Early in motoring history, design of road cars and racing cars diverged. Road cars became comfortable and reliable. Racing cars housed large engines in light bodies and comfort was not a priority. Gradually, fast touring cars evolved to fill the gap between these two extremes.
During the 1920s, typical two-seater sports cars were low slung machines with long bonnets and flared wings. They had direct steering and gave a firm ride. From the late 1940s, sports cars generally adopted more streamlined shapes that were internationally acceptable. Popularity waned as American safety legislation destroyed the vital export market, and safety concerns also reduced home sales. Meanwhile, the performance of family saloon cars improved rapidly. As European manufacturers withdrew, Japanese companies invested heavily in production of sports cars for America. Those in Britain who longed for the rakish lines of a classic sports car turned to the developing kit car market. Today, foreign firms like Honda and Mazda still produce value for money sports cars as well as more conventional saloon cars. Specialist companies such as Morgan and Caterham continue the tradition for British built sports cars.
Many examples of sports cars of all ages can be seen in the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, from a 1927 Morgan Aero Sports to a 1970 TVR Vixen S3.
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