Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Exotic Supercar Psychosis

This is a car blog that should only be about old Porsche cars, but I couldn't help myself; this instalment addresses fantasy cars that shouldn't exist. They do exist, in fact, but that is the crazy part.  A lot of 13 year old boys drool over these cars and think they are cool, but it's almost the same as kids liking dinosaurs.  They were real, were scary, but aren't around anymore, so they aren't really scary after all.  These cars are real, are scary, and they are around, sort of, so now I'm scared.

Anyway, Porsche just announced the new 2014 911 GT3. This is pretty close to an Exotic Supercar, in that it has terrifying performance, and a terrifying price to go with it. The car is, however, built to a precise purpose, which is driving very fast, mainly on a track - not posing, which is the raison d'ĂȘtre for many other cars. I read about the GT3 on a performance car website and you could almost listen to the writer drooling onto his keyboard as he carried on about the extravagant heights to which the car can soar, and all of that. Naturally, on that website there were links to articles about even more drool-worthy exotic automotive excess, and so, being weak, I took a look at some of them.

£2.6 million, plus tax
This picture shows one of the most perfect examples of the poseur genre. That is to say, only billionaires could buy one, they exist in very small numbers, they have performance that cannot ever be used - anywhere. Do you imagine looking over your shoulder to check traffic in the next lane in one of these, on your way to your masseuse? Nobody will ever take it onto a racetrack, either, for fear of getting a nick in the paint job, or getting it upside down. Being seen in the car is most important. Spectacular performance is touted, but, naturally, most cars of this type only get driven very small distances - they never wear out! More likely they break down a lot, but if you need to worry about the cost of repairs you shouldn't be in this game in the first place.

So, what is the point? Well, the main points of such cars are these: Look at how big my dick is! Look at how much more money I have than you! Look at what low levels of taste even a billionaire can have! Hey, I'm 45, but really I'm 13, so I drive a Batmobile!

OK, these remarks step on somebody's toes somewhere, because they practice supercar religion and are true believers. That may be, but I just don't get the worship of trinkets, and that's what these cars are. Large jewelry for certain special people who also wear a lot of gold chains. This is a boutique car; not my taste. Anyway, for me diamonds are just so much shiny gravel, so I have a certain attitude, too.

Looking at fantasy cars like this momentarily removes our cares, as we imagine ourselves screaming along a mythical road at fighter-jet speeds. It ain't real. I'll take my elderly 911, thank you. It makes enough noise to make me think I am going fast, wow, but then I'm not a billionaire. If I were, possibly I'd think otherwise, but I doubt it. 

One more idea. This kind of thing has been going on forever, probably ever since automobiles started into production. Which is to say, people have regarded cars as a sort of vernacular art form since day one.  Art is fine, the thing is that today's examples of supercars (some of them, anyway) are not only everyman's art, but at the same time their performance levels have become insane, therefore, they have developed themselves out of a reasonable existence. Remember, they consume a lot of petroleum, pollute too much, and the highway infrastructure of today is deteriorating and crowded. Where do you drive it, really?

You can't go to a tennis match with one of the current supercars unless you really frustrate yourself with your restraint as you try to drive in a responsible manner - and not get arrested. Once upon a time, "Supercars", known then by other names, were elegant expressions of grandeur. You could drive while putting the peons in awe, making them think you were a maharaja or something. Possibly you needed to be a maharaja to pay for your exotic car, just like today. The car above is a Hispano-Suiza Dubonnet Xenia, 1938. I believe I prefer it. We have not developed very far art-wise, just techno-freak wise.

Click on this picture
The design above shows a popular theme. This car at the bottom is a 1930 Mercedes SSK engineered by Ferdinand Porsche, so we have come back around to Porsche, where I'm supposed to be (this body was completed in 1934, however). This is, after all, an 'old Porsche' of sorts. I'd even trade my old 911 for this SSK, even up. The SSK was the last project Porsche worked on for M-B before he left to start his own company.              

Finally, the new Porsche 918 Spyder will be a supercar, when it finally does arrive in actual production, and the price will give any normal mortal a nosebleed. It will be a rational supercar, that uses only 3 litres of gas per 100 kms (78 miles per U.S. gallon). It's a rolling laboratory of sorts.  Still, you'll be challenged to drive rationally in a car that has irrational performance, considering today's roads and all.  Again, I vote for my slow 911.

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