Everyone loves a dogleg gearbox.
Aston Martin dropped a bomb by announcing that its stunning V12 Vantage S will now come with a seven-speed manual gearbox. While that’s unusual in itself, the news gets even better as the V12-powered supercar’s gearbox has the iconic dogleg layout. The dogleg gearbox was created for race cars as first-gear is rarely used on the track and is mostly found on European cars. Dogleg transmissions are a bit of a rarity and to celebrate the new Vantage, Top Gear came up with a list of ten cars, which we narrowed down to five.
The BMW E30 M3 has iconic status. The sports car was a lightweight version of a great rear-wheel-drive car that put out 195 hp from its rev-happy 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine. Europeans got a dogleg transmission for even more fun.
Astute enthusiasts will know that a lot of classic Porsches were fitted with dogleg transmissions, but the 928 is the most recent sports car from the German automaker’s stable to be fitted with one. Seen as a replacement for the Porsche 911, the 928 was Porsche’s first V8 production car and featured an all-aluminum 4.5-liter V8 that put out roughly 220 hp. The 928 was never meant for blistering zero to 60 mph times or lap records, but the car was quite the grand tourer.
Every enthusiast knows the story behind the Ford GT40, one of the greatest racing cars of all time, and one man’s need to bring down the mighty Enzo Ferrari. In an attempt to make a race car that would not only defeat Ferrari at its own game, but completely humiliate the Italian automaker, Ford packed the race car with a V8 engine and five-speed dogleg manual gearbox at the driver’s hip. After a few changes, which included a 7.0-liter V8 and a new ZF gearbox, the GT40 went on to enjoy legendary status.
Ferrari may not be offering its cars with manual transmissions anymore, but the Italian automaker did things differently in the past and the Ferrari Testarossa proves that. Thanks to the 4.9-liter V12 engine, the Testarossa creates a wonderful symphony of noise, while drivers were treated to the supercar’s gated five-speed dogleg gearbox. Not only is the Testarossa a beast, it’s also a car that characterized the late ‘80s and early ‘90s in the best way possible. It wasn’t uncommon to find a Testarossa plastered on an enthusiast’s wall and is the starting point for the majority of Ferrari fanatics.
European automakers had a thing for dogleg gearboxes in the past, and the Lamborghini Countach may just be the best example of a supercar with a race-inspired gearbox. Thanks to its iconic wedge shape, enormous rear wing and scissor doors, the supercar brought Lamborghini into every enthusiasts’ bedroom. If the design wasn’t good enough, the supercar’s 4.0-liter V12 that put out roughly 370 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque was truly astonishing.