Grand tourer

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"Gran turismo" redirects here. For other uses, see Gran Turismo.
1932 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Turismo Compressore
Lancia Aurelia B20 GT from the 1950s

A grand tourer (Italian: gran turismo) (GT) is a performance and luxury automobile capable of high speed and long-distance driving. The most common format is a two-door coupé with either a two-seat or a 2+2 arrangement.

The term derives from the Italian phrase gran turismo, a tribute to the tradition of the grand tour, used to represent automobiles regarded as grand tourers, able to make long-distance, high-speed journeys in both comfort and style.

Beginning in the 1920s, Italian manufacturers, such as Alfa Romeo,[1] Ferrari, and Lancia, began referring to their luxury performance cars as gran turismo.


The terms "grand tourer", "grand turismo", "grand routiere", and "GT" are among the most misused terms in motoring.[2] The grand touring designation generally "means motoring at speed, in style, safety, and comfort."[3] "Purists define "gran turismo" as the enjoyment, excitement and comfort of open-road touring.[4]

The grand touring concept is Eurocentric;[5] the definition implies material differences in performance at speed, comfort, and amenities between elite automobiles and those of ordinary motorists. In post-war United States, the Interstate Highway System and wide availability of powerful Straight-six and V8 engines rendered the original meaning obsolete. European GT's did find success penetrating the American personal luxury car market, notably the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class.

According to one author, "the ideal is of a car with the ability to cross a continent at speed and in comfort yet provide driving thrills when demanded" and it should exhibit the following:[2]

  • The engines "should be able to cope with cruising comfortably at the upper limits on all continental roads without drawbacks or loss of usable power."
  • "Ideally, the GT car should have been devised by its progenitors as a Grand Tourer, with all associated considerations in mind."
  • "It should be able to transport at least two in comfort with their luggage and have room to spare — probably in the form of a two plus two (2+2) seating arrangement."
  • The design, both "inside and out, should be geared toward complete control by the driver."
  • Its "chassis and suspension provide suitable handling and roadholding on all routes" during travels.
Rear seats of a 1982 Jaguar XJ-S HE coupe, showing the 2+2 seating layout.

Grand tourers emphasize comfort and handling over straight-out high performance or ascetic, spartan accommodations. In comparison, sports cars (also a "much abused and confused term") are typically more "crude" compared to "sophisticated Grand Touring machinery."[6] However, the popularity of using GT for marketing purposes has meant that it has become a "much misused term, eventually signifying no more than a slightly tuned version of a family car with trendy wheels and a go-faster stripe on the side."[7]

Historically, most GTs have been front-engined with rear-wheel drive, which creates more space for the cabin than mid-mounted engine layouts. Softer suspensions, greater storage, and more luxurious appointments add to their driving appeal.

GT abbreviation in marketing[edit]

1982 Volkswagen Golf GTi (Mk1)

The GT abbreviation is popular across the automotive industry, because of its positive associations with wealth and style. Many vehicles that are not actually gran turismo use this appellation to increase sales.[8]

Among the many variations of GT are:

Sports cars[edit]

Porsche 911, a Sports car sometimes confused with a GT. Built since 1964 (showing model 991, the 7th generation of the 911)

Vehicles like the Mazda MX-5 and Porsche 911 are Sports cars, even if they are expensive luxury vehicles; They are not designed expressly for the passenger comfort embodied in the GT label.

Grand tourers in racing[edit]

Four GT cars racing

The term grand tourer, or gran turismo, is sometimes used for race versions of sports cars (even those not fitting the definition provided above) that take part in sports car racing, including endurance races like the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 12 Hours of Sebring, Petit Le Mans, Mille Miglia, Targa Florio, Spa 24 Hours, Bathurst 12 Hour, and Carrera Panamericana.

Examples of race grand tourers include:

Motorsport classification[edit]

In some professional motorsport classifications, such as the Grand Touring categories promoted by the FIA, the GT car is defined as an open or closed automobile with no more than one door on each side and at least two seats, one on each side of the longitudinal centre line of the car; these two seats must be crossed by the same transversal plane. This car must be legal to drive on the open road, and adapted for racing on circuits or closed courses.

GT cars are divided, from most powerful to least powerful, into GT1 (formerly GTS and GT) and GT2 (formerly GT and N-GT) in most championships, although the ACO has canceled further GT1 involvement not only in the 24 Hours of Le Mans but in every other Le Mans Series (LMS, ALMS, ILMC, JLMC) sanctioned by the ACO. This only left room for GT1 cars to race in the FIA GT1 World Championship, while in turn GT2 cars only competed in ACO sanctioned event due to the absence of the FIA GT2 European Championship. GT3 and GT4 class cars also have their own championships, as well as being eligible for several National GT championships.

Grand touring car tires[edit]

The term grand touring is used amongst manufacturers of tires to describe all-season tires that are designed to have higher performance and handling capabilities than a regular passenger car all-season tire with a smoother, more luxurious ride than a performance tire. Most D-segment and larger cars sold in North America come with grand touring tires as original equipment.[12]

Examples of grand tourers[edit]

A true grand tourer is a luxury or performance vehicle intended for long-distance spirited travel in both comfort and style. The placement of "GT" on an automobile does not necessarily classify it as a "grand tourer." Some examples include:

Concept Cars[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Alfa Romeo 6C-1750 Sport/GT (17/85 HP)". Retrieved 6 December 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Dawson, Sam (2007). GT : the world's best GT cars 1953-1973. Veloce. pp. 7–8. ISBN 9781845840600. Retrieved 16 May 2014. 
  3. ^ "Made in Japan". California. 7 (5-8): 129. 1982. Retrieved 6 December 2015. 
  4. ^ "Current Events". Financial Mail. S.A.A.N.: 442 1983. Retrieved 6 December 2015. 
  5. ^ Retrieved May 20, 2016
  6. ^ Clarke, R.M. (1990). Shelby Cobra Gold Portfolio 1962~1969 (Revised ed.). Brooklands Books Limited. p. 80. ISBN 9781855200234. Retrieved 6 December 2015. 
  7. ^ Roberts, Peter (1984). History of the Automobile. Exeter Books. p. 197. ISBN 9780671071486. Retrieved 6 December 2015. 
  8. ^ Catering to a “Luxury Lifestyle”: Definition and Execution By James Roumeliotis April 3, 2016
  9. ^ "Maserati 3500 Gti". Maserati. Archived from the original on 6 March 2012. Retrieved 6 December 2015. 
  10. ^ The AMX and the Javelin. Automobile Quarterly. 19. 1981. Retrieved 6 December 2015. 
  11. ^ Mitchell, Larry G. (2000). AMC Muscle Cars. MotorBooks/MBI. pp. 124–126. ISBN 9780760307618. Retrieved 6 December 2015. 
  12. ^ "GRAND TOURING ALL-SEASON TIRES". Retrieved 6 August 2016. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Grand tourer racing cars at Wikimedia Commons