When you think of a fast car, a lot of different shapes come to mind. In terms of the powertrain layout, there aren’t three broad options to filter between – front-engined, mid-engined and rear-engined. There are more variations depending on how the engine is mounted in respect to the front or rear axle too. Nearly all sporty cars are either RWD or AWD. Each has its charm and unique characteristics in terms of driving feel and visual presence. So when I was watching Shmee150 unveil his Mystic Blue Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series, I found myself wondering which other cars can boast a similar style and road presence – loud, fast, short rear end, two-doors, massive engine up front and a really long bonnet.
It turns out there are have been quite a few of those cars and many from just a few manufacturers. So when I decided to do this story and had to pick my top 10 long-front two-door sports GTs, I decided to restrict myself to one per manufacturer and each has to be fairly modern. With those filters in place, here are the top picks:
Dodge SRT Viper GTS (2013)
The Viper is the first car that comes to mind fitting the description of a long-bonnet sports car. Even as a kid, its proportions made it stand out from the crowd especially if the paint job featured go-faster stripes across the top of the car. Back in the late 1980s, the idea behind the Viper was to build a modern-day Cobra of Shelby fame and the first production model went on sale in 1992. The now-iconic body shape was the work of designer Tom Gale and the group of engineers working on its were called Team Viper. Dodge has stayed true to the form factor in the decades that followed which includes a large V10 under that massive bonnet.
The Dodge Viper was finally discontinued in 2017 after a rough patch of poor sales in the 2010s. In its final avatar, the SRT Viper was powered by a bespoke 8.4-litre V10 belting out 645bhp and 813Nm to the rear wheels only. What made it even more exciting was that it only came with a 6-speed manual shifter. The SRT (Street & Racing Technology) monicker stands for Dodge’s performance vehicle division. Some of the other notable visuals of the fifth-gen Viper include the side-exit exhausts next to where you’d sit for max noise, the double-bubble roof, all the vents (you got even more vents in the bonnet with the track pack variants) and the Viper logo on the steering wheel.
The 2016 track-focused SRT Viper ACR was its most extreme iteration but the SRT Viper GTS is my pick as the premium variant of the standard car with more comforts. Dodge may have put the Viper out to pasture but its iconic shape, noise and performance are engraved into automotive history.
Ford Mustang GT (2015)
Ford’s long-bonnet icon is the Mustang GT. Since its debut version in 1965, the Mustang sports car has been through many iterations and body types over the last 55 years. The first-gen model is still the best-looking Mustang till date and its 1968 GT Fastback version was immortalised as the star car of Bullitt alongside Steve McQueen. However, the 2015 Mustang GT was a huge improvement over the models in between making it my top pick for this category. Its muscley bonnet, wide-body design, slatted tail lamps and the galloping pony badge give it undeniable road presence.
The 2018 facelift looks more aggressive but loses a bit of its American, broad-chested charm. Ford fixed that with the subsequent performance versions of the sixth-gen Mustang like the Shelby GT350 and the far more intimidating Shelby GT500. There’s even a 2019 Bullitt edition in the iconic Dark Highland Green paint job.
Ford offered the 2015 GT with a 5.0-litre V8 churning out 420bhp and 529Nm to the rear wheels. I’d have it with the 6-speed manual while there was a 6-speed auto option with paddle-shifters too. The Mustang GT is one of the few sports cars I’ve had the pleasure of exploring up close. It took me a while to understand it, but there’s just something about the Ford Mustang GT that makes it so memorable, especially in bright yellow.
Chevrolet Corvette Z06 (2015)
The Chevrolet Corvette is possibly the most iconic long-bonnet, sporty grand tourer from America. It predated the Mustang and the 1963 C2 Corvette Sting Ray was unbearably beautiful to look at. The one that makes this list is the 2015 Corvette Z06 which is the sporty version of the C7 generation model. It was the last front-engined Corvette with its distinct long-bonnet GT body type since the new C8 is a mid-engined super sports car.
