 911.

All that mass fights the car's 296 hp for control of its 17-in. tires. The Pirelli P-Zeros don't know whether to grip the road or spin like man-made tornadoes. So they do both. The result: violent wheelhop. Controlling this and getting the Porsche off the line with any kind of momentum is up to the driver and his delicate use of the clutch. This is not the kind of thing Porsche recommends for long-term durability. But for low ET, the 911 needs to be launched with high revs and lots of clutch slippage.

But get it right and the Porsche is really quick. And fast. Its trap speed of 107.10 mph was one of the highest of the day.

Once the car is moving down the track, the shifts come quick as the flat Six sprints toward its 7300 rpm redline. In fact, the motor revs so quickly the tachometer can't really keep up, so the driver must anticipate the gear changes. Wait for the tach needle to find the redline, and you've already hit the rev limiter.

Speed shifting the 911, with its sloppy cable shifter, also isn't the easiest thing. And we were quicker than the gearbox's synchros on every First-Second shift, causing that nasty metallic crunching sound.

Still, the Porsche managed to easily **** the doors off more powerful front-engine cars, and it really impressed us with its durability. Not many cars could have handled that much clutch abuse and still been driven home.

Test Summary:

Porsche Carrera

Base price: $65,030, Price as tested: $71,680

Engine: 3.4-liter/207.0 cu.-in. DOHC 24v H6

HP: 296 @ 6800 rpm, Torque: 258 ft.-lb. @ 4600 rpm

Trans: 6M, Drivetrain: rear engine/rear drive

Final drive: 3.44:1 w/electronic traction control

Curb weight: 2901 lb, Weight/HP ratio: 9.8

HP/liter: 87.1, Tires: f: 205/50ZR17, r: 255/40ZR17

Acceleration: 0-30 mph: 1.98 sec. 0-60 mph: 4.93 sec.

1/4 mile: 13.30 sec. @ 107.10 mph

#6 ACURA NSX

This car surprised us all. Like the Porsche, Acura's sports car is set up more for decreasing radius turns than a dragstrip. In fact, it has the lowest horsepower rating in this test: 290 hp. Still, it finished ahead of more powerful machines because of its light weight and meticulous engineering.

The Acura's light weight comes from the use of aluminum in its structure, suspension and body. Our featherweight test car wasn't even the lightest available NSX model, the hardtop. We tested an NSX-T, the heaviest of the breed.

The meticulous engineering starts with that use of aluminum, and continues with the incredible refinement of this car's drivetrain. We were very surprised that the midengine NSX doesn't suffer from any wheelhop, which we attribute to its Torque Reactive Differential. It uses a multiplate clutch and helical-type planetary gears to keep each rear wheel spinning at the same speed. Getting this sports car off the line with plenty of rpm is no problem.

And boy, does this car like plenty of rpm. Its aluminum V6 engine, which features titanium connecting rods, redlines at 8000 rpm and really gives the driver a kick in the pants at 5800 rpm. That's when the Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control system (VTEC) engages the more radical camshaft lobes, and the exhaust note goes from subdued to extreme dude. Only the Ferrari does a better audio imitation of a Formula One car.

Rowing quickly through its transmission is a pleasure. The Acura's shifter is tight and direct. But like the Porsche, getting rubber on the gear changes with all that weight over the rear tires is impossible.

Test Summary:

Acura NSX

Base price: $88,000, Price as tested: $88,745

Engine: 3.2-liter/194.0 cu.-in. DOHC 24v V6

HP: 290 @ 7100 rpm, Torque: 224 ft.-lb. @ 5500 rpm

Trans: 4A, Drivetrain: midengine/rear drive

Final drive: 4.62:1 w/electronic traction control

Curb weight: 3160 lb, Weight/HP ratio: 10.9

HP/liter: 90.6, Tires: f: 215/45ZR16, r: 245/40ZR17

Acceleration: 0-30 mph: 1.94 sec. 0-60 mph: 4.97 sec.

1/4 mile: 13.17 sec. @ 107.65 mph

#5 FIREBIRD FORMULA

This was the shocker of the day. This car just may be the quickest stock Firebird of all time. And when you consider its $26,000 price tag, the cheapest of all 13 cars, the Firebird easily wins "bang for the buck" title.

How do we explain this Formula's awesome performance? How can we explain its 13.15-second ET and 108.27 mph trap speed, which is more than two-tenths of a second and 2 mph better than the Camaro? Like we said before, we can't. However, we can guess. First: weight. This Firebird is a stripper, without heavy options like power windows, power seat, etc. Second: tolerances. Sometimes they stack up and you get a faster car. Sometimes they don't.

Whatever it was, this Ram Air Pontiac ran down the track like it was born to, spitting out the most wonderful V8 baritone tune from the tree to the traps. The LS1 engine has a wonderfully flat torque curve, but it lays down at 5500 rpm, 500 revs shy of its redline. Shifting there netted us our best time.

And what sweet shifts they are.

Flatfoot shift Second and this Formula has enough grunt to lay down two 10-ft. stripes on the asphalt. You can bark the dogs in Third as well. We did miss one shift, however, when our sweaty palm slipped off the Firebird's plastic baby-butt-smooth shift knob.

