The Last of Their Kind
We will never see cars like these again.
Ferrari 458 Speciale
Ferrari's line of mid-engined naturally aspirated V8 two-seaters goes back all the way to 1975 when the 308 came out. Since then we were treated with another six generations which included three track special versions, the Challenge Stradale, 430 Scuderia and finally the 458 Speciale. The Speciale marked the end of Ferrari's NA V8 as the 458 replacement, the 488 and the current F8 Tributo have turbocharged V8s.
Ferrari made sure they gave their NA V8 a proper send-off with the Speciale. The 4.5-litre engine produces 605hp, that's just shy off 135hp per litre and it revs to 9,000rpm! This made it the production NA engine with the highest specific output.
Screaming V8 Ferraris will be missed, fortunately they still produce screaming V12s, but for how long?
Ferrari F430 & 599 GTB
The F430 was Ferrari's last manual V8 and the 599 the last manual V12. Both were usually specced with their 'F1' style gearboxes hence why only 30 manual 599s were ever made. These already go for over €500,000 but expect prices to become even higher, that is if you can find one.
Porsche 911 997.2 GT3 RS 4.0
This car ticks all the boxes for a future classic (or is it a classic already?). Not only does this 911 GT3 RS have a manual gearbox, it's the last one with a Mezger engine and the last one with non-electric steering. The 'standard' 3.8-litre flat-six had its displacement increased to 4.0-litres and power reached 500hp. Only 600 were made. (Last week I wrote about all GT3s and its predecessors)
Aston Martin V12 Vantage & Rapide
At one point Aston Martin's NA 5.9-litre V12 was available in their whole four model range consisting of the Vantage, DB9, Vanquish and Rapide. It has now been replaced by the twin-turbo 5.2-litre V12 featured in the DB11 and DBS Superleggera. The swan song for the V12 Vantage was the V600 version which was mated with a seven-speed manual, only 7 coupés and 7 roadsters were made. In the Rapide's case it was the AMR version which saw power go up to 603hp. It will be sorely missed.
Mercedes SLS AMG GT & Black Series
The M159 engine was a NA 6.2-litre V8 monster. The first engine fully developed by AMG was introduced in 2007 with the CLK63 AMG as the M156. It saw numerous versions in Merc's AMG models, from the small C-class all the way to the S-class but the most powerful iteration belonged to the SLS. When it was launched it was the most powerful production NA engine ever, power peaked at 631hp in the SLS AMG Black Series. Farewell came in the form of 350 SLS AMG GT Final Edition. A true shame this engine will no longer be around, sometimes there really is no replacement for displacement.
Lamborghini Gallardo LP550-2
Did you know the Gallardo came with a manual? It's easy to forget but it had a lovely gated shifter. Lamborghini's entry-level car was rear-driven, had a NA V10 and a manual gearbox. Not only is this Lamborghini's last manual it's the last Italian supercar with a manual. Something tells me these will not be underappreciated for long.
Manual gearboxes and NA engines, even just big engines in general are becoming increasingly rare. We have to celebrate the fact that Ferrari still makes the 812 Superfast and GTC4 Lusso with big high-revving NA V12s. Same goes for Lamborghini with the Aventador. Porsche still make the GT3 with a manual box and a flat-six that revs to 9,000rpm, even though the standard 911s are turbocharged. Aston Martin still offers a manual in the Vantage and they're developing the insane Valkyrie (with Cosworth) with a NA 6.5-litre V12 that will make over 1,000hp and will rev to 11,000rpm.
The analogue car with tactility and interaction provided by a clutch, gear lever and hydraulic steering as well as the aural stimulus from NA engines is quickly disappearing. And while these cars will no longer be produced, they will live forever.
What other cars do you think are the last of their kind?