What Is a Hypercar? Revealing the Power Behind the Monster Machines

If you have the need for speed, you probably know all about the world's leading sports cars.

But these high production vehicles are just the beginning. As you move up the ladder, you'll encounter exotic cars and super cars. But at the top of the heap are a select group of autos known collectively as hypercars. But what is a hypercar?

Well, that kind of depends on who's asking. You see, the term is not an exact description of any type of car. Instead, it is a way to distinguish the absolute fastest cars on any road, anywhere, at any time.

what is a hypercar, hypercar definition, history of hypercar, best hypercars of all time, examples of hypercars

Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Matthew Lamb

What Is a Hypercar?

Even though it doesn't have a concrete definition, the term hypercar does evoke some specific ideas. Considering the current state of automotive technology, there's a pretty common standard. If you have a car that can hit 200 mph and keep going strong, you might have a hypercar. 

Of course, the price tag is another way to tell. There are your ultra luxury sedans like Bentley and Rolls Royce. In those cases, you're paying for a roaring engine and an opulent interior. But if you're spending high six figures -- or more -- for just the engine, it might be a hypercar. 

That's because these cars are focused on performance above all else. So you might find the interior spartan and amenities limited. Of course, you can often get the options you want. After all, when you're spending this much cash, you can usually call the shots. But the fastest of the bunch will be stripped down. Hypercar owners are often more interested in blowing past the competition than cruising in luxury.

History of Hypercars

Since cars were first introduced to the public, buyers have wanted exclusive cars. Even early auto makers would provide bigger engines for customers with more money. But it was the prohibition era that really led to horsepower increases. Bootleggers needed fast cars to outrun the cops, and they started to create them.

From there, stock car racing became a big part of our culture. And as technology advanced, so did the engines. Then auto makers realized they could get more performance out of smaller engines. They were already saving weight to make race cars, so they combined the two traits for ultimate speed.

It was companies like Bugatti that made spending $1 million on a car seem almost reasonable. Because when you look at the stunning amount of power hypercar engines produce, it's overwhelming. And if you've got plenty of money, it is really quite a status symbol to own one. Beyond that, it's an unparalleled thrill to take such a beast out on the road or track.

How Has the Definition Changed and Evolved Over Time?

Auto experts and professionals typically don't use the term as a specific category. So what is a hypercar? Basically, it is a word the public has decided will describe the most impressive autos in the world. 

Since it doesn't have a set meaning, we can use it as we see fit. Over the years, a few specific traits have emerged. First of all, of course, is the speed factor. But you could say the same thing about supercars. To rise above that lofty threshold takes something truly special.

So a hypercar has to have an extra something. And that could come in a variety of features. Maybe it's an extremely limited production run. It could be ultra precise handling or a roaring exhaust note. It could possibly just be an outrageous retail price. But in reality, the cars we all think of as hypercars have some level of all of those characteristics.

Differences Between Hypercars and Other Cars

Let's be honest. There are more fast car options than ever before. Whether you want to burn fuel or cruise on electricity, speed is in plentiful supply. That might make you wonder what's so special about the most expensive of the bunch. What is a hypercar able to do that its competitors can't? Here's how we break down the levels of performance autos.

  1. Sports cars - These are lots of fun, no doubt about it. But they have a lower starting price and less horsepower than other speedy cars. If you're looking to upgrade from a hot hatchback or boy and girl racer, sports cars are perfect.
  2. Supercars - A step up from the standard sports car. These typically have crazy power and price tags. But if this performance isn't insane enough for you, there's even more.
  3. Race cars - Now we're getting close to the hypercar performance ballpark. But with most race cars, you can't just take them out on the road. If you want outrageous power and the ability to pick up the groceries, you need a hypercar.
  4. Hypercars - For many people, these cars represent the pinnacle of car ownership. They are iconic in the sheer amount of power they can put out. And they are designed in an exotic way that you just can't ignore. Basically, hypercars attract attention in everything they do. And if you want to be noticed in your car, we can't think of a better kind of car to buy.

What Are the Best Hypercars of All Time?

There are several models of supercar that fans say belong in the hypercar category. And we probably wouldn't argue the point too much. But there are a few examples out there that we believe would obviously qualify. Here are a few of the amazing autos you can actually drive -- if you've got the cash.

1. Koenigsegg Agera RS

what is a hypercar, hypercar definition, history of hypercar, best hypercars of all time, examples of hypercars

Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Norbert Aepli

You might not be familiar with the Koenigsegg brand. But if you follow hypercars, you no doubt know all about its program. The auto maker has put out a string of exotic autos with unbelievable output. And with just 25 examples of the Agera RS produced, you can recognize its scarcity. The true measure of this hypercar is its 1160 horsepower. Depending on the type of fuel you use, you can squeeze insane performance out of this car.

2. Bugatti Chiron

what is a hypercar, hypercar definition, history of hypercar, best hypercars of all time, examples of hypercars

Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Alexander Wigl

Bugatti already had one of the most incredible hypercars ever when the Chiron came out. But the Veyron's 1,200 horsepower was still 300 short of this new model's top performance. And if you think reaching 200 miles per hour is a lofty threshold, the Chiron just laughs. You can keep pushing the limits of this giant W 16 engine. Under the right circumstances, you can expect to get this hypercar to speeds close to 290 mph.

3. LaFerrari

what is a hypercar, hypercar definition, history of hypercar, best hypercars of all time, examples of hypercars

Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Axion 23

You don't have to wonder whether a Ferrari is going to be fast. At least not one made in the last decade. But LaFerrari became the brand's most ostentatious model when it hit the market. A traditional combustion engine provides a whopping 789 horsepower. An electric engine contributes another 161 horses. It takes a lot to separate one Ferrari from its supercar siblings. But this one does it without breaking a sweat.

Hypercars have become legends around the world for their unparalleled performance.

But we understand if you're still asking yourself, 'What is a hypercar?' Because it truly is just a catchall term for vehicles too expensive, powerful and crazy for any other term.

We hope our guide has helped you better understand this strange and wonderful category of cars. If so, share it with the car enthusiasts in your life. And leave us a comment below to let us know what your favorite hypercar is.

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