Land-Based Rapid Transit
Tired of boring cars? Here are three new cures for automotive tedium.
As responsible caretakers of our planet, we all want to do our part to lower our carbon footprint. But no matter how rapidly an electric motor can propel a diminutive Tesla from zero to 60, there’s no substitute for the un-caged animal spirit of a world-class supercar. And we’ll remind readers that these rare exotics are seldom used as daily drivers, but more often over a lonely road on a bright sunny day for stress reduction therapy. And, to affirm our green credentials, we’ve even included a plug-in supercar. Unlike a few super exotic cars that only materialize on car magazine covers or during the Monterey Weekend in August, all three of our picks will be locally available for sales and service from established retailers. But if any strike your fancy, get your order in soon — all are very limited-production vehicles.
Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4
How many kids had a Lamborghini poster in their room? Or were as stunned as I was when I first encountered one of these land-based fighter jets on the street. Few machines equal the emotional presence of the sports cars from Sant’Agata Bolognese, Lamborghini’s headquarters just outside Bologna in Central Italy. And if staring at the sharp-edge bodywork doesn’t move you, starting the engine should do the trick.
Lamborghini calls its latest creation Aventador to honor a Spanish bull that was named for its outstanding courage. With the big V12’s 700 horsepower on tap through a seven-speed, fast-shifting transmission, and a top speed north of 200 mph, it might take exceptional courage to floor the throttle. Or when you’re in a calmer mood, the Aventador is quite at home with its wing doors raised in front of the coffee shop preening for the assembled crowd. Base price is set at $379,700.
McLaren is well known for building Formula One racing cars as well as teaming with major luxury automakers like Mercedes-Benz to collaborate on a super sports car like the Mercedes McLaren SLR. The British engineering company produced its own supercar in 1993 called the McLaren F1. The driver sat in a center seat with space for one passenger on either side. The $1,150,000 carbon fiber car held the top speed record of 241 mph for more than a decade until unseated by the 1,000-horsepower Bugatti Veyron. Now McLaren is launching a brand new carbon fiber rocket that’s quite obtainable by supercar standards. The lightweight 12C is powered by a new 3.8-liter V8 that develops 600 horsepower at 8,500 RPM with a note sure to attract the interest of songbirds and the local constable. The lightweight engine has a flat crankshaft to sit low in the MonoCell chassis for great handling. All this will be available soon in McLaren’s Newport Beach dealership for just $229,900.
At last year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, Porsche parked its 918 Roadster concept in front of The Lodge to assess the interest of well-heeled buyers. Although pricing was not announced at the time, there was enough enthusiasm for the exotic Porsche that the company has just announced plans to produce 918 examples of the flamboyant exotic. In addition to its dazzling looks and supercar performance from a 500-horsepower race-based V8 with an additional 218 horsepower from electric motors, the newest Porsche is more fuel-efficient than your neighborhood Prius. EPA economy figures are not yet available for this 2013 model, but Porsche is still projecting 3.0L/100 km (77 MPG) for this plug-in exotic. The price for this remarkable technology and uniqueness starts at $845,000. Who said there was a recession?
Any one of our three supercars will assure its owner the peace of mind that they will not encounter a similar sibling in the country club parking lot. That can be a big comedown — the car enthusiast’s equivalent of a woman encountering a twin to her designer gown at a high society event. If that’s a concern, along with the ability of your machine to at least triple the maximum speed limit, there are a few more rare supercars to consider. Nearly anything built by Spyker, Koenigsegg, Pagani, Gumpert, Ultima, or SSC will not be easily spotted at the neighborhood Whole Foods parking lot. And if you wish to buy locally, Steve Saleen’s S7 Twin Turbo is equally rare. And of course there are offerings from traditional luxury brands that fit the bill — the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG with its wonderful Gull Wing doors and the Lexus LFA are exotics that add a halo to otherwise conservative brands. Like really expensive running shoes with a tuxedo. BRIAN DOUGLAS