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Motorcars, Manhattan and Money



Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse, $2.4 million

It’s impossible to visit Manhattan without noticing wealth and privilege. Though I’m loathe to use the P word as it’s been corrupted by politics, how else can you describe someone driving a S Class Mercedes-Benz with “MD” New York license plates other than as affluent and expecting special treatment from parking enforcement that won’t be extended to some zhlub from Jersey in a Camry?

New York City generates so much wealth that the people there can afford the opportunity and real costs involved with insane traffic, general congenstion and expensive infrastructure. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising, then, that the New York International Auto Show is where car companies go to show off their goods from the top shelf.


Aston Martin Vulcan

Aston Martin Vulcan

Detroit may not be the center of the universe that NYC is, but the North American International Auto Show in Detroit is a huge event with the participation of a number of the largest corporations on the planet. Some of the displays cost millions of dollars to build. The Chicago Auto Show is, by some measures, even larger than the Detroit show. And while the Detroit show is more about new product and concept reveals, the Chicago show is about selling cars. While they sell a few cars in America’s second city, car enthusiasts living outside the NYC metropolitan area have a tendency to regard that region as hostile to automobiles, but the fact is the metro region is one of the biggest car markets in the world. Combine that fact with the area’s wealth and you end up with a car show that has, literally, tons of high end cars.


Koenigsegg Agera HH

Koenigsegg Agera HH

There was a time, before the auto industry’s existential crisis of 2007-2009, that just about every car manufacturer of note in the world had a presence at the Detroit show, including the ultra-luxury and exotic automakers. Ferrari used the Detroit show to introduce the 612 Scaglietti, Rolls Royce had press conferences at the Detroit show, and VW’s Lamborghini brand and Aston Martin, then owned by Ford, also had displays. Those brands haven’t had official stands at the NAIAS in years, nor have they had corporate presence at the Chicago show. Since Fiat was given Chrysler in the government bailout in 2009, you might have occasionally seen a Ferrari on the FCA stand, but lately Sergio’s outfit has been promoting Alfa Romeo and Maserati, so both of those brands had some cars at the big midwest shows this year, but nary a prancing horse could be seen at Cobo Hall or McCormick Place.


Maserati's stand at the New York Auto Show

Maserati’s stand at the New York Auto Show

However, the Maserati displays at the Detroit and Chicago shows this year were just small sections of the larger FCA stand. At the New York show, they had their complete North American lineup. The Maserati display was larger than those of BMW, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz, and about the same square footage as FCA’s Dodge and Chrysler brands had. Maserati does sell cars in New York – I saw one on the West Side Highway near Canal Street and the Holland Tunnel, though I’d say the most common luxury car that I saw in Manhattan was the S Class Merc.


Lamborghini Aventador

Lamborghini Aventador, just $400K

Aston Martin not only had their full line out for inspection, they had their limited edition Vulcan track car front and center in their display; not quite the ideal car for Manhattan. Rolls-Royce, which hasn’t had an official display at the Detroit or Chicago show in years, had their full lineup in New York, as did their former stablemate Bentley.


Lamborghini Huracan

Lamborghini Huracan

It wasn’t just high end automakers, either. While in the long run the introduction of the new Chevy Malibu – hundreds of pounds lighter than the outgoing model while being larger and with more interior space – may prove to be the most significant new product reveal at the NYIAS, it was the introduction of two American luxury flagships, the production Cadillac CT6 and the concept version of the next Lincoln Continental, that seemed to have gotten the bulk of the attention. Besides the big Mercedes sedans, I also noticed more than a few slightly older, big Cadillacs, like 10-15 year old Devilles and STSes. They were privately owned, not livery cars, so maybe there’s a market for the CT6 in Manhattan.


McLaren 650S Spider

McLaren 650S Spider

Another mainstream luxury car maker, Jaguar Land Rover, used the New York show to introduce the Range Rover SVAutobiography, which has $120,000 worth of luxury and “bespoke” kit added to the $80,000 base Range Rover. Jaguar executive board member and director of design, Gerry McGovern, alluded to the maximum Range Rover as being at home in New York’s affluent Hamptons, and closed his description of the SVAutobiography with, “And, it’s very expensive.”


