1981 McLaren MP4: Carbon Fiber Construction
Carbon fiber is a reinforced polymer that's stronger than steel or aluminum, and much lighter. In Formula One racing, where the big budgets are built to be busted, expensive carbon fiber saw its first extensive use in the structure of the 1981 McLaren MP4. Within months, competitors were building carbon-fiber cars of their own to keep up. Every Formula One car built since has been constructed around a carbon-fiber tub. Carbon-fiber construction on road cars is most apparent in today's exotic supercars like the Ferrari La Ferrari, Porsche 918, and McLaren P1. But it's also showing up in the structure of more affordable sports cars like the Alfa Romeo 4C and as part of individual body panels on many other production machines.