The ten best track cars, chosen by a spreadsheet

I’ve often wondered how successfully one could choose a car by looking purely at numbers, and nothing else. So, without further ado, here’s my list of the best road cars to drive on a race track, as declared by my spreadsheet.

Position Car

1st


Tesla Roadster Sport

2nd


Porsche Cayman R

3rd


Lamborghini Gallardo Coupe LP 570-4 Superleggera

4th


Ferrari 430 Scuderia

5th


Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 Coupe

6th


Audi TT Coupe

7th


Audi R8 GT

8th


Aston Martin V8 Vantage S Coupé

9th


Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG

10th


Audi S4 Sedan 3.0

Okay, there you go. That’s that decided. Now, should you be interested, here’s how I got to this list.

  1. I downloaded the textfile version of Freebase’s automotive data
  2. I loaded it into Excel. I am now looking at 23, 812 cars
  3. I filtered out all the automatic transmissions – down to 6392 cars (presumably this data is somewhat skewed towards America)
  4. I filtered out the front-wheel drive cars – down to 5312
  5. I filtered for 0-60 times of less than 6 seconds – down to 355
  6. I took the lightest ten by curb weight

Here’s the list I had at this point:

2010 Tesla Roadster Sport
2010 Tesla Roadster
2011 Tesla Roadster Sport 2.5
2011 Tesla Roadster 2.5
2011 Porsche Boxster Spyder
2011 Porsche Cayman R
2011 Porsche Boxster Spyder AT
2011 Porsche Cayman R AT
2011 Porsche Cayman
2011 Porsche Boxster

The list is actually fairly reasonable, although unfortunately it’s not very exciting, because it only contains cars from two manufacturers, and a limited set of models at that. So for each car model we’ll take only the lightest, because they make the best racing cars anyway. This cuts my list down to:

2010 Tesla Roadster Sport
2011 Porsche Boxster Spyder
2011 Porsche Cayman R
2011 Lamborghini Gallardo Coupe LP 570-4 Superleggera
2008 Ferrari 430 Scuderia
2011 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 Coupe
2012 Audi TT Coupe
2011 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet
2012 Audi R8 GT
2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster

The only problem with this new list is the presence of the convertibles. Without trying to get into mud-slinging here, it’s a fairly well-established fact that convertibles don’t have great structural rigidity and so the hardtop version of a given car will normally race better than the convertible. It’s certainly true that when a car has both convertible and hardtop versions, the manufacturer does not tend to race the convertible. Fortunately there are no rag-tops here without a hardtop equivalent, so I didn’t feel too guilty when I filtered out the convertibles manually, leaving me the list at the top of the article.

Obviously this system of selecting cars isn’t perfect, but there are a few caveats beyond even that in this specific data set. The Freebase database has hardly any weights for cars more than two or three years old, and the acceleration figures are missing for many. I’d love to have included some other factors (lap times; weight distribution; price) but these things aren’t present in the data set.

The exercise did teach me a few things, though. First off, Aston Martins and AMGs aren’t quite as fat as I thought they were, and neither is the Tesla roadster, despite all those batteries. Next was the heavy presence of Audis, which aren’t really known as especially wonderful track cars, and the entire lack of BMW, which are (the M3 fell just short of the top ten). And the complete lack of my own car (but hey, maybe this shows I’m unbiased).

Ah well. It turns out there’s more to cars than numbers. But you knew that.


Want to do your own filtering? Download my spreadsheet and play away.

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4 Responses to The ten best track cars, chosen by a spreadsheet

  1. William Johnson says:

    Interesting. I think if you could compare your list of cars buy an (average horsepower over the useable rev range) to (weight) ratio you would get a more accurate list of car. Still cool that the Tesla is at the top.

  2. Jack Pager says:

    You should factor g force capacity in cornering. They probably don’t have that information, but I think it’d take certain ones like the SLS off… which simply doesn’t belong on a top ten list. Mercs are probably best for drifting races if anything. haha – and I’m very surprised with the tt… scratching head. The Cayman is said to be faster than the 911 if it had a better stance on the road. Wish it were… anyway, great read! I might try doing the same!!

  3. Ben says:

    I don’t know why, but I’m well chuffed my car is on your list (albeit in tenth place).

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