Production vehicle

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The characteristics of a production vehicle or production car are mass-produced identical models, offered for sale to the public, and able to be legally driven on public roads (street legal). Legislation and other rules further define the production vehicle within particular countries or uses. There is no single fixed global definition of the term.


A Volkswagen assembly line in 1960 at Wolfsburg Wolfsburg - Volkswagen Assembly Line.jpg
A Volkswagen assembly line in 1960 at Wolfsburg


In 1896 the term production car was used to describe a railway carriage that carried the scenery for an opera company. [1] The earliest use of the term production car being applied to motor cars, found to date, was in a June 1914 American advertisement for a Regal motor car. [2] The phrase was a shortened form of mass-produced or quantity-produced car. [3] [4] The phrase was also used in terms of the car to be made in production, as opposed to the prototype. [5]

Early production car - 1912 Ford Model T Touring 1911 Ford Model T Touring 2.jpg
Early production car - 1912 Ford Model T Touring

At that time production cars referred to cheaper vehicles such as Model T's that were made in relatively large numbers on production lines, as opposed to the more expensive coach built models. Now the term has broadened to include vehicles that are hand assembled, or assembled on a production or assembly line. The main criteria being that there are a number of the same model with the same specifications.

There is no fixed definition of the number of vehicles or the amount of modification allowed outside of motorsports or national regulations or laws that determine what is or is not a production vehicle. For example, Guinness recognises a modified 2-seat Jaguar XK120 as the world's fastest production car in 1949. [6]


Guinness Book of Records

In 2010 the Guinness Book of Records awarded the record for the ‘Fastest production car’ to the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport. In 2013 their decision was appealed on the ground that the Bugatti was a modified version - the limiter was turned off, a fact already known in 2010. Guinness (which had listed speeds by British cars with modified limiters as production car records in the 1990s) upheld the appeal and initiated a review of their production car definition, the outcome was that turning off the limiter was not a fundamental modification and the Bugatti record was reinstated. [7] [8] Guinness were also reported in some sources as saying that at least 50 identical vehicles were needed to be made to constitute a production car but several models which were built less than 15 times got certified for production car records. [9] [10] In February 2014, Road & Track wrote that Guinness required 30 identical vehicles. [11]


1956 Chrysler 300-B Stock car Henry Ford Museum August 2012 30 (1956 Chrysler 300-B stock car).jpg
1956 Chrysler 300-B Stock car

FIA definitions

There have been numerous disputes over what constituted production and modified cars when used in motorsports. Even under Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), the exact definition of what was (or was not) a production car was unclear and controversial, which led to rules written in 1955. [12] Although the term is defined for particular types of vehicles, and that a certain number of a model must be produced in order to qualify as "production", it is another matter to enforce the rules. [12] For example, the 1968 FIA rules state that "production" for sports cars need to have at least 25 identical cars produced within a 12-month period and they were meant for normal sale to individual purchasers. [13] However, FIA rules tend to allow a degree of modification from the original.

Utah Salt Flats Racing Association

Another example is the Utah Salt Flats Racing Association which is concerned solely with the speed of a vehicle. The Association uses its own definition of a production vehicle. [14] The Association allows quite a high level of modification over the original. In 2006 a Pontiac TransAm of John Rains Racing was classified as being the fastest production model (Bonneville D/PS class) with a top speed in excess of 297 mph. [15] Road tests of the same type of car available from the production line were incapable of anything like this speed and Popular Mechanics referred to the car as production based, which was probably a more accurate description.

Stock Car

A stock car, in the original sense of the term, is an automobile that has not been modified from its original factory configuration. Later the term stock car came to mean any production-based automobile used in racing. This term is used to differentiate such a car from a "race car", a special, custom-built car designed only for racing purposes.

The actual degree to which the cars conform to standard model specs has changed over the years and varies from country to country. Today most American stock cars may superficially resemble standard American family sedans, but are in fact purpose-built racing machines built to a strict set of regulations governing the car design ensuring that the chassis, suspension, engine, etc. are architecturally identical on all vehicles. For example, the NASCAR Sprint Cup series now requires fuel injection. The closest European equivalent to stock car racing is probably touring car racing. In the UK and New Zealand there is a racing formula called stock cars but the cars are markedly different from any road car one might see. In Australia there was a formula that was similar to NASCAR called AUSCAR, but it has been ended, and a form of touring cars has taken its place (this is known locally as "V8 supercars", featuring the Bathurst 1000 and Clipsal 500).

