By on March 8, 2013

 

Full disclosure: While my business-class compatriots were living it up in Geneva, I was sitting at home in Ohio, waiting anxiously for the Fed-Ex-mishap-delayed arrival of something called a “Modern Eagle NOS Brazilian” and letting my three-year-old son watch The Lost World in HD. I’d forgotten that there was a part where the T. Rex bites a hapless civilian in half. “There’s meat inside people, if you’re a hungry dinosaur and you can’t find a ‘ceratops to eat,” the boy opined upon seeing the scene. Oh, well. Nature, red in tooth and claw, and all that.

It’s reasonable, therefore, that I might be personally bitter about the latest auto show and my failure to snag a seat on a charter flight to same. No surprise there. What is surprising is this: the people who went weren’t excited about the product either. Sure, they took Facebook pictures of their triple-seven sleeping pods and eighty-euro mystery dinners, but when it came to the actual rolling stock, the lack of enthusiasm among the professional enthusiasts could be viewed from space. Assuming, of course, you have an Internet connection in space and are willing to use it to read auto blogs. The closest thing to a universally acclaimed car at the show was a diesel version of a sporty hatchback. That’s like getting worked up over Diet Dr. Pepper.

The responsibility for this dismal state of affairs can be clearly laid at the feet of three companies. Porsche, Ferrari, and Lamborghini were given a chance to render automotive equivalents of Miss Alex Morgan in steel, aluminum, and carbon fiber. Instead, they chose to give us Honey Boo-Boo’s mother, Snooki, and Janet Reno in a Predator mask, respectively.

Start with the reprehensible new 991-generation 911 GT3. The press is experiencing a collective aneurysm regarding the mandatory PDK, and well they should. The excuse given by the truck-builders at Stuttgart that PDK is faster around a racetrack doesn’t wash. Nobody buys a GT3 to go quickly around a racetrack, unless they are suffering from dementia. The list of cars that will handily embarrass a GT3 around a racetrack includes:

  • Pretty much every $15,000 dedicated race car ever, including those ones with the V-twin snowmobile engines
  • Fox Mustangs with big wings on them
  • The Nissan GT-R
  • A little thing that Americans like to call the CORVETTE Z06
  • Vipers
  • and many more!

GT3s are purchased for two reasons. One, they’re fun to drive, so the mandatory PDK in the new one kind of stabs that in the proverbial ball sack. Two, they have traditionally had the old, hyper-durable, GT1-based engine. The new GT3 makes do with an uprated version of the new-gen boxer which makes great numbers in the current 991 but has yet to prove itself as a lasting proposition. This is good news for anybody who owns a 997 GT3: you probably just joined me and my 993 in the Land Where Depreciation No Longer Applies In Any Meaningful Sense. Congratulations. I’ll see you at the next PCA open house. Remember, when you see a Z06 behind you, be sure to wave him by with disdain. We’re told that the new motor makes up for its dirt-cheap construction and totally plebian roots by having all sorts of titanium and whatnot in it. As an experienced Porsche owner, I read that as a warning rendered in sixty-foot tall neon-lit letters, and the text of the warning is

HOLY SHIT THIS IS GONNA COST MONEY WHEN IT SUFFERS FROM SOME WEIRD ENGINE FAILURE THAT SOMEHOW NEVER AFFECTED ANY GENERATION OF THE GEO METRO

The banners flapping proudly in front of Porsche’s corporate headquarters will be cut down and cunningly fashioned into clothing for puppets acting in plays that will re-enact the shame and humiliation involved in telling your Viper-owning neighbor why your titanium-coated titanium rods didn’t make it to the ten-thousand-mile mark. Let’s not even discuss the electronic rear-steer, which is something even the Japanese couldn’t make work reliably and is therefore an almost certain bet to be disconnected and/or removed by the Porschephiles unlucky enough to be unable to afford a 997 GT3 instead of this contraption fifteen years from now.

The reviews for the new car will be spectacular, but we all understand that is because Porsche’s PR department won’t permit anything else and don’t you want to fly business class to Europe? Oh yes you do.

At least the GT3 is priced within greedy-fingered reach of the working Goldman Sachs intern, something that can’t be said about the ridiculous “LaFerrari”. Someone forgot to tell the Maranellians that hypercars are supposed to be more desirable than supercars. The LaFerrari looks like a 458 with a thyroid disorder. It’s far from beautiful but it isn’t beautiful from far. Instead, it’s merely aggressive to a fault.

I have a theory as to why the new LaFerrari and its competitors look the way they do, and it is this: Even if you don’t completely buy into the romantic old notion of Seventies supercar buyers as wealthy, educated playboys and/or aristocrats, it’s certainly true that the men who bought the Miuras and Daytonas appreciated beauty. They wanted something gorgeous, and they wanted to be seen driving something gorgeous. There’s something about a Miura or even a original LP400 Countach that just brings out the car fan in people who normally despite things like Corvettes, Mustangs, or Porsches. They are statements of beauty. They’re expensive and impractical and difficult but all of those flaws are in the service of the goal, the same way we all understand that an Edward Green captoe cannot be used to kick-start a Honda CB550 too many times without splitting the leather. If you didn’t understand that, I’m telling you now, from miserable experience, okay?

