Americans have this new-found interest in performance vehicles. Regardless of whether it is due to low fuel prices, more efficient and reliable powertrains, lower sticker prices, or an emerging Millennial demographic that was raised on the Fast & Furious franchise, the fact of the matter is that buyers want fresh sports car options, and automakers are listening.
The number of high-horsepower race cars and concept vehicles in attendance at this year’s Chicago Auto Show was impressive, and while that’s great for those of you who get your jollies out of the unattainable, it’s the production vehicles that get my attention.
Here are 10 standouts that we can’t wait to get our hands on.
1. Chevy Camaro 1LE
Making its triumphant return later this year, the track-prepped 1LE version of the Camaro is a truly slick-looking automobile. Equipped with either a V6 and V8, this stiffer, carbon fiber serving of mean machine is a six-speed vehicle that make you shiver when you here it fire up. We totally would jump at the chance to take the 455 horsepower V8 version around the track. Or the 335 horsepower V6. We’re not picky.
2. Jaguar F-Type Hardtop
Attractive from every angle, the hardtop version of the 550 horsepower, fire breathing evildoer is a glorious thing to behold. There’s just something about this car’s raked roofline, center-cut exhaust, flared side skirts, and bulging aluminum fender flares that draws me in. Proportionally, everything about it works, and having a monster of a supercharged V8 and a manual gearbox on hand doesn’t hurt either.
3. Widebody Lexus RC-F Race Car
When I first saw this car at CAS I immediately thought, “Well damn, why doesn’t Lexus offer a track package for this thing?” The RC-F is already pretty nutty, but by adding bolt-on widebody fenders, a lower aero ground effect kit, a wing the size of Wyoming, and some forged RAYS wheels, it truly becomes astounding. Having said that, the version seen here is a full-blown track car, with a stripped-out interior, and seats that look tighter than North Korea’s food stamp program.
4. Mazda Speedster Concept
Practicality isn’t really in the cards with this little guy. Driving one around would require goggles, a leather bomber jacket, and some sort of scarf. But having bugs in your teeth is part of the experience, and between the tastefully understated aero, those performance alloy wheels, and the centrally ported dual tip exhaust, this powder blue Mazda roadster concept had me at hello.
5. The 400 Horsepower, Twin-Turbo Infiniti Sex Machine
Words can’t describe how excited I am about what Infiniti is up to in the go-fast game these days. Take the engine bay seen here for instance: While its V6 VQ motors have always been quite strong, the 400 horsepower, twin-turbo V6 version you see here is something that has members of the media and luxury enthusiasts jumping with joy. Add things like adaptive dampers and bigger brakes, and you’ll start to understand why we’re so thrilled.
6. Dodge Viper ACR
Track-prepped and ready to roll right off the lot, the ACR version of the Viper is a ton of fun all in one very noisy race package. While it pains me to say that the Viper will indeed be getting phased out, it’s awesome to see the best version to date sitting pretty with its 8.4-liter V10 at rest, and 645 horsepower waiting to strike at a moment’s notice.
7. BMW M4 GTS
This very special version of the M4 is basically a street-legal race car with 493 horsepower on tap. Slated to go on sale in the U.S. sometime in April, this extremely limited version is said to already be sold out, and with a splitter like that and a multi-award-winning M TwinPower turbocharged engine beneath the bonnet we can see why. This was easily one of the more unique color combos of the entire show for sure.
8. Mopar Chrysler 200s
Let’s be honest and admit that if FCA had promoted the Chrysler 200 with something like the Mopar-equipped model seen here in some clever television ads, it probably would have sold a lot more of these sedans. With its duckbilled decklid, lowered ride height, Mopar big brakes and slotted rotors, black wheels, and integrated exhaust, it really looks stunning. Now if only Chrysler had made a Hellcat version and ditched the Tigershark engine…
9. Evasive Motorsports Scion FR-S Race Car
This Scion was another full-blown race car that required mention, as it serves as an example of what is truly possible with this platform. Evasive Motorsports has built some really badass cars over the years, and seeing their legendary FR-S in person was a real treat. Turbocharged and completely custom from the ground up, this car serves as an interesting contrast to the STI version of the BRZ a booth over at the Subaru display. Scion may be going extinct later this year, but fortunately for us the FR-S will live on under the Toyota badge for safe keeping.
10. Buick Avista concept
Many can’t wrap their heads around the fact that this sports coupe concept is a Buick. But just by looking at all of the amazing performance and ingenuity infused in the Regal GS, one can attest that the Avista is going to be one mean machine when — or if — it finally comes around. Proportionally everything on this car is amazing to see in person, and while it may be years before we witness a road-ready version roll out, drooling over this luxurious beauty is a real joy.