In the run up to this year’s Salon Privé, hardly a week went by without a press release announcing the debut of another new supercar at the event. None of these upcoming first public showings were from established or well-known supercar manufacturers but from small startups, design houses and technology developers. The power and accessibility of computer-based vehicle design and development software and fabrication technology has lowered the bar to entering the supercar market.
Although likely production volumes of some of these supercars won’t get too far into double figures; the companies and their investors must have an eye to those like Koenigsegg and Pagani that also started out with very limited runs and are now into decent volumes and, just as importantly, into mainstream consciousness. Their early success was in attracting wealthy risk takers who wanted real exclusivity in their collections and who relished being seen in something daring and different. As you would expect from something bespoke, the customer can also enjoy the full buying experience of specifying the details and following their car through build.
One thing that these new market entrants seem to have in common is that they typically come from countries or regions not previously known for making high-end sports cars. Places like Dubai, Poland, Croatia and Slovenia. Another commonality is that although they covet the European and North American markets, the majority of their sales so far are to the newly monied classes of the Middle East, Russia and China. Europeans, it seems, might be a little brand conscious after all – preferring more established marques from countries with a longer car-making pedigree or heritage.
First on show was the Fenyr SuperSport from Dubai-based W Motors, sitting confidently in its own mini-marquee opposite the Italian giants of Ferrari and Lamborghini. Let’s not forget that Lamborghini too was at one time an upstart car maker – branching out from tractors when Enzo refused to take Ferruccio’s engineering suggestions seriously.
Although the Fenyr is based on a RUF Porsche 3.8L drivetrain and rolling chassis with a fully customised carbon-fibre body – I get a sense that it is Lamborghini who they seek to emulate. Whereas Ferrucio favoured naming his cars after famous fighting bulls, W Motors (the W stands for wolf) has so far named its two hypercars after mythical wolves. The Fenyr is from Fenrir – a wolf from Norse mythology that also gave JK Rowling the inspiration for the name of the vicious werewolf in the Harry Potter series.
The styling is aggressive (as befits a wolf) with a gaping fanged jaw and lots of angular aero slashes – very similar to the extremes of Lamborghini. Suicide doors add an interesting touch and for those tall enough to see, the roof sports a vinyl graphic depicting a wolf wearing sunglasses.
Also from Dubai – and named for Alexander Jannarelly the designer of the Fenyr – the Design-1 stands alone in this group as a roadster or barquette rather than a GT. The price tag is also well below the others at less than £100k. The aim was to recreate the pure driving fun of a ‘60s sports car with wind-in-the-hair motoring and few driver aids.
Power comes from a Nissan 3.5L V6 producing 320HP which will take the 810kg roadster 0-62mph in under 4 seconds. The bodywork can come in combinations of aluminium and either carbon fibre or fibreglass. A hardtop/targa variant is also available if you want your enjoyment to last beyond the summer months.
Further along is the Tushek TS 900 H, a road-going hybridized race car developed by Slovenian former racer Aljosa Tushek. Although the carbon-fibre body and spaceframe chassis are home grown, the power comes from a 4.2L Audi V8 fitted with a supercharger and an electric drive to the front axles giving a combined 1340HP output.
The styling is functional if unremarkable – bear in mind I’m stood on the South Lawn of Blenheim Palace surrounded by the best of the world’s supercars – and in black and carbon it looks much like any other GT racer before the sponsors graphics have been applied.
As well as car sales, the company is looking to make money from selling on the electric drive technology as a retrofit to big-block modern classics that are sub £20k to buy but expensive to run and maintain. Think ‘90s Rolls Royce, early Bentley Conti GT or even at a push an Aston Martin DB9.
Not exactly a new marque, it’s been around since 1899, the Austrian company “temporarily” ceased trading in the mid 1930s to be revived early this century by a collection of interested parties keen to see an homage or “spiritual heir” to the multiple mountain race winning ADR “Bergmeister” of the late ‘20s.
The new take on the ADR is called a Shooting Grand – a kind of grand-tourer:shooting brake crossover. Based on a Mercedes SLS chassis, Austro Daimler have dropped in a six-cylinder AMG internal combustion engine and SERIPA hybrid powertrain giving 1198HP.
Externally the overall shape – complete with gullwing doors – is very SLS but they’ve smoothed off all the edges and creases. In white, you’d be forgiven to expect an Apple logo to adorn the bonnet.
As the name suggests, this car comes from Italy, although not from the north around Turin or Milan but from Naples. Another hybrid, the Berlinetta is powered by a combination of a front-mid-mounted supercharged 5L Ford V8 block and a Yasa electric motor in the rear. Together they produce 952HP which is enough for 0-62mph in 2.7s and a top speed of 208mph.
The external styling of the Puritalia is smooth and curvy, accentuated by the matte finish. Inside is where it really excels with a gorgeous combination of handbag-quality tan leather, carbon fibre and milled aluminium surrounding state of the art digital instrumentation.
These five new cars are only a sample of the exclusivity that is out there for the courageous collector. Also look out for hypercars such as the Apollo IE, Arrinera Hussarya, Rimac C_Two and the Pininfarina Battista. Alternatively you could stick with a more mainstream manufacturer and look to a Fuoriserie “out of series” coachbuilt car such as the Touring Superleggera Sciadipersia.