Most people will forgive excess in the service of something beautiful, whether that something is a home, a dress, a watch, or an automobile. We may be jealous, we may carp about the environment or some garbage like that, but we will forgive. The problem is that the one-percenters of the globe no longer want that forgiveness. They don’t even want admiration. Rather, they want to impose the crass fact of their historically unsurpassed collective wealth and power directly upon our retinas. They demand aggression in the 44-ounce size, God damn it, and they want you to be as shocked and offended as possible. The LaFerrari isn’t beautiful on purpose. Ferrari knows how to build gorgeous cars. This is meant to be in your face. It’s a primal scream of wealth meant to be heard over the overwhelming Arabian din of AMGs and Panameras and Gallardos common as Corollas and every other gauche toy it’s possible to acquire with the limitless proceeds granted our betters by corrupt governments and tilted markets and insider information and thick, poisonous fluid left half a mile beneath your grandfather’s tent by the predations and expiration of Tyrannosaurus Rex himself. Beauty doesn’t enter the equation; the buyers wouldn’t recognize it anyway. If you want a vision of the future, imagine a four-story-tall press stamping aluminum into an inhumanly unattractive fascia — forever.

We are left in the position of the hapless radio listener who was once permitted a tiny slice of audio dynamic variation in his pop music, a quiet section of “Stairway” or the changes of “A Day In The Life” and now is given the inhuman 105dB compression of IMMA BE IMMA BE IMMA BE IMMA BE. The LaFerrari has to be louder than everything else around it or it has no reason to exist. We all knew the Enzo was ugly as sin compared to the F40 (let’s just pretend the F50 didn’t happen, okay?) but we forgave it because there was something lovely about the technical merit of that car, the simplicity and the performance. No longer. The LaFerrari. Menacing a Moscow valet near you.

But here comes the hotsteppin’ irony! The LaFerrari isn’t hideous enough! There’s a “misshapen gap” — and Ferrari is on the wrong side! Because the Lamborghini Veneno exists! The Veneno, which is named after the general concept of venereal disease, attempts to replicate in metal what it feels like to have the burning sensation of penile infection. (Sadly, your humble author can only guess at that particular sensation; my lack of business-class trips to Europe forces me to consort with relatively decent American ladies.) It’s all sharp edges and gaping rectums and Batmobile-inspired stupidity. It isn’t even really shaped like a proper car, not even in the general sense. With just 750 horsepower, it will be easy prey for hopped-up GT-Rs and nitrous-fed 1980 Thunderbirds, but that hardly matters because the sole purpose of this vehicle is to announce the owner’s ability to absolutely and completely waste three point nine million dollars.

The silhouette of the Veneno will be displayed in PowerPoint presentations throughout Estonia as each new generation of high-priced prostitute is rigorously drilled on how to distinguish this ridiculous but potentially profitable contraption from stealth fighters, unwanted Roy Lichtenstein sculptures, and head-on collisions between a vinyl-wrapped Murcielago and a Sportback-equipped Pulsar NX. Seventy-year-old hedge fund managers will vie via proxy bid process with tattooed Yakuza honchos for the privilege of dislocating their hip with each monstrously undignified entry and exit. Somebody will make a kit that turns late-model Chevy S-10s into Veneno lookalikes, but due to a mistake in the Solidworks file the resulting machine will be considerably more graceful-looking and thus completely unacceptable!

Geneva gave us a Porsche optimized for a track time slower than that of a used Viper, a LaFerrari more properly titled the LaMentable, and a syphilis fever dream of a Lamborghini. But none of that was really given to us. It was given to the Masters of the Universe, the Eloi who converse in an increasingly tortured and meaningless dialect of exaggerated symbols and amplified display. We, the humans occupying the unwanted portions of the planet, received a diesel hatchback. So we can burn a fuel more amenable to CO2-centric regulations and still have red stripes on the grille. Except the GTD doesn’t seem to have any red stripes. Enjoy your diesel hatchback, you proles. No red stripe for you. Too much exuberance is bad for the environment and the polar bears and all the other stuff that depends on you cutting your consumption of plastic party cups but is, I swear, completely unaffected by the giant Eye of Sauron in China cranking out iPods in the suicide-inducing millions. Make sure you watch TV so you know how to vote next time, too. Try not to make a fuss or occupy any parks while you’re at it.

Luckily, the antidote for all this stupidity is probably reasonably close to your home. Go over to your local Chevrolet dealer and see if they’ll cut you a deal on a close-out six-speed manual “narrowbody” C6 Corvette. For forty thousand bucks or so, you should be able to pick up one without the frills which, frankly, don’t cut it in that car anyway. In your dedicated and properly-trained hands, it should be able to stay in view of any of the above-mentioned fopperies. If the engine died for no reason, which ain’t gonna happen by the way, you could get a new one at a junkyard. It’s not gorgeous, but it has a visual dignity all its own and some of the detailing is quite nice.

If the Vette isn’t your cup of tea, you could try a Mustang GT, which is even cheaper and is charming in its own way. Or a Challenger SRT-8. Or a Nissan 370Z. Or a Genesis Coupe. Or, yes, a Scion FR-S. There’s a lot of good metal out there for people who aren’t obsessed with humiliating their neighbor in a driveway faceoff or winning Cars and Coffee on a technicality. It’s never been cheaper, faster, or more reliable that it is right now. That’s the real story behind the Geneva show, and it’s one you can verify for yourself this weekend, right at home.

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89 Comments on “Avoidable Contact: This Geneva Convention Was Torture For Enthusiasts...”


  • avatar

    So which IS the beautiful Ferrari? It’s certainly not the California.

    Ferrari’s lineup is really on a tear these days.

    Lamborghini’s isn’t.

    • 0 avatar
      juicy sushi

      I find the 458 comes closest, but the front end just doesn’t work for me.

