The mid-late 2000’s to me were an era of absolute lunacy within car manufacturing, certainly performance cars for that matter. Audi decided that not only was a V10 suitable for their flagship RS6 but they nailed two massive turbos to it. What ensued was more than 2 tonnes of German metal with 572hp propelling itself forward like a missile and consuming fuel and an ungodly rate while doing so. BMW launched the E60 M5 in 2005 with a roaring formula one derived V10 engine. Despite a few vanos and SMG issues it was an absolute rocket. Any google search will return many videos of E60’s with some form of aftermarket exhaust and they just wail like a scalded banshee. Mercedes also went a little mad during this era the C63 debuted a 457bhp 6.2 litre V8 in 2007, with later revisions producing over 500bhp to the rear wheels. The C63 roars likes a pissed off tiger and can be more than a little tail happy with little provocation.
I know so far this sound like just the Germans went on a mad rampage with family saloon and estate cars, but others caught on. I’m simply going to it call the era of naturally aspirated heroes. the Dodge Viper SRT-10 starred their 8litre V10 and even Jaguar were cramming big 5 litre V8s into their XKR’s. Aston Martin gave us the V12 vantage and of course the DBS, yes I appreciate these are lower level supercars but you just can’t ignore a 6.0 litre handmade British V12 that provides a symphony anytime you mash the throttle. This era was one of the most special times to me as I was a schoolboy. I adored the Audi B7 RS4 as it was thrashed up a mountain on TopGear, the Ferrari F430 was also launched and captured my imagination it was so beautiful and perfectly proportioned , I spent hours drawing them every weekend wishing my dad would find £150,000 down the back of the sofa. To me this was an era of no compromise engineering, less was thought of emissions and fuel economy the cars were designed with passion and flair. Naturally aspirated and big displacement engines deliver such a thrill with relentless RPM or mountains of torque (if forced induction like the RS6) There’s few better driving pleasures than ringing the neck of a V8 at 8250rpm as you slot another gear into place, meanwhile the chassis wiggles its hips to thank you as the power breaks traction.
In 2007 Nissan joined the party with the very first R35 GT-R’s rolling onto the roads at the hands of journalists. This was a £55,000 car that would stick with the best of the supercars. Again a big capacity V6 and two turbos were at the heart of what gave the R35 its physics defying performance stats, a 3.5 second 0-60 sprint was now readily achievable at just the soles of your feet. Hold the brakes mash the throttle and off you went. This is where I feel some cars started to lose their character as to keep up with the advancement of technology it became all about turbo-charging, smaller capacity engines, light-weight composite materials and smart traction control systems, the driver was being taken out of driving.
The Porsche Carrera GT is revered as a widow maker within the supercar elite, yet in reality it’s one of the very best driving experiences ever created. A naturally aspired 5.7 litre V10, rear wheel drive, a manual gear lever at shoulder height and sculpted carbon fibre buckets make this a raw and at times terrifying experience. The GT makes no apology for the way it behaves as it came from the era of big engines with the purest exhaust notes bellowing through the atmosphere when you’re under load. I grew up without pop and bang remaps and everyone trying to throw flames out the back of their cars in Tesco car-park. It was all about driving and character and I’ll always thank my first B7 RS4 for showing me how great natural aspiration can be, especially when twinned to a manual gearbox and competent chassis. I love cars and I’ve no issues with technology as to put it bluntly modern cars are without doubt the fastest they’ve ever been, more efficient and safer when you get it wrong, but there’s definitely something missing compared to where we’ve come from.