Land Speed Records

Chevrolet Vectra JL G-09 Caca bueno bonneville 20100825.jpg
Chevrolet Vectra JL G-09

The FIA Land Speed Records Commission has regulations governing series-production cars attempting land speed records under its 2014 Appendix D - Regulations for Land Speed Record Attempts. Series-production cars fall under rule D2.3.2 and state that they must be:

Category B: Series-production Automobiles in production at the time of the application for the Record Attempt and either homologated by the FIA, or for which an application for homologation has been made to the FIA or recognised by the ASN of the country in which they are manufactured for National Records. [16]

The high level of modification allowed under these FIA's rules would tend to indicate that the cars are production based, rather than straight from an assembly line. For example, Category B Group III had a Dodge Dakota with a top speed of 217.395 mph. [16] Forums citing the Dakota's top speed indicate a standard production Dakota R/T would only reach about 125 mph. [17]

Production cars under the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) rules refers purely to the body class. Beyond that the cars are extensively modified. [18]


Various countries have laws that define production vehicles. For example, in the United States Briggs Cunningham's business was classified as a hobby by tax officials because he did not manufacture enough of each model for the Cunningham automobile to be considered a production vehicle, but rather the IRS classified them as high-performance prototype automobiles built as racecars. [19] Legislative definitions tend to revolve around issues of safety or revenue (taxation). [20]

Modified cars

Not all performance specialists are officially recognised and their cars are not usually referred to as production vehicles. The primary means of identifying a cars manufacturer since the mid 1980s has been the vehicle identification or VIN. The first three digits are the manufacturer or WMI identifier. [21] If the performance specialist is the manufacturer then its WMI identifier will be in the VIN. An example would be vehicles made or modified by tuning and manufacturing company RUF, which specialises in Porsche based vehicles. In general, if the RUF vehicle is a RUF modified Porsche then the WMI will be Porsche's (WP0), but if it is built by RUF then its WMI will be RUF's (W09). [22]

Limited production cars

These are usually vehicles where the production run is restricted to a specific number of vehicles. An example of this is the 1957 Rambler Rebel, a limited-production car where only 1,500 were produced. [23]


Motor vehicle production statistics are available for countries worldwide, by country, make, and model. Production statistics by country and by model, as far as announced, are available for each make as well. [24]

From concept car to production model

Pre-production cars come after prototypes or development mules, which themselves may be preceded by concept cars. Pre-production vehicles are followed by production vehicles in the mass production for distribution through car dealerships. For example the Bugatti Chiron in which Andy Wallace achieved a maximum of 490.48 km/h (304.77 mph) on 2 August 2019 was described by Bugatti a "near production ready prototype". [25] [26] [27] [28]

See also


Three lists within Wikipedia and the discussions on their talk pages illustrate the difficulty in defining what a production car is. These are:

In the first two lists a production car is described as:

The third list used the same description until April 2018. It was changed to the following after a vote based on suggestions by a Koenigsegg employee :

The talk pages for all these lists continue to have ongoing discussions about the definitions.

Related Research Articles

Bugatti Defunct French automaker

Automobiles Ettore Bugatti was a French car manufacturer of high-performance automobiles, founded in 1909 in the then-German city of Molsheim, Alsace by the Italian-born industrial designer Ettore Bugatti. The cars were known for their design beauty and for their many race victories. Famous Bugattis include the Type 35 Grand Prix cars, the Type 41 "Royale", the Type 57 "Atlantic" and the Type 55 sports car.

Koenigsegg Automotive AB is a Swedish manufacturer of high-performance sports cars, based in Ängelholm, Skåne County, Sweden.

Supercar Luxury, high-performance sports car or grand tourer

A supercar – also called exotic car – is a loosely defined description of street-legal, high-performance luxury sports car. Since the 2000s or 2010s, the term hypercar has come into use for the highest performing supercars. Supercars commonly serve as the flagship model within a vehicle manufacturer's lineup of sports cars.

Porsche 930 German sports car turbocharged variant

The Porsche 930 is a sports car manufactured by German automobile manufacturer Porsche between 1975 and 1989, known to the public as the 911 Turbo. It was the maker's top-of-the-range 911 model for its entire production duration and, at the time of its introduction, was the fastest production car available in Germany.

Bugatti Veyron Sports car manufactured by Bugatti from 2005–2015 as a successor to the EB 110

The Bugatti Veyron EB 16.4 is a mid-engine sports car, designed and developed in Germany by the Bugatti Engineering GmbH and manufactured by the Bugatti Automobiles SAS in Molsheim, France. The Veyron's fundamental concept is based on a technical draft of Bugatti chief engineer and "Technical Guru" Frank Götzke and it was named after the racing driver Pierre Veyron.

Andy Wallace (racing driver) British racing driver

Andy Wallace is a professional racing car driver from the United Kingdom, who has been racing since 1979. In 1976, Wallace attended the Jim Russell Racing Drivers' School. He is the current official Bugatti test driver. He has raced prototype sports cars since 1988, winning over 25 International Sports car races including:

Bugatti Automobiles French high-performance luxury automobiles manufacturer

Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S. is a French high-performance luxury automobiles manufacturer and a luxury brand for hyper sports cars. The company was founded in 1998 as a subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group and is based in Molsheim, Alsace. In 1909, namesake Ettore Bugatti founded his automotive brand here and, with interruptions due to World War II, built sports, racing, and luxury cars until 1963. Since January 1, 2018, the company has been led by Stephan Winkelmann as President.

