Theme: Economy – When Money Is No Object

We have considered various ways to save money on cars. Now what about when the budget is so big you can see it from space? 

2008 Rolls-Royce Hyperion: blogspot.com
2008 Rolls-Royce Hyperion: blogspot.com

This is the 2008 Rolls-Royce Hyperion, designed and made to order by Pininfarina. It turned up for sale in the Middle East in 2012 and may have been sold for about six million dollars. The person who commissioned it, a Briton, presumably had a lot of say in how it looked.

Much of it is rather fine, I think and those bits that aren’t so fine (lamps) must be exactly what the fellow wanted. Here we run into the problem of bespoke things. The wisdom of crowds is often bad at originality but it also has a way of filtering out questionable things too. It would seem to me that when you want something bespoke the advantage lies down at the millimetric scale: you have the arms of your coat cut to suit your exact arm dimensions. Adding a third arm is original but also bad.

2008 Rolls-Royce Hyperion: netcarshow.com
2008 Rolls-Royce Hyperion: netcarshow.com

Economy is relative, isn’t it? In all likelihood the owner made a profit on this car so it wasn’t such a strange thing to do. I’d guess it cost one to two million euros to make the car and it sold for rather more so Mr Owner had four years of trouble-free motoring before getting shot of the car at a tidy profit. That’s economy: the rich can afford to spend money so as to make it. You’ll find that somewhere in Das Kapital, I expect.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

24 thoughts on “Theme: Economy – When Money Is No Object”

  1. Coincidentally, I was considering an earlier Pininfarina Bentley just yesterday. The T1 designed by Paolo Martin and made for Lord Hanson 40 years before the Hyperion.

    I rather like the Hyperion. For a one-off, there are few compromises in the detailing, except as Richard says, the lights. Or maybe the designer (Jason Castriota) felt they added tension. And the relatively tiny cabin in such a huge car sends out a ‘I own the road’ message.

    But I’m not sure I agree with your conclusion. I would have thought that it might well have cost more than €2M to build.The rich like bespoke items, but not ones made for other people. A secondhand bespoke suit is not bespoke to the second owner. Maybe cars are viewed differently but in 2012 it was on sale for just under €3M whilst in 2009 (just a year after being built) it was being advertised by its original owner for €4.5M.

    Without the pleasure of knowing that the Rolls is the fulfillment of your vision (which apparently wore off quickly for the original owner), you just have a car with no other provenance. Except in the matter of acquiring money, the rich are just as much suckers as the rest of us and they’d likely rather spend the money on a Steve McQueen VW or just having a stock Phantom covered in sharkskin.

  2. Hmmm. The pleasure of the car wore off or the owner needed cash. Looking at some concept cars lately I noticed again how lamps and window frames are hard to get right. The front lamps would have been better had they been at least similar to the stem car?

  3. The rear view is pleasantly understated for a car like this.

    With old concept cars, it was usually financially prohibitive to manufacture one-off light units, so you looked around for something stock. Nowadays it’s easier, but those front lights look as though they belong to another car. If so, which?

    1. Well spotted Marcus, and that answers a question for me. On the Opel, the shape of the lamp glass follows round from the side crease. On the Bentley it doesn’t, so the lights don’t make that much sense.

  4. Richard: you should’ve kept your powder dry here for another monthly topic. I am already thinking about the Ferrari P4/5 commissioned by James Glickenhaus, and the SIX estate Ferrari 456s commissioned by the Sultan of Brunei at a reputed $1.5m a pop in the mid-1990s. I wonder if there are any custom Veyrons out there?

    1. I did enter into negotiations with Bugatti a few years back about commissioning a motorhome conversion on the Veyron base. My time is limited, so it’s important I get to the campsite, put out the awning and brew up as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, in view of VAG’s recent scandals, I’ve felt compelled to cancel my order.

  5. Well, if noney can buy me every unique car – i want to put the money from my Money Bin to buy the Ferrari 375 MM made for Ingrid Bergman :

    1. I know the man can ship the cars wherever he goes yet there is something absurd about having those cars and pretty much nowhere to drive them. In some ways the SoB is living out a kind of thought experiment. Would one actually care so very much about such things if one was the last person on earth? Or since the SoB is as constrained by his wealth as he is freed by it (if he is) then what beyond stamp collecting is there to his mania for cars he can´t use as they are intended to be used. For me a car represents or can represent an act of imagination about where to go in it and with whom. It evokes places and times that are potentially attainable. The Brunei cars have none of that association. So, what is the Sultan getting out of it? Is it assertion of status? He can do that buy simply burning money in a brazier. If there was no-one left on earth but me I´d probably want something durable and simple. The cars-as-art I would try to forget. They would be too poignant. I can only guess that the SoB is not troubled by such philosophical reflections any more than I am troubled by the excess of socks that I own (really, I have a lot of socks).

    2. The purpose of the mega-rich is so that the rest of us can see them and not deplore the fact that we don’t have their money. Beyond a certain income, imagination seems to run out of steam. I must assume that the Sultan is no more or less rational than most of us. I have a litany of half-baked ideas and un-started ventures behind me. The only difference is that he has the resources to carry them through, regardless of second thoughts. So, looking at the results, that makes me less regretful that I haven’t realised more in my time. Were any of my nebulous ambitions (for example, a Mazda MX5 powered by a Maserati V6 and rebodied as a 60s roadster) any better? If I’d actually bothered to get off my bum and do that, might I have ended up selling it a year later? And I do actually like the Bentley Turbo Estates he had made.

    3. I´d love to realise a three door version of the Peugeot 605 with a Toyota 3-cylinder engine. Another good one is to weld two Harley Davidsons together to make a sort of road-going catamaran. But I would have Bertone style a new farign for the whole thing. That means reviving Bertone, I suppose. And finally I would like to convert a Ferrari 456 to a five door family hatchback in the style of a Golf, a kind of Ferrari Golf, I suppose. And then I would ask the team to convert that car back into a Ferrari 456 GT. What do you think?

    4. I certainly think the Harley Davidson idea’s a goer – especially if one points forward and the other points backward. Saves turning round. Reversing’s such a bore – strictly for the little people.

  6. I can’t put my finger on it, but it looks tacky to me, like a kit-car. Maybe it’s the front bumper, maybe it’s the overall clumsiness of the volumes – it screams bad CAD to me.

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