Take dig­nity, and dis­card. Then add smug­ness and blend with no logic what­so­ever. Yes, it’s Porter’s recipe for a truly silly car

Evo - - QUICK SILVER - Richard is evo’s long­est-serv­ing columnist and the script ed­i­tor on The Grand Tour @sniff­petrol

THE AS­TON MARTIN RAP IDEA MRI SA lu­di­crous car. You’ve prob­a­bly seen it, crouching on over­sized al­loys with a stri­dent stripe up its mid­dle and an ex­tra 50 horse­power un­der its bon­net, all things the most se­date of As­tons does not need in its old age. No one has driven a Rapide and thought it should have a front split­ter and a nois­ier ex­haust. If I were be­ing cruel, I’d say that no one’s driven a Rapide full stop, which is why you rarely see them around. But you’d cer­tainly spot the AMR ver­sion be­cause it crushes any quiet dig­nity un­der an awk­ward de­sire to be cool, like a 50-some­thing man be­com­ing a bit too en­thu­si­as­tic about In­sta­gram. No, I’m afraid the As­ton Martin Rapide AMR is a com­pletely pre­pos­ter­ous car. And I want one very much in­deed.

There’s a sim­ple rea­son for this; it’s be­cause it’s silly. In quiet mo­ments I find my­self go­ing on­line and hav­ing an­other look at it. I like to imag­ine turn­ing up to smart coun­try ho­tels in it and watch­ing them try­ing to keep a straight face. I pic­ture my three-year-old’s ex­pres­sion as I use it to col­lect him from nurs­ery. I think he’d par­tic­u­larly en­joy the lime-green in­te­rior de­tail­ing. I know I do, es­pe­cially the way they’ve ex­tended it to the in­te­rior of the cup holder. It’s a silly de­tail, but silly de­tails are a vi­tal part of silly cars.

Con­versely, you can’t make a silly car by half-heart­edly adding these touches. You could put a day­glo cupholder in­nard into a Porsche 911 GT3 and it would not make it silly. The 911 GT3 is a very good car, but it’s not a silly one. It’s too po-faced and pol­ished. In the course of its de­vel­op­ment, a great many clever peo­ple in branded fleeces have fur­rowed their brows and come home late to their fam­i­lies, and they didn’t make all that ef­fort to come up with some­thing silly. The 911 GT2, on the other hand, is al­most silly, sim­ply be­cause it has that slight sense of bog­gle-eyed lu­nacy about it. The lat­est 911 Turbo S is get­ting there, too, in a way that no 911 Turbo has be­fore. Mostly, how­ever, its silli­ness comes from an as­ton­ish­ing abil­ity to pick an im­plau­si­bly dis­tant object and bring it to­wards you at a speed that your brain strug­gles to process. But it’s not truly silly. Nei­ther are any cur­rent Fer­raris silly be­cause they, like the GT3, are too bal­anced, too tech­ni­cal, too likely to draw you into a very earnest con­ver­sa­tion about lap times. And silly cars are never about lap times.

A silly car has to be in­con­gru­ous and un­nec­es­sary. Its glory comes from the fact that it ex­ists in a world that never asked for such id­iocy. Hence, the sil­li­est cur­rent Porsche is the 562bhp Cayenne Turbo S. It’s also why the sil­li­est BMW of re­cent times was the M Coupe. AMG Mercs used to be silly, but they’ve be­come so fa­mil­iar that the in­con­gruity of silly has been erased. Ex­cept in the GLS63 SUV, which must give its oc­cu­pants an eerie fac­sim­ile of achiev­ing pos­i­tive Gs inside West­min­ster Abbey, and the en­dur­ingly id­i­otic G63, which is an ex­ceed­ingly silly car as well as an ex­tremely crap one.

In the world of silly, that doesn’t mat­ter. Silly is about the kind of cars that, if they were peo­ple, would have a wry smile on their face as they fell back­wards off a roof into Burt Reynolds’ swim­ming pool while dressed as a duck. They’re out for a good time, all the time. Which brings me to the one-time kings of silly, Lam­borgh­ini. I’m sad to say, this is a com­pany that has lost its silly mojo. The Hu­racán sim­ply isn’t a silly car, and while the Aven­ta­dor might seem a bit silly, there’s a sense that it’s merely go­ing through the mo­tions, pre­tend­ing to be a daft sod while se­cretly think­ing about call­ing its per­sonal trainer. The Coun­tach and the Di­ablo, they were prop­erly silly cars, yet even they pale into magnolia sen­si­ble­ness com­pared with Lam­borgh­ini’s defin­ing mo­ment of silli­ness, the LM002. Now there’s a car that had ev­ery­thing you need for max­i­mum silli­ness: an over­sized en­gine, lu­di­crous looks, and ab­so­lutely no log­i­cal rea­son to ex­ist. It set a bench­mark of silly, the like of which I doubt we’ll see again.

But in the mean­time, we’ll make do with what we have. Be­cause while I gen­er­ally favour an un­der­stated car, if you’re go­ing to have some­thing that at­tracts at­ten­tion, that doesn’t take it­self too se­ri­ously, that seems to fly in the face of all logic and, pre­cisely be­cause of that, seems com­pletely, bril­liantly, mid­dle-fin­ger-flip­pingly bad to the bone, you need a car that is unashamedly silly. Which is why I want a Rapide with a lime-green stripe up it.

‘A silly car has to be in­con­gru­ous. Its glory comes from the fact that it ex­ists in a world that never asked for such id­iocy’

RICHARD PORTER

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