Friday, May 15, 2009

How to became a supercar manufacturer in 3 easy steps

I was searching some new car for one of those clients that say "yes it has all these features I'll never use and the wiper blades are made of solid gold, witch is fine because in my country never rains, buy it's still not expensive enough". All I could come up with are the same old Lambo's for american pop idols or middle eastern AMG's so heavy with diamonds that can barely make it to 150Km/h. I then turn my attention to the niche manufacturers, the ones children decorate walls with. That's how I came up with this guide that can turn anyone into a supercar manufacturer in less than 3 weeks and under 3000:

STEP1
Buy or borrow a computer
Any computer will do, even a laptop. You can find on the net, open source professional 3D software but if you're to lazy to learn Blender there are people that just use paintbrush. Half the pictures on teenagers walls are just that: pictures. They are as close to entering the production as I am to wining the marathon. All you need to do is draw some huge wheels and some doors that open in a more complicated fashion than a Nijinsky performance at Ballets Russe. Add some gargantuan wings and cover everything with carbon fiber texture. You now have a "concept car". You will proceed to find a name. Since the more famous ones like Bugatti or Ascari, are already taken and/or protected you can try an obscure garage dead for 30 or so years like Veritas or Voisin. Or be bold and put your name on the car however unpronounceable may that be. If Koenigseggrtssggmlgrstt can do it why can't you?! (investment - 0 - €200)

STEP2 Media buzzThis is the expensive part. Now, endowed with a name and a pretty picture for your supercar, set up an internet site (any teenager can help you for under €200) and call a press conference to announce the price and production date. The price should be no less than €1.500.000 and the technical specifications should be as evasive as possible but contain something like "23 cylinders with 7.3 valves/cylinder and over 2000HP from a Helium Engine". It helps if around the date of the press conference you crash a rental Ferrari while driving drunk with 2 naked strippers around Monaco.
For the press conference itself find a derelict farm in France and declare it's the birthplace of the famous tram driver or blacksmith your car is named after. Buy some sparkling wine (€3 at supermarket) some chips and biscuits. Borrow tableware from a wedding firm and a few bottles of Mo√ęt & Chandon or Veuve Clicquot for display. Attention, if someone's trying to give you Billecart-Salmon or Bruno Paillard because they're better don't take it. They are better bur your gussets won't recognize the names. Dress sharp (outskirts of Milano - €20) and preferably show up with the stripper that wares cast collar so you can tell again the story of you famous crash (investment: 400 - €1000).

STEP3 International investmentWith any luck, after your press conference you or your stripper well be invited at some ukrainian demigod villa that might also place an order for your supercar. With the down payment you'll rent a garage and buy a second hand Mitsubishi Eclipse (350) and some fibreglass body-kits to build your car. If you manage to get more than €50.000 in downpaiments you can even commission a special body from a studio that has leftover designs in storage. With a second hand american V8 engine and drive-train (€200) you now have a "rolling prototype" to be paraded around autoshows. Depending on your budget you can go to the big events like Geneva or Paris or just to the lucrative ones like Kiev and Kuwait. Look sharp (see Step2). This is where you'll meet your fortune, your international investor, your true god. He will most probably be of slavic, vedric or islamic descent. He will buy your company for a few milions (the semi-defunct TVR went for 15mil pounds to Abramovich's friend Nicolay Smolenski). He can also keep you in charge for a nice salary (Victor Muller founder of Spyker cars takes 240000 from it's Lithuanian investors).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Slow progres, slow driving

I'm still in Saudi Arabia and things are not moving along as expected:
"The Court of Cassation of Makkah Region approved Saturday a jail sentence of 20 years and 3,000 lashes (...) against Faisal Al-Otaibi, a stunt driver famously known as Abu Kaab. The defendant caused death to three people during driving stunt here four years ago. The sentence also involved banning the defendant from driving for life."
So the famous saudi drifting (see youtube for details) gets a tough blow while I still get no idea what "Some new cars" might mean. HH has already 39 cars, 9 of them bought for him by myself. The palace of residence has place for 16 cars so I guess I'll make a list of 7-9 proposals and I'll ship for viewing 5-6 of those. Unfortunately what "those" mean I'm yet to figure out. I saw there is no Spiker on the list so at list one could be a C12 Zagato(if I could find one in time). I'll also bring a Tesla just to test the reaction.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The curse of the magic words

