Ten years after introducing Maybach, Daimler announced it would shutter the super-luxury brand by 2013.
It wasn’t a surprise. Maybach never fully established an identity that could compete with Rolls-Royce and Bentley. And the brand lost money each year in its existence, according to Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche.
That hasn’t kept the $1.4 million Maybach Landaulet down, at least in some circles. Madonna and Jay-Z are known lovers of the line. And along with the famously outré $2.6 million Bugatti Veyron Supersport 16.4 and the $1.7 million Koenigsegg Agera R, the Landaulet made this year’s list of the most expensive cars on the market today.
Behind the numbers
To compile our list of the most expensive cars going on sale next year, we scoured price lists from well-known manufacturers like Bugatti, Rolls-Royce and Lamborghini, and from lesser-known companies like Leblanc and Shelby Super Cars. Some otherwise high-end entrants (Spyker, McLaren) didn’t quite have the stuff to make our list. Others, such as Koenigsegg, had a few models that might have qualified, so we limited our list to one car from each manufacturer. We limited the cars on this list to new models, rather than vintage, and evaluated their prices based on MSRP, not auction or off-the-record sales.
What makes cars like the $970,000 SSC Tuatara and $1 million Hennessey Venom GT so expensive? A combination of rare and high-performance materials used — carbon fiber, silver trimmings, ceramic brakes, exotic wood — extraordinary tuning and exclusively low production numbers. (To wit: The Ferrari 599X is made to order by invite only.)
That’s not all. Tire replacements can cost multiple thousands of dollars, plus fees. Some require specialized luggage for their front-situated trunks, at costs like $30,000 per set. And the Zenvo ST1, for instance, must be shipped to Denmark for any major repairs.
For the people who buy these cars, though, price isn’t exactly an issue. Franz-Josef Paefgen, the CEO of Bugatti when the company unveiled its Supersport in 2010, confirmed the mentality.
“The crisis cannot keep a Bugatti buyer away from buying a car for financial reasons,” Paefgen said at the time.
Take the $1.8 million ST1. Just like the $845,000 Porsche 918 Spyder, it’s likely out of your price range. But this delight from Denmark has got a lock on Russian billionaires — so far.
The first person to pay the $500,000 deposit for the ST1 was a wealthy Slav who opted for a customized blue paint job and carbon fiber rims, says Bobby Khan, the president of New Jersey-based Emporio Motor Group. The dealership is the only place in the U.S. that will sell the car.
Khan says he tried to talk Mr. Russia out of the tires — one botched pothole and the entire wheel would need replacement — but the client would have none of it.
“He said, I want it because I want it,” Khan said.
The desire is understandable: hand-made, with a 1,250-horsepower 8-cylinder engine that goes 0-60mph in 2.9 seconds, ST1 has a top speed of 233 mph. It has a wicked rear-wheel drive on a 7-speed manual transmission. The entire body is carbon fiber.
Only 15 of the ST1 will be made, with three slated for U.S. showrooms. Those specimens have already generated plenty of interest from high-profile figures, as you can well imagine, but the bulk of the buyers will remain anonymous.
“We’ve already got a waiting list,” Khan says.
It’s just as well: That $1.8 million for the Zenvo ST1 is for the base model. Upgrades like ceramic brakes, paddle-shift transmission, carbon wheels, a roll-cage, a car cover and customized leather interior cost much, much more.
The latest on the list
With that in mind, here’s something else for the friendly neighborhood billionaire to consider: The $1.3 million Pagani Huayra. A newcomer to this year’s tally, Pagani’s 700-horsepower gullwing stunner, named after an ancient god of wind, is made from carbo-titanium and uses a 12-cylinder turbocharged engine. Its two air intakes are situated behind the drivers’ shoulders, a la 1950s jet planes, and its open-up doors are cut deep into the roof in order to allow for an extremely rigid ride.
Pagani is a small brand but has cult status among track regulars and exotic aficionados. Huayra is a big deal because it will be the first time a Pagani-made vehicle will be sold stateside.
“This automobile is the result of five years of dedicated effort from the Pagani team,” company founder Horacio Pagani said. “We see this as an unprecedented opportunity to continue expanding our vision of the future of the supercar industry.”
Unfortunately for acolytes, it’ll be some time before the opportunity hits stateside. Pagani planned to debut its car in U.S. showrooms earlier this year but faced delays due to airbag compliance. Company executives maintain that five Huayras will make it to the states by 2013.
Worth the wait? Maybe. The 20-year-old company’s previous model, the Zonda F, once held the road-car lap record at the infamous Nürburgring racetrack in Germany. Huayra is said to be no less impressive. For that price, it better be.
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