Mid-engined layouts are a race-derived solution to improve weight distribution and handling. After all, keeping the center of gravity as close to the middle of a car as possible helps to neutralize oversteer and understeer.
Once the Formula race series moved over to producing mid-engine race cars, the road car manufacturers followed suit. There are downsides, cars are more expensive to build and more difficult to maintain, making mid-engined designed only really suitable for sports cars. With the recent Corvette C8 and Ford GT, the mid-engined layout is making a come back.
10 Pontiac Fiero – Poor Engines & Performance
Launched as Pontiac’s first mass-produced sports car, the Fiero from a sales point of view was a success, managing to sell over 370,000 cars in just five years. Featuring a race-style spaceframe chassis and composite bodywork kept the curb weight down to 1265kgs making the best use of the power available.
However, the power and performance figures are one of the areas the Fiero suffered the most criticism, even in the lager 2.8-liter spec with just 140bhp it topped out at just 125mph.
9 Aerovette Concept 1976 – Forerunner Of Corvette C8
All car manufacturers build concept cars to test the reaction of new design ideas, some do finally make it into production. Chevrolet began the development of the XP882 project in the late 1960s, however, the Aerovette name didn’t come along until 1976 around the same time the car received its 6.6-liter V8 engine.
It was only really the possibility of Ford selling De Tomaso Panteras in the US that prompted Chevrolet to pursue the XP882 project further, having previously dismissed the idea that mid-engine cars were too impractical. Eventually, the cheaper Japanese imported front-engined cars would be the deciding factor to cancel the Aerovette program completely.
8th Hennessey Venom GT
Hennessy Performance has a well-deserved reputation for building high-performance cars, in the case of the Venom GT one of the fastest cars anywhere in the world. Based on the mid-engined Lotus Exige chassis, Hennessey replaced the stock engine with 7.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 producing 1244bhp – that’s more power than a Bugatti Veyron.
With all that power in the 1245kg body makes for serious performance figures, 0-200mph in under 15 seconds before hitting its top speed of 265mph.
7 Mosler MT900
Built by Mosler Automotive in both America and the United Kingdom over a ten-year production run, just 14 examples of the MT900 were completed. Mosler did complete other variations based on the same engine and chassis but these were more track-focused than the original.
Planned to weigh in at 900kgs (hence the name), but by the time the first cars were completed, this had increased to 1175 kgs. Powered by LS1 V8 engines fitted with an Eaton supercharger produced 600hp, giving the Mt900 a credible 0-60mph time of 3.1 seconds, but top speed was restricted too 179mph.
6 Saleen S7 Twin Turbo
As mid-engined cars go the Saleen S7 Twin turbo is a little underrated, all the relevant check-boxes for a sports car are ticked. In 2005 Saleen upgraded the S7 to the twin turbo-charged spec car, in the process raising the power to 750bhp.
Other cars at the time had more power, but the key to the S7 Twin Turbos amazing 248mph top speed is partly due to the race-style space frame chassis keeping weight down to 1300kgs. Final production numbers indicate just 20 examples were built.
5 Ford GT90 – Potential World Beater
Incredibly the GT90 took just 6 months to build and was unveiled to the public in 1995 as the successor to the companies historic GT40 racer. Borrowing the chassis and other parts of the drive train from Jaguar’s XJ220, Ford opted for a 6.0-liter quad-turbocharged V12 engine rated at 720bhp, in a body that weighed just 1500 kgs.
If Ford had put the GT90 into production it is expected to have had better performance than the McLaren F1. Unfortunately, just one example of the GT90 was completed.
4 American Motor AMX3
AMC canceled the AMX3 project after spending $2 million and only producing a total of five examples. Built using a mid-engined layout using AMC’s 6.4-liter V8 engine producing 390bhp, good enough for a 5.5 second 0-60mph time and a top speed of 160mph.
Chassis evaluation work at the time being conducted by BMW discovered structural problems caused by flexing and weak welding. Shortly after AMC canceled the project.
3 Falcon F7 – Ford GT And Mustang Influences
Designer Jeff Lemke having been influenced by the current Ford GT project came up with the Falcon F7. Built entirely from aluminum and carbon fibre, weighing just 2785lbs, it is no surprise that the 1100bhp twin-turbocharged V8 engine can accelerate the F7 from 0-62 mph in 2.7 seconds before hitting its top speed over 200mph.
Despite its low curb weight the interior is not a race-style stripped out cabin, but rather features exquisite bespoke instruments and switchgear.
2 Revenge Verde – Green Credentials?
Revenge Designs unveiled the Verde sports car with the extraordinary claim of being able to produce a sports car that returned 110mpg making it “Green” and not just the paint. Other options are available, including supercharged Ford and Corvette engines.
So far, the Verde has not appeared on sale with the hybrid powerplant with the claimed fuel economy figures of the show car.
1 SSC Ultimate Aero – World Record Holder
SSC better known as Shelby SuperCars should be all you need to be told to know that the Ultimate Aero is a serious sports car. Built between 2006 and 2013, and officially the world’s fastest production car until 2010.
The Aero Ultimate makes use of a Corvette sourced supercharged V8 engine producing 1046bhp, enough to produce wheel spin at speeds of 190mph. Maximum speed? 257mph, all without traction control or ABS.
NEXT: 15 Real Supercars You Can Buy For Less Than $50,000