      The FF is pretty good as well, and at least is interesting. None of the rest do much for me either, and none of them match the looks of a 250GT SWB or Lusso.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      The only good looking new Ferraris are Ferraris re-bodied by other people.

      Even the, in English, “Ferrari the Ferrari”, is just a bad knockoff of the Glickenhaus Ferrari P4/5.

      The best Ferrari at Geneva was not from Ferrari but from Pininfarina.

      http://jalopnik.com/the-best-ferrari-at-geneva-isnt-a-ferrari-451228967

      • 0 avatar
        juicy sushi

        True, but even the front end on the Sergio was disappointing.

        • 0 avatar
          racer-esq.

          I liked it, I’m not usually a fan of the unibrow, but Pininfarina did it well.

          Ferrari used to make beautiful cars, but now it is becoming like pre-war Cadillac or Rolls Royce. Ferrari’s engineering is at a high level, but if you want the car to actually look great you have to work with a custom coachbuilder.

          It took a lot of guts for Glickenhaus to modify an Enzo, the Enzo is going to be an iconic Ferrari, and I think the Enzo looks good. But I think that there will be a lot of demand for the Italian coachbuilders to rebody the “Ferrari the Ferrari”.

  • avatar
    Aegea

    Bravo! You had me at Janet Reno in a Predator mask, but the 1984 reference was icing on the cake!

  • avatar
    leshnah

    Jack, beautiful writing. The notion of someone spending $4 million dollars on a car and still being able to sleep at night KNOWING that people sleep in dirt floors pisses me off. Amazingly, it’s something that sounds so obvious, yet many are completely unfazed by that. Guess common sense really is lacking in the world today, huh? (as if $4 million dollar Lambos wasn’t enough proof!)
    Anyway, your conclusion is beautiful. There’s an increasing number of beautiful, safe, eco-friedly, cheap cars out there. Today’s Corvette can kick any old Ferrari’s ass; hell, you may not like it, but yesterday I drove a light blue Fiat 500 with the 100HP engine and it felt amazing!
    The point is, the solution to all this bitterness against that 1% can be overcomed easily, wether by helping your community or buying a cheap fun car!

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      O come come now. You’ve never spent money on a frivolous indulgence or threw away food? Don’t get high and mighty because someone has more disposable income than you.

      • 0 avatar
        leshnah

        I’ve done both, and I would never stop anyone from doing it. It’s just that there’s frivolous and then there’s just absurd. It’s not the buying frivolous ultra expensive stuff that bothers me, that’s fine by me; it’s the selfishness that goes with it. I think we have to change our mindset. $4 million US dollars can do a LOT of good. And be much better spent, either helping someone or buying something beautiful!

        • 0 avatar
          JD23

          What should the limit be on the amount spent for a new car? I agree that there are far better uses for $4 million than spending it on a garish, overpriced Lamborghini, but I have little desire to impose my standards on how others employ their wealth.

          • 0 avatar
            ithiel

            I think it may depend less on the raw amount and more on the purpose or use of the car. For example, a Veyron or the like was (ostensibly) designed to push the envelope of top speed in the consumer space, never mind the high pricetag. The same argument can be made for the Enzo Ferrari, etc.

            However, some cars seem to exist solely for the purpose of displaying wealth, minus the thin veneer of ultimate performance or luxury. These vehicles, including the new Lambo, would then be less purposeful and less justified in a subjective sense. Another car which may fall into this category would be the Maybach, which offered little above standard Mercedes fare other than a hyper-inflated price tag.

          • 0 avatar
            leshnah

            I understand and agree, I would not impose my standards on anybody. It’s just that all that money spent on a car, not only a car but an ugly one, extremely distasteful one (I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but bear with me) just seems, to me, morally wrong.
            It’s my opinion; I just could not do that.

        • 0 avatar
          tatracitroensaab

          Eh, the $4 million dollars feeds some Italian workers who then spend money on other things. At least the money is being spent and used and flowing back into the economy than staying as an abstract number in a bank. Don’t hate on the Lambo — even if it didn’t exist those sorts of people would blow their money on something else blingy. These sorts of people will always exist so you really shouldn’t get worked up about it. And in any case, charity is hip. Rich people blow money on cars, but they also give money to charities so they look better. It’s kind of how the world works, and hating on it is like hating gravity. It’s human nature to get status symbols.

          • 0 avatar
            JD23

            If the internet had existed in the 17th century, I can only imagine the outcry over the Indian Emperor’s vulgar display of wealth in his construction of an extravagant mausoleum for his wife. This kind of stuff isn’t new and certainly isn’t restricted to Italian hypercars.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            I was just going to go on a rant about Shah Jahan, but you beat me to it. What a dick.

          • 0 avatar

            Well. and we know how well that all worked out for Shah Jahan.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, you have a choice. You can either give poor people enough money to barely survive for a while longer, or you can give a healthy number of people really cool, satisfying jobs that they are really good at and will love doing.

      Of course if you don’t think these are good people making great cars, well, you choose the company that is, and personally help keep your favorite automakers employed and alive.

      Nice bonus: After reading Jack’s description I realize why the newer Mercedes are ugly, and why I prefer the prettier older models, like the 2003 E-Class I have (which I know Jack hates, but bear with me) instead of the current model.

    • 0 avatar
      juicy sushi

      I have to agree that I think Jack nailed it with his conclusion. For all of our carping, the affordable end of the market has produced some amazingly good stuff lately, and the upper-end of the market seems to be an awful lot of stale ideas (with some exceptions).