Test Summary:

Firebird Formula

Base price: $23,065, Price as tested: $26,800

Engine: 5.7-liter/346.0 cu.-in. OHV 16v V8

HP: 320 @ 5200 rpm, Torque: 345 ft.-lb. @ 4400 rpm

Trans: 6M, Drivetrain: front engine/rear drive

Rear axle: 3.42:1 limited-slip

Curb weight: 3341 lb, Weight/HP ratio: 10.4

Horsepower per liter: 56.1, Tires: 275/40ZR17

Acceleration: 0-30 mph: 2.08 sec. 0-60 mph: 4.94 sec.

1/4 mile: 13.15 sec. @ 108.27 mph

#4 FERRARI F355

Ferrari is traditionally the benchmark by which all high-performance cars are judged, so we couldn't run the test without one. But since Ferrari North America was too scared to send a car for our test, we rented one. Ironically, you can rent one from Budget Rent a Car in Beverly Hills for $1750 a day plus about a million cents a mile and insurance. And that's what we did.

A Ferrari on the starting line of a dragstrip does look a little funny, sort of like Gary Coleman on a basketball court. But this $100,000-plus rental held its own.

The Ferrari likes to rev. Its 375-hp DOHC V8 redlines at a blood-curdling 8500 rpm, and doesn't even reach its power peak until 8250. Which we expected. What we didn't expect is how well the F355's chassis would transfer that power through the rear wheels to the ground.

The clutch is race car stiff and the legendary metal gated shifter can be a bit ornery. By the way, the rental car company thinks we used the car for a high school reunion - don't blow our cover.

Test Summary:

Ferrari F355

Base price: $127,200, Price as tested: $138,115

Engine: 3.5-liter/213.3 cu.-in. DOHC 40v V8

HP: 375 @ 8250 rpm, Torque: 268 ft.-lb. @ 6000 rpm

Trans: 6M, Drivetrain: midengine/rear drive

Final drive: 3.61:1

Curb weight: 2976 lb, Weight/HP ratio: 7.9

HP/liter: 107.1, Tires: f: 225/40ZR18, r: 265/40ZR18

Acceleration: 0-30 mph: 2.05 sec. 0-60 mph: 4.94 sec.

1/4 mile: 13.13 sec. @ 107.56 mph

#3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE

The blue hardtop you see here is a member of an elite group - the factory-stock 12-second Corvette club. There have been just a few members in the car's 46-year history. This is the first 12-second Corvette we've tested since the introduction of the 1990 ZR-1, a car that cost nearly twice as much as this '99 Hardtop.

This car is amazing. Even with its CD player, its leather seats, its power everything, its active handling stability system - all those things that makes this car a very comfy daily driver - it can still lay down a 12-second run. Very, very impressive. Because it weighs a bit less than the Corvette Coupe or Roadster, Chevy asked us to use a hardtop model for this test. The Hardtop, which has a fixed roof, comes standard with all the Vette's go-fast equipment.

And it all works. Although powered by basically the same LS1 V8 as the Camaro and Firebird, the upscale Vette offers 345 hp to its driver.

Driving the Vette couldn't be easier unless it had an automatic. Its rear 18-in. tires bite like a rabid dog, getting the Vette out past the Christmas tree with plenty of momentum. Then the gear changes, just shy of the Vette's 6000 rpm redline, are a pleasure thanks to the car's strong clutch and friendly shifter. In its fifth generation, the Corvette's still got what it takes.

Test Summary:

Chevrolet Corvette

Base price: $38,197, Price as tested: $40,237

Engine: 5.7-liter/346.07 cu.-in. OHV 16v V8

HP: 345 @ 5600 rpm, Torque: 350 ft.-lb. @ 4400 rpm

Trans: 6M, Drivetrain: front engine/rear drive

Rear axle: 3.42:1 limited-slip

Curb weight: 3174 lb, Weight/HP ratio: 9.2

HP/liter: 60.5, Tires: f: 245/45ZR17, r: 275/40ZR18

Acceleration: 0-30 mph: 1.95 sec. 0-60 mph: 4.74 sec.

1/4 mile: 12.98 sec. @ 108.85 mph

#2 LOTUS ESPRIT

They don't come much yellower than this car. Or quicker. Driving the Lotus, however, isn't for the timid or the inexperienced. Besides being difficult to climb into and see out of, this car is difficult to launch, difficult to shift, and it's really, really fast.

When those turbos kick in at 3500 rpm, you'd better have this puppy pointed straight. On the track, we launched the Lotus with a fair amount of clutch slippage and the tach up around 3000 rpm. This achieved just the right amount of wheelspin to get the car off the line, and brought the motor up into its powerband. But get the revs up over 3500 rpm too soon, or slip the clutch too quickly, and traction is nothing but a fond memory.

Once you get her moving, forget the world. It's time to focus all your attention on that tachometer. This engine revs faster than Don Knotts on a Starbucks binge and the 7000 rpm redline is coming fast. When it's time to shift, make nice with the awkward shifter and on/off clutch.

The Lotus is old school. The turbos mated to the small V8 engine make tons of power. But it's mostly in the upper rev range, leaving very little bottom-end torque.

Driving a car with a peaky engine, a clumsy drivetrain and a traction problem is a lost art. And we wouldn't change a thing, except maybe its color.

