Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Modified Supercars Are A Travesty

Ferrari 458 by Novitec Rosso
When Nissan released the GT-R (R35) in late 2007, they marketed it as a bona fide supercar, separating it from the street-racer Skylines of old and making it more upmarket. They also tried to make it "untuneable", because that's not what Nissan wanted people to do with it now it's a supercar. Trouble is, Nissan, that people tune those nowadays as well...

As I've said in a previous article, there will always be a market for supercars. Sadly, a lot of rich folk buy them not just as adrenaline pumps, but as status symbols. As I've also said before, there are more rich people than ever before, which presents a problem for Rich B. Stard so life-ruining it's almost worth highlighting in an episode of 90210 (if you haven't seen that show, it's about rich teenagers and their "problems". I've only seen adverts for it and can tell it's utter shit).

Picture the scene: your daddy just bought you a shiny new Ferrari 458 Italia - which, considering how many caught fire early on, might have underlying connotations of resentment and hatred - and it's bright red with the optional 19" wheels and iPod plug-in and all the rest. For about 5-7 days, everyone's looking at you as you recite the brochure to an awed crowd of similarly rich airheads that actually have no idea what any of it means. But Then... Dun Dun DUUUUNNN!!! Chadwick Winchester III next door gets his very own 458 Italia, which looks ever so slightly more impressive than yours! I know, it's a life-ruiner all right. What are you to do now that Candy is over there playing his proverbial flute instead of yours? Kill yourself? Steal his wheels and pour paint stripper on it? Pull a lame practical joke on him, get caught and learn a life lesson just before the end credits roll? Those are all valid options, but the easiest one is to simply make your 458 even more 'impressive' than his. So, your daddy rings around and finds Novitec Rosso, who kit out your gorgeous, refined, all-but-perfect technical marvel of a supercar with about 40 grand's worth of - and there's no other word for it - tat. Just a lot of meaningless, un-beneficial plastic add-ons (they'll tell you it's carbon fibre) that supposedly make it cooler, and some minor engine mods so that you can do your best Clarkson impression.

Here's a low-budget example of what you just did. TO A FERRARI.
Now you look like a really rich kid. Which is good, as you are. You also look like a spoilt bastard. Which is good, as you are. In white with massive black wheels and black trim - you'll tell people it's carbon fibre - you may even look like a drug dealer, and that could well be true too (although if your parents ever caught you they'd ground you for a year before sending you off to millitary school and selling your ruined Ferrari to Candy's mum for a low low price after you dad got separate bedrooms to your mum and had an affair). That means that Candy is back over at your house looking for disappointing sex and an empty relationship with the coolest kid in the Boulevard this week, which, thanks to a tuning company, is now you.

As you may have guessed, I'm not fond of modified supercars. In fact, I'd go so far as to say I dislike them. And by "dislike them", I mean "hate them with a raging passion unparalleled by any other annoying motoring phenomenon and would sooner jab a screwdriver up my arse before going anywhere near one". I know it's nothing new - I'd imagine Lamborghini Countaches and De Tomaso Panteras underwent similar torture in the excess-loving '80s - but the market for them is so big now that whole companies devote their entire time and budget to taking a lovingly designed and engineered masterpiece and turning it into a chintzy pile of hideous turd. But it's okay, some say, because while they're at it, they've fitted Twin-Turbos and added about 200 horsepower, because more is, like, better and stuff.

RR Phantom Drophead redesigned by a 14-year-old chav
On that note, do these people really think that they can whip out a few spanners and a laptop and create a car better than something that's been in development for an average of 3-5 years under the roof of the most famous and established prestige car brands in the world? Does adding a stupid amount of horsepower make it better? If it did, wouldn't Ferrari/Lamborghini/Porsche/Mercedes-Benz have done that themselves? Besides, it would (and often does) make it undriveably hard to control. "Ah, but we modified the suspension". Same point again, only by "modified the suspension" they usually mean they lowered the ride height to add showoffability and not to improve the cornering ability. It's just obtuse and obnoxious. More galling is that sometimes they don't even bother trying to improve the car and just "Pimp" it instead!

The Mansory Veyron is a prime case in point. Mansory, as I hope to make abundantly clear, are the enemies. Enemies of taste, enemies of all that is good and right with cars and motoring. The Bugatti Veyron was designed, developed and redesigned over 6 years, with so much money put into its development that, even with prices starting at €1,000,000 per car, they make a huge loss on every one. In 2005 it was heralded as the fastest, most powerful and most complete car of all time. As a fellow car fan, you probably don't need this introduction to what is truly a milestone in performance cars. So how on Earth do you improve on that with a shed and a copy of Photoshop? You can't. But that didn't stop Mansory trying. Actually it did, but they went for it anyway, perhaps feeling they had to do something to lower the tone of this almighty machine, so... they added an induction kit to the engine and tweaked the exhaust, which is pathetic. That's what teenagers do to their crappy hatchbacks! I can do that to my car for £300 or less and all that happens is that it gets louder. The power figure rises slightly, but any gains in performance are negated by the excessive use (read: use) of gold, which adds weight to the already chubby 1888kg. Gold wheels, gold mirrors and trim and grille surrounds to go with your gold teeth and the gold door to your safe that you spent all the money in your safe on, but then they went a step further in their quest to make the most grotesque car in the world: they wove gold into the carbon fibre. Every inch of the exterior is thus blinged into submission, making this such a horrendous assault on the eyes that staring open-mouthed at John Prescott's ball sack would be more pleasant. Despite making you think you can taste hairs. It is pure style-over-substance. IN A VEYRON!

The donor cars Mansory use are my main reason for loathing their every move. By using a Rolls-Royce Phantom, Bugatti Veyron or a Ferrari 599, it just cements the fact that in this age, nothing, but nothing, is sacred. Buckingham Palace would probably be used in Extreme Home Makeover if it wasn't pimped out already. A Rolls-Royce Phantom is the epitome of luxury and class. It deserves to be more vulgar than it somehow is with that enormous chrome grille and those immense proportions, but every time you see one, you think not of excess (well, maybe a little), but of genuine prestige, of motoring excellence and of yacht-like luxury. It's not just another shiny car, it's a Rolls-Royce. The Daddy. The Governor. The best luxury car in the world. What Mansory saw was just another platform for adding plastic bodykits, gigantic chrome wheels and gold bits to please oil sheiks. They completely undo all the Rolls-ness and turn it into exactly the thing RR carefully avoided making it: an ostentatious pile of garish tat. All showoff and no personality. Just another bling carriage. Similarly, the Bugatti Veyron is the king of sports cars, the fastest, most powerful, most expensive and one of the most luxurious supercars ever made. Practicality and fuel economy aside, it ticks every box. It is untouchable, right up until Mansory rapes it mercilessly. Imagine someone piercing the Queen's nipples, nose, ears and eyebrows. It's the same thing, but with cars. Did anyone do that to the McLaren F1 a decade ago? No. No they did not.

This is the era where "More Money Than Sense" prevails in the upper classes. Too many overpaid sportsmen, Russian/Arabian Squillionaires and Peter Andres exist and there needs to be a cull, at the very least a cull on their wallets. The money can go to a charity that selects people who need it and could do with it the most.

1 comment:

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