These are no ordinary sport cars to mess with.
When car enthusiasts speak about cars… performance is often mentioned on the conversation, maybe even funny quirks and features, or iconic bodywork shapes that aren’t easily forgotten. In the never ending pursuit for records or innovation, there’s often cars that seemingly reject their drivers or outright try to kill them. In honor to those deadly traps today I shall remind about the 5 most famous deadly cars that have hit our roads.
1980 Renault 5 turbo
Back in the 80s, the group B was the ultimate expression of what we could consider today an extreme and highly risky motorsport. Cars like the Renault 5 turbo competing in the group 4 had proven themselves to the public as a serious competitor. In that era turbocharged engines were something highly unpredictable to deal with.
The Renault 5 Turbo was only a fraction of that madness for turbocharging, rear wheel drive, MR layout… A 160hp Turbocharged inline-four sitting on the back of the car… the Renault as well barely weighed 970kg, which helped propel it to 60mph in less than 7.2 seconds, however not everything was advantages for the Renault 5 turbo… Speed often came with a price in the 1980s.
Turbo lag was something that preyed upon turbocharged cars, and the Renault 5 turbo wasn’t an exception. During cornering the Renault’s turbo would tend to lag and then act without restraint often causing unexpected skids that could end in disaster if the driver wasn’t skilled enough to counter the turbo’s unpredictable nature.
1987 RUF CTR “Yellowbird”
The RUF CTR “Yellowbird” is not very known unlike the Porsche 911 but… what made this car special? It was built on the same base and maybe even looked the same in a first look, however… the RUF’s flat-six engine would become turbocharged, it’s transmission would be modified to withstand the extra horsepower flowing through the rear wheels, a rollcage would be added to add both stiffness and safety to the car… and if that wasn’t enough polyurethane body panels helped shed a lot of weight, the brakes and the suspension as well suffered a transformation to keep up with the tremendous changes applied to the car.
The Yellowbird’s figures now sat at 1.150kg and 470hp which gave it a P/W ratio of 139.3 BHP per liter. The Aerodynamics and weight balance as well were worked thoroughly through development of the car… all of this made the RUF CTR propel itself to 60mph in 3.5 seconds and reach easily 213 mph while turning faster than the top supercars of that era.
However… the RUF suffered from excessive horsepower despite being perfectly balanced, it was a pretty stubborn car which needed an experienced driver to keep it’s rear in line… But in the end a hellish car like this in 2004 was able to ridicule state of the art supercars like the Porsche Carrera GT, the Enzo Ferrari and the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren at the Autocar 0-100-0 challenge.. as long its driver could handle it.
1989 Toyota MR2
The Toyota MR2… It doesn’t have crazy amounts of horsepower or turbo lag, this Japanese domestic market icon, is widely known across videogames, media… for being a small and economical sports car available to the youngsters back then in the 90s.
It packed a transversely mounted Inline four turbocharged (or NA) 2.0L engine mounted at the back, all of it was supported by a Mcpherson suspension which ensured that the 221 horsepower at the rear wheels were manageable to its driver. However it wasn’t the turbo lag or excessive horsepower which made the MR2 a deadly vehicle but something fundamentally different.
Weighing 1.150 kilograms The Toyota MR2 was a pretty lightweight and agile sportscar, but in a short wheelbase… imbalance is more catastrophic to the car’s equilibrium. In this case the MR2 suffered from a heavy rear which often could send the car into snap-oversteer if the throttle was lifted momentarily. Just like when you momentarily lift in a roundabout to take your exit? That was how many Mr2 drivers found out that it was an affordable car, just… not for inexperienced drivers.
1997 TVR Cerbera Speed 12.
The TVR Cerbera Speed 12, originally known as the 7/12 project… it was an extremely high performance conceptual vehicle, originally designed by TVR Autos back in 1997. The Cerbera Speed 12 was a car designed to become a machine brutally focused around speed just like the Yellowbird was. However, the speed 12 wasn’t originally meant for the streets but rather to compete in the 24h of Le-Mans along competing in the FIA Gran Turismo championship.
However, last minute regulation changes on the competitions rendered the speed 12 obsolete versus the more advanced and better funded manufacturers. TVR then looked for a way to get another use for the beast they had cooked at their factory.
The TVR Cerbera Speed 12 is powered by a 7.7L V12 engine made out of two inline-6 cylinder engines from the original Cerbera, supposedly hitting the 1.000hp mark with more than enough torque to twist the world like a wet rag. Combined with only 1.000Kg of weight… the Cerbera could propel itself to 100kph in less than 3 seconds and hit 240mph with terrifying ease.
But what killed the Cerbera speed 12? TVR had started to make deposits for the car and set a 245k £ price looking forward to make it the most expensive and extreme TVR to be produced. Everything looked good on paper until… Peter Wheeler the former owner of TVR took one of the pre-production prototypes back home and returned the next morning.
The Cerbera Speed 12 had proven to be too powerful for use on public roads, and without any kind of driving assists… the Cerbera Speed 12 was pretty much destined to become a death trap for the average driver with deep pockets. TVR ended canceling all orders of the Cerbera Speed 12 and gave back the money to the customers.
The remaining shells of the speed 12 ended up being cannibalized for spares for the GT2 & British GT race cars. To this day only a single TVR Cerbera speed 12 remains on display under the ownership of the Lakeland Motor Museum in Backbarrow, Cumbria.
1990 Dodge Viper.
When I think about American death traps… I don’t think of the Ford Pinto or the Chevrolet Corvair but… I prefer to think about cars focused around horsepower. The 1990 Dodge Viper is certainly one of those cars that pretty much earns the tittle of “a car that wants to kill you”
The 1990 Dodge Viper didn’t have ABS or any kind of Traction control systems, it’s door windows weren’t even made of glass, but in the on the bright side it packed airbags and had a key-less entry system
It is fast? The Dodge Viper used an 8 liter V10 engine sending 450 horsepower to the rear wheels, back in the 90s the Viper could propel itself to 60mph in less than 4.6 seconds which made it faster than any 911 or brand new Corvette, the biggest problem however came down to the car’s handling characteristics.
It doesn’t matter which generation of the Viper we look at, it will always be extremely long at the front to house that 8 liter V10 engine, this made the Viper’s problem more apparent… the front was heavier than the rear of the car which pretty much left an imbalanced platform, the main usse often revealed itself at high speed turns. Often the Viper ‘obeyed’ the driver at first, but then the rear went the opposite way and… you ended spinning out into a lamp post.
Driving the Viper in wet conditions didn’t make matters better. The relatively excessive amount of horsepower along that imbalanced weight distribution made it into a car not everyone could drive, but in the end… it was a car that even though it refused most of its drivers it had a lot of charm when it came to its character.
So far Dodge ceased production of the Viper in 2017, leaving us craving for more with the fifth gen as a reminder of those old-school raw sports cars that were often too much for their owners to handle on their own.
¿Do you know any other cars that pretty much try to kill their owners? leave a comment below and remember to share this piece if you enjoyed!