DTW’s Geneva coverage in conjunction with Auto-Didakt continues with a stroll through hypercar valley.
Geneva has traditionally been a shopfront to all manner of low-volume fantasy-merchants, but given the explosion of what journalists are fond of calling high net worth individuals, a growing cohort of dream factories have emerged to cater to their increasingly specific needs, wants and hitherto unrealised desires.
A of course stands for Aston Martin and the storied purveyor of superspy conveyances arrived at Geneva with a brace of hyper-concepts and near-production cars. Perhaps most convincing, if grindingly predictable being the Vanquish concept, having undergone a radical mid-engined makeover. A production version is allegedly being readied to take on the current supercar hegemony, but our critic in attendance was at best, ambivalent.
“Is there really a market for a car like this that isn’t a Ferrari or McLaren, he rhetorically asks? “I wouldn’t want to compare the highly respectable Dr. Andy Palmer to a certain Mr. Bahar, but Aston are either very bold and ambitious or in quite a gambling mood these days”.
But if Aston Martin over-egged their Geneva omlette, McLaren could also be accused of a certain fecundity in relation to their production car range, where telling one from another requires CSI levels of forensic study. McLaren CEO, Mike Flewitt grasped the Geneva nettle to further confuse us, announcing the advent of a forthcoming model, said to “redefine the rules of Grand Touring” – although just how yet another mid-engined performance car is set to achieve this feat remains unclear.
Meanwhile however, making its Geneva debut was the Speedtail – Woking’s spiritual successor to the legendary F1 hypercar – and there certainly was no confusing that. But while there appears to be some difference of opinion as to the Speedtail’s aesthetic qualities, our spokesman appeared more effusive. “Does the McLaren Speedtail look like an Oldsmobile Aerotech concept car? Absolutely. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it’s far prettier than the Senna and more memorable than the rest of the range”.
VW’s Molsheim outpost came to Palexpo with a one-off vehicle, pretentiously dubbed La Voiture Noir and freighted with a HGV-sized price tag of €11m. Fortunately it had already been reserved by a suitably pecunious HNWI, so with a bit of good fortune it will shortly be spirited away to some private collection, never to be seen again.
Conspicuous consumption of this magnitude is rarely a look worth pursuing, and while the glorious works of Jean Bugatti during the 1930s are believed to have inspired this car, the end result embodied something closer to travesty than honour. “Lacking the balance of the Pininfarina Battista, Bugatti’s (alleged) homage to the Atlantic fails to satisfy on any level. As a mid-engined hypercar pretending to be front-engined, it’s Hulk Hogan playing James Bond. What it isn’t though is beautiful.”, our correspondent observed.
That most British of specialist car builders, Morgan arrived at Geneva with a piece of paper in their hand and a new car to promote. That piece of paper refers to a contract with Italian private equity firm, Investindustrial – who had until comparatively recently also been an equity partner with Aston Martin – taking a controlling interest in the Malvern-based heritage carmaker, a tie-up which is likely to have far-reaching repercussions for Malvern’s ability to raise money and finance future product.
In product terms, the all-new Plus Six might look eerily familiar, but beneath the well-established aluminium panelwork sits a heavily modified evolution of the pre-existing Morgan aluminium chassis, which uses the same bonded aluminium construction principles but includes (we’re told) a more sophisticated crash structure front and rear (already a highly respected performer in this regard), not to mention a different mounting system for the suspension pick-ups for improved rigidity.
Also new is a BMW-sourced in line 3.0 litre six, the first Morgan car so equipped. Morgans are something of an acquired taste at the best of times, but nevertheless remains one of the true automotive survivors – faithfully cleaving to a tried and tested formula which simply refuses to die.
Last year saw the debut of the MAT Stratos, the Michael Stoschek inspired, Pininfarina-built & designed one-off based upon the styling of Bertone’s legendary Lancia rally champion. That 2018 concept, finished in black, perhaps left a little too much to the imagination. This year however, MAT returned to Palaexpo with two cars – built in-house, but still using the Ferrari 430 as a basis.
Finished in blue and Alitalia retro livery, they left an entirely different impression upon our Geneva observer. “Obviously and inevitably derivative, but really rather charming”, he told us. “And in a different league in terms of execution to the likes of the Hispano Suizas, Eadon Greens & Moles seen elsewhere”.
The name of Piëch is one to strike fear and no little awe in the hearts of many within the automotive firmament, so it came as no little surprise to receive news of this portentous name appearing on the nose of a new eponymous motor car. A classically elegant, if somewhat inconsequential take on the eternal 2+2 GT formula, the Piëch EV prototype left many scratching their heads, not least our German correspondent.
“The Piëch was very strange indeed: A classically proportioned, rough prototype (or more of a mock-up, really) of an EV sports car. The Piëch brand is apparently supposed to be the discerning retro hipster’s choice, hence the car’s up-to-date engineering dressed up in traditional/generic clothes. The show stand was also peculiar, in that it went for a proper Shoreditch speakeasy vibe. Or maybe they’re being ironic (they’re Austrian after all…)?”
But of course any venture bearing this particular name must be taken seriously – because even if family scion Ferdinand is clearly taking a back seat, nobody could doubt his gimlet-eyed ambition, or the drive to make it all happen. After all, it’s a name which is already synonymous with both success and excellence, so it’s hardly in his nature to take the Piëch.