Ruf Automobile

Ruf Automobile GmbH, is a German car manufacturer that manufactures and engineers original vehicles using unmarked Porsche chassis, specifically known as bodies in white. The cars are built from the ground up as completely new cars, using these bare chassis, and assembled using Ruf-made parts and materials, instead of badge engineering or disassembly of existing cars. This means the company is officially recognized as a manufacturer by the German government. As such, all Ruf models have certified Ruf VIN and serial numbers, and are recognized as production models, rather than modified Porsches. Ruf is historically known for its record breaking 211 mph CTR, and is the largest, most renowned company to make Porsche performance enhancements. Though primarily a manufacturer, Ruf has also made a name for itself operating as a car tuner, a specialist in customer-requested Porsche-to-Ruf conversions, and a restorer of classic Porsche and Ruf models. Ruf carries out service and crash repair, as well.

Ruf CTR2 Motor vehicle

The Ruf CTR2 was a 2-door sports car built by German automobile manufacturer Ruf Automobile as the successor to the CTR Yellowbird, but based on Porsche's Type 993 generation 911.

Ruf CTR Motor vehicle

The Ruf CTR also known as the CTR Yellowbird or simply Yellowbird, was a limited-production, high performance sports car manufactured by German automobile manufacturer Ruf Automobile. Introduced for the 1987 model year and based on the Porsche 911, the CTR featured an enlarged and highly tuned version of Porsche's 3.2 litre flat-six cylinder engine, lightened body panels, an integrated roll cage, upgraded suspension and braking systems, a custom-designed transmission, and several unique trim pieces such as polyurethane bumpers, and the use of the side-mounted oil filler necessitated by relocating the oil tank forward to clear the intercooler on that side.

SSC Aero Mid-engined sports car

The SSC Ultimate Aero is a mid-engined sports car that was produced by SSC North America from 2004 until 2013. The SSC Ultimate Aero held the world production car speed record title, according to the Guinness World Records, from 2007 until the introduction of the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport in 2010. In April 2013, the Guinness World Records temporarily disqualified the Veyron's record time for a period of five days due to concerns about electronic speed limiting changing the function of the car, but after investigation reinstated the Veyron as the record holder.

SSC North America Automobile manufacturer

SSC North America is an American automobile manufacturer founded in 1998 by owner Jerod Shelby. The company is based in Richland, in the Tri-Cities, Washington and specializes in the production of sports cars.

This is a list of the world's record-breaking top speeds achieved by street-legal production cars. For the purposes of this list eligible cars are defined in the list's rules. This list uses a different definition to the List of automotive superlatives. The variation is because the term production car is otherwise undefined.

The International Sporting Code (ISC) is a set of rules which are valid for all auto racing events that are governed by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA). North American domestic racing, such as NASCAR and IndyCar are outside the FIA's jurisdiction and hence not governed by the ISC. Motorcycle sport is also exempt since the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) is responsible for this sport, not the FIA.

Motorcycle land-speed record

The motorcycle land-speed record is the fastest speed achieved by a motorcycle on land. It is standardized as the speed over a course of fixed length, averaged over two runs in opposite directions. AMA National Land Speed Records requires 2 passes the same calendar day in opposite directions over a timed mile/kilo while FIM Land Speed World Records require two passes in opposite directions to be over a timed mile/kilo completed within 2 hours. These are special or modified motorcycles, distinct from the fastest production motorcycles. The first official Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) record was set in 1920, when Gene Walker rode an Indian on Daytona Beach at 104.12 mph (167.56 km/h). Since late 2010, the Ack Attack team has held the motorcycle land speed record at 376.36 mph (605.69 km/h).

Ruf BTR Motor vehicle

The Ruf BTR is a sports car built by German automobile manufacturer Ruf Automobile. The BTR began production in 1983 and was based on the Porsche 911 available in a narrow 911 or optional wide body configuration akin to the 930 Turbo. The BTR was the first Ruf production sports car with a company specific VIN.

Bugatti Chiron Sports car manufactured by Bugatti as a successor to the Bugatti Veyron

The Bugatti Chiron is a mid-engine two-seater sports car designed and developed in Germany by Bugatti Engineering GmbH and manufactured in Molsheim, France by French automobile manufacturer Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S.. The successor to the Bugatti Veyron, the Chiron was first shown at the Geneva Motor Show on 1 March 2016. The car is based on the Bugatti Vision Gran Turismo concept car.

Land speed racing is a form of motorsport.


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  22. retrieved 10 August 2018
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