Test Summary:

Lotus Esprit

Base price: $83,725, Price as tested: $87,920

Engine: 3.5L/213.8 CID DOHC 32v twin turbo V8

HP: 350 @ 6500 rpm, Torque: 295 ft.-lb. @ 4250 rpm

Trans: 5M, Drivetrain: midengine/rear drive, twin-plate racing clutch

Final drive: 3.89:1

Curb weight: 3043 lb, Weight/HP ratio: 8.7

HP/liter: 100.0, Tires: f: 235/40ZR17, r: 285/40ZR18

Acceleration: 0-30 mph: 1.83 sec. 0-60 mph: 4.43 sec.

1/4 mile: 12.85 sec. @ 110.96 mph

#1 DODGE VIPER

If you're in a Viper and some punk in a "fast" car pulls up next to you, revving his motor, don't even look over. Just drop the hammer.

If you're driving a Viper, nobody can touch you. You're the King of the Street. Ruler of Red Lights. You're driving the absolute quickest car anybody can buy - a 450-hp rocket that runs the quarter-mile in 12.08 seconds at 118.51 mph.

But nobody ever said being the king is easy. Getting the Viper off the line with a minimum of wheelspin is like selling a script in Hollywood. Luck has a lot to do with it. The Viper's 490 ft.-lb. of torque is enough to spin its 18-in. Michelins.

In the other cars, you can feel when their tires are about to go from slip to grip. That's when you go to full throttle. But the Viper has so much power, you can't be as aggressive with the gas pedal. Floor the Viper before its tires have a firm grasp of the road and you'll burn rubber as long as you hold down your right foot. So you need to keep the tires attached to the pavement, but be too timid and you waste precious traction and time. We launched with a fair amount of clutch slippage at 2500 rpm, and dug as deep into the motor as the tires allowed. We threw shifts at the 6000 rpm redline and enjoyed what has to be the world's most violent Second gear this side of an Indy Car.

All hail the winner. The Dodge Viper, the quickest car you can buy. Maybe the quickest car there is.

Test Summary:

Dodge Viper

Base price: $65,725, Price as tested: $72,425

Engine: 8.0-liter/488.0 cu.-in. OHV 20v V10

HP: 450 @ 5200 rpm, Torque: 490 ft.-lb. @ 3700 rpm

Trans: 6M, Drivetrain: front engine/rear drive

Rear axle: 3.07:1 limited-slip

Curb weight: 3319 lb, Weight/HP ratio: 7.4

HP/liter: 56.2, Tires: f: 275/35ZR18, r: 335/30ZR18

Acceleration: 0-30 mph: 1.82 sec. 0-60 mph: 4.06 sec.

1/4 mile: 12.08 sec. @ 118.51 mphACCELERATION NATION

What's the absolute quickest car you can buy? Let's go find out.

When it comes to cars, one thing, and one thing only, separates the United States of America from the rest of the world. The rest of the world judges a car's performance by its top speed. They all want to know how fast it will go. Americans, on the other hand, couldn't give a Thanksgiving turkey about top speed. Top speed is for wimps. Americans dig acceleration. Skull-crushing, eyeball-bursting, plant-you-firmly-in-the-seat acceleration. The kind of acceleration that sends toupees into back seats, spleens into spines and your body deep into the rich Corinthian leather.

Ask yourself: How many times in your life have you pegged the speedometer to see how fast your car could go? Probably never. But at least once in your life, you've floored it at a light, maybe even raced the guy next to you when the light turned green. Everyone has.

Yes, Americans want to know how quickly a car can accelerate, how quickly a car can jump from 0 to 60 mph or cover the quarter-mile from a dead stop. America is the Acceleration Nation.

How quick is quick? At the pinnacle of the first musclecar era, 1970, cars like the LS-6 Chevelle, W-30 442, GS-455 Stage 1 and the Hemi Mopars all ran 13-second quarter-mile times. And that kind of performance remains impressive 30 years later.

How many of today's cars can run with the legends? We wanted to know, too. So we came up with a list of 17 cars we thought had the muscle. Besides being able to run the quarter-mile from a standing start in under 14 seconds, eligible cars had to be products of a major automaker - no tuners and no specialty car builders - and for sale in the United States right now. We invited all those we thought qualified to join us at the Pomona Fairplex in Pomona, Calif., home of the National Hot Rod Association's Winternationals. We even hired a few NHRA guys to run the clocks, so there would be no questioning of the numbers. We arrived at the track on a cool March morning to find 13 vehicles, one rented, all ready to do battle on the same dragstrip where guys like John Force wage war.

Some cars didn't show. They were the BMW M Coupe, the Lamborghini Diablo, and the Ferrari 456 and 550 Maranello. BMW declined participation, citing concerns about car abuse. Who us? Ferrari's representative told us "we just don't have a car to loan you right now," and Lamborghini forgot to call us back five times. We figured they were all scared. Scared their cars just wouldn't have the yank to justify their megabuck price tags. Scared their delicate drivetrains with their spindly little halfshafts would snap like Slim Jims after a few hard launches. Scared their effete little sports cars wouldn't be too impressive on a good old American dragstrip.

