The subject of today’s “Sucks/Rocks” rant is a deviation from the standard format of focusing on a particular make or model, but it required addressing. This argument is a philosophical one, for the soul of the performance car world, and questions the very root of the high-performance realm of the last 50-60 years.
The question is: Should performance car companies be allowed to make vehicles in any kind of mass production, or do the high numbers essentially water down what makes these vehicles special? It is beyond a First-World Problem, but we shall examine it nonetheless.
Why Your Car Sucks:
Everyone loves supercars, so in the spirit of being contrarian windbags, we’ll start by pointing out the lesser qualities of these vehicles. First– the numbers: Between 1999 and 2005, 1,200 Ferrari 360 Modenas were produced per year, and just under 1,100 units of the 360 Spider were built. Call it splitting hairs, but that errs JUST on the limit of what you could call a “limited edition” car. It also seemingly violates Enzo Ferrari’s vision of producing one less car than you think you can sell. You don’t go against The Family.
The 360, and the F430, and 458 Italia after that are all “volume supercars.” They were built in comparatively large numbers, and as time went on, and the class of “hypercar” was developed, they stood to serve one purpose; fund the development of the next million-dollar performance car.
Think about how many 458 Italias are in the hands of Wall Street investors, being thrashed on the Saw Mill Parkway at 7AM on a Sunday morning. Fresh off a night of coke and strippers, these purveyors of glut chose only one class of car to drive fast enough that it wipes the residue of hard drugs and alcohol from their palette just in time to return to their wives. Porsche 911, Ferrari 458, Lamborghini Gallardo all come to mind. These cars are parked in front of exclusive clubs and five-star hotels, like Chevy Malibu’s in front of a La Qunita! It is a perversion of the true intent of these vehicles- or is it?
Ferrari likes to pretend that every one of their vehicles will be lovingly owned and cared for. More realistic is it that many of these cars will end up in the hands of drug dealers, professional athletes and Arab princes– quality ownership is not guaranteed. I suppose that is part of marketing in its own perverse way.
Why Your Car Rocks:
These “volume supercars” fund the development of the next “hypercar.” (It’s always fun to same statement for conflicting arguments.) Somewhere on the window sticker, it should read:
“Proceeds from the sale of this (Insert: 911, 458 Italia, Gallardo, MP4-12C) go to the development of the next (Insert: 918 Spyder, LaFarreri, Veneno, P1). Thank you for your contribution”
Oh, and it should not be overlooked that these cars are still performance monsters. While not fully realized in a valet lot nor in a recording artist’s garage, in the right hands, these cars are some of the most significant performance vehicles in the world. Besides, most people with drug problems do not drive Ferraris, and we want to hang with the ones that do.
There is also the super pretentious aspect of hypercars, where only ten are built per year, and they all end up in the hands of Arab Sheiks. The carmaker selects who ends up with the car, and you will not see one on the road for another decade. There is a place in this world for those who meticulously care for certain cars, but after that role is filled and you have about 10 Ferrari 430s carefully stored away, the rest of y’all can let loose and have some fun with yours!
I heard a great line from a gentleman who raced classic cars regarding the mind-set of one who knowingly puts their valuable car in harm’s way on a racetrack:
“The guy storing his car away is like the kid who never took his G.I. Joe’s out of their boxes. Me? I’m the one blowing them up in the back yard.”
It is perhaps one of my favorite lines involving cars in the history of cars. It strikes right at the heart of our hobby, and if Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche only produced ten vehicles per year, we could not have the luxury to make such an argument.
In the meantime, boutique supercar brands like Mazzanti can focus on their efforts to make about 5-10 cars per year. We can be thankful that when we hear a high-revving V8, it is probably coming from a Ferrari 458 or Porsche 911, inspiring the next generation of gearheads.