The C7 Corvette Stingray Z06 boasts of a supercharged 6.2-litre V8 that produced 650bhp and 881Nm of twist. The power is sent to the rear wheels via a 7-speed manual transmission with an 8-speed paddle shifter as an option. It’s stiffer, has a better downforce package, stickier tyres and race-tuned performance over the standard C7 Corvette. It also has one of the best-looking stock exhausts ever. The Z06 is also a comfy grand tourer with a nice interior, plenty of features and comforts, a spacious boot and has a Targa roof too. All of that for a relatively affordable price and easy availability given its supercar-killer performance makes the Corvette Z06 even more endearing to me.
The ZR1 is the ultimate performance version of the Corvette for track use with lots of aero and performance bumped up to 755bhp and 969Nm. But the Z06 is the more balanced option in my opinion. As a super GT from a mass-market carmaker, the Corvette Z06 can pull off the duality of its capabilities, switching between a road trip cruiser and a G-pulling neck-bruiser.
Aston Martin One-77
A brand with a reputation for building some of the prettiest Grand Touring cars in the world also makes some incredible sports cars, Aston Martin’s place in this list is possibly the most precarious of them all. The current DBS Superleggera, one of the most badass looking cars of today, was my pick. But the more I looked at the other cars on this list, the more I realised it didn’t quite fit the body type. Sure, it has a long bonnet but its 2+2 seating layout means the driver doesn’t sit that close to the rear end. My next choice was the Vulcan but unfortunately, it isn’t sold in a road-legal avatar. The new Vantage seemed to be the logical conclusion as the closest fit but that meant I’d have to bring the Jaguar F-Type into consideration and countless others. Stumped and ready to axe the brand from this list, I decided to do a little more research and that’s when I remembered this super special GT car – the Aston Martin One-77.
Unveiled in 2009, the One-77 was showcased as the ultimate expression of Aston Martin in both design and engineering. It is the first model they built completely out of carbon fibre, from the monocoque to the body panels. Given its rare and bespoke appeal, each unit’s fully-adjustable DSSV suspension was said to be tuned to the exact requirements of each customer. The swooping bonnet is vented and contoured for better airflow with clever vents in the large bumper and its widebody styling have the One-77 immense road presence. To match the looks and racecar-spec chassis, Aston Martin fitted it with a 7.3-litre naturally aspirated V12 that can send 730bhp to the rear wheels and makes a glorious roar every time you’d put your foot down. It’s got a nice two-seat cabin with nice materials to choose from and gets plenty of basic comforts too. The One-77 has little to no storage space to speak of and possibly the least practical car on this list but that’s just part of its unique traits. Only 77 units were commissioned for over 1.2 million GBP each and I suspect many have remained as garage queens to protect their value.
Cars like these feel particularly dated by today’s standards and most supercars of that era were plagued with tricky transmissions. But if there’s one takeaway from every review video I’ve seen of the Aston Martin One-77, its a truly special beast that will put a big goofy grin on your face.
Long-bonnet, short tail, scary to drive, loud exhaust, lairy and British = TVR. I first came to know of this brand was when I was still in single digits and I used to play a game called Project Gotham Racing. It featured the TVR Tuscan which was a nightmare to drive because of easily it would spin out while accelerating out of a corner. My next encounter with the name TVR was while watching the BBC Top Gear review of the TVR Sagaris. Most recently, I heard about TVR from good old Shmee when he covered the unveiling of the all-new TVR Griffith.
The TVR brand has switched hands many times in its over 70 years of history and the new Griffith is meant to be a new era for this British sports car manufacturer. It stays true to the brand’s ethos for lightweight vehicles and a purist driving experience that relies on clever engineering over electronic driver aids. Even its name pays tribute to the 1992 model of the same name.
The new age Griffith is a beautiful car from every angle thanks to the efforts of Gordon Murray Design, a soothing blend of classic TVR proportions and modern know-how. It has a flat underbody for ground-effect aerodynamics, an active rear spoiler, functional vents and air intakes as well as side-exit exhausts just behind the front wheel arches. It uses carbon composite structures and body panels for sporty stiffness, a 50:50 weight distribution and keeps the weight at 1250kg.
