The dream garage

Last Saturday was as so often great for some Zurich car spotting and the mental game “my dream garage”, as illustrated by the below pictures.

I find these two a close call given the Bentley offers the topless option and I’m still not fully convinced by the DB11’s looks. The Continental does have a timelessness to it and ages rather well!

Bentley II

Bentley I

The below, this time from Geneva last week, is a no-brainer, at least for a lover of classic cars like myself, especially in that lovely 70’s yellow!




When battery power is not enough

The business press has given a lot of attention lately to Elon Musk’s plans for the future financing of Tesla, however without really looking at the one factor that is critical for the bottom line, as for any car company: the trend in cars sold. And if the Hong Kong market, which boasted the highest number of Tesla cars per capita in 2016 is anything to go by, the trend is not good.

Regular readers of this blog may remember my video post from a business trip in Hong Kong in March 2017, that you can otherwise view here. Little did I know at the time that a month after that video was made, things would take a dramatic turn for the worse in terms of Tesla sales.  In the record month of March 2017, almost 3000 Teslas were registered in Hong Kong, before the bottom went out of the market in April with only 32 (!) cars being registered in the territory for the remainder of 2017, and with numbers continuing to drop so far in 2018.

BF-AS184_TESLAH_16U_20170709185104What Hong Kong residents knew back in March of last year, and I didn’t, was that the HK government was about to abolish the heavy subsidy on Teslas to the benefit of more ordinary, electric cars. Hong Kong is not the first market where removal of subsidies has had a dramatic effect on Tesla sales, Denmark is another. To make things worse, Hong Kong residents conscious of the environment should probably be happy about the drop, as research from Bernstein from 2016 has shown that electricity generation in Hong Kong is so dirty that a Tesla will throughout its lifetime be responsible for 1/5 more CO2 emissions than an equivalent petrol car.

The removal of the tax subsidy made Teslas massively more expensive in the local market, but not more so than a BMW, MB or Audi, all of which continue to sell significantly more cars than Tesla. As everyone who has driven a Tesla knows, it’s a fascinating car, but if you remove the engine, it is no match for the traditional luxury brands. This is what the statistics from Hong Kong prove, and it thus seems clear that the most critical factor for Elon Musk’s financing plans and Tesla’s future is government subsidies – or in other words, politics.

Kia stings the auto hierarchy

You may have heard about Kia’s first ever performance car lately, the Kia Stinger GT, given how much it has been talked about – and praised. Especially in the top GT version the Stinger is quite good-looking, drives well and is equipped with a twin-turbo, 370 hp six-cylinder, ensuring it delivers in terms of performance as well. That’s all great, but not even Kia expects the Stinger GT to sell in the tens of thousands, mostly given it’s a four-door sedan – and that it’s a Kia.

Kia Stinger exterior

Kia Stinger interior
A very nice place to be!

This last point is where it gets interesting. Because it’s neither for the engine, nor the looks or the road manners that the GT has received most praise – it’s for the interior, which I had the opportunity to explore myself recently. I can only confirm what has been said by others: if you didn’t know what car you’re in, I guarantee that you would guess on something firmly in the high-end segment. From the leather dashboard over the metal applications to the equipment and the quality of the seats, there is nothing that would make you think you’re sitting in a Kia, except for the logo on the steering wheel.

If you had taken a 400hp engine and put it in a Hyundai, Kia or Skoda five years ago, it would still not have made it a serious contender in the high-end segment, too big were the differences in ride and interior quality. But now we have come to the stage where technological and production progress is such that a brand such as Kia can deliver a car that looks good, drives well and is fully specced, but still at least EUR 20.000 cheaper than any comparable Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz.

What’s the value of a brand? I believe we’ll find out over the next few years, but the just got a whole lot tougher for the traditional premium brands!

Kia Soul
A 2010 Kia Soul – let’s just say we’ve come a long way since!

Marcus Ericsson and Sauber score again!

Marcus Bahrain

Today’s GP in Bahrain was entertaining, as is almost always the case Bahrain, but especially so for Swiss and Swedish F1 fans, as Marcus Ericsson finished 9th, scoring two points for his Swiss Sauber team. Even better, he did not do so because of a mass crash, but rather as the Sauber car with its new partner Ferrari (in Alfa Romeo disguise) is actually becoming increasingly competitive, and at least on this circuit managed to keep the pace of the middle field of teams. This bodes well for the future. Before today, Marcus had a stint of 49 races without scoring a point (since Monza in 2015), hopefully it won’t take another 49 for him to score again!

The race was won by Vettel (but the way his 49th win by a funny coincidence) ahead of Bottas (who would probably have won had the race lasted another couple of laps) and Lewis Hamilton, who had started 9th due to a replaced gearbox.

Glimpses from the Geneva Motor Show

If you happen to be close to Geneva, there is still time to visit the 88th Motor Show, that takes place until 18 March. I was able to spend a few hours there this week and observe, next to the usual glamour, two main trends.

The first one is obviously electrical cars, and when you see the sheer  number of hybrid and electrical cars currently available or in planning in one place, it is hard to imagine that some other alternative fuel would have a chance to compete with electric – the race is probably already run, also in terms of supplying the necessary infrastructure.

The second trend, a bit more unexpected, is – well, flying cars. A number of brands present different types of cars with wings, or more drone-like flying arrangements like the Audi pictured below, the idea of which is for the car both to be able to cruise down a road but then take to the air when the road stops or becomes congested. You can’t help wonder how we will look back on this in 15 years from now…

The Audi Flying Drone (no, that’s not the official name). Will our grand children say “gee, look at how big the wings were then”, or rather “they were really crazy back in the -10’s”?

Next to electrical cars and flying drones, there was however still enough of the old school cubic inches and horsepower around for me to provide some main highlights below.

The BMW X7 is a beautiful study of what a larger, future X5 could look like. No production date has been set, and it’s a bit surprising how late BMW thinks about joining the party, considering competitors such as the Audi Q7 and MB GL/GLS have been around since long.
Polestar had their stand next to the (large) Volvo stand, in perhaps the best location of the whole show – well done. Polestar 1 (set to go into production in 2019) looks nice from the front and the side, but the back is as ugly as the new S90 and does not look very premium on the inside. 
No, this is not a second Polestar1 but rather the AMG GT63, a four-door, four-seat, coupe-like GT car. When you look closer it looks far more aggressive and exclusive than the Polestar. Now if anyone really missed it until it existed, that’s another question. 
With obviously all the supercar brands being present, I’ll let the Chiron represent them all. No doubt the reddest car at this year’s show!
If you feel these lines reminds you of something from your youth, you’re right. This is the new Stratos, a tribute to the original Lancia Stratos and showed as a concept already in 2010, but now about to go into production. It is designed by Pininfarina and will be manufactured by Manifattura Automobili Torino (MAT). Based on a Ferrari F430 chassis, the engine develops over 500 hp for kerb weight under 1300 kg. 
Last