In my line of work, once in a while, you hear from a client the mesmerising "unlimited budget" and despite what you may think, it's not always a blissful joy. It's even worse with those (few to be fair) clients that don't even talk about it - it's self-implied that the budget is "unlimited".
Knowing how much I hate airports or remorsing he was about to flush my self-esteem and confidence to the toilet, HH put me in a Bombardier Global Express and flew me to Al Riyad. We had a... no, that wasn't a meeting, maybe an encounter that, traditional gift exchange included, took 3 minutes. Essentially I said hello, I gave him the autographed book of James Oliver (tnx Michael for the tip!!) and he gave me (yet another) traditional dagger. Then HH said he has to run to a meeting (with the king I supposed) and that he wants: "Some new cars". He left leaving me standing in the middle of the room like manure on a silver plate.
"Some new cars"... Aha, great... now what!?
Now, frustrated and humiliated I book a room in Radisson SAS, took a shower and try to sleep. Tomorrow I'll go to the Jeddah to the auto salon hopefully to get some inspiration.

Lamborghini Spyder raises $270k

Fundraisers have always been a great way to buy overpriced cars. Last weekend, Nancy Davis Foundation for Multiple Sclerosis raised a record $2 million aided by the generous bid of $270,000 for the first new Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Spyder to be delivered to the United States. The bid was placed by Malibu couple Kymberly Gold, co-founder of True Religion Jeans, and music producer Victor Newman, who will receive the car next month when US deliveries are scheduled to begin. The car was prepared specially by Lamborghini for the charity event, in black with orange accents to mirror the charity's colors.

No Ferrari for me!

I hear this more and more and I think it's just sad! I totally agree with "no furs", no flashy jewelery or no yacht over 30m but what's wrong with Ferrari? You can buy now a decent Ferrari for less than one of those soulless corporate cars.
Let me tell you what's wrong: the trouble is that you can also buy “Felipe Massa's original overall” for little under 9000€ and this, to be honest, has nothing to do with either style or Ferrari. It's just opulence and bad taste. The auction took place at the newly opened Ferrari store in London – one of 40 more to be opened around the world in the next 3 years.
Cups, bicycles, pens, t-shirts, soap and shampoo – a plethora of cheap byproducts that transformed the name of a respected car manufacturer in a brand with an identity crisis. Like a “Puma” tail coat or bow tie. Between Ferrari drive days (ex.) and Ferrari stores and Ferrari underwear and... the brand acquired quite a stench of noveau rich. And this is just sad.
Or is it?Despite the slip into mercantilism, Ferrari, while milking the brand in an almost obscene way, it's still the car-maker that gave us, for example, the 308 GTB now going for 20 to 50k€ for a really exquisite exemplar. Due to brand errosion (and some overcommenter crisis) the second hand prices drop constantly. Even icon models like the 250 Dino could be found for under 200000€.

New Project at "M"'s

This weekend I went to the "M"'s in Roquebrune Cap Martin to discuss their move to London. I'm so excited about this project because it's their first time RHD (right hand drive) experience so we have to make a totally new list and buy all the cars. And I love them so much, they were my third couple of clients ever. They're 40ish, both doctors and have a wonderful 3 years collie.
Sunday we went to Montecarlo to play with the electr
ic carts at the Stade Nautique Rainier III (by the way, hope they won't demolish it). It was decided I'll go with madamme M, two-tone, red-burgundy '64 Silver Cloud, to talk a little more about her "chauffeur" in London. Robert wanted to thake a 1999 Versace Diablo (the orange one with black leather if you remember - I'm sorry I can't show you my client's car). He also had at the villa a brilliant '62, rosso corsa, Maserati 3500Gt and I argued that it's better, even more so since it was somewhat clowdish and the violent orange of the "versace" would have looked dull.
He's such a darling and calling me a "develish yoda" took my advice and we set off to what has been a quite enjoyable afternoon.
The job didn't went so great unfortunately. Robert has a one year research contract in London but there's no definitive choice of residence and I hate when this happens. If I don't know not even how big the garage will be, how am I supposed to do my job?
Monday I had to return home and I'm a little concerned that I didn't manage to clarify any details. We settled for 5 cars and agreed on one cabrio (to be decided) and 2 4x4s (definitely one Defender). The rest of the list will be settled in two weeks when I'll visit them again and until than the house will be settled.