These are ten of the best street-turned-track cars on the market.
There’s something about track-ready versions of road-going cars that makes us tingle with excitement; the notion that when you see one destroying lap records anywhere in the world, there’s the potential for you to drive a piece of that DNA at a discount price. Not to mention the fact that track-specials are where engineers let their hair down a little and show us what a car is really capable of, without the shackles of the financial department telling them to cut costs. It would’ve been all too easy to go and find race cars that utilize road-going cars as their base from which to start, but we wanted to keep this list to those cars which can be bought track ready by the public.
As one-third of the hypercar holy trinity, the McLaren P1 needs no introduction. The P1 GTR is what happens when McLaren’s mad scientists are unshackled, and the result is a track only McLaren P1 with power upped from 903 horsepower to 986 hp. In addition to more power, the P1 GTR gets slick tires, fixed ride height race suspension, a new exhaust, and of course a massive fixed rear wing capable of using F1-inspired DRS. The P1 GTR isn’t even road-legal, though if you’re fortunate enough to own one, Lanzante – the same Lanzante involved in the McLaren F1’s Le Mans win – will convert it and register it as a road-legal vehicle for you, for a price.
Much like the McLaren P1 GTR, the Ferrari FXX-K is the track-only version of Ferrari’s range-topping LaFerrari hypercar. The latest in a line of FXX track-only derivatives, you have to be invited to purchase one, and when you wish to use it on track, a team of Ferrari engineers is available to come and tailor the setup of the FXX-K for whichever track you’re at. The FXX-K produces 1036 hp from its V12 engine and electric motor combination, up from 950 hp in standard road-going trim. But the FXX-K Evo is the most hardcore of all – offering an even more aerodynamic body kit allowing 23% more downforce than the standard FXX-K, and an astonishing 75% more than the road-going LaFerrari, along with a 198-lb reduction in weight.
Roll-cage, check. Massive spoiler, check. Carbon fiber front splitter, check. Who doesn’t love a road-going car that looks straight out of DTM? Well, that’s pretty much what the BMW M4 GTS is, designed to be the most potent BMW M4 for track use, that’s also legal on the road. In addition to the over-the-top bodywork, the interior has been stripped out, and the roll-cage has been added as standard. Revised suspension and upgraded brakes are standard too, but what’s really special about the M4 GTS is the tweak to the engine. To get the twin-turbo inline-six from 425 hp to 493 hp, the M4 GTS boasts water injection that cools down the combustion chamber, prevents knock, and enables a cleaner burn of fuel for more power. The M4 GTS has Nurburgring credo too, lapping the Nordschleife in 7 minutes 28 seconds.
We could’ve opted to stick the 500-hp 911 GT3 RS on here, conqueror of hearts and racetracks alike as the purists 911. Instead, we’ve chosen the 911 GT2 RS, not just because it packs a walloping 690 hp from its twin-turbo flat-six, but because the GT2 RS actually has more heritage as far as Porsche goes. The GT3 nameplate first surfaced in 1999, but the GT2 badge was first seen back in 1993 when it adorned the 993-generation 911 and developed 444 hp. But in its latest incarnation, 690 hp and rear-wheel drive are what it gets, along with a magnesium roof, and extensive use of carbon fiber to reduce weight, making it the most insane Porsche this side of the 919 Evo. The fact that until recently it was king of the Nurburgring just adds further weight behind its inclusion here.
Though Bentleys may ooze class, they’ve done their stint in motorsport throughout the years. So while it may have seemed out of place for the brand’s market placement, the Continental GT3-R released in 2014 has some roots within the Bentley brand. The big luxury GT car was given a big upgrade to make it a proper performance machine. Starting from a base of a V8 S Coupe, engineers stripped 220 pounds of weight, including the rear seats, increased engine outputs to 572 hp, added torque vectoring to the rear wheels, shorter gearing, upgraded brakes and suspension, a new exhaust, and recalibrated programming on all the ESP systems. It also got sports seats, carbon fiber door casings, and a host of exterior upgrades to make the gentleman’s cruiser look a little more boy-racer.