      Giving credit where credit is due, the Ford/GM/Toyota/Subaru/Hyundai/Mazda of the world are working quite hard at producing some pretty remarkable stuff for the average human being. The marketing may be off, the styling might not be perfection, but I see increasingly less point in anything over $35,000k new. Premium cars offer steadily diminishing returns.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      But by that logic, does anyone really NEED more than a Trabant?

      • 0 avatar
        juicy sushi

        Yes. I need something that works flawlessly in temperatures from -40 to +40 celsius, with adequate fuel economy and modern safety standards. The Trabant literally can’t do that.

        My point wasn’t logical though, it’s just that over 35k, I just don’t see anything more fun and desirable than the cars under that.

      • 0 avatar

        A Trabant is so slow from 0-56 (it wont’ make it to 60) that it would be highly dangerous to drive on our roads.

        Furhermore, it spews horrible amounts of pollution out of its two-stroke engine.

        So no, we do need something better than a Trabant :).

        D

  • avatar
    dwford

    Amen. It’s not just the supercars, though. Most cars these days are either flat ugly or exaggerated versions of attractive cars. Very little beauty out there right now. Where have all the designers gone??

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      There’s only so much you can do with a 3-box, and even less you can do with aerodynamics. I think the best designers have moved to Brazil and are designing floats for Carnival.

  • avatar
    dts187

    This whole piece is absolutely beautiful. I was reading it as I was sitting at my desk. While working my gray-collar, middle income job and something strange happened. I felt inspired. I felt content with my life. I thought about the absolute happiness that flogging my cheap GTI down a West Virginia mountain road brings.

    Bravo, Mr. Baruth.

    • 0 avatar
      mitchw

      This.

    • 0 avatar
      markholli

      @dts187, well said. Very satisfying read. I feel like Jack’s landing kick after squarely-placed kick in these automakers’ nuts with his Edward Green captoes, and I’m right there kicking along with him.

      “The silhouette of the Veneno will be displayed in PowerPoint presentations throughout Estonia as each new generation of high-priced prostitute is rigorously drilled on how to distinguish this ridiculous but potentially profitable contraption…” I love it.

  • avatar
    319583076

    Bravo, Jack. This is an excellent piece, but you already knew that, didn’t you? Thanks again.

  • avatar
    340-4

    Geo Metro.

    Titanium coated titanium rods that can’t make it to 10,000 miles.

    The line about rear wheel steering.

    What a way to start off the day – this epistle has won the internet, and it’s only March 8th.

  • avatar
    moorewr

    Oh this is is vintage Baruth. Awesome.

    What about the shift to hybrid super cars? That was really noticeable to me.. part of an arms race rather than meeting some existing need in the market? Or imitation of race cars like the latest Audi R18+?

    I have to admit of all the expensive cars unveiled at Geneva, europhile that I am I could only really picture myself wanting the C7 Corvette…

  • avatar
    wcpfour

    You had me at ” Janet Reno in a Predator mask.”

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way. Thanks for putting this into words in your own distinguished manner, Jack.

  • avatar
    Freddy M

    Jack, as always, a masterful piece.

    How sadly sobering the truth of your article really is in todays world.

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    To give this article some balance, and to place it in the proper perspective, given TTAC’s editorial bias:

    The Corvette, while it can easily trounce any of those three cars with some cheap upgrades;

    - BAILOUT!

    - What a horrifying interior!

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I knew this was coming and I knew it would be glorious.

    The 991 GT3 is the final phase in Porsche’s transition into a luxury brand. The old homologated 911s were pure drivers cars. They took no prisoners and were the automotive equivalent of “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx”…

    This GT3, with its grandma friendly transmission, girth hiding rear steer system (Porsche test driver claimed system was installed to make the car more nimble…. so the 991 isn’t nimble on its own???), 20″ wheels and more money than personality/character marketing strategy really crystallizes the efforts Porsche has made to completely kill its own brand. This GT3 isn’t a race car for the street, its the Justin Beiber edition 911, complete with magnesium dubzzzz. Its incredible how completely different in philosophy this is from the 997 GT3 RS 4.0. And the point about this being slower around a track than what a bunch of college kids can build in a basement for $10K is definitely not lost.

    Veneno is not even worth addressing honestly but I think you are off base with the LaFerrari (god I feel like a douchebag even typing that). Yes its design is garish and representative of the goofiness of its owners, but so was the Countach. So was the Testarossa. The folks buying LaFerraris are no less “humble” or honorable than the Wall St & Hollywood cocaine cowboys who were balling up supercars left and right. So the whole “supercar owners used to be so much more honorable” angle is BS. Supercars have ALWAYS been about flash and conspicuous consumption… the only thing that has changed is your perspective. You view something like a Countach through the eyes of a kid with no context of things like the wealth gap or jealousy. Now as a grown up you see cars today through a totally different lens. It’s all the same stuff Jack.

    And for all the belly aching, you close it all off by acknowledging the kind of great metal we have access to. When the Countach came out we were at a, if not THE low point in average Joe sports metal. Now we have access to incredible cars at pretty much any price point, even with the messed up used car market. So its not that bad to me.

  • avatar
    tedward

    Awesome article. One of your more quotable moments.

    And thank you for calling out the switch to automatic supercars. I puke in my mouth a little each and every time I see a review that fails to mention that a manual gearbox is no longer available…it’s a total credibility loser for me. It’s a never ending procession of the world’s nicest hairdresser cars as far as I’m concerned.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    This piece smacks of Sherman McCoy post-accident, dying to reclaim his “rightful” place in the pantheon of the Masters. All would be forgiven with one first-class BA flight to Stuttgart. Jack, I get it. I wanted to be Hunter Thompson, too. We all see the bats eventually.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    Ha, ha…pretty funny piece, and pretty much on target. I bet, the new GT3 WILL be faster around a track than the old one, but that’s it.