Before we hit the track in the 12 cars that did show up and the one rental, we filled the cars with gas, set all the tires at each manufacturer's suggested pressure settings and turned off all the traction control systems we could. Then we made run after run, sacrificing years of tire life to prove that these cars deserve the respect of the American public.

So without further gab, we present the 13 quickest production cars you can buy, in reverse order. And no jumping to the end to see which car came out on top.

#13 FORD SVT LIGHTNING

This is a real sport utility vehicle. This pickup can tow up to 5000 pounds, carry 800 pounds in its bed and still scorch the quarter-mile in 13.62 seconds at 101.16 mph. Believe us, you've never gotten to Home Depot faster.

Engineered by Ford's Special Vehicle Team, the Lightning is powered by a single-overhead-cam V8 topped by a Roots-type supercharger pushing 8.0 pounds of boost.

Best times were turned by putting the column shifter in Third gear, holding the truck with the brakes, and bringing the revs up just over idle. Any higher than that, and the rear meats melt like candle wax. When it's time to go, left foot up, right foot down. The truck comes out of the gate like an angry rodeo bull, pinning your head back to the top of the bucket seat. Before you remember your name, the automatic transmission bangs Second, which is geared numerically perfect, and keeps the push in the small of your back. Throughout the run, the Lightning spews a musical combination of V8 roar and high-pitched blower whine, even when it shifts into Third gear just before the traps.

The Lightning lights our fire. Maybe it's the 13th quickest vehicle you can buy, but it's the absolute quickest, and coolest, truck on Earth.

Test Summary:

Ford F-150 SVT Lightning

Base price: $29,995, Price as tested: $30,600

Engine: 5.4L/330.0 CID SOHC 16v supercharged V8

HP: 360 @ 4750 rpm, Torque: 440 ft.-lb. @ 3000 rpm

Trans: 4A, Drivetrain: front engine/rear drive

Rear axle: 3.55:1 limited-slip w/9.75-in. ring gear

Curb weight: 4670 lb, Weight/HP ratio: 13.0

Horsepower per liter: 66.7, Tires: 295/45ZR18

Acceleration: 0-30 mph: 2.04 sec. 0-60 mph: 5.34 sec.

1/4 mile: 13.62 sec. @ 101.16 mph

#12 JAGUAR XJR

This is the musclecar for the tea and crumpets set. Slam the hammer down in this 370-hp sedan when your passengers aren't ready for it, and you'll have Grey Poupon all over your Connolly hides.

A supercharged (11.6 psi) double-overhead-cam V8 makes it the penultimate quickest sedan you can buy (check out No. .

Launching is easy. Shut off the traction control, bring up the revs against the brakes and nail the gas.

As the revs climb and this bullet rockets down the track, the force of acceleration is constant. This silky engine has no nooks or crannies in its power curve, and the gear changes are firm. In fact, the Jag's best time, 13.62 at 104.21 mph, was made letting the automatic do its own thing. Which is click off gears just before the electronic ignition cutout hits at 6200 rpm.

But remember, this is a Jaguar. Its interior is laden with plenty of what was cows and trees. Very little of the V8 orchestra makes it into the interior. Even the blower whine is all but absent here. Pity.

Test Summary:

Jaguar XJR

Base price: $68,450, Price as tested: $69,060

Engine: 4.0L/244.0 CID DOHC 32v supercharged V8

HP: 370 @ 6150 rpm, Torque: 387 ft.-lb. @ 3600 rpm

Trans: 5A, Drivetrain: front engine/rear drive

Rear axle: 3.06:1 w/electronic traction control

Curb weight: 4026 lb, Weight/HP ratio: 10.9

Horsepower per liter: 92.5, Tires: 255/40ZR18

Acceleration: 0-30 mph: 2.23 sec. 0-60 mph: 5.41 sec.

1/4 mile: 13.62 sec. @ 104.21 mph

#11 FORD MUSTANG COBRA

For '99, Ford has equipped the Cobra with its first independent rear suspension, which does wonders for the car's handling, but hurts the Mustang's dragstrip performance.

Dump the Stang's clutch with too many revs and its halfshafts wind up, causing enough wheelhop to hack the wax from your ears.

What works best is to come out of the hole just off idle and allow the DOHC V8 to bog a bit. This way, you take the rear suspension completely out of the equation. The Cobra's tires hook up, and it's all up to the engine's torque to pull the car.

And pull it does. The engine revs slowly and it's geared tall. The engine falls flat at 6200 rpm, 600 short of its redline, so we made our two gear changes on that mark. That's right, two gear changes. The Cobra goes through the traps at 103.45 mph in Third gear, which is odd. Every other car with a manual transmission, except the Mitsubishi, finishes in Fourth.

Shifting the Cobra is a snap with its strong clutch and short throw shifter, and full-throttle powershifts reward the driver with rubber in Second and Third.

This car's definitely one of the quickest Mustangs of all time, but it would be quicker with shorter gearing and a live rear axle. And we'd love to see what it could do with the Lightning's blown V8.

