There are rare supercars — the $2 million, 253 mph Bugatti Veyron SP comes to mind. And then there are machines so exotic that they are seldom seen on the road. Italy’s Pagani Automobili clearly qualifies in the very rare category since its cars have historically only been sold in Europe. So the best opportunity to see an authentic Pagani here in the U.S. is at a major automotive event like the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
Last August, during the iconic automotive week on the Monterey Peninsula, Pagani unveiled its Huayra, a supercar that shares its name with an ancient god of wind. The moniker (pronounced “wire-ra”) is appropriate for a car with 12 turbocharged cylinders tasked to propel just 2,950 pounds. When you’re in a hurry, the 700-horsepower, AMG-sourced engine will launch the Huayra to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds on its way to a 200 mph top speed. Bring bail money.
While speed and jet fighter looks are exciting, the Huayra’s $1.4 million price of admission provides the kind of handcrafted exclusivity that’s unique, even in the supercar category. Horacio Pagani and his team carefully construct the Huayra from more than 4,000 components (excluding engine and gearbox) in a fashion that’s not unlike creating an exceptional timepiece. So it follows that the carbon-fiber monocoque tub is reinforced with titanium for flexibility and strength while the center console is machined from a single block of aluminum.
When Pagani decided to add the United States market, the company chose to nearly double annual production from a modest 12 to 20 vehicles per year. Mr. Pagani had hoped to secure orders for perhaps five or so cars during the big Monterey classic automotive week. Instead, he secured ten firm orders in two days between Bruce McCall’s Motorworks Revival and the gathering at Quail Lodge. That’s quite a validation for Pagani’s seven-year development effort.
Although only a handful of buyers will own a handcrafted Pagani, many luxury automakers have created exotic sportscars to provide a halo for their brands. These powerful and stunning machines not only enjoy production economies, they are locally sold and serviced. Here are six examples of new and upcoming supercars.
Acura NSX Concept
It’s been a few years since Acura’s aluminum NSX sportscar was offered, and recently the brand has required another shot of pizzazz. And what could be more exciting than a supercar? Acura’s new NSX will sport all-wheel drive with electric up front and gasoline driving the rear wheels. The combination is contemporary and allows a hybrid badge for green enthusiasts. What’s more, this authentic exotic will be built in Ohio.
Audi R8 GT 5.2 V-10 Spyder
Audi added excitement to its lineup a few years ago with the R8, an exotic sportscar powered by a V8 engine mounted behind the cockpit under glass, just like Ferrari. The original was quickly followed by a V10 supercar sharing components with the exotic Lamborghini. The current top of the R8 range is the convertible version, and with a price of $210,300, the German exotic now includes a bit of Italian exclusivity.
BMW i8 Concept
Although concept cars are often too radical for production, BMW promises that its i8, complete with transparent panels, will make an appearance in BMW showrooms next year. No price or production specifications have been announced for this carbon-fiber exotic, but its eye-popping style is sure to burnish the Bavarian automaker’s fashion image.
Jaguar returns to its sportscar heritage with the C-X16, a classic coupe powered by a turbocharged V6 engine with enough oomph to sprint to 60 mph in under four seconds. Adding a touch of aeronautical ergonomics, the joystick-style gear lever references classic Jaguar racing cars. The company wants keep the price under $100,000 and if they manage that, they’ll have a winner.
Lexus LF-LC Concept
Lexus dealers are clamoring for the company to produce this affordable yet dramatic sportscar to bring some volume and excitement to the otherwise stoic lineup. Although the company won’t commit yet, the car could create the excitement of the exotic LF-A at a quarter of the price.
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster
Mercedes has an unrivaled history in two-passenger luxury transportation, but the popularity of its SL series has kept the sportscars out of the exotic arena. Enter the SLS, available in gull-wing coupe or roadster configuration. It’s fast, flashy, and at $200,000, rare enough for most enthusiasts. BRIAN DOUGLAS