Under its large bonnet lies a 5.0-litre V8 tuned by Cosworth for added racing pedigree and is mated to a 6-speed manual shifter. Sadly the exact performance rating for the TVR Griffith isn’t finalised yet but initial figures suggested at least 500bhp. The current owners have had a rough time reviving the brand and getting the car to production nearly years after its unveiling and no doubt the pandemic lockdowns didn’t help. The new TVR Griffith is a wonderful looking car with great promise and I hope the project comes to fruition soon enough.
Mercedes SLS AMG Black Series
The German carmaker has more than a couple of GT icons in this body style in its long history. While the 300SL sports car that was introduced in the 1950s is a permanent legend, its modern-day iteration is my pick. The SLS AMG Coupe was introduced in 2009 and it featured a modern version of the jaw-dropping gullwing door design. For this list, I’m picking the most desirable iteration of this car – the SLS AMG Black Series. Introduced in 2013, the Black Series takes the learnings from the SLS GT3 racecar to make the ultimate road-legal super GT version. Even with the doors closed, the SLS AMG has its distinct take on the long-bonnet, short-rear, two-door styling. The Black Series’ aero package and wider body make it look quite menacing.
The SLS AMG was powered by a 6.3-litre naturally-aspirated V8 which was tuned to make 622bhp and 635Nm in the Black Series. The extra performance with the 70kg weight loss and race-tuned mechanicals make this particular version even more rewarding to drive. Surprisingly, Mercedes offered enough comforts to make the SLS AMG Black Series a bit more liveable and usable as super GT. It’s not the best-sounding V8 in this list but it is loud and grumbly and will still give you the goosebumps. Only 150 units of the Black Series models were built and AMG fans have been waiting for a successor ever since.
Before the SLS, there was the SLR which featured a similar long-bonnet design. But it didn’t have gullwing doors and it had a smaller, supercharged engine. You can read more about that car here.
Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione
Possibly the most niche car on this list, the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione is also one of the prettiest GTs of the 2000s. It is a bit of a coachbuilding exercise as the 8C uses parts from sister brands Ferrari and Maserati and the name is a nod to Alfa’s own racing heritage from the 1930s to the 1950s. The 8C Competizione’s stunning carbon fibre body is underpinned by a steel chassis and it was assembled at Maserati’s factory in Modena. Under its long hood was Ferrari’s 4.7-litre V8 tuned to an output of 444bhp and 480Nm that would rev to 7,500rpm. It was mated to a 6-speed gearbox that could be manually cycled through via the paddle shifters behind the wheel. The 8C’s cabin was a blend of sporty and luxury materials, featuring bucket seats and not much room for luggage thanks to its short tail. With over 500 units commissioned, it loses out on the rarity factor but its soundtrack is compared to rolling thunder that makes all who drive it, chuckle with excitement.
An interesting fact about the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione is that it birthed an even prettier car in 2013 – the Disco Volante which was the work of renowned Italian coachbuilder Carrozzeria Touring.
There’s just something special about front-engined V12 Ferrari coupes and the F12berlinetta is exactly that: special. It is the successor to the 599 GTB Fiorano and in my opinion a huge improvement in terms of looks. The long sweeping bonnet with air vents and character lines flowing seamlessly into the bodywork.
It looks even prettier from behind with the circle taillamps, the rear end aero design integrating into the diffuser below, the double dual-exit exhausts and the F1 style rear defogger in the centre. All the scoops and vents across the body are cleverly designed and functional too. It was one of the last to be co-designed by Pininfarina and the result speaks for itself. The cabin is plush, gets modern comforts, clever tech controls mounted on the steering wheel and lots of luggage space too.
The 6.3-litre naturally-aspirated V12 in the F12berlinetta is an absolute screamer, the exhaust note a symphony of exhilaration. It produces 730bhp and 690Nm of torque and can rev up to 8,700rpm. Ferrari has paired this engine with a 7-speed F1 dual-clutch transmission to send the power to rear wheels and the F12 uses a clever electronic differential to manage its delivery. As a result, this two-seater Italian GT can accelerate from 0 to 100kph in 3.1 seconds and reach a top speed of over 330kph. Before the F12berlinetta was succeeded by the 812 Superfast, Ferrari had launched a hardcore version of this car – the F12tdf. It was stripped out to make it lighter, had reworked mechanicals directly derived from the 599XX customer racing program and even more power from the same engine. The F12tdf is one of my favourite modern Ferraris but if I had to pick one as my own, to drive on the open road, I’d pick the F12berlinetta. The new Roma is also a good fit for this body format if you’re looking for something prettier and less hectic.
