Ed’s let­ter

NOT BE­ING A MULTI-MIL­LION­AIRE MEANS I’M UN­LIKELY TO EVER KNOW THIS FOR CER­TAIN, BUT FROM THE OUT­SIDE LOOK­ING IN, IT SEEMS THERE’S NEVER BEEN A BET­TER TIME TO BE AN OB­SCENELY CASHED-UP PETROLHEAD.

Wheels (Australia) - - Contents - ALEX IN­WOOD

It feels like yes­ter­day that we were all gasp­ing and shak­ing our heads in won­der­ment at the mil­lion dol­lar price tags of the Fer­rari La­fer­rari, Mclaren P1 and Porsche 918 Spy­der – a sold-out trio catchily called the ‘Holy Trin­ity’. Now, though, that same mil­lion is be­ing com­manded by some Porsche 911 vari­ants.

To ac­cess the truly spe­cial stuff – cars of the ilk of the AMG One and As­ton Mar­tin Valkyrie, which in many ways pick up the Holy Trin­ity’s per­for­mance man­tle and trans­port it to a new di­men­sion – you’ll need to fork out close to $5 mil­lion. If you’re lucky enough to be cho­sen, that is. De­spite the boom­ing num­ber of mega-dol­lar ex­otics, the top end of town re­mains ex­clu­sively an in­vite-only club.

So ea­ger are the world’s wealthy to se­cure one of these lim­ited edi­tion hy­per­cars that one Mclaren exec re­cently told me he doubts there’s any price they could charge that cus­tomers won’t pay. It was a state­ment said with to­tal con­vic­tion and self-be­lief, which strangely, was more un­set­tling than if he’d started cack­ling like a de­mented Scrooge Mc­duck.

Then there’s the ap­pre­ci­a­tion fac­tor to con­sider. As daunt­ing as the price of ad­mis­sion is, the knowl­edge that the lucky own­ers are likely to make money on these strato­spher­i­cally priced ma­chines is enough to have you think­ing the whole thing is non­sense.

And in some ways, it is. While the world’s automakers should be con­grat­u­lated for con­stantly redefin­ing what’s pos­si­ble, I’d chal­lenge the no­tion that more per­for­mance and a higher sticker price equal more en­joy­ment.

It’s a thought I’ve been pon­der­ing since driv­ing Fer­rari’s sav­age 812 Su­per­fast, which op­tioned as it was, cost a pal­try $795,183. While un­der no il­lu­sions about how spe­cial it is (read more p84), I fin­ished my two days in Fer­rari’s V12 flag­ship won­der­ing if I would have had more fun in some­thing slower. I re­alise that sounds slightly mad, but I’m be­gin­ning to think to­day’s top rung of per­for­mance cars are now too fast and too ca­pa­ble to prop­erly, and safely, ex­ploit on the pub­lic road.

This is where cars like the beau­ti­fully bal­anced Alpine A110 come in. A com­par­a­tive bar­gain at an eighth of the 812’s sticker, the Alpine doesn’t only feel spe­cial and unique, but de­liv­ers a level of per­for­mance that feels brisk, ex­cit­ing and ac­ces­si­ble. I’d wa­ger it’s more fun to pedal a slower car hard than it is to con­stantly check your speed in one that only comes alive beyond three dig­its.

Bet­ter yet is the knowl­edge that you needn’t even spend that much. Just as the top end of the mar­ket is ex­plod­ing, so too is the num­ber of af­ford­able driver’s cars. You only need to turn to page 69 to re­alise you don’t have to spend big to have big fun, which is a fact that al­lows me to leave you with the fol­low­ing thought: there’s never been a bet­ter time to be a petrolhead, no mat­ter how big your bank ac­count is.

I’d chal­lenge the no­tion that more per­for­mance and a higher sticker price equal more en­joy­ment

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