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Named in honour of Jaguar's seven victories at the 24 Hours of LeMans endurance races, the Jaguar Project 7 made a public debut by tearing up the Goodwood Festival of Speed's track in 2013. Two years later, the concept car has become a production car, with only 250 units of the F-Type Project 7 to be delivered worldwide, including seven to Canada, at a price of $188,000. "This was a group of petrol heads doing something that we thought was fun," Jaguar design director Wayne Burgess says about the F-Type-based performance car, which features a more powerful engine than the top F-Type R, plus body and styling cues from the 1955-1957 D-Type LeMans victors. But there's more to such track-inspired models for the street than just creating fun play things for designers and owners alike. Profit and technological advancement are the main drivers for these upscale but limited production vehicles, says Stephanie Brinley, auto analyst for the Americas for IHS Automotive. "These brands need to continually hone their edge and deliver technology and performance improvements," said Brinley in an email this week. Powertrain enhancements, lighter building materials, and aerodynamics are all key to making a car faster, she said, on the track or accelerating onto a highway onramp. "Standing still is not an option." This type of track-inspired passion is generating a number of new low-volume, high-performance vehicles for the street. Porsche unveiled its 911 GT3 RS model at the Geneva auto show in early March, a show which also saw the debuts of the lighter and faster 2016 McLaren 675LT and 2016 Lamborghini Aventador LP750-4 SuperVeloce. The track-ready Ferrari 458 Speciale debuted for 2014, and hitting dealerships this spring in Canada is the new-for-2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06, a version of the already fast Corvette Stingray. Plus there's the almost-direct-copy of a LeMans legend in the Ford GT, to be built by Toronto-area engineering and race shop Multimatic starting in late 2016. It's a similar go-fast technology plus track-heavy strategy employed by many of these latest performance vehicles, each with slightly different motorsport or flavours.

Ferrari 458 Speciale
Price: $295,000 (U.S.)
Inspired by: Fiorano lap times, Formula One history
Engine: 605 hp naturally aspirated 4.5-litre V-8
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 3.0 seconds
Top speed: 325 km/h
Designed to be the fastest Ferrari V-8 sports car around the famed Italian auto maker’s Fiorano test track, this is also the track where Ferrari Formula One cars undergo serious testing. Ferrari trumpets this car is only half a second slower per lap than the 12-cylinder F12berlinetta, and faster than its pre-LaFerrari hyper car, the revered V-12 Enzo.

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2015 Chevy Corvette Z06
Price: $85,095
Inspired by: Chevrolet Corvette C7.R TUDOR United and Le Mans endurance racer
Engine: 650 hp supercharged 6.2-litre V-8
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 3.1 seconds
Top speed: 304 km/h
The 2015 Corvette Z06, equipped with supercar-worthy 650 horsepower, replaces the ZR1 as the quickest and most powerful Corvette ever. Co-developed with Chevy’s C7.R endurance sports car, it uses similar chassis components, engine technologies, and aerodynamic features. Which made it the fastest production car ever around GM’s Milford proving grounds.

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Porsche GT3 RS
Price: $200,700
Inspired by: 911 GT3 Cup Challenge race cars
Engine: 500 hp naturally aspirated 4.0-litre six-cylinder
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 3.3 seconds
Top speed: 310 km/h
It’s faster around the Nürburgring than the heavier but more powerful 911 Turbo S, blitzing the famed German track in 7 minutes and 20 seconds. The RS is 10 kg lighter than the regular GT3, thanks to a magnesium roof, and more carbon-fibre throughout. The GT3 already deleted niceties like rear seats, backup camera, and even plastic interior door handles, which become fabric loops in the unrelenting pursuit of lightness.

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Mercedes-AMG GT S
Base price: $149,000
Engine: 510-hp, 4.0-litre V-8 biturbo
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 3.8 seconds
Top speed: 310 km/h
The internally-mounted turbochargers (dubbed, “hot inside V”), seven-speed dual clutch transmission and aluminum double-wishbone suspension make for racetrack performance and decent fuel efficiency– combined 9.4 litres/100 km. The two-seater comes with the brand’s Intelligent Drive assistance systems and room for luggage.

Jordan Chittley

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2017 Ford GT
Price: NA
Inspired by: 1966 Ford GT40 Le Mans 1-2-3 podium sweep
Engine: 600+ hp twin turbocharged 3.5-litre V6
Acceleration and Top speed (0-100km/h): NA
The surprise of the 2015 Detroit auto show, the second Ford GT exotic car will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ford’s triumphant GT40 victory in 1966, where it took all three spots on the podium. Aimed at the most exotic sports cars on the market, Ford promises one of the best power-to-weight ratios when the production version launches in late 2016.

Tanya Moutzalias/The Associated Press

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2016 Acura NSX
Price: (est.) US$150,000
Inspired by: 1990 Acura NSX
Engine: 550+ hp twin-turbocharged gas-electric V-6
Top speed and Acceleration (0-100km/h): NA
The original 1990 Acura NSX was inspired by McLaren-Honda’s dominance of Formula One in the mid-to late ‘80s, its high-speed handling benefiting from fine-tuning from F1 legend Aryton Senna. Known as the Honda NSX outside North America, the newest NSX made its European debut at the Geneva auto show alongside the current McLaren-Honda F1 car and driver Jenson Button.

Jeremy Cato/The Globe and Mail

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2016 McLaren 675LT
Price: £259,500 ($480,544)
Inspired by: McLaren F1 GTR ‘Longtail’
Engine: 666 hp twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre V-8
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 2.9 seconds
Top speed: 330 km/h
Like Ferrari, all McLaren models are inherently tinged with an exotic Formula One glamour, but this particular limited-edition model takes its inspiration from the racing version of McLaren’s first road car, the F1 GTR Longtail, and hence the LT moniker. The 675LT follows a similar pattern to its namesake, and many of the cars here: lower weight, more power, and upgraded track-ready componentry.

McLaren Automotive

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2016 Lamborghini Aventador LP750-4 Superveloce
Price: NA
Inspired by: Lightening the best-selling Lamborghini V-12 ever, the Aventador
Engine: 750 hp naturally aspirated boxer 6.5-litre V-12
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 2.8 seconds
Top speed: 350+ km/h
With 50 more horsepower than Lamborghini’s (previously) range-topping Aventador, and 50 kg removed from the Aventador’s 1,575 kg curb weight, the Superveloce is an exercise in extreme performance dieting. Lamborghini says it is its fastest, most advanced production car, ever, though you lose basic creature comforts.


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