    And his calling out the exaggeration of the wealth gap effect is correct…because there’s a larger wealth gap now. And I think these latest items from Ferrari and Lamborghini are more about conspicuous consumption than performance.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    The niche of automotive enthusiests that love Panthers as their daily drivers are complaining about the lack of a stick shift in a $130k Porsche…

    Not that I can afford one, or Porsche cares about my opinion, I have had a PDK 911 out on the track and it was far beyond my ability and was still an absolute riot to drive. If I were fortunate enough to have $130k to waste on a track car, I wouldn’t be upset about PDK only in the 911. I’d probably have a nicely set up Miata/FR-S/BRZ/S2000 as my “row your own/perfect your technique” track car.

  • avatar
    hurricanehole

    As the recipient of a subpoena from Janet Reno aka the crocodile lady courtesy of bad advice from my lawyer I have to say everyone there in her Dade County office were courteous and professional. No intimidation or grief occurred. These cars on the other hand, yes. Enjoyed the writing.

  • avatar

    Great piece, Jack.

    And yeah, for all the knocks on GM, at least their performance cars can still be ordered with clutch pedals. I hope that’s still true of the upcoming next-gen CTS-V, but we’ll see.

  • avatar
    cdotson

    Great piece of writing. A Wells and a Tolkein reference, and that just in one paragraph! Inspiring the inner nerds in all us auto enthusee-asts.

  • avatar
    jco

    setting aside the outrageous and offensive styling of cars no one can ‘afford’ (because if you’re buying one, the word ‘afford’ isn’t in your vocabulary), i think you hit on the real point indirectly. the reason your 993 no longer ever depreciates is because it’s still exotic in a way that matters to real enthusiasts: it is analog. exemplified by your correct analysis of the GT3 throwing away it’s heritage is that every prized component of physical driver interaction with the car is being taken away and replaced by servos and wiring.

    the true supercars of the future should be steps back. let the Accord buyers lead the way with mass-market subsidized electronics engineering. they won’t notice or care. but let the people who can and want to pay six figures and above for a car have thin sheetmetal (or carbon fiber), light weight, AND THREE PEDALS THAT CONNECT THROUGH THE FIREWALL WITH CABLES.

    the burlap sacks of currency with $ painted on them that Singer charges to build you a resto-mod 911 starts to look downright reasonable.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    Genius writing. Thank you.

  • avatar
    LuciferV8

    First and foremost, that is some quality prose, Jack. I think that if more of America’s young men were given content like this in school, there would be a touch more than statistically significant jump in the average male verbal SAT score – probably within less than five years after introduction.

    I was about to breathlessly defend the Veneno’s honor, but I frankly cannot summon the gall in sight of that $4 million price tag. That price point makes all the difference in that it takes a monument to bespoke excess such as the Pagani Huayra, and renders it a bargain. What’s more, the Huayra is genuinely far more beautiful – a goregeous machine inside and out.

    On to the LaFerarri, I seems like they’ve dropped the ball big-time in Maranello, beginning with the tackiest name since Velveeta. The sad difference is that Velveeta at least costs a fair deal less than $900/lb.

    Finally, with Porsche, all I can say is that while they own the 911, they at least don’t own the MR drivetrain. There is hope.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      “I think that if more of America’s young men were given content like this in school …”

      +1 to that. Boring antiques forced on (not given to) a captive school audience is much of why so many men never open a book again in their adult lives.

      Reading should be a joy. Letting old women and homosexual English majors ruin that with Shakespeare and Capote should be criminal.

  • avatar
    chimichanga

    Jack Baruth strikes again!

    Love this direction much more than the ‘masculinity’ series.

    The uberfreedom to exploit, pollute, disregard, and impose is destroying (super)cars as we knew them.

    “They want to impose the crass fact of their historically unsurpassed collective wealth and power directly upon our retinas.” Line of the week.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    I’ll agree with you on the Veneno – seriously, WTF – but I like the LaFerrari – aside from it’s name, and the fact it has the same hockey-stick headlights as the “entry-level” 458.

    If you think the LaFerrari looks too aggressive, simply stare at the Veneno for about ten seconds, then look back, and the Ferrari looks like a paragon of minimalism.

    I think one of the reasons many of the people who attended the Geneva Auto Show weren’t that enthusiastic about the new product from Porsche/Ferrari/Lambo is quite simple: they’re not kids anymore.

    No new hypercar will ever inspire us the way their ancestors inspired us as youngins. It’s not really fair to expect them to. It makes perfect sense that the unveiling of the Golf GTD got more traction: it’s OBTAINABLE BY NORMAL HUMAN BEINGS.

  • avatar
    cargogh

    10 years from now, I wonder which manufacturer will have the Nurburgring edition that gives you an instructor for a day which is just a brief talk.
    “The only instructions are, buckle up, press the red button, press the race mode button, and then launch. That’s it. No steering, no pedal application, absolutely nothing needed.
    Just sit back and enjoy the ride.
    As you know, this model can complete the course faster than any human driver can.
    Don’t worry about G forces. Your helmet is equipped with a personal monitoring system that will bring the car back to tolerable limits if too much bodily stress is detected.
    Any questions? OK. Show me what you have.”