The F12berlinetta might just be the best-sounding car on this list and it is my personal favourite.
Toyota A90 Supra
Finally getting to the JDM models now and going with a slightly controversial model – the new GR Supra. It is constantly criticised for being more BMW than Supra, especially the cabin and the electronics. The popularity and icon status of the A80 Supra was always going to be difficult to follow up on. Since the new one came after a wait of nearly two decades, it was going to be impossible for Toyota to live up to the hype. But if you look at the new Supra for itself, it is a nice sports car. The A90’s long bonnet design, sleek headlamps, sculpted rear end, double-bubble roof and muscley wheel arches lend it a lot of street cred. Toyota does sell it with tacky plastic vent covers but the idea is that the Supra is a great template for tuners to improve the airflow and enhance its performance even before tinkering with the engine.
Codeveloped with the BMW Z4, the A90 Supra gets a 3.0-litre turbocharged inline-six that claims an output of 335bhp and 500Nm while mated to an 8-speed automatic. I say claims because nearly every Supra owner who has dyno-tested their Mk5 model saw that it produces close to 380bhp from stock. The 2021 facelift states the same power output but it might be understated yet again. With a kerb weight of just 1520kg, it can do 0-100kph in around 4 seconds which is quick enough for a daily driver. The BMW powertrain is one of the reasons why the new Supra had to borrow so much tech from the German carmaker. New engines are no longer standalone units and operate in combination with a plethora of electronics including the vehicle controls which are operated via the cabin’s infotainment system.
The new Supra is a great driver’s car even if it seems unsure of its brand identity and is engineered for superb handling. If I could pick an older car, I’d have selected the 1967 Toyota 2000GT for the long-bonnet, short-rear body type.
Mazda RX-7 FD
In an unexpected turn of events, the final car on this list is the oldest and the least powerful one but also the geekiest. The Mazda RX-7 FD looks fantastic with its long nose, short rear end, fixed spoiler, pop-up headlamps and futuristic tail lamps. Its two-seater cabin is driver-oriented with funky JDM technology for even the most basic functions. This was the third and final generation of the RX-7 introduced in 1992 and was in production till 2002.
The most unique aspect of the RX-7 lies under its bonnet – the Wankel Rotary engine. It works on the geometric principle of inscribed triangles inside of an epitrochoid figure, or to put it simply, a sort of triangle rotating inside a pinched oval (thanks Pumphrey from Donut Media). The idea for the rotary engine was that it offered more performance from small displacement in exchange for poor fuel economy. Sounds great for a lightweight, well-engineered, Japanese sports car. Except that the Wankel Rotary engine is too complex and high maintenance. It works best when being revved to the redline and is not cost-friendly to repair due to its rarity. On the plus side, it has enough performance, sounds great and encourages you to rev it.
In the third-gen RX-7, Mazda decided to make it even more complex to extract more performance. The 1.3-litre rotary engine was fitted with sequential turbocharging which used two different sized turbos. The first one would provide low-end torque and the larger, second turbo would get time spool up and offer more torque at higher revs. The best and final Series 8 of the RX-7 boasted a performance rating of 276bhp and 314Nm, sent to the rear wheels via a 5-speed manual gearbox. It was only offered in Japan. The Series 6 was sold in the USA and Europe too, in production till 1995 and had a peak output of 252bhp and 294Nm and a kerb weight of under 1,300kg.
Mazda fans still wonder if the brand will ever launch a true successor to the RX-7 with a Wankel Rotary engine. The 2015 Mazda RX-Vision Concept is the closest to filling that role. The Japanese carmaker spoke of a new-generation SKYACTIV-R rotary engine that would also address the issues of poor efficiency, high emissions and reliability. If they do manage to pull that off, it could be one of the world’s best sports GTs.