Import Alliance car show

I consider the R8 to be an exotic… and exotic-type cars normally don’t appeal to me much anymore.

What makes a sports car exotic? The rad-era exotics of my youth, loved ‘em! But that was the 80s/90s when we had F40/Countach/Testarossa/911 posters on our wall. Not anymore. Maybe I just got too numb/jaded working in car culture over the decades. Or perhaps I’m just not that kinda guy. But somewhere along the line, exotics just got less exotic… less special. They became less unique & less magical. Less seductive? And definitely less memorable & iconic. For real… when & how did exotics become somewhat cookie-cutter? 

Audi R8

Well for one – they make a lot more exotic cars now than they used to. They gotta supply all the rappers & Youtubers who can’t drive stick. But looking past that… 

Supercars just peaked man. They did. In my opinion, they just got too damn automated & processed. All those impressive numbers they make, have lost meaning… lost substance. Motorsports replaced the sport with artificial intelligence, and we traction-control paddle-shifted right through the sweet-spot. Are they better? Yes… but no. 

wrapped Audi R8

When we were kids with those posters on our wall, we dreamt of the cars we’d get to drive as adults… how insanely fast & totally awesome they’d be. But we never dreamt that creating faster cars… was gonna mean REMOVING the driver more & more from it.

Innovation can be a real freakin’ bummer sometimes. But then there’s the Audi R8 V8 with gated 6-speed. Which side of the fence is it on?? Gated 6-speed manual + mid-engine V8.

What makes a sports car exotic? I gotta admit, a 2nd look at this car changed my impression of ‘this car’. On the outside, it might not seem like exotics have changed a ton over the last decade… they have. They’ve gotten sooooo damn next-level fast. Too fast. Because I honestly think a huge appeal to the iconic exotics of past decades, was the fact that they were fast, but by modern-day-standards… they were slow by comparison. ‘Slow enough’ to really wind them out & squeeze 100% out of them.

manual transmission supercar

There’s a holy spirit felt when you wind out a true exotic car to redline, push in the clutch, grab that damn shifter, slam it into the next gated gear, release the clutch, and let her claw all the way to the next redline.

And to hear it sing from right behind your ears – angelic. Who honestly wants to blow through that heaven-on-earth in 1.3 seconds and then the car shifts for you? I bought it; I shift it. That’s the rules. Wind it out… like Ferris Buller did. Make it sing through the hillsides. The longer it pulls to redline, the bigger my grin gets (vtec’ers know)

best exotic car

Exotics have got to get outside of the mindset that ‘faster’ is always better. Because that’s just frankly not true anymore. ‘Sensation’ is better. 

So the fact that this car is a V8 & not the badboy V10… is really kind of acceptable if you’re looking for that sweet spot. A mid-engine V8 with a gated 6-speed transmission is a pretty pure formula. The key to loving this V8 R8, is to NOT be comparing it to the V10 all the time, but to see it for what it is on it’s own… which is a well-executed, well balanced, pure, insane-sounding sports car. Remember – the R8 was developed while Audi was absolutely mopping the floor with everyones’ asses in IMSA/LeMans. So it’s got that history going for it. And it rides that line of then & now… with really good ingredients from both the old & new eras. That’s the way this car’s owner, David Chicarelli, sees it. 

supercar exotic

Mid engine / V8 / 6-speed. Look around. You can’t get that in a new C8 Vette… or the new Supra… or a new ‘anything’ really. 

David drives this car everyday. There’s no sad sedan or SUV blocking this in the driveway. This is it. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday Thursday… 12-year-old R8. 

Sometimes David’s job sucks. But the drive to/from the office… keeps his sanity. That’s his time. And for David, that’s worth it. Because facts are, in 2020, the number of just pure ballsy manual-transmission sports cars are dwindling into non-existence. Our convenience-driven culture has chosen practicality over passion, and car enthusiasts suffer for it. 

yellow headlights

So when you find a car that gives you that connection, that thrill, that ‘therapy’… you hold onto it at this point.

Stretch to buy it, finance it, play the long game… whatever. And if it costs you a little more money & headache from time-to-time… you deal with it. Because if it were easy & convenient, then the 2021 Ford Explorer would be a mid-engine V8 6-speed (and finally deserving of that ST badge)… but it ain’t lol. So you make some sacrifices, and you rip the sports car every damn day, because life is short. And because that’s what the kid-version of you wanted for you as an adult. 

Text by Wooley    Photos by Sam Igel II

gated 6-speed

What makes a sports car exotic? Mods…

2009 Gated V8 – Full carbon package

Marsh Composites custom carbon aero 

Revolution Performance straight pipe exhaust

Tuned by Chris Hundley 

AirLift air bags & management by Brian Cain and MWorks Garage

Vossen LC2 forged wheels 19×11 ET50

Alcantara wrapped carbon steering wheel with shift lights

bagged R8