Everybody appreciates a grafter, but some people really ought not bother.
Earlier in the week we sampled an array of Palexpo hopefuls, but a hapless confluence of waifs and strays remain for us to consider. These generally fall into distinct categories – once-storied nameplates seeking to demonstrate renewed relevance, reanimated marques exhumed from the grave attempting to rekindle past glories or ambitious start-ups seeking to make a name for themselves. Like restaurants, a high proportion fail within the first year.
Take Italian atelier, Mole for example, the brand name for Umberto Palermo Design, based in Rivoli, on the outskirts of Turin. Using OEM manufacturer designs, Mole creates limited editions and bespoke vehicles to customer specifications, ranging from a mildly redesigned variation of Fiat’s 124 Spider – which mightn’t have been such a bad idea if the execution wasn’t so poor, to what they were showing at Palexpo; Almas, a rebodied version of Alfa Romeo’s mid-engined 4C, which appeared as some curious form of Alfa Montreal/33 Stradale montage.
“Charming in theory, but embarrassing in reality,” our man at Geneva proclaimed. However, for full toe-curling effect, Mole also offers the Maserati Granturismo-based Vittoria, which really has to be seen to be believed.
From the laughably inept to perhaps its more engaging relative, we leave Piedmont’s sweaty embrace for the bow tie and cravat of Eadon Green – a comparatively recent UK start-up aimed at the Anne Hathaway’s Cottage end of the bespoke market. “Behold this amusingly misguided attempt at 1930’s elegance”, our design-critic at large spluttered, while attempting to maintain a straight face. “It’s Rolls Royce Wraith-based and so awkward its almost endearing”. On balance however, I think we might just have to settle for awkward.
But all else pales when confronted with this. The Hispano Suiza marque has undergone a number of iterations since its pre-War heyday, allegedly even obtaining the rights to the Bugatti name for a time following the latter’s post-hostilities dissolution. The current iteration – one of two separate automakers of the same name – is linked to the Spanish Suqué Mateu family, descendants of Hispano Suiza co-founder, Damián Mateu.
Inspired by the styling of the coachbuilt 1938 Hispano Suiza-based H6C Dubonnet Xenia, the Carmen is claimed by its makers to be “one of the most carbonfibre-intensive cars in the world” – well, it’s useful to have a USP of some variety, I suppose. Its two electric motors combine to produce over 1000 bhp, it is claimed and the carbuilder makes equally lavish assertions regarding the Hispano Suiza’s performance. All well and good until one is confronted by the sheer physical impact of the device, an uncomfortable collision of art-deco charm and post-millennial aggression.
“This woeful Hispano Suiza serves to illustrate just how off the aesthetics of low production volume, high price sports cars are these days”, Christopher noted, before making his excuses. Because whatever £1.3 million buys the average HNWI nowadays, it certainly doesn’t appear to stretch to beauty.
Of course, this selection represents a mere subset of the gilded wonders on offer amid Palexpo’s gleaming, and in places, conspicuously empty halls. After all, there is only so much braised flamingo anyone can stomach, especially at those prices.
But assuming they can delude themselves, good luck to them, I suppose. Nevertheless, surely there must be better, more fruitful ways of spending one’s time to say nothing of money? Did I say hopeless? Perhaps I really meant pointless.