The automotive industry is one of the most fiercely competitive industries in the world, partly due to the need to sell cars to turn a profit but also thanks to the competitive crucible of motorsport.
This has resulted in some surprisingly fierce battles between manufacturers and their cars, and there have also been some incredible vehicles produced as a direct product of those rivalries, too.
Here’s a list of five of the most iconic, most hotly contested and most bitterly fought motoring rivalries of all time.
Subaru Impreza WRX STi vs. Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
The rivalry between Subaru and Mitsubishi can be traced all the way back to the 1980s, but it was in the early 1990s on the stages of the World Rally Championship where the battle really heated up.
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Subaru and Mitsubishi traded manufacturer titles throughout the decade, and the road-going versions of their iconic Impreza and Lancer-based rally cars brought the fight from the stages to the streets.
No other cars quite matched the description of the WRX STi or the Evo at the time, and none really have since either. Add that claustrophobic fight for a segment to the fact that neither the Mitsubishi nor the Subaru were ever much ahead of the other, and the rivalry became even more intense.
Nissan GT-R vs. Porsche 911 Turbo
When Nissan was busy getting its supercar-slaying R35 GT-R ready in the mid-2000s, it decided that it needed some way to prove to the world how its relative bargain could best the greatest sports cars in the world.
As a demonstration of its twin-turbo firepower, Nissan decided to pick on Porsche, specifically, taking the GT-R to the Nurburgring and laying down lap record after lap record to coax Porsche into an all-out track battle.
The automotive equivalent of taking a leak in your neighbour’s front lawn, Porsche responded to Nissan’s extraordinary cheek with its biggest weapon, the 911 Turbo. So ensued a very public spat between the two manufacturers as each continued to up the ante in an effort to assert their dominance.
Ford GT40 vs. Ferrari 330 P3
In the early 1960s, Ford was looking to expand its motorsports credentials while Ferrari was looking to increase production of its road cars. A deal was struck between the two companies before Enzo Ferrari pulled out at the last minute, much to the fury of Ford.
To teach Ferrari a lesson, Ford decided it would hit the company where it hurt the most: on the racetrack. Enlisting the help of Carroll Shelby, Ford built the GT40 specifically to knock seven bells out of Ferrari at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race.
So cocksure was Ferrari of its ability to create the world’s best racing cars that it brought only two factory-backed cars to the race. Ford would win with the now-iconic 1-2-3 finish, while both Ferraris failed to finish.
Ferrari 250GT vs. Lamborghini 350 GTV
Another person that Enzo Ferrari would come to regret annoying was tractor magnate Ferrucio Lamborghini, who went to Ferrari’s headquarters to complain about the clutch in his Ferrari 250GT.
Enzo told Lamborghini in no uncertain terms that if he wanted a better car, he could go and build one himself.
Lamborghini did exactly that and went on to build the 350 GTV, a car which would almost single-handedly create the supercar genre and lay the foundation for some of the most insane cars ever made.
Ford Mustang vs. Chevrolet Camaro
Throughout the past 50 years and six generations, the Ford Mustang has fought Chevrolet’s Camaro for muscle car supremacy in arguably the most bitter and longstanding rivalry in the automotive world.
Three years after the first-gen Mustang took the world by storm, Chevy sought to outdo it after realising what an unprecedented hit it was, with the battle leading to an ever-escalating horsepower war between the two cars.
Ford and Chevrolet’s tit-for-tat fight has led to some hyperbolically powerful machines like the big-block Camaros and Boss Mustangs. Half a century later and it still rages on, with Ford making cars like the new Shelby GT350 and GM responding in kind with high-horsepower monsters like the new Camaro ZL1.