Supercars and Hypercars

Last August we probably saw two dozen supercars and hypercars on display at various venues around Monterey, California. Barely two weeks later, this article in Bloomberg asks: Hyperdrive: Have We Hit Peak Supercar?  It reminded me of how much crazy money is warping our realities. Their escalating presence here proves that the automotive Concours d’Elegance scene is no longer for enthusiasts to honor and preserve the classics — every year it’s more about lifestyle and display of wealth. In fact it’s evolving into an outdoor convention for automotive assets.

What’s the Point

These cars also make me wonder what’s the point? So much aerodynamic engineering is wasted on keeping four tires on the ground. Over 160 mph is when a very fast or heavy airplane lifts it’s nose wheel to start flying. Bugatti’s “Black Car” is engineered to peak at almost twice that. It’s much safer to fly fast than to drive that fast. This is why I don’t understand the need for supercars and hypercars. They seem to be sold in a market for obscene wealth without purpose — just fantasy. Why pay insane money to deny yourself a better view, more freedom of motion, and more G force that you could get flying a high performance airplane? Afraid of the academic challenges posed by ground school or heights? Or is it you can’t drive an airplane where you’ll be seen and envied? Most classic cars are more usable and saner. Don’t lower your social IQ. Drive a classic to somewhere for fun and personal satisfaction. That’s motoring. The insurance is a lot cheaper too.

The Most Expensive New Car Ever Made

Bugatti Supercar
Bugatti La Voiture Noire posing at Villa d’Este.

The Bugatti La Voiture Noire was also on display in Monterey — an $18 million one-off for an undisclosed needy owner. This photo is my pick of the factory’s promo shots taken a couple of months earlier next to Lake Como (of course). My take? It’s designed for Darth Vader, not recommended for mortals and anger management.

Bugatti only made one and it’s already been sold to a mystery buyer, who the company simply described as “a Bugatti enthusiast.” It was initially rumored that the buyer was Ferdinand Piëch, the 82 year-old former chairman of the Volkswagen Group and grandson of Ferdinand Porsche. If Ferdinand Piëch was the buyer, it would be ironic since he died a mere five months later. Perhaps Darth Vader was his secret superhero.

Hagerty Insurance Chimes in Too

Hagerty Insurance chimed in with their simultaneous take titled Bugatti Hits 304.77 mph in Modified Chiron; Retires from Record Attempts . To me this is more evidence that the human race is as delusional as it is clever. A very small percentage of people seem to be hell bent on profiting from the means to our extinction. Isn’t this level of performance on four wheels just another outrageous expression of peak consumerism?

Another Ridiculous Example

The $2.5 million, 720 hp Pagani Huayra, also displayed at Pebble Beach this year, is another ridiculous example. Car and Driver called it “ludicrous in every way.” It is for those who have grown bored with Ferraris and Lamborghinis and already have two Bugattis.

The $2.5 million Pagani Huayra.

Supercars for Kleptocrats

In September, Bonhams auction house had a “very special sale” in Switzerland of a collection of supercars.  According to the New York Times article Luxury Cars Seized From African Leader’s Son this fleet of supercars was apparently seized by the Swiss authorities in a money-laundering investigation involving the son of the leader of Equatorial Guinea. The vehicles were among 25 luxury cars that had been estimated to bring in more than $13 million. They subsequently sold for more than $27 million. Emotions run high when celebrities and criminals are fleeced.

A fleet of supercars seized by Swiss authorities. (Photo by Denis Balibouse/Reuters)

Afterthought

Ferrari prancing horse logo
The iconic Ferrari prancing horse logo.

No longer are the iconic prancing horses used by Ferrari and Porshe good enough as mascots. It could be that their customers evolved from this sixteenth-century Northern Italian jouster on display in the the Art Institute of Chicago. Similarities to supercars include: low-mileage, owned by sons of rich guys, usually useless, and high maintenance.

Jouster from 1500s
Sixteenth century northern Italian jouster in full regalia on display at the Art Institute of Chicago.