Sports | Tim Lappen
Wishes on Wheels
For a relatively small company, Aston Martin consistently punches well above its weight.
The Courier’s Fine Autos Contributor, Tim Lappen, also is the Fine Autos Editor for Haute Living, Haute Time, Haute Residence and Haute Auto magazines and online and a partner in a Century City law firm, where he chairs his firm’s Family Office Group and the Luxury Home Group. He can be reached at TLappen@gmail.com and his website is www.LifeInTheFastLane.org.
Depending upon your age, your vision of the future could be Buck Rogers or George Jetson or even Marty McFly, but vehicles always feature prominently in those visions. When it came to the cars of the future, like Marty’s hoverboard and George’s transport, they clearly were going to levitate – “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!” However, we’re still (mostly) earthbound and roads are required. Nevertheless, the exotic cars on the near horizon are pretty spectacular conveyances and, for your holiday viewing pleasure, here is a sampling as we go to press. As befits a car of the future, many of these are motivated in full or in part by one or more electric motors.
I’ve set them out alphabetically, which works out well in part due to my personal affinity for Aston Martins and in part in an homage to the recently departed Sean Connery, the quintessential James Bond who, when true to his Ian Fleming roots, always drove an Aston.
Aston Martin – For a relatively small company, Aston Martin consistently punches well above its weight. Its partnership with Red Bull Racing has brought incredible performance and design to an already-accomplished company and the upcoming Valhalla is Exhibit A. Slated for 2022 production (if 500 cars is a “production”), the naturally-aspirated (no turbo, no supercharger) V-12 is a mid-engine two-seater which can achieve the once-mythical 1:1 power ratio (a car whose weight and which horsepower, expressed in kilos and brake horsepower, is one kilo per one horsepower). Expected to cost in the range of $1,300,000 (each, not for all 500), the Valhalla will be available in both street and track-only versions.
Bugatti – My earliest memories of this storied brand were as a child, seeing a neighbor’s Type 35B Bugatti drive by. The sights, the sounds and especially the smells were memorable as those cars did burn off quite a bit of castor oil, which fragrance lingered long after the car was out of sight and earshot. Today’s excitement focuses on the Centodieci (Italian for “110” in honor of the marque’s recent 110th anniversary), a 1,500hp W-16-motored beast of a car of which only ten will be made (sorry, all are sold) at a projected 8 million euros (about $9.3 million as of this writing). A gorgeous car that shows both its Bugatti heritage and its forward-thinking futuristic design, I hope that at least one of these beauties makes it to California.
Ferrari – An atelier whose founder, Enzo Ferrari, was born to create fast cars, even Enzo’s name sounds fast! And their newest creation does not dissappoint. Behold the Ferrari Omologata (which means “homologated” or certified for competition – it’s the “O” in “GTO”). This V-12 stormer was commissioned by a discerning customer and created as a one-off coach-built aluminum touring car which is equally at home on the track. A two-year process resulted in this sinewy and slippery vehicle that is destined to slice though the wind for its lucky owner. Starting as an 812 Superfast, the transformation is truly spectacular. Price and horsepower haven’t been disclosed, but fortunate are the few who will see it in “person.”
Koenigsegg – Never heard of it? I’m not surprised. This stealthy Swedish supercar company has created some of the most amazing cars on the planet as it has incredible productivity for a company of its size. Want an example? The new Gemera (from Swedish words meaning “give” and “more”) and billed as the first “Mega-GT,” this four-seater can run circles around many two-seater exotics. With three electric motors and a twin-turbo three-cylinder gas engine, the combined output is over 1,700hp, good enough for 0-60mph in 1.9 seconds and a top speed of around 250mph, this baby is expected to set you back around 1.9 large (as in millions of dollars — price does not include speeding tickets or bail).
Lamborghini – Anyone who has seen a Lamborghini in its natural habitat (on the road) knows that this is a brand which likes sharp creases and big angles. The limited-edition Sián Roadster is a chip off of a very angular block. With a big motor (the most-powerful V-12 that they’ve made to date) and high-tech hybrid motivation assistance (with an unusual super-capacitor system), the Lambo pumps out a total of 819 horsepower, enough for 0-60mph in about 2.9 seconds and a top speed is over 215mph. The design is roofless, no doubt so that the occupants can commune with the heavens, and with all of that performance, it’s clearly able to dodge the occasional raindrops in Los Angeles. It’s no wonder that the production run of 19 units already is sold out.
Mercedes-AMG – New arrivals to MB-land may think of the Mercedes brand as luxury cruisers and, of course, they’d be right but there’s so much more to the brand, including Formula 1 racing. Many of the company’s AMG-branded cars are real screamers and the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series is a case in point. Running with Mercedes’ most-powerful AMG V-8 of all time (720hp twin-turbo), 0-60mph takes 3.1 seconds and the top speed is 202mph. The power is about 100hp greater than the “regular” AMG GT 63 S Coupe. Pricing is not yet announced. This definitely is not your father’s (or grandmother’s) Mercedes Benz.
McLaren – McLaren (founded by New Zealand-born race driver Bruce McLaren) was satisfied for many years to make components for other car manufacturers and then racing cars but, turned to making their own road-going cars, first in small quantities, like the universally-adored F1 of the 1990s and then to large numbers starting with the MP4 12C. The latest from this fun factory is the Elva, a spritely two-seater whose DNA apparently is traceable to a sports car, a motorcycle and a fighter jet. With no windscreen, the body was designed to divert airflow in order to create a “wind curtain” in front of the cockpit. The lightest road car McLaren ever has produced, it sports an 800-plus horsepower twin-turbo V-8 motivating it to 60mph in under three seconds. Only 249 of these cars will be made, at prices starting at $1.69M.
Pininfarina – A car company based in both Germany and Italy – what’s not to like? Owned by Mahindra & Mahindra Company (a motor vehicle company based in India), they licensed the name from the famous Italian design studio Pininfarina, who designed the sleek and sexy car named Batista, the company’s first offering, which will be limited to 150 vehicles. Interestingly, Pininfarina turned to Rimac, the motor and control company in Croatia, to create the electric motor and associated components. The Batista is the first vehicle to be sold under the Pininfarina name as the design house had heretofore focused mostly on designing exotic cars for the likes of Ferrari. Slated for first deliveries by 2022, and with a price of about $2,500,000, the Batista is projected to use its 1,900 horsepower to go 0-60mph in under two seconds and top out at about 250mph.