  • avatar
    thelaine

    I wish there was a new Ferrari that was gorgeous and stunning, naughty and fast, and curved in all the right places. Something you urgently wanted to run your hand across but knew it would get you in trouble with a jealous owner. Something obviously sexual.

    Some classic Italian cars just flirt with you. This one has a personality to match its name. I think it is pretty cool looking, for a weapon. LeFerraris are just tools, like their owners.

    • 0 avatar
      cargogh

      I think I was around 13 when the 512BB came out. My all-time favorite Ferrari. It gave the feeling.
      Saddened when it was updated to the Testarossa. Then the 360 appeared. It had the “run your hand across” look. Snowballed downward ever since.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I had very similar thoughts (though I was unable to express them as well) when I first saw the Rolls Royce Phantom a number of years ago. The design was just a big flip of the bird to any mere mortal unfortunate enough to see one in the street. When performance and luxury have become available to all through the trickle-down of technology it is styling and “brand” that define why one car is worth tenfold more than another.

    Even the “ownership experience” has gotten better… Your Toyota dealer may not deliver a Camry to your home with a red ribbon the way the Lexus guy might. But I suspect most people never expect to return to the dealer after they drive away following their Internet-negotiated lowest purchase price anyway.

    All I know is that I grin every time I drive my 500 Abarth. Now I won’t feel so bad about a car I considered an irrational and emotional purchase at the time. There are certainly more practical and roomier cars out there for $22k. It’s fun, cute, gets 30+ mpg driven hard and comes with a well-designed old-fashioned clutch. I probably have more fun driving that car to work than the LeFerrari driver will putting 3,000 miles on his car in the next decade.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Very nice Jack. The use of supercars as a Trump-stype crass expression of wealth is something that has been going on for quite a while but you’re certainly right that it seems to have yet again reach a new high.

    The GT3, however, is sheer cheapness on Porsche’s part. In the past few years they have been going through their model lineup and a nominating more and more of their cars as chariots for well to do dentist and accountants instead of the iconic sports cars they used to be. I was surprised that the GT3 made is on this list so quickly. I guess there are even less reasons now not to just buy a Cayman S.

  • avatar
    CurseWord

    I love and agree with every word of this piece. The taste of the world has gone from beauty to extremity. A t-shirt isn’t ok, you need an Affliction shirt covered in flaming skulls and crosses. As TV drama increases from normal conflicts to plastic hookers throwing Italian tables at one another, all our senses require more and more stimuli. The LaFerrari is the Desperate Housewives in automotive form, the Veneno being the New Jersey spinoff.

    Rear-wheel steering is a great way to guarantee future service appointments, and it won’t change your life the way you think. A 997 is a very good car, it wasn’t shoving cacti in your wife while you slept.

    Great work Jack.

  • avatar
    Waterview

    ” . . .so the mandatory PDK in the new one kind of stabs that in the proverbial ball sack.”

    Jack – you do indeed possess a gift.

    Thanks for sharing it.

  • avatar

    I think you’re being snobby/snotty about the Porsche stuff though.

  • avatar
    96E36M3

    This is why Baruth is favorite automotive writer. Absolutely stunning. I’m always amused by the variety of literary allusions he manages to casually tosses into his pieces. Alfred Lord Tennyson, and George Orwell – and Eloi? Well done. I enjoy the social commentary, and the insight about cars from a car enthusiast, rather than a fawning acolyte of the emperor’s new clothes.

  • avatar
    masouds

    ” people who normally despite things like Corvettes, Mustangs, or Porsches..” should have been “despise things like Corvettes, Mustangs….”

  • avatar
    Ratsnake

    I hope it is not odium philologicum to point out that “Veneno,” from “venenum,” just means poison. Venus, the root of “venereal,” has little to do with the syphilitic looks of this Lamborghini.

    That said, I couldn’t agree more with the sentiment. It seems that the rich have caught an extreme form of the lust for the grotesque available to anyone with qualifying credit in the form of any new pickup truck, the Camaro, the hunchbacked killer Veloster, or the warty Mercedes E. Is a $??? Veneno proportionately uglier than $25-50k of mass-market ugly? Maybe that is the lead backing for a gilded age: upon reaching age 50, a regular person can afford a car that’s half as ugly as the one a Russian kleptocrat bought for ten times the price.

  • avatar
    roadscholar

    Great article…that Lambo really should be put out if its misery. How can a company that makes my favorite supercar, the Gallardo, excrete this monstrosity?

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    You have to think though. Which brand doesn’t belong here… Lambo, Ferrari, Lotus, Porsche?

    Guess yet? Lotus! Why? Because as romantic as the ideas of their cars are, the reality is nobody wants to pay Corvette/Cayman money for a road legal go kart. The Elise should be a $15K kit car. And the Evora looks + sounds great on paper, but is really unrefined compared to the competition and has not 1 but TWO terrible transmissions. As off the mark as Porsche is in philosophy, in the real world their cars really, really, REALLY work. And their marketing is perfect. At the end of the day, in the business of selling cars, THAT’S what counts.

    Porsche, Ferrari, Rambo, these brands thrive because they adapt. Let’s not demonize them for being reflections of their customer’s terrible taste (or our unbridled jealousy). I’d rather a Porsche using Cayamera profits to subsidize unprofitable Caymen than them be stubborn purists that sell themselves to a third world govt on their way to closing doors forever.

    • 0 avatar
      AFX

      I always thout that way too of the Elise being a road legal gokart. I could never figure out why someone would pay Corvette money for a Toyota engined gokart, even if it is supposed to handle great. If I wanted a gokart for the road I’d buy a Lotus 7 kitcar, or even better a Cobra kitcar, and if I wanted something impractical with a roof I would get something like a Factory Five Cobra Daytona Coupe kit car.