Range Rover VeryExpensive SVAutobiography

Range Rover VeryExpensive SVAutobiography

As Jaguar Land Rover and America’s two luxury brands introduced models at the top of their lineup, McLaren used the New York show to bring their carbon fiber based supercars down to a new price point, going after the Porsche 911 market with the McLaren 570S. Like Aston Martin and Maserati, the McLaren display featured examples of all of their current models, the new 570S, the 650S Spider, a 675LT, and the GTR dedicated track version of the top of the line hybrid hypercar McLaren P1. I don’t know a single car enthusiast that doesn’t regard the McLaren enterprise with respect, so all of those remarkable sports cars would have drawn me in, but for the occasion McLaren brought out a truly legendary automobile, a Gordon Murray designed F1. Not just any F1, but one of the three F1 GT “longtail” cars built by the factory to homologate bodywork used in the 1997 FIA GT Championship.


The new McLaren 570S

The new McLaren 570S, note the kiwi shaped cove in the door. McLaren’s logo is a stylized kiwi. Bruce McLaren was from New Zealand.

Jalopnik’s Raphael Orlove was photographing the F1 longtail while I was at the McLaren display and he concurred when I said that I could spend the whole day at their stand.


The 570S from the rear

The 570S from the rear

If you go to as many corporate auto shows and enthusiast car shows as I do, you can get a little jaded. I generally don’t take photographs of 1957 Chevy’s, ’69 Camaros or perfectly restored Isetta microcars. It was hard to feel jaded near the McLaren display, and not just because of their own cars. Right next to the McLaren stand was a display from Brian Miller’s Manhattan Motorcars, which has franchises for Porsche, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Lamborghini, Koenigsegg, Bugatti, and Lotus. Porsche, R-R, and Bentley, as mentioned, had their own displays, so Miller brought out some exotics.


McLaren 575LT

McLaren 575LT

Maybe it was because their fellow Italians at Ferrari skipped the NYC show, but Lamborghini didn’t have an official display, so Manhattan Motorcars had a red Aventador and a metallic orange Huracan. The two Lambos are not common cars, but they were flanking an even rarer car, a Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse. The 1,200 HP Bugatti is the fastest production roadster ever made.


McLaren's dedicated track P1, the P1 GTR

McLaren’s $3.1 million dedicated track P1, the P1 GTR

Even rarer than modern day Bugattis, though, are cars from Koenigsegg. Christian Koenigsegg, the mad genius from Sweden, has built just over 100 cars since he started building hypercars about a dozen years ago. The Koenigsegg Agera HH on display at the NY show is as rare as they come, a one-off Agera R customized by the factory for David Heinemeir Hanson, a Danish computer programmer who was responsible for Ruby on Rails, a web application development framework that has made him a very wealthy man. The car is painted in his favorite color scheme of blue and black, to match his one off Pagani Zonda HH.


FActory owned McLaren F1 XP GT longtail homologation prototype.

FActory owned McLaren F1 XP GT “longtail” homologation prototype.

I’ve been to lots of auto shows including one of the top three concours in the U.S. and I don’t think I’ve ever seen as concentrated automotive wealth as sat on the McLaren and Manhattan Motorcars stands (with the possible exception of the classic luxury car section of the Henry Ford Museum with its Bugatti Royale and Duesenberg J). I was only able to get retail prices on nine of the ten cars at those two displays. Not counting the McLaren F1 Longtail, there was about $9 million in cars. If you include the F1 you could at least double that figure. In 2012, one of the 10 competition F1 Longtails that were built for racing sold for over $13 million. No doubt the factory owned prototype would fetch similar or even more money, perhaps even enough to buy a nice Manhattan condominium.

Photography by Ronnie Schreiber. For more photos of the vehicles in this post, please go to Cars In Depth.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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