200 MPH Club 2005 Ford GT, Lamborghini Murcielago, Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, and Porsche Carrera GT

Charlie Magee
Various Rear Views

We bring the Ford GT, the Lamborghini Murcilago, the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, and the Porsche Carrera GT together in one place. You're about to learn exactly what it's like to live with the four fastest cars on sale in America.

You've devoured every word the automotive press has written about them. You've memorized their almost unbelievable technical specifications, marveled over their futuristic constructions, pored over cutaways and power curves, and tried to get your pointy little heads around performance numbers that seem nearly incomprehensible for roadgoing production cars.

Some of you actually have plunked down the suitcase full of stacked and banded C-notes for your place on the short list for your favorite, and we suspect that more than one of you have ordered all four.

Still, we have found the one test that could be most useful to supercar fans still on the fence, a test that (most cleverly) gets Automobile Magazine back behind the wheels of all four of the fastest cars on sale in America one more glorious time.

Full Engine View

We drove them for a couple of days without their professional handlers, for the sole purpose of telling you the truth about what it's like to spend a regular day with the four-member 200-mph club. Our own pace (fast), our own roads (fast), our own nickel (Courtyard by Marriott, sorry). For those of you keeping score, that would be 2339 horsepower and $1.3 million worth of test car. And for the worrywarts among you, yes, we stashed them at Virginia International Raceway in a guarded, gated, locked, heated facility.

It would be the first time for a U.S. road trip with both the Porsche Carrera GT and the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. Although both the Lamborghini Murcilago and the Ford GT have been driven on American roads, this would be the first extensive drive of all four hero cars by anyone, anywhere. After more than 300 miles on the sometimes not so smooth but always twisty two-lanes surrounding the gorgeous VIR facility, roads that wind back and forth through rural Virginia and North Carolina, we have a story to tell.

But first, you want to know if we pegged the needles, right? Well, we didn't drive 200 mph. We're not that stupid. But with the least powerful of our four-car dream team churning out 550 horsepower (the Ford) and the slowest 0-to-60-mph sprint an eye-blinking 4.1 seconds (the Murcilago), it was pretty easy to find oneself north of the triple-digit line on the speedo. Virginia (along with the inconsequential-to-speeders District of Columbia) still bans the use of radar detectors, which didn't deter us in the least from enlisting the support of Paul Allen and his company's most famous product, the Passport 8500 radar detector, one per car. We left Virginia with driver's licenses intact.

Driver Side Interior View

Let's jump into a car. OK, let's not. The damn door is in the way. At least, it's in the way of the Lambo's cockpit, the SLR's cockpit, the Ford's cockpit . . .

"You want the short story?" barks technical editor Don Sherman. He's a barker, that one. "Porsche. No weird doors." Thank you, Don. But let's jump in and drive around all day anyway, shall we?

Ouch! And a few swear words for the Ford, with its sneaky head-banging door, which, like the original, includes a goodly amount of roof attached to its upper edge when opened. If you don't wriggle carefully into and out of the down-on-the-ground cockpit, that lurking upper door extension will surely "nut you," in the words of our foreign-born executive editor, Mark Gillies, who is blissfully unaware of our more southerly anatomical use of the word. As Sherman so astutely points out, no one would have minded if Ford designers had made a slight deviation here from the original GT40. One wonders if Ford racing greats Bruce McLaren or Denny Hulme ever "nutted" themselves on the original's diabolical door. The other problem is trying to slither out of the GT in a tight parking situation. "Paint a patch of black on the outer roof as a tip of the hat to the original," Sherman suggests, "and make the door glass frameless like Porsche did with its GT. Then this car becomes a daily driver instead of a Sunday special."

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