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The 3-Way Retro Sports Car Battle

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For years, the Corvette has been known as the bargain of the sports car world. Thus why I bought it, and putting it up against two likewise competitors was no easy task. Obviously, straight to straight competition with the 2001 Corvette is a bit hard to find. No other vehicle really matches the price point and performance of the Vette, yet keeps the front engine format. So, we just decided to pit it against something likewise. After hours of discussion, and some namecalling, we decided on a competitor from Europe— the 2001 Porsche 911; and a Japanese competitor— the 2001 Acura NSX, twinning with the pop-up headlights.

Right off the bat, every single car is different with where they store their powerhouses. The Corvette, with true American fashion, keeps its 5.7 L V8 in the front, holding no grudges. The 911, a more rare, yet balanced rear engine drive format. The NSX, as a direct competitor to a supercar is a mid engine monster, keeping pace with the Ferraris and Lamborghinis of its era. The Porsche packs a 3.0 L Flat-6, with around 300 horsepower in the base (which we’ll use). The NSX sits on a RWD platform, like all the others, yet uses a 3.0 L V6 in contrast to the flat-plane system in the Porsche. The NSX will spurt out around 252 horsepower— again on the base model. The Corvette however overpowers them all with 350 horsepower and a 5.7 L V8 and a 4 speed automatic and a 6 speed manual to harness all that power. The Corvette, 911, and NSX all send out 360, 258, and 210 lb-ft of torque respectively.

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Each one is built for a different purpose, and with respect to all, we should treat them as such. The Corvette is a speed monster, following the strict American ideal of fast over everything and anything. Hoisting an impressive LS1 powerhouse and just north of 3,000 pounds is Ferrari-beating material, but that pushrod engine pins normal engine revs down under 3,000 RPMs. The two underdogs have been clearly laid out— underpowered and overwhelmed, the NSX and 911 clearly have some climbing to do. Well let’s see if stats will do these two justice any better.

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The Corvette will get to 0-60 in around 4.7 seconds, today— that’s not too shabby, still a solid number. Given, these cars are over 20 years old. The German wonder boy? 4 seconds flat. Oh boy, German boy is starting to climb up the ladder a bit. The Japanese kingpin will run it in 4.9 seconds. Slightly behind the Corvette, and the so-called “super-car” is falling behind. Driving them definitely seems to favor the 911, why wouldn’t it. Stuttgart spent months and months creating the 911, while GM probably tossed around the Corvette in their backroom and drank a Red Bull and said, “yup, that’s what we want”. That’s all jokes of course because while the 911 outshines the two in terms of drivers feel, the Corvette had pure raw power. To each their own but the Porsche feels like a business man on Wall Street, while the Corvette feels like your Uncle Larry out in North Dakota hitting 170 on a backroad. The NSX is somewhere in the middle, if you want sex appeal — you got it. This is your Beverly Hills car, something stylish and posh but full of facades.

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The Porsche is the drivers’ car, with sharp acceleration and the ease of getting the tail out, makes it a track car from the factory. The TipTronic transmission shifts smoothly, while in the Corvette you get a crap ton of shift shock from 1st to 2nd. The transmission may be reliable, but I wouldn’t say it’s the most thought out thing in the world. Sharp steering holds both of them in its court, and you can also add the NSX to the mix. Driving that long of a car doesn’t seem that intuitive, but it’s quite the contrary, it handles better than the Corvette. The Corvette with MagnaSteer and its adaptive suspension join the ranks of the two others in terms of ride feel. All felt incredibly comfortable for a sports car and nothing punishing, very impressed with how everything felt. Granted, North Dallas roads aren’t exactly the greatest maintained, but every single car ate every bump. The air dam on the Corvette kept scraping, but GM says that shouldn’t be an issue. The NSX showed off its super modern quirks, utilising real time dampening and high-tech gizmos that leave engineers still baffled to this day.

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The interiors, oh lord. Slap the Corvette out of this one, no chance GM. You don’t even get points for trying. There is nothing but pure plastic all around that interior. It looks like it was made from McDonalds’ Happy Meals and the Mulan sauce you used to get out of them. The NSX and the 911 are really the ones duking it out in this department. The 911 keeps its driver oriented heritage, while the NSX is full of gizmos and gadgets. It’s cool, and I’ll give it to the NSX.

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Overall, each car plays to its own advantage, but if I had to rank them, it simply comes down to driving feel and power. You can have all the driving fun in the world, but without power, all you have is a Miata.

#3: Acura NSX

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-Severely underpowered and no stats to back it up, the NSX falters, especially if it wants to keep up with supercars.

-However, aggressive and sleek styling make it look like a rockstar, even if they did get rid of the pop-up headlights.

YCR Rating: 7/10

#2: Chevrolet Corvette

-High octane power and a ferocious V8 gave the ‘Vette an early lead.

-Terrible interior and poor cable-controlled throttle pushed a lack of driving feel compared to the 911.

YCR Rating: 8.5/10

#1: Porsche 911

-Tremendous driver-oriented driving experience makes the 911 an absolute joy to play with.

-A cramped engine bay and high maintenance costs make the 911 a pain and nightmare to own.

YCR Rating: 9/10

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Visuals provided by @DFWCars_

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