  • avatar
    Spencercat

    Absolutely stunning writing, Jack. I hope you never get invited to another car show, just so you can throw stones like this from outside.

  • avatar
    omer333

    Good god, the last two paragraphs hit the nail on the head Jack!

    Were it not for my two-year-old daughter napping, I’d be screaming lots of expletives in agreement.

  • avatar

    I cannot help observing that Jack is not predicting LaFerrari being lapped by a C6 ‘Vette. That makes it beautiful enough in my view, although generally I do not approve of the front overhang this long.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    I’d subscribe to a magazine with a single monthly article half this good, even if the rest is pure advertorial.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    I never found super cars, or worse, hyper-cars to be all that appealing. They just seem so wrong for some reason, and they never really look that great.

    If I had conspicuous wealth to blow, I’d go for a V12 Vantage. Just seems like a proper car, but still screams expensive. Oh well, for now though, I guess a 305hp Mustang that gets 30mpg will have to do (at a 1/10 the price no less!) Which, in all perspective, isn’t a damn bit of a bad thing at all.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      True. There certainly are some expensive classics I might buy if I were wealthy, but these modern supercars? I honestly cannot imagine it. Where the hell am I going to drive it on the road anyway? If I want to drive on the track, I will get a track car and thrash the crap out of it. To each his own. I’m just missing it with these cars. They should at least be beautiful.

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    Aside from Baruth, TTAC is fully-invested in the Euro-centric disease that spawned these mutations. Europe is quickly degenerating into an aristocratic, feudal society, where soon only the Lords and Barons will be able to afford to drive at all. At that point, Volkswagen repair and maintenance will be affordable……by lower level Russian gangsters and oil tick Saudi “Princes.”

    This site displays savage, unmistakable, open contempt for the concept of “Power to the People” with its unwavering hostility to the Corvette. How dare those middle class bumpkins in golf shirts and gold chains and big-haired blond wives afford a car that will absolutely humiliate Euro-garbage costing 10 or 20 or 100 times as much money. This has been savagely ridiculed as performance “by the numbers” and the car’s interior, which is admittedly plain and functional but unpretentious, is brutally scorned and lampooned. That is the end of argument. You lack soft touch switchgear and expsensive smelly leather fit for a king?

    You are outa here!

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    The Corvette’s interior-decorating sins are almost entirely the result of being the one and only mass-produced supercar. It is this mass production, and the consequent achievability by the crass middle class, that the Europeans and most of TTAC writers, eurocentric to the core, are vehemently opposed to.

    After all, the philosophy of mass production was spawned by the odious Henry Ford who believed that the nakedly-crass workers should be paid enough to buy the cars they produced. That is a concept absolutely rejected by the new 1 percent.

    Prior to Henry Ford, cars were only the extravagant and rare toys – land-based privately-owned airplanes if you will – of Kings and Potentates, slathered in aromatic leather stewed in 600 year old tanneries. Wood lovingly selected and milled and embossed by ancient trade guilds, metal worked and hand painted the correct snobby European way with expensive and tedious hand labor.

    By comparison, the vulgar Model T really had NO interior decoration, no extravagant wood or leather (except where it was indisputably cheaper than the alternative) or hand-built flourishes of any kind. It was American as Velveeta, and so is the Corvette, thereby earning itself the really unrivaled fierce contempt of this website.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      That was pretty damned epic Larry P2. Appreciate the points you made re: the Corvette and euro-snobbery. Not a vehicle for me, but I have listened to the praise and criticism over the years and this is an excellent perspective.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Actually the Corvette is hand built, but its interior sins come from excessive bean counting and that’s just points to its lack of profitability.

      I don’t have a problem with the Corvette’s Chevy Cobalt like interior, because my F-series aren’t much better. Speaking of which, the Ford Raptor outsold the Corvette again in February.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        “Speaking of which, the Ford Raptor outsold the Corvette again in February.”

        I can’t be certain, but I’d suspect Corvette sales have been low in anticipation of the C7. As far the interior is concerned, there’s no excuse for it. The basic layout is fine, the materials used are the sticking point.

        I’m not looking for Bentley levels or refinement. Just a functional layout using nice materials. For example, the BMW 1M Series coupe fits me to a tee. Not fussy. Functional. Nice materials.

        The C7 should remedy this.

      • 0 avatar
        Larry P2

        On the other hand, if GM were rapacious enough to install fragrant leather pickled at a 600 year old monastery, and charged a blistering 4 million for each Vette like the diseased Europeans do in their last gasp of terminal decline, all would be forgiven under TTAC’s interior fetish scripture.

        • 0 avatar
          tedward

          “like the diseased Europeans do in their last gasp of terminal decline”

          Or you could just accept that they make the nicest interiors as a general proposition. Your choice.

          This is really just a matter of enough people saying, “Yes, add 2-3 grand to the base price please, because in this price range the car deserves it.” Not a big deal. Not every prospective Corvette buyer just hopped out of a 90′s Buick anyway, so it probably isn’t a bad idea from a business point of view.

          • 0 avatar
            Larry P2

            I do not dispute that European cars, including Volkswagens, have far nicer interiors than just about anyone else. European cars also tend to be maintenance and repair holocausts, their owners being bent over the table with their pants around their ankles whenever they visit their stealerships, which is conveniently overlooked under TTAC’s interior fetish doctrine. European cars are horrifying fragile, unreliable National Debt-expensive to repair and maintain.