Test Summary:

Ford Mustang Cobra

Base price: $27,995, Price as tested: $28,190

Engine: 4.6-liter/280.0 cu.-in. DOHC 32v V8

HP: 320 @ 6000 rpm, Torque: 317 ft.-lb. @ 4750 rpm

Trans: 5M, Drivetrain: front engine/rear drive

Rear axle: 3.27:1 limited-slip w/8.8-in. ring gear

Curb weight: 3430 lb, Weight/HP ratio: 10.7

Horsepower per liter: 69.6, Tires: 245/45ZR17

Acceleration: 0-30 mph: 2.25 sec. 0-60 mph: 5.41 sec.

1/4 mile: 13.51 sec. @ 103.45 mph

#10 MITSUBISHI 3000GT

Putting the power to the pavement is the name of the acceleration game. The Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4 has 320 hp, much less than the Jag and Lightning, and the same power rating as the Mustang Cobra. So what gives the Mitsubishi the advantage over them? Traction.

This is the only all-wheel-drive car in this test. That means no wheelspin. Launching the Mitsubishi is so simple, it's like flying into outer space - even a monkey can do it. Just tach up the DOHC twin-turbocharged V6 up near its 6000 rpm power peak and drop that clutch. Granted, this isn't the best thing for the car's durability, but it sure gets this 2+2 off the line like a slingshot. All four 18-in. tires dig in, the 3000GT squats like Mike Piazza, and you are gone.

Don't expect any rubber when you throw gears, either. Tire slip in this car is harder to come by than a date with Pamela Anderson. Shifter action and clutch takeup could be a bit smoother, so quick gear changes aren't easy. But the V6's surprising amount of low-end torque really gets the heavy Mitsubishi going. And the motor pulls right up to its 7000 rpm redline.

One thing missing from the Mitsubishi's stellar performance: the right sounds. Its hair dryer exhaust note just doesn't cut it.

Test Summary:

Mitsubishi 3000GT

Base price: $44,600, Price as tested: $45,140

Engine: 3.0L/181.0 CID DOHC 24v twin turbo V6

HP: 320 @ 6000 rpm, Torque: 315 ft.-lb. @ 2500 rpm

Trans: 6M, Drivetrain: front engine/awd

Final drive: 3.87:1 w/center viscous coupling

Curb weight: 3737 lb, Weight/HP ratio: 11.7

Horsepower/liter: 106.7, Tires: 245/40ZR18

Acceleration: 0-30 mph: 1.70 sec. 0-60 mph: 5.00 sec.

1/4 mile: 13.44 sec. @ 101.79 mph

#9 CHEVROLET CAMARO SS

This one is a mystery.

This Camaro SS, powered by the same 320-hp LS1 V8 as our Pontiac Firebird Formula WS-6, ran a 13.42 at 106.15 mph - more than quick enough to beat archrival Mustang and assure its place on the quickest-Camaros-of-all-time list. However, it's not even close to the blistering time delivered by the Pontiac. Why?

The answer, again, is traction. The Camaro is very difficult to launch cleanly. Too many revs, like anything over 1500, and the tires go up in smoke for all of First gear. Too few and the car bogs. The Firebird, however, is very easy to launch. Tach up to 2500 rpm, ride the clutch just a bit and you're out of there. Why the difference between the two seemingly identical cars? That's like asking why two socks go in the laundry and only one comes out. It's one of the mysteries of the world, especially when you consider that both cars wear the same-size Goodyear Eagle F1 tires, have the same engine, same gearing, etc.

Despite being slower than its GM brother, the Camaro is still one of the most fun cars to blast down the track thanks to its awesome engine, its strong clutch, its short throw shifter and its musclecar soundtrack. This car rumbles up to the line. It launches with a roar from its two exhaust pipes and it sounds like Steve McQueen's Mustang running after that Dodge Charger on the gear changes.

Test Summary:

Chevrolet Camaro SS

Base price: $20,870, Price as tested: $27,466

Engine: 5.7-liter/346.0 cu.-in. OHV 16v V8

HP: 320 @ 5200 rpm, Torque: 345 ft.-lb. @ 4400 rpm

Trans: 6M, Drivetrain: front engine/rear drive

Rear axle: 3.42:1 limited-slip

Curb weight: 3439 lb, Weight/HP ratio: 10.8

Horsepower per liter: 56.1, Tires: 275/40ZR17

Acceleration: 0-30 mph: 2.27 sec. 0-60 mph: 5.27 sec.

1/4 mile: 13.42 sec. @ 106.15 mph

#8 MERCEDES-BENZ E55

This is the quickest four-door sedan you can buy. To squeeze the last bit of performance out of the E55, you just floor it and hold her straight. It's that simple. Result: a decorum-shattering 13.39 at 106.06 mph, run after run. The E55's super torquey V8 engine, perfect gearing, precise automatic transmission and ASR traction control system, which is always on, make this one of the easiest fast cars in the world. Maybe the easiest.

The ASR system can be outmuscled with a very heavy right foot. Brake rev this Benz like the Jaguar, and time is lost while its tires light up like New Orleans during Mardi Gras. However, if the driver just floors the gas off idle, the E55 rockets off the line with practically no wheelspin but gobs of neck-straining thrust.

A product of AMG, Mercedes's high-performance tuner division, the E55 is the world's most wicked family sedan. Hold on, kids.

