"Exotic cars" are among the rarest and fastest automobiles ever made, and an extensive collection of these low-flying road rockets from around the world will thrill performance fans during the Sept. 18-21 AutoFair at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The display, housed in the Nationwide Insurance Pavilion, will feature the largest collection of exotics in AutoFair history, including a 2014 700-horsepower Lamborghini Aventador with a price tag of nearly $500,000, a Porsche GT3 RS with a top speed of 193 mph and a Ferrari 458 Italia that can accelerate to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds.

An exotic car is a delicate combination of race car performance, aggressive exterior styling, cutting-edge materials, engineering and as much luxury as can be crammed into a tiny passenger compartment. These machines are unbelievably expensive - usually costing more than a new three-bedroom house - due to their limited production and high-tech components. The top speeds of today's exotic cars regularly exceed 200 mph.

It is impossible to say which automobile qualifies as the first exotic car, but some of the earliest examples sprang from the bitter rivalry between Italians Enzo Ferrari and Ferruccio Lamborghini in the 1960s. It wasn't until 1966 that Lamborghini set the pattern for most exotics to come, by introducing its astonishingly beautiful Miura supercar as a two-seater with its engine in the middle of the chassis, behind the passenger compartment but ahead of the rear axle. This location for the powerful V-12 balanced the car's front-to-rear weight bias and allowed designers to draw the lowest hood and roof lines possible, creating the iconic exotic car "wedge" profile. Since the 1971 unveiling of the Countach, all Lamborghini sports cars have been laid out with a V-8, V-10 or V-12 engine tucked away behind the driver and passenger.

One of Lamborghini's most successful models (with total sales of 4,099) was the 2001-2010 Murciélago, which will be represented at the AutoFair's special display. In its final years of production, the Murciélago produced 631 horsepower from its V-12 and propelled itself to 60 mph from a standstill in 3.4 seconds on its way to a mind-blowing top speed of 211. Exotic cars have exotic thirsts, and the Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy rating for the Murciélago was 9 mpg in the city and 14 on the highway. The "base" model stickered for close to $400,000, but that came with permanent all-wheel drive, carboceramic brakes with ABS, climate control, a handmade leather interior and 18-inch wheels. To really push the Lambo into the stratosphere of exclusivity required adding options such as the carbon fiber engine frame for $4,625, interior carbon package for $8,540, Hermera wheels for $4,300 or the transparent engine cover for $7,020.

Although Italy's Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati are best known as producers of exotic supercars, Germany's contributions to the category will not be ignored at AutoFair. Audi's R8, named for the company's first Le Mans-winning race car, is a mid-engine supercar with V-8 power, all-wheel drive and a lightweight aluminum body. When introduced in 2008, the R8's window stickers ranged from $109,000 to $120,000, depending on transmission choice and other options. Car magazines compared the supercar favorably to Porsche's 911 Turbo and Carrera S models, in many cases favoring the Audi's handling and road manners. USA Today declared the R8 to be "the best sports car, period." With 420 horsepower coming from its 4.2-liter, four-valve V-8 engine, the R8 scoots from a standstill to 60 mph in four seconds and tops out at 187.

Sometimes, low production numbers are not enough to satisfy a buyer's need for exclusivity, so the AutoFair exotic car display will feature the one and only Lotec C1000. In 1995, someone in the United Arab Emirates with $3,400,000 to spend hired German auto designer and fabricator Lotec to build a car so fast and full of cutting-edge technology that it would be years before any other company's product could surpass it. Starting with a Mercedes-Benz V-8 powerplant, the engineers constructed a carbon fiber chassis that would house an automatic six-point harness system, automatic fire extinguisher, adjustable suspension, and a fully integrated roll cage. Unlike other hyper-performance autos of the time, the C1000 driver enjoyed air conditioning, a high-end stereo, an LCD monitor to keep track of computerized onboard systems, adjustable pedals and steering column, and small but useful luggage compartments. Top speed was reported to be 268 mph, with a zero-to-60 time of 3.2 seconds. At 2,380 pounds, the Lotec weighs 30 pounds less than a Mazda Miata, but produces six times its horsepower!

See more than 20 of the most exciting exotic vehicles ever built in the Nationwide Insurance Pavilion during the world's largest automotive extravaganza.

The AutoFair features more than 50 car club displays and more than 10,000 vendor spaces offering an array of automotive parts and memorabilia. More than 1,500 collectible vehicles of all makes and models will be available for sale in the car corral that rings the 1.5-mile superspeedway. In addition, up to 200 cars will be auctioned by Dealer Auctions Inc., and kids can enjoy face-painting, bounce houses, and other games and entertainment in the Play Zone.

Hours for the Sept. 18-21 AutoFair are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday. Ticket prices are $10 per day for adults, and children 13 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Fans who buy three tickets get the fourth day free. Parking for the event is $5. For more information on the four-day event, contact the speedway events department at (704) 455-3205 or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.

To purchase tickets, call the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267), or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.

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