The Weekend Australian - - BUSINESS REVIEW - JOHN CON­NOLLY jc@jcp.com.au

For $2m, this Porsche could be yours

I know many of you would be sur­prised to know your car still has spark plugs. Spark plugs are, well, so 60s, so last cen­tury. Like ash­trays, cas­sette play­ers, chokes and your fa­ther putting a piece of ply­wood across the back seats with a slab of rub­ber on top so the kids could play while he and mum shared a Roth­mans with the win­dows up to stop the lit­tle ones get­ting a draught on them. Best of all no one could ring, fax, telex, text, tweet, Face­book or oth­er­wise con­tact you while the car rolled along the road.

Of course, we were a lot tougher as a na­tion then.

At my pri­mary school, a few of us lads and lassies would go out in the play­ground in elec­tri­cal storms and get a penny off the softie kids ev­ery time we got struck by light­ning. One day I made two bob. Even worse, we sur­vived drink­ing the free school milk which the milk per­son al­ways left in the hottest part of the school­yard for the three hours be­fore the morn­ing break. Where was I? Oh yes, the spark plug. It was in­vented by Jean Joseph Etienne Lenoir 157 years ago. Johnny Lenoir also in­vented the first suc­cess­ful in­ter­nal com­bus­tion engine and ran it on coal gas and air. No rea­son coal gas can’t make a come­back the way things are go­ing here. But I bet, last Sun­day, Se­bas­tian Vet­tel wished Johnny and his zut spark plug had never ex­isted.

You see Seb and his driv­ing part­ner at Fer­rari, Kimi Raikko­nen, have been do­ing it tough lately. Well as tough as you can when you’re earn­ing a com­bined $65 mil­lion a year. The Fer­raris have been hav­ing re­li­a­bil­ity problems.

Just min­utes be­fore the start of the Ja­panese GP, the Fer­rari en­gi­neers saw that Seb’s engine had a spark plug prob­lem. It was too late to fix it and six laps later he re­tired with a bro­ken plug. Has any­one ever heard of a spark plug break­ing? At least Kimi came fifth.

Bot­tom line is that Seb won’t be world cham­pion, Lew will take the ti­tle and he and Val Bot­tas will take the con­struc­tors cham­pi­onship for Mercedes, while Fer­rari boss Mau­rio Ar­riv­abene will prob­a­bly get the flick. You will un­der­stand how ex­quis­ite it is that the head of­fice of the of­fi­cial plug sup­plier to Fer­rari, Ja­pan’s NGV, is just up the road from the Suzuka cir­cuit.

So, with four races to go Lew Hamilton is on 306 points, Seb on 247, Bot­tas on 234 and our own Dan the man on 192.

Talk­ing of re­li­a­bil­ity, you’ll be pleased to know that my boss here at The Week­end Aus­tralian has opened his wal­let, let the moths fly out and let me em­ploy our first mys­tery shop­per.

Let’s call her Eve­lyn be­cause that’s her name. Here’s her first re­port:

“I started to look around for what will be my next car. Test drove the new sports Jag, nice, but I can’t see out of it.

“I took an Audi RS for a spin, hmmm a pos­si­bil­ity. There is the new C63 AMG which next year will fi­nally ditch the su­per­glued iPad on the dash­board.

“How­ever, the ic­ing on the cake was my test drive of the Tesla Model S.”

Like the rest of our team Eve­lyn is a tra­di­tional petrol head but she was keen to see, on your be­half, what all the elec­tric fuss is all about.

“What made my day was the ‘Tesla Ex­pe­ri­ence Emo­tion Rep­re­sen­ta­tive’ (aka car sales­man). The TEER told me that the next ver­sion of Tesla will al­low you to sit in the back seat and let the car drive you home if you have had one Vodka Mar­tini too many. I pointed out to him that this is il­le­gal and will re­main il­le­gal for a num­ber of years to come.”

As a re­sult, Eve­lyn is warn­ing read­ers to be very care­ful around Tesla cars.

“If you are mo­tor­ing home af­ter nine o’clock at night and see a Tesla, im­me­di­ately stop, be­cause the id­iot who should be driv­ing is sit­ting in the back in a very re­laxed state while the soft­ware is up­grad­ing.”

Now Toy­ota’s Lexus is a much bet­ter buy. It’s a re­ally good car for the sort of peo­ple who like cruises. And the ad for the 2017 Lexus IS in Canada is ge­nius. “Seize the drive: be­fore the au­ton­o­mous cars do. Con­tact your lo­cal Lexus dealer, for a test drive, be­fore driv­ing it­self be­comes a sweet mem­ory.” Thanks Mr Toy­ota, I couldn’t have said it bet­ter my­self.

Seb, Kimi and mys­tery shop­per Eve­lyn would be bet­ter off with the rare 2015 Porsche Voodoo Blue 918 Spy­der that Bar­ret­tJack­son has up on the blocks next week­end at Las Ve­gas.

While it’s No 184 of the to­tal 918 Spy­ders pro­duced, it’s the only one in the world painted in Voodoo Blue at Porsche. Men­tion this col­umn and you get the car’s ig­ni­tion key in match­ing Voodoo Blue. Only 2000km from two years of in­door stor­age at the Rock and Roll Car Mu­seum in Austin, Texas, this will ap­peal to green read­ers with $2m be­cause it is a 500KW hy­brid and can go 0 to 100km/h in 2.6 sec­onds and cruise past Tes­las at 340km/h.

If I re­mem­ber cor­rectly (and that’s al­ways a big if) this Porker has been up for sale a few times over the past year in­clud­ing at a Porker dealer and even that refuge of Shit Box Rally cars, eBay. Bar­rett-Jack­son sold a less colour­ful ver­sion last year for $2.1m.

The Porsche Voodoo Blue 918 Spy­der: yours for $2 mil­lion

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