The Shelby Mustang GT350R doesn’t need much of an introduction, does it? It’s the most hardcore Mustang you can buy, packing a 5.2-liter flat-plane crank V8 engine outputting an unchanged 526 hp from the standard GT350. But items like air conditioning, stereo, the trunk floorboard, rear seats, carpeting, and the reverse camera have all been removed, and a large splitter and rear wing improve downforce. The GT350R sheds 130 pounds, partially due to carbon fiber wheels, and handling has further been improved over the already impressive GT350 by the addition of a Torsen limited-slip differential with a 3:73 axle ratio. Until such time as they GT500 arrives, the GT350R is the most hardcore track Stang you can get.
Who would’ve though Mercedes-AMG would try and build a 911 rival… and succeed? Though the Mercedes-AMG GT is a little more hammer than a scalpel in the way it does things, it’s an exceptional sports car. But at the top of the AMG GT ladder – for now at least – the AMG GT R is for Mercedes what the 911 GT3 is for Porsche; the enthusiasts track-car. Nicknamed ‘The Beast of the Green Hell’, it makes use of the same ‘hot-vee’ twin-turbo 4-liter V8 but turns the power up to 577 hp. In addition, the GT R features rear-wheel steering, upgraded aerodynamics, vastly overhauled suspension, a fixed rear wing, less weight, and a 9-mode AMG traction control system.
Those fancy European carmakers can try all the tricks they want, but when it comes to smashing lap records just about anywhere, the Dodge Viper ACR is the car you want to be driving. From its 8.4-liter V10, it generates 645 horsepower, though the ACR is more than just brute force. With an addendum of race-inspired extras, such as the ginormous fixed rear wing and huge front splitter, handling is the focus here. The Viper ACR set the record as the fastest ever road car around Laguna Seca with a lap time of 1:28.65, more than a second quicker than the Porsche 918 Spyder – if that’s not impressive, we don’t know what is.
Based on the Corvette Z06, the ZR1 takes the track day fun and turns the dial up to where numbers are no longer written. The C7 ZR1 features an all-new 6.2-liter pushrod LT5 V8 engine equipped with a 2.6-liter Eaton supercharger that develops 755 hp. Of course, that much power generates a lot of heat, so enhanced cooling is a must, and the ZR1 has an extra four radiators, bringing the total number to 13 to keep things cool. But more than just power, the ZR1 has been developed alongside Pratt & Miller’s Corvette racing team, with the aerodynamic package taking heavy influence from motorsports to achieve maximum performance. The giant fixed rear wing is most noticeable, but it can be made even bigger with an optional ZTK Performance Package that generates an additional 60% more downforce over a regular Z06 with the Z07 package. Larger tires, carbon ceramic brakes, double-wishbone suspension, and magnetic ride control are all standard to help make the ZR1 the most lethal track weapon around.
What’s a mid-engined Ferrari without a super track version to see out the end of production? Think of the 488 Pista as the turbocharged equivalent of royalty such as the F430 Scuderia and 458 Speciale. Based on the 488 GTB, Ferrari engineers worked closely with the GTE race engineers to improve things. Borrowing the camshaft, intercooler, strengthened pistons, titanium con-rods, and Inconel exhaust manifolds from the 488 Challenge racecar, Ferrari was able to increase power from the 3.9-liter twin-turob V8 from 661 hp to 710 hp. The dual-clutch gearbox also shifts quicker, and the body has been heavily revised for increased downforce without the use of messy large spoilers. It generates 20% more downforce than the 488 GTB upon which it’s based, and is 200 lbs lighter. Signing off on its track credentials, ‘Pista’ is Italian for 'track', and is a nod to the Pista di Fiorano where all Ferraris are developed.