Test Summary:

Mercedes-Benz E55

Base price: $69,100, Price as tested: $72,290

Engine: 5.4-liter/330.0 cu.-in. SOHC 24v V8

HP: 349 @ 5500 rpm, Torque: 391 ft.-lb. @ 3000 rpm

Trans: 5A, Drivetrain: front engine/rear drive

Rear axle: 2.82:1 w/electronic traction control

Curb weight: 3746 lb, Weight/HP ratio: 10.7

HP/liter: 64.6, Tires: f: 245/40ZR18, r: 275/35ZR18

Acceleration: 0-30 mph: 2.23 sec. 0-60 mph: 5.32 sec.

1/4 mile: 13.39 sec. @ 106.06 mph

#7 PORSCHE CARRERA

With its water-cooled, flat-six-cylinder engine hung way out back, the Porsche has the majority of its weight over its rear wheels. On paper, this would seem ideal for drag racing. It's that traction thing again. It's more important even than horsepower. However, in the real world, this works against the 911.

All that mass fights the car's 296 hp for control of its 17-in. tires. The Pirelli P-Zeros don't know whether to grip the road or spin like man-made tornadoes. So they do both. The result: violent wheelhop. Controlling this and getting the Porsche off the line with any kind of momentum is up to the driver and his delicate use of the clutch. This is not the kind of thing Porsche recommends for long-term durability. But for low ET, the 911 needs to be launched with high revs and lots of clutch slippage.

But get it right and the Porsche is really quick. And fast. Its trap speed of 107.10 mph was one of the highest of the day.

Once the car is moving down the track, the shifts come quick as the flat Six sprints toward its 7300 rpm redline. In fact, the motor revs so quickly the tachometer can't really keep up, so the driver must anticipate the gear changes. Wait for the tach needle to find the redline, and you've already hit the rev limiter.

Speed shifting the 911, with its sloppy cable shifter, also isn't the easiest thing. And we were quicker than the gearbox's synchros on every First-Second shift, causing that nasty metallic crunching sound.

Still, the Porsche managed to easily **** the doors off more powerful front-engine cars, and it really impressed us with its durability. Not many cars could have handled that much clutch abuse and still been driven home.

Test Summary:

Porsche Carrera

Base price: $65,030, Price as tested: $71,680

Engine: 3.4-liter/207.0 cu.-in. DOHC 24v H6

HP: 296 @ 6800 rpm, Torque: 258 ft.-lb. @ 4600 rpm

Trans: 6M, Drivetrain: rear engine/rear drive

Final drive: 3.44:1 w/electronic traction control

Curb weight: 2901 lb, Weight/HP ratio: 9.8

HP/liter: 87.1, Tires: f: 205/50ZR17, r: 255/40ZR17

Acceleration: 0-30 mph: 1.98 sec. 0-60 mph: 4.93 sec.

1/4 mile: 13.30 sec. @ 107.10 mph

#6 ACURA NSX

This car surprised us all. Like the Porsche, Acura's sports car is set up more for decreasing radius turns than a dragstrip. In fact, it has the lowest horsepower rating in this test: 290 hp. Still, it finished ahead of more powerful machines because of its light weight and meticulous engineering.

The Acura's light weight comes from the use of aluminum in its structure, suspension and body. Our featherweight test car wasn't even the lightest available NSX model, the hardtop. We tested an NSX-T, the heaviest of the breed.

The meticulous engineering starts with that use of aluminum, and continues with the incredible refinement of this car's drivetrain. We were very surprised that the midengine NSX doesn't suffer from any wheelhop, which we attribute to its Torque Reactive Differential. It uses a multiplate clutch and helical-type planetary gears to keep each rear wheel spinning at the same speed. Getting this sports car off the line with plenty of rpm is no problem.

And boy, does this car like plenty of rpm. Its aluminum V6 engine, which features titanium connecting rods, redlines at 8000 rpm and really gives the driver a kick in the pants at 5800 rpm. That's when the Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control system (VTEC) engages the more radical camshaft lobes, and the exhaust note goes from subdued to extreme dude. Only the Ferrari does a better audio imitation of a Formula One car.

Rowing quickly through its transmission is a pleasure. The Acura's shifter is tight and direct. But like the Porsche, getting rubber on the gear changes with all that weight over the rear tires is impossible.

Test Summary:

Acura NSX

Base price: $88,000, Price as tested: $88,745

Engine: 3.2-liter/194.0 cu.-in. DOHC 24v V6

HP: 290 @ 7100 rpm, Torque: 224 ft.-lb. @ 5500 rpm

Trans: 4A, Drivetrain: midengine/rear drive

Final drive: 4.62:1 w/electronic traction control

Curb weight: 3160 lb, Weight/HP ratio: 10.9

HP/liter: 90.6, Tires: f: 215/45ZR16, r: 245/40ZR17

Acceleration: 0-30 mph: 1.94 sec. 0-60 mph: 4.97 sec.

1/4 mile: 13.17 sec. @ 107.65 mph

#5 FIREBIRD FORMULA

This was the shocker of the day. This car just may be the quickest stock Firebird of all time. And when you consider its $26,000 price tag, the cheapest of all 13 cars, the Firebird easily wins "bang for the buck" title.

