Has the Ferrari 296 GTB Changed the Rules for Fast Cars, According to Chris Harris?

Has the Ferrari 296 GTB Changed the Rules for Fast Cars, According to Chris Harris

I haven’t had a chance to praise the Ferrari 296 GTB to its fullest extent. It is many of the things that we now casually anticipate a new Ferrari to be: beautifully designed and providing so much performance that you genuinely wonder how much more any human being could require. When I drove the vehicle in the UK, however, I was struck by how thoroughly it exploded the distinction between supercars and hypercars. Of course there is no definitive line of demarcation between such random categorisation, but my backside has alway considered it to be the difference between “Crikey, that’s rapid” and “What the heck happened there just now?”

When cars like the 296 appear, geeks like me are forced to pause and reconsider the “classes” of cars we previously believed to be standard. As I was following Paddy in the Pagani Huayra BC while operating the 296 at the time, this incident occurred to me. Because he was driving something that looked like a livid insect, I assumed it would simply disappear in a straight line. It didn’t.

What we currently have is an entry-level Ferrari that is as quick as one of the craziest hypercars ever sold. It’s a remarkable turning point in the development of fast cars, but most people appear to have missed it. Maybe people expect such things to happen because these machines are so capable. However, I find it difficult to comprehend the level of performance that a 296 offers. And that brings me to my next thought: if Ferrari has set the bar for itself at a hair over 800bhp, how does it see the world of fast cars looking over the next ten years? When Merc introduced the SL55 in 2001, I last experienced this feeling. You’ll think that’s a random car to pick, but I remember driving one and thinking, “This car has nearly 200bhp more than anything it is supposed to compete with”. What we thought a fast open top GT should be completely changed with the SL55.

These experiences remain with me forever. When I first drove a Mitsubishi Evo, I had no idea how a vehicle could travel so far so quickly. How was it even possible to offer that car with a warranty? An S2000 spinning over 8,500 rpm seemed insane. Although it would now feel completely pedestrian, the 996 Turbo S once felt like it was ripping the asphalt out from under all four wheels.


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