Supercar is a term used most often to describe an expensive high-end car. It has been defined specifically as "a very expensive, fast or powerful car". Stated in more general terms: "it must be very fast, with sporting handling to match", "it should be sleek and eye-catching" and its price should be "one in a rarefied atmosphere of its own".
However, the proper application of the term is subjective and disputed, especially among enthusiasts. So-called vehicles are typically out of the ordinary and are marketed by automakers to be perceived by the public as unusual. The supercar can take many forms, including limited production specials from an "elite" automaker, standard-looking cars made by mainstream companies that hide massive power and performance, as well as models that appeal to "hardcore enthusiasts" from "manufacturers on the fringe of the car industry".
"Supercar" is also a label custom car retrofitters reserve for their showcase, one-of-a-kind project vehicles; typically these are very extensively modified collectible muscle cars, sports cars or grand touring automobiles updated to the very latest "streetable" racing technology.
History of the term "supercar" 
An advertisement for the Ensign Six, a 6.7 L (410 cu in) high-performance car similar to the Bentley Speed Six, appeared in The Times for 11 November 1920 with the phrase "If you are interested in a supercar, you cannot afford to ignore the claims of the Ensign 6." The Oxford English Dictionary also cites the use of the word in an advertisement for an unnamed car in The Motor dated 3 November 1920, "The Supreme development of the British super-car." and defines the phrase as suggesting "a car superior to all others". A book published by the Research Institute of America in 1944, that previewed the economic and industrial changes to occur after World War II, used the term "supercar" (author's emphasis) to describe future automobiles incorporating advances in design and technology such as flat floorpans and automatic transmissions.
In the United States, the term "supercar" predates the classification of muscle car to describe the "dragstrip bred" affordable mid-size cars of the 1960s and early 1970s that were equipped with large, powerful V8 engines and rear wheel drive. The combination of a potent engine in a lightweight car began with the 1957 Rambler Rebel that was described as a "veritable supercar". "In 1966 the sixties supercar became an official industry trend" as the four domestic automakers "needed to cash in on the supercar market" with eye-catching, heart-stopping cars. Among the numerous examples of the use of the supercar description include the May 1965 issue of the American magazine Car Life, in a road test of the Pontiac GTO, and how "Hurst puts American Motors into the Supercar club with the 390 Rogue" (the SC/Rambler) to fight in "the Supercar street racer gang" market segment. The "SC" in the model name stood for "SuperCar". The supercar market segment included regular production models in different muscle market segments (such as the "economy supercar"), as well as limited edition, documented dealer-converted vehicles.
During the late 20th century, the term supercar was used to describe "a very expensive, fast or powerful car with a centrally located engine", and stated in more general terms: "it must be very fast, with sporting handling to match", "it should be sleek and eye-catching" and its price should be "one in a rarefied atmosphere of its own".
The supercar term has also been applied to technologically advanced vehicles using new fuel sources, powerplants, aerodynamics, and lightweight materials to develop an 80 mpg-US (2.9 L/100 km; 96 mpg-imp) family-sized sedan. "Supercar" was the unofficial description for the United States Department of Commerce R&D program, Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV). The program was established to support the domestic U.S. automakers (GM, Ford, and Chrysler) develop prototypes of a safe, clean, affordable car the size of the Ford Taurus, but delivering three times the fuel efficiency.
See also 
- Collins English Dictionary. HarperCollins Publishers. 2003. ISBN 0-00-710983-0.
- Ward, Ian (1985). "Secondhand Supercars". London's Motor Show Motorfair 85 Official Catalogue.
- Cheetham, Craig (2006). Supercars. MotorBooks/MBI Publishing. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-7603-2565-0.
- Vijayenthiran, Viknesh (Jan 10, 2008). "Nelson Racing’s 1,800HP Mosler MT900S". MotorAuthority.com.
- "260mph Keating Supercar". documentary video. Jan 8, 2010.
- "British Ensign Motors". The Times. 11 November 1920. p. 6.
- "super-, prefix 6.c". Oxford English Dictionary. 1989. Retrieved 2007-12-27.
- Saxon, Wolfgang (1989-09-04). "Carl Hovgard, Tax Adviser, 83; Founder of the Research Institute". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
- Cherne, Leo (1944). The Rest of Your Life. Doubleday, Doran and Co. pp. 216–217. Retrieved 2010-01-21.
- Harless, Robert (2004). Horsepower War: Our Way of Life. iUniverse. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-595-30296-3. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
- Gunnell, John (2001). Standard Guide to American Muscle Cars: A Supercar Source Book, 1960–2000. Krause Publications. ISBN 978-0-87349-262-1.
- Norbye, Jan P.; Dunne, Jim (October 1966). "The Hot Ones: Supercars of medium size flaunt tough suspensions, great brakes, most powerful engines in existence". Popular Science 189 (4): 83–85. Retrieved 2010-01-21.
- Auto Editors of Consumer Guide (2007-08-22). "1957-1960 Rambler Rebel". Retrieved 2010-08-23.
- Harless, p. 8.
- Campisano, Jim (1995). American Muscle Cars. MetroBooks. p. 91. ISBN 978-1-56799-164-2.
- "Rambler Scrambler". Car Life 16: 33–36. 1969. Retrieved 2010-03-19.
- "Rambler Scrambler". Car and Driver 14: 84. 1968.
- Lyons, Dan; Scott, Jason (2004). Muscle Car Milestones. MotorBooks/MBI Publishing. p. 89. ISBN 978-0-7603-0615-4. Retrieved 2010-01-21.
- Bonsall, Thomas E. (1985). Muscle Plymouths: The Story of a Supercar. Bookman Publishing. ISBN 978-0-934780-71-1.
- Primedia (2004). Hot Rod Magazine: Muscle Car Files. MotorBooks International. p. 112. ISBN 978-0-7603-1647-4. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
- Carner, Colin (February 1999). "1967 Chevrolet Stage III Nickey Camaro". Sports Car Market. Retrieved 2010-03-19.
- Harless, p. 5.
- Stuart Marshall (September 4, 1975). "Rewards and frustrations of the supercars". The Times (London). p. 23.
- "Business Roundup; From the Land of the VW, a $35,000 Supercar". The New York Times. September 21, 1975. p. F15.
- Eds. Jeremy Butterfield ... (2003). Collins English Dictionary. Glasgow: HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 0-00-710983-0.
- Ward, Ian (1985). "Secondhand Supercars". London Motor Show "Motorfair 1985" Official Catalogue.
- McCosh, Dan (June 1994). "Emerging Technologies for the Supercar". Popular Science 244 (6): 95–100. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
- Eisenstien, Paul (June 2000). "80 mpg". Popular Mechanics 177 (6): 88–91.
- Fuhs, Allen E. (2008). Hybrid vehicles and the future of personal transportation. CRC Press. p. 10. ISBN 978-1-4200-7534-2. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
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