How do we explain this Formula's awesome performance? How can we explain its 13.15-second ET and 108.27 mph trap speed, which is more than two-tenths of a second and 2 mph better than the Camaro? Like we said before, we can't. However, we can guess. First: weight. This Firebird is a stripper, without heavy options like power windows, power seat, etc. Second: tolerances. Sometimes they stack up and you get a faster car. Sometimes they don't.

Whatever it was, this Ram Air Pontiac ran down the track like it was born to, spitting out the most wonderful V8 baritone tune from the tree to the traps. The LS1 engine has a wonderfully flat torque curve, but it lays down at 5500 rpm, 500 revs shy of its redline. Shifting there netted us our best time.

And what sweet shifts they are.

Flatfoot shift Second and this Formula has enough grunt to lay down two 10-ft. stripes on the asphalt. You can bark the dogs in Third as well. We did miss one shift, however, when our sweaty palm slipped off the Firebird's plastic baby-butt-smooth shift knob.

Test Summary:

Firebird Formula

Base price: $23,065, Price as tested: $26,800

Engine: 5.7-liter/346.0 cu.-in. OHV 16v V8

HP: 320 @ 5200 rpm, Torque: 345 ft.-lb. @ 4400 rpm

Trans: 6M, Drivetrain: front engine/rear drive

Rear axle: 3.42:1 limited-slip

Curb weight: 3341 lb, Weight/HP ratio: 10.4

Horsepower per liter: 56.1, Tires: 275/40ZR17

Acceleration: 0-30 mph: 2.08 sec. 0-60 mph: 4.94 sec.

1/4 mile: 13.15 sec. @ 108.27 mph

#4 FERRARI F355

Ferrari is traditionally the benchmark by which all high-performance cars are judged, so we couldn't run the test without one. But since Ferrari North America was too scared to send a car for our test, we rented one. Ironically, you can rent one from Budget Rent a Car in Beverly Hills for $1750 a day plus about a million cents a mile and insurance. And that's what we did.

A Ferrari on the starting line of a dragstrip does look a little funny, sort of like Gary Coleman on a basketball court. But this $100,000-plus rental held its own.

The Ferrari likes to rev. Its 375-hp DOHC V8 redlines at a blood-curdling 8500 rpm, and doesn't even reach its power peak until 8250. Which we expected. What we didn't expect is how well the F355's chassis would transfer that power through the rear wheels to the ground.

The clutch is race car stiff and the legendary metal gated shifter can be a bit ornery. By the way, the rental car company thinks we used the car for a high school reunion - don't blow our cover.

Test Summary:

Ferrari F355

Base price: $127,200, Price as tested: $138,115

Engine: 3.5-liter/213.3 cu.-in. DOHC 40v V8

HP: 375 @ 8250 rpm, Torque: 268 ft.-lb. @ 6000 rpm

Trans: 6M, Drivetrain: midengine/rear drive

Final drive: 3.61:1

Curb weight: 2976 lb, Weight/HP ratio: 7.9

HP/liter: 107.1, Tires: f: 225/40ZR18, r: 265/40ZR18

Acceleration: 0-30 mph: 2.05 sec. 0-60 mph: 4.94 sec.

1/4 mile: 13.13 sec. @ 107.56 mph

#3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE

The blue hardtop you see here is a member of an elite group - the factory-stock 12-second Corvette club. There have been just a few members in the car's 46-year history. This is the first 12-second Corvette we've tested since the introduction of the 1990 ZR-1, a car that cost nearly twice as much as this '99 Hardtop.

This car is amazing. Even with its CD player, its leather seats, its power everything, its active handling stability system - all those things that makes this car a very comfy daily driver - it can still lay down a 12-second run. Very, very impressive. Because it weighs a bit less than the Corvette Coupe or Roadster, Chevy asked us to use a hardtop model for this test. The Hardtop, which has a fixed roof, comes standard with all the Vette's go-fast equipment.

And it all works. Although powered by basically the same LS1 V8 as the Camaro and Firebird, the upscale Vette offers 345 hp to its driver.

Driving the Vette couldn't be easier unless it had an automatic. Its rear 18-in. tires bite like a rabid dog, getting the Vette out past the Christmas tree with plenty of momentum. Then the gear changes, just shy of the Vette's 6000 rpm redline, are a pleasure thanks to the car's strong clutch and friendly shifter. In its fifth generation, the Corvette's still got what it takes.

Test Summary:

Chevrolet Corvette

Base price: $38,197, Price as tested: $40,237

Engine: 5.7-liter/346.07 cu.-in. OHV 16v V8

HP: 345 @ 5600 rpm, Torque: 350 ft.-lb. @ 4400 rpm

Trans: 6M, Drivetrain: front engine/rear drive

Rear axle: 3.42:1 limited-slip

Curb weight: 3174 lb, Weight/HP ratio: 9.2

HP/liter: 60.5, Tires: f: 245/45ZR17, r: 275/40ZR18

Acceleration: 0-30 mph: 1.95 sec. 0-60 mph: 4.74 sec.

1/4 mile: 12.98 sec. @ 108.85 mph

#2 LOTUS ESPRIT

They don't come much yellower than this car. Or quicker. Driving the Lotus, however, isn't for the timid or the inexperienced. Besides being difficult to climb into and see out of, this car is difficult to launch, difficult to shift, and it's really, really fast.

