The ten most vicious car rivalries

Cars aren't just about getting places, they're about getting places before the guy next to you gets there. Here are what Jalopnik readers picked as the ten greatest automotive rivalries, both on the track and on the streets.

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The ten most vicious car rivalriesS

10.) Nissan GT-R v. Porsche 911 Turbo

Suggested By: feather-throttle-not-hair

Why it's vicious: When Nissan was readying its new super high performance GT-R, it needed a way to show the world that it could best the established sports car hierarchy, even with its video game reputation and bargain price. So Nissan went to Germany's infamous Nürburgring, the home turf of Porsche, the most established sports car company in the world, and started laying down lap records.

Needless to say, Porsche felt it had a reputation to uphold and wouldn't stand for Nissan outperforming its champion, the 911 Turbo, on what it felt was practically its private test track. What followed was a dizzying and very public spat between the two companies, each updating and speeding up their cars to get faster and faster times on the Nürburgring.

Sure, the monomaniacal focus on lap times got a bit silly, but it was an epic battle for sports car dominance nonetheless.

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9.) Audi v. Peugeot

Suggested By: X-cchannel-M

Why it's vicious: Audi has been the dominant force in Europe's great test of automotive endurance, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, since the year 2000, with an almost unbeatable combination of reliability, racing speed, and unbelievably well executed pit stops. They added fuel economy to that list when they made the unheard of switch to diesel power for the 2006 race.

Peugeot, who were top dogs of Le Mans back in the early 1990s, stepped back into the fray with its own high-budget diesel racer and from the first time the two shared a race track, it was clear a brutal rivalry was unfolding.

Peugeot had built an outright faster car, the 908 HDi FAP, but Audi was just such a veteran when it came to preparation and reliability that they would often outlast the more fragile French challengers. Peugeot only won Le Mans once in 2009, but the competition between these two companies remains bitter to this day.

8.) Ford v. Chrysler

Suggested By: JackTrade

Why it's vicious: That's just one scene from how things were getting in NASCAR in the 1960s. The "aero wars", particularly at the end of the decade, were intense.

Though Chrysler was very much in third to Ford's second place as a production car company, the two were bitterly close on the ovals of stock car racing.

Every year the cars got a bit more streamlined and a bit faster, culminating in the winged, 200 miles an hour Dodge Charger Daytona and Plymouth Superbird. Since this was back when the "stock" in stock car racing meant something, a whole generation of kids grew up watching Ford and Chrysler race on the tracks, while the road car versions put on sale raced on the streets and at local drags.

7.) Mitsubishi Evo v. Subaru STi

Suggested By: ChiefPontiaxe

Why it's vicious: You could trace the rivalry of Subaru and Mitsubishi in the rally world all the way back the early 1980s, but things didn't start to really heat up until the early 1990s when Subaru became a real competitor and started this classic Japanese rally rivalry.

What made this rivalry special wasn't just that the two manufacturers battled it out year after year in deserts and forests around the world, but that, according to the regulations of rallying, they had to build production versions of their race cars to sell to the public.

That meant that what was normally kept to World Rally stages spilled out into the streets, with car enthusiasts being able to buy insanely fast four-door sports cars at bargain prices. Neither the Mitsubishi or the Subaru was ever much faster than the other, or better looking, but the closer the cars drew, the more intense the rivalry between the two brands became.

6.) BMW v. Mercedes-Benz

Suggested By: primalzer

Why it's vicious: It's hard to wrap your head around the size of the rivalry between these two German carmakers. Mercedes is a much older company than BMW, with a lot more heritage, while BMW is comparatively youthful and aggressive, both in its cars and its corporate attitude.

BMW has been going after Mercedes' prestige for decades now, trying to make every 3, 5, and 7 series that bit more refined. The two have been swapping paint for almost as long in the German Touring Car Championship, DTM, which is often like NASCAR, but on steroids.

The two companies even faced off at Le Mans in the late ‘90s, when BMW pulled out a victory in 1999 while Mercedes, feeling the pressure, sent out their troubled Mercedes CLR to flip three times through the air, twice for current F1 driver Mark Webber, and once for his team mate who flew off the track and into a line of trees on worldwide live TV.

5.) Group B rallying

Suggested By: It's that Mack attack, comin' from way back

Why it's vicious: Back in the 1980s, rallying had an unlimited class called Group B. As an unlimited class, the manufacturers could do whatever was in their stratospheric budgets to make their cars faster, and in a matter of years there was a four-way feud between Audi, Lancia, Peugeot, and Ford of England tearing through forests and mountains with cars that could out-accelerate a Bugatti Veyron and do it on a dirt road.

The cars just got too fast for their own good, scaring even the drivers of the cars themselves. The fans, though, weren't frightened in the least, and stood right in the middle of the course until moments before a car would come sliding and flame-spitting past. People died. People died horrible, burning deaths, and the most brutal rivalry in racing was called to a halt in late 1986.

4.) McLaren v. Ferrari

Suggested By: SennaMP4

Why it's vicious: McLaren and Ferrari have been at each other's throats in Formula One for just over four straight decades now, making for some of the most intense competition in racing the world has yet seen. Until Red Bull got its act together these past few years, McLaren and Ferrari looked like they'd be swapping World Championships between themselves.

Go back to the early 1990s, though, and the battles were even more intense, with racer-turned-saint Ayrton Senna with McLaren straight battling Ferrari's Alain Prost, very much breaking the rules of racing etiquette on track.

The ten most vicious car rivalries

3.) Ford v. Ferrari

Suggested By: Dominican

Why it's vicious: In the early 1960s, Ford had plenty of production capacity, but was looking to increase its sporting credentials. Meanwhile, Ferrari was absolutely dominating European racing of all stripes, but needed help in building road cars. Ferrari needed to get bought out by Fiat to support its production cars, but needed a good bargaining chip in negotiations.

So Enzo Ferrari prepared his company to get bought up by a willing Henry Ford II, only to pull out of the deal at the last minute to drive up Fiat's offer.

Well, "the Deuce" was less than pleased at the old Italian, and engaged in one of the most charged runs to crush Ferrari where it counted: at the race track. Ford bought up an entire British race team, Lola, just to take on Ferrari at Le Mans, coming out with three years of victories. Ferrari never won the famed race again, shamed back to its European stronghold of Formula One.

Photo Credit: The Henry Ford

The ten most vicious car rivalries

2.) Ferrari v. Lamborghini

Suggested By: valdaviper1

Why it's vicious: Tractor magnate Ferrucio Lamborghini didn't like the clutch on his Ferrari, so he did what any self respecting company boss would do, he complained. Enzo, arrogant bastard that he was, told Lamborghini if he wanted a better car, he could go make one himself.

It's an origin story told time and time again in the car world, from Winton and Packard to Skoda in the Czech Republic. Needless to say, the Lamborghini/Ferrari rivalry has had all the drama of a Berlusconi-brand soap opera, with constant one-upsmanship in the form of ever faster supercars to please the world's titans of industry and privilege.

Photo Credit: underwhelmer

The ten most vicious car rivalriesS

1.) Ford v. Chevy

Suggested By: ChiefPontiaxe

Why it's vicious: Ancestral Cro-Magnon men were beating each with mastodon bones over the 35,000 BC Mustang and the 34,999 BC Camaro. Every year since, there's been a new competition between the two Detroit giants, and the whole of America has kept their eyes on the action, always aware of who has the better, faster, badder cars on sale.

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