This Article was published
in Automotive News Europe, and might well have relevance
to the world of Super-Ferraris
I watch the increasing preoccupation of automakers with super-performance
with some apprehension. Manufacturers want the title of most prestigious,
and they are trotting out one increasingly stupendous vehicle
after another to obtain it.
It's not just bigger price tags to contain all the digits, or
that writers are running out of adjectives * super, ultra, hyper,
mega, extreme * to attach to "performance." The auto
industry is increasingly distracted by the quest for best. I have
heard all the "halo effect" arguments justifying the
effort and expense. I don't buy them.
Don't get me wrong. I love performance cars. I adore helmets-and-hot-laps
days at a racetrack. But like most people, I spend far more time
driving on public roads and that's where I want the cars I buy
to perform. There's a difference between a passenger car and an
exotic supercar. Automakers are trying to blur that distinction,
but at some point a vehicle stops being a car and becomes merely
investment-grade self-propelled sculpture.
Here is my guideline for whether a vehicle is in the auto business
or the entertainment industry.
It isn't a car if:
It's like the people who collect children's toys and demand dolls
in original unopened packaging. Children's toys are made to be
played with and real cars are made to be driven. It's sad when
they are not. But how these big-boy toys are played with is a
side issue. More important is whether the horsepower and performance
race actually helps the automakers involved. I see three potential
Some executives are clearly obsessed with building
what a few hundred buyers can afford. But their home markets are
being targeted by other automakers already focused on the mass market.
It's time to call off the hyper-performance wars and pay more attention
to the real car business than to the toys.