When those turbos kick in at 3500 rpm, you'd better have this puppy pointed straight. On the track, we launched the Lotus with a fair amount of clutch slippage and the tach up around 3000 rpm. This achieved just the right amount of wheelspin to get the car off the line, and brought the motor up into its powerband. But get the revs up over 3500 rpm too soon, or slip the clutch too quickly, and traction is nothing but a fond memory.

Once you get her moving, forget the world. It's time to focus all your attention on that tachometer. This engine revs faster than Don Knotts on a Starbucks binge and the 7000 rpm redline is coming fast. When it's time to shift, make nice with the awkward shifter and on/off clutch.

The Lotus is old school. The turbos mated to the small V8 engine make tons of power. But it's mostly in the upper rev range, leaving very little bottom-end torque.

Driving a car with a peaky engine, a clumsy drivetrain and a traction problem is a lost art. And we wouldn't change a thing, except maybe its color.

Test Summary:

Lotus Esprit

Base price: $83,725, Price as tested: $87,920

Engine: 3.5L/213.8 CID DOHC 32v twin turbo V8

HP: 350 @ 6500 rpm, Torque: 295 ft.-lb. @ 4250 rpm

Trans: 5M, Drivetrain: midengine/rear drive, twin-plate racing clutch

Final drive: 3.89:1

Curb weight: 3043 lb, Weight/HP ratio: 8.7

HP/liter: 100.0, Tires: f: 235/40ZR17, r: 285/40ZR18

Acceleration: 0-30 mph: 1.83 sec. 0-60 mph: 4.43 sec.

1/4 mile: 12.85 sec. @ 110.96 mph

#1 DODGE VIPER

If you're in a Viper and some punk in a "fast" car pulls up next to you, revving his motor, don't even look over. Just drop the hammer.

If you're driving a Viper, nobody can touch you. You're the King of the Street. Ruler of Red Lights. You're driving the absolute quickest car anybody can buy - a 450-hp rocket that runs the quarter-mile in 12.08 seconds at 118.51 mph.

But nobody ever said being the king is easy. Getting the Viper off the line with a minimum of wheelspin is like selling a script in Hollywood. Luck has a lot to do with it. The Viper's 490 ft.-lb. of torque is enough to spin its 18-in. Michelins.

In the other cars, you can feel when their tires are about to go from slip to grip. That's when you go to full throttle. But the Viper has so much power, you can't be as aggressive with the gas pedal. Floor the Viper before its tires have a firm grasp of the road and you'll burn rubber as long as you hold down your right foot. So you need to keep the tires attached to the pavement, but be too timid and you waste precious traction and time. We launched with a fair amount of clutch slippage at 2500 rpm, and dug as deep into the motor as the tires allowed. We threw shifts at the 6000 rpm redline and enjoyed what has to be the world's most violent Second gear this side of an Indy Car.

All hail the winner. The Dodge Viper, the quickest car you can buy. Maybe the quickest car there is.

Test Summary:

Dodge Viper

Base price: $65,725, Price as tested: $72,425

Engine: 8.0-liter/488.0 cu.-in. OHV 20v V10

HP: 450 @ 5200 rpm, Torque: 490 ft.-lb. @ 3700 rpm

Trans: 6M, Drivetrain: front engine/rear drive

Rear axle: 3.07:1 limited-slip

Curb weight: 3319 lb, Weight/HP ratio: 7.4

HP/liter: 56.2, Tires: f: 275/35ZR18, r: 335/30ZR18

Acceleration: 0-30 mph: 1.82 sec. 0-60 mph: 4.06 sec.

1/4 mile: 12.08 sec. @ 118.51 mph

where's your M3 now? :D

GIR
Geschrieben

First off all you forgot one thing. The M3 isn't in the class of any of those cars. For the money you pay for an M3 it gives alot of value and is able to keep up with most of those cars.

The E39 M5 is ungodly fast and will outrun most of those cars, guess what the M5 is in the same class as most of those cars. The E60 M5 will outrun all of those cars.

thepolarfoxqx
Geschrieben

yeah, agreed, an M3 beats the vette to sixty and in the quarter. A 911 turbo rips the viper and Z06 a new one. E60 M5 will do the same.

The order there is whacko. That is not the top 15 fastest cars you can buy.

Sorry. I could go out and have a faster car in my garage in 3 hours. Well not today because it is sunday, but you know what i mean.

GIR
Geschrieben

The first sentence off that article is BS.

When it comes to cars, one thing, and one thing only, separates the United States of America from the rest of the world. The rest of the world judges a car's performance by its top speed. They all want to know how fast it will go. Americans, on the other hand, couldn't give a Thanksgiving turkey about top speed. Top speed is for wimps. Americans dig acceleration. Skull-crushing, eyeball-bursting, plant-you-firmly-in-the-seat acceleration.

If Europeans would care about topspeed and topspeed only then the German industry wouldn't limit their cars at 250km/h.

* We care about acceleration because there aren't many places you can actualy reach the topspeed of your car legaly.

* We care about the 0-100 time but the 1/4 mile time doesn't do anything for us because once again there aren't many places you can go over that speed legaly.

* We look at what a car can do on a track and not in a straightline.

* And finally we look for comfortable and smooth rides.

I have never ever in my whole life seen anybody brag about the topspeed of their car.

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