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7 Road Cars Inspired by Race Cars


PUBLISHED TUESDAY, AUGUST 17, 2021

7 Road Cars Inspired by Race Cars: Hero | CarMax

Cars to rev up your daily drive.

Motorsport plays a major role in how road cars are developed. While race cars may not look like the vehicles we drive on a daily basis, there's a lot of shared technology inside. In fact, you might be surprised how much automotive technology has come from motorsports. For example, NASCAR cars use MacPherson struts, just like newer models of the Honda Accord. The two cars handle very differently due to how they're set up, but the technology is the same.

When thinking about racing-inspired cars, you might think of the supercars made by the likes of Ferrari, Aston Martin, and Porsche. These brands have a clear heritage in motorsport, from Formula One to Le Mans. But you don't need to veer too far into the luxury lane to find a sporty daily driver.

Whether you love motorsports and want a car with a little racing heritage, or you're just looking for a fun ride around town, take a look at these road cars that have been inspired by race cars.

Mazda MX-5 Miata

MX 5 Miata

With an entire racing series dedicated to the Mazda MX-5 (Spec Miata racing—for Miatas with specific modifications), this car is a great choice if you want something simple but refined. The MX-5 Miata has enough horsepower to provide a spirited drive, without being over the top. All 2019 MX-5 Miatas are powered by a 2.0L engine that delivers 181 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque—ideal for long trips on scenic roads.

The mid-level Club trim, with its six-speed manual transmission and short-throw shifter, is an excellent choice for an engaging drive. 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club trim models include these features:

  • Sport-styled front fascia and rear lip spoiler

  • Bilstein® shock absorbers

  • Enhanced engine sound technology

  • Brembo® front brakes (optional package)

BMW M4

BMW M4

BMW is known for its prowess in the International Motor Sports Association Sports Car Championship, GT4 racing, and the GT World Challenge America—and that's just recently. BMW also boasts a strong motorsport heritage that inspires all its M-series vehicles. All BMWs in the M-series include racetrack-inspired engineering and performance.

The 2019 BMW M4 Coupe is a great example. It's equipped with a turbocharged 3.0L six-cylinder powertrain tuned to deliver 425 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque via six-speed manual transmission, or there's an optional seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Want even more? Check out the 2019 M4 CS, a track-ready version of the same model.

Standard sporty features on the 2019 BMW M4 include:

  • Launch control function

  • Adaptive sport-tuned suspension

  • Sport+ driving mode

  • Automatic rev-matching technology

  • Optional competition package

Dodge Charger

Dodge Charger

Dodge is well-known in NASCAR, and the 2018-2019 trim-topping Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat is about as close to a race car as you can get. Driven by a 6.2L supercharged Hemi® V8 engine with an eight-speed automatic transmission and featuring striking color and racing stripe combinations, the Hellcat delivers incredible performance in a unique package. You'll love the raw power of the V8, which pumps out 707 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque.

Notable features of the 2018-2019 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat trim include:

  • 14 exterior stripe choices

  • Bilstein three-mode adaptive damping suspension

  • Street, Sport, and Track driving modes

  • Onboard performance data

  • Launch control

Porsche 911

Porsche 911

Dipping into the realm of luxury cars, the Porsche 911 might fool you with its sharp looks. But this is an athletic sports car inspired by high-end racing. Powered by a 4.0L six-cylinder engine derived from the 911 GT3 Cup car, its fixed rear wing is a sign that this Porsche is ready to let loose.

The 2018 Porsche 911 GT3 is a great choice for motorsport lovers. You can expect these features as standard:

  • 500 hp from the 4.0L engine

  • 339 lb-ft of torque

  • Twin tailpipes

  • Top track speed of 198 mph (manufacturer estimate, when new)

Ford Mustang GT

Ford Mustang GT

You'll love how the signature rumble of this muscle car announces your arrival. The 2018-2019 Ford Mustang GT trim is a modern classic, powered by a 5.0L V8 engine (with 460 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque) that's keen to show its hand on the track. You may recognize the Mustang from NASCAR, as it boasts good looks that are bound to turn heads.

If you're looking for excellent car and driver connection, the 2019 Mustang GT features a standard six-speed manual gearbox (with rev-matching) and available drive modes that provide preset powertrain and suspension calibrations—with settings for Sport, Track, and Drag Strip.

The 2019 Ford Mustang GT includes these great features:

  • Launch control (manual transmission only)

  • Electronic line-lock

  • Blade-style decklid spoiler

  • Available Track Apps app for onboard racing data

  • Optional Recaro® front sport seats

Chevrolet Camaro

Chevrolet Camaro

The most accessible sports-tuned Camaro in the modern lineup, the Camaro SS provides an exhilarating ride. Under the hood, you'll find a 6.2L LT1 V8 engine capable of 455 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque.

Looking for more? Try the tricked-out Camaro ZL1, with the supercharged V8 engine. Plus, both of these trims can be enhanced by the available 1LE Performance Package (1SS and 2SS models) and the 1LE Extreme Track Package (ZL1 model). Both packages add a performance data recorder and video recorder.

Notable sporty features of the 2018 Chevrolet Camaro SS include:

  • Active rev matching (manual transmission only)

  • Brembo brakes

  • Available magnetic ride control

  • Drive mode selector (Sport, Track, Snow/Ice, Tour)

  • Available exterior stripe graphics

Subaru WRX

Subaru WRX

If driving on rugged roads is more your style, look to Subaru. The WRX is a sports car that's been engineered through decades of motorsport experience. In fact, the 2019 WRX STI model is a rally racing car through and through. You'll love the way it handles, how it feels when you put your foot down, and the way it grips the corners as the standard AWD does its job.

The 310-hp 2.5L Subaru Boxer® engine on all 2017-2019 models will put a smile on your face, and the all-wheel drive makes it a great choice if your regular route takes you off the beaten path. In addition to plenty of race-inspired features, you'll also get the creature comforts you'd expect from a sedan.

Look for these standard race-inspired features on all 2018-2019 Subaru WRX STI models:

  • Front and rear limited-slip differentials

  • Six-speed close-ratio manual transmission

  • Brembo performance braking system

  • High-performance STI sport-tuned suspension

The Bottom Line

No matter which of these road cars inspired by race cars you choose, you may be treated to fantastic handling, power, and precision. And, unlike in race cars, you can also get modern convenience features such as heating, a sound system, and windows that roll down. Whether you opt for the understated charm of the MX-5 or the roaring power of the Charger, you can transform your daily drives into something that really puts a smile on your face.

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