ew racecars become instant classics.
For most, it requires the passing of time
for their true worth to be recognized. After
all, greatness is not measured in results
alone, but by legacy, too. So it takes the
perspective and context offered by time
and distance to fully appreciate a car’s
lasting place in the scheme of things.
But chances are, if you think of the
great cars, few of those that leap to mind
emerged in the 21st century. That’s
probably inevitable, given that ever-tightening regulations and the rise of
spec categories has left less room for
eye-catching new concepts. Yet that’s not
to say that the modern cupboard is bare
of classic racecars. Far from it.
The obvious place to start is with the
fastest car the world has ever seen, at
least on conventional road courses. It
might come as a surprise that it’s eight
years old, yet it still holds the Formula 1
lap record at seven of the eight tracks
that remain on the calendar in the same
layout. The Ferrari F2004 is emphatically
the quickest grand prix car ever built.
It wasn’t a revolution, but an evolution
of its predecessor, the F2003-GA, yet it
utterly dominated. Innovations introduced
on the 2003 car such as cast titanium
gearbox, rear suspension mountings on
the engine and radial dampers, were
refined to the nth degree. Synced with
Bridgestone tires designed specifically for
it, F2004 won 15 times in 18 starts in ’04,
allowing Michael Schumacher to clinch the
championship with four races to spare.
There have been other great F1 cars
since that peak. The Renault R25 was
As we revel in great cars of the past, let’s not forget that some
extraordinary machines are still being designed and raced.
WORDS Edd Straw