            Single moms and those on fixed income are forced to sign over the car title when pretty routine repairs are in order, this interior fetish causing a curious and willful blindness and journalistic dereliction of duty, and TTAC is not the only guilty party here.

            How is it that so many consumers are deluded into thinking, given the internet age, that a Volkswagen is even REMOTELY as reliable as anything Domestic or Japanese indicates rampant lazy and dishonest journalism.

          • 0 avatar
            tedward

            Maybe because the internet age allows us to look up reliability stats on cars, and to see that all European cars aren’t actually expensive to repair or likely to break. Go digging into tdi and 2.5 stats for VW models since you brought it up (true delta makes it easy to see results by drivetrain.) You can also see where each brand had bad years or models, so you can avoid those fairly easily…same goes for every brand, they all have products or eras to avoid for reliability or quality reasons.

            If you are dinging the costs of owning the usual premium Euro brands…well, of course they cost more, and that extra expense is part of a very deliberate marketing strategy. Cadillac and Lexus ownership expenses will cost more than Chevy or Toyota as well. Importing parts does add some cost, but that applies to Asian as well as European products.

          • 0 avatar
            corntrollio

            I wouldn’t take Larry P2 too seriously on this European car point. On a recent thread, he thought it was “OCD” to change the oil every 5K, change transmission fluid every 60K, change the timing belt every 75K, and change the battery every 4-5 years.

            www dot thetruthaboutcars dot com/2013/03/tdi-troubles-in-the-land-of-the-rising-sun/#comment-2016872

            This is simply doing maintenance by the book. If you’re cheap or lazy, you suffer the consequences.

            As I’ve mentioned before, I once compared a Honda to an Audi for maintenance up to 100K (including the cost of the free maintenance from Audi), and the Honda came out to have higher maintenance costs, likely due to the timing belt on that model. The Audi would need a timing belt by 110K, so it’d probably move ahead at that point, but not by much.

            Also, the widows and orphans signing over titles thing is a bit over-dramatized, don’t you think?

    • 0 avatar

      TTAC’s international crew of writers is one of the site’s strengths. That being said, Jack’s not the only TTAC contributor who thinks highly of the Corvette. Yes, there’s been criticism of the previous Vettes’ interiors but I doubt any writers here would take issue with the statement that Corvettes are outstanding performance values. I had the opportunity to build a LS9 engine for a ZR1 and it’s an amazing powerplant whose components could be on display in an art museum aside from the fact that it’s got 638 HP.

      Oh, and Henry Ford was indeed an odious person. I won’t deny the man his due, he accomplished much, but as a human being he had flaws that can’t be ignored. Edsel and Eleanor Ford built their home just north of Grosse Pointe, way on the other side of town from Dearborn, where Henry and Clara lived. When Edsel died, Eleanor buried him at Woodlawn Cemetery, not in the private Ford family cemetery on Joy Rd where Henry was sure to be buried. I think those actions by his own son and daughter in law speak volumes about Henry Ford.

      Sure, Henry didn’t like Jews, but he also didn’t like engineers and accountants. He didn’t like anyone who told him he was wrong. He ran FoMoCo like a feudal lord and if it wasn’t for Edsel, James Couzens, Charley Sorenson and a couple of Hungarians named Galomb and Farkas who designed the Model T, Ford never would have succeeded to the extent that he did. It appears that his greatest talent was surrounding himself with talented people – people talented enough to work around Henry’s eccentric and often crackpot notions.

      • 0 avatar
        Larry P2

        And lets not forget, as odious as old Henry was with his virulent anti-semitism, his manufacturing acumen butchered Nazis in massive, wholesale lots never achieved by purer sorts.

  • avatar
    niky

    I should feel bothered that I’m the only one who doesn’t find the LaFerrari absolutely hideous here… but probably not. I’ve always had an eclectic taste in cars. Aside from the absolutely dreadful F1 “inspired” nose, the rest of the car looks pretty nice in a “No-it’s-not-a-videogane-prop” sort of way. The lines flow well, the aggressive panel cuts in the fenders thumb their noses at aerodynamics and it’s certainly more brash than the McLaren Practice1 or the Lamborghini kit-bash whose name I can’t recall at the moment.

    Is it the Lamborghini Veilside or Bomex? Then again, Bomex designs are usually a little more tastefully restrained than that…

    Not that I’m blinded by the Scuderia name. I absolutely loathe the looks of everything they make at the moment except the 458. But LaFerrari looks pretty nice, as long as the lighting is right. Direct flash washes out some of the finer details in the design that actually look good in the walkaround on the official site and in videos. The only big issue with the car is the name. Give it an edgier name and perhaps 50% less people will be offended. Or perhaps not. I mean, look at Lamborghini. They named the car “Venereal Disease” (finally got it!) and people still hate it.

    Not that I care either way. It’s just another Ferrari that only a few people can afford, and even fewer who can actually drive, which will end up on wreckedexotics.com as soon as an owner tries to go down a tricky road that isn’t glass-smooth. The same road that I’m bombing down with my ten-year old Mazda, and having a grand time, at that.

  • avatar
    dgran

    These companies are no longer interested in making cars. Some bean counter figured out that they could increase the price 25 fold and make 25 times fewer cars and come out the same. I don’t expect them to become a mass market producer, but if they really *loved* high performance and beautiful autos they would be interested in seeing more of them in the hands of people who love them. The ability to pay and the taste to appreciate these cars diminish rapidly as the price edges over 200k, let along 4 million. Its disgusting.


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