Descriptive Essay About Cars

A short and simple essay on sports cars

Written for younger readers:

Sports car is an automobile designed more for performance than for carrying passengers or luggage. Sports cars are known for their light weight, speed, nimble handling, and appearance. They feature special equipment, and with few exceptions manufacturers make only limited numbers of them. As a result, pound for pound they cost more than most other cars. Famous sports cars include the Chevrolet Corvette of the United States, the Alfa –Romeo and Ferrari of Italy, the Jaguar XK-E, MGB, and Triumph TR-7 of the United Kingdom, the Porsche 911 and Mercedes 300 SL of Germany, and the Mazda Miata and Nissan 370ZX of Japan.
Characteristics. Most sports cars are two-seaters with low ground clearance and aerodynamic designs that enable them to cut through the air easily. With generally favorable power to weight ratios, these cars often accelerate more quickly than other automobiles do. Sports cars have performance tires and advanced suspension systems. Sports cars often serve as a means of testing new automotive technology before it becomes commonplace in everyday vehicles. For example, automakers have used sports cars to demonstrate the efficiencies of multi-valve, overhead cam engine designs, rack and pinion steering, and four wheel disc brakes before they were incorporated in inexpensive passenger cars.
History. Automobiles began to be driven as sporting vehicles in the late 1800's. At that time, rich enthusiasts started racing one another on public roads from town to town. The first formally organized race took place in France in 1895. This race and others like it helped encourage the development of the automobile, and soon special cars were being built for racing. Automobiles in the United States in the early 1900's were light, rugged, and powerful. Well-known models of the time included the Hayes-Apperson “Jack Rabbit,” Chadwick Great Six, the Lozier Briarcliff, the Mercer Type 35 Raceabout, and the Stutz Bearcat. As time went by, however, the size of cars increased. By the 1930's, the only sports cars made in the United States were the Auburn, Cord, and Duesenberg, and the same company made all three.
By the 1940's, open wheel and stock car racing had become the most popular motor sport in the United States. But in the late 1940's and early 1950's, there was a revival of interest in light, quick cars. A number of small, short-lived businesses sprang up to produce sports cars—among them the Kaiser Darrin and the Crosley Hot-Shot. Meanwhile, sports car production was fairly strong in Europe before and after World War II (1939-1945). Among the most important sports cars manufactured in the United Kingdom were the MG, Austin-Healey, and Triumph. Beginning in the late 1940's, such names as Jaguar of the United Kingdom, Ferrari and Alfa Romeo of Italy, and Porsche of Germany became well-known for racing and sports cars. These cars were discovered by American G.I.s stationed in Europe after the war, and brought back to the United States. Soon local sports car clubs were established, and cars were raced on a few road courses like Watkins Glen in New York and on former airports, like Sebring in Florida.
American manufacturers soon responded to the appearance of European sports cars on American shores. In 1953, the General Motors Corporation launched the Corvette. The Ford Motor Company responded with more luxurious Thunderbird in 1954, but Ford eventually turned the "T-bird" into a four-seater. Thus, the Corvette remained the only true sports car made in the United States until the Chrysler Corporation introduced the Dodge Viper in 1992.
In the 1960's, the Japanese auto industry introduced its first sports cars, including the Honda S800 and Toyota 2000GT. Since then, Japanese automakers have built generations of fast, reliable sports cars. Among these are the Nissan ZX, Toyota MR-2, Mazda RX-7, and Mazda Miata.
Since 2000, several automakers have made cars with vastly increased engine power. This increase makes sports cars potentially more dangerous and difficult to control. Fortunately, advanced stability control systems have also become more common. The Audi R8 is typical of the modern sports car, with all-wheel drive and all-aluminum construction.

Sports cars continue to be popular among a group of young drives and older drivers who wish to remain feeling young. Often expensive, they bring status and the exhilaration of speed to those who drive them.

John Heitmann
University of Dayton

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Sample Descriptive Essay

This is a sample descriptive essay. It's a description of a car.

I turn the key and hear the old engine turn over a few times, struggling to get going. Eventually it starts. The engine sounds rough when cold, but with a few quick revs, it starts to sound a little better. The “check” light flashes at me until I press the brake pedal to let the car test the brake lights, or press the “check” button on the roof near the sunroof adjustment switch, between the two visors. When I press the “check” button, seven small, red, LED lights brighten to show me that they are functioning properly. They are there to warn me of low oil, or low coolant, or to let me know if any brake lights, taillights, or headlights are not working.

Next to the “check” box on the ceiling, there is a button that can open, close, or tilt the sunroof up. The sunroof moves slowly and squeaks loudly. The headliner is made of aged tan leather, but it still looks good. The rest of the interior is made of aged tan leather as well, and it shows its age with pride.

From the front seats, the pealing and fading grayish-silver paint on the hood is visible. The dark brown dashboard has several cracks, is dusty, and feels smooth to the touch. The tan glove box is ripped on one side and the handle is missing because someone once tried to break into it. The modern stereo was installed improperly and sometimes different speakers fade in and out, and the stereo needs a nudge to get the sound to play in those speakers again. The dashboard lights are very dim at night, and can hardly be seen.

Below the stereo is the ashtray with a cigar lighter in it, and then behind that is the center console, which contains the dark-brown gear shifter, and around that are four window switches that correspond to the four power windows in the car. The rear power windows go up so slowly that it seems they will never make it. The back windows are tinted very dark, and sometimes it is hard to see out of them clearly at night.

The car sounds old, and it seems the engine makes a lugging noise while accelerating. The brakes squeal while braking, and sometimes the dark-brown leather steering wheel vibrates. After long trips, the car smells like burnt oil, but when fresh, the car smells like aged leather. If the heat is turned on, the car can become quite warm when fully warmed up, but the air conditioning does not work, so it's never colder in the car than it is outside. The car tastes like ... well I actually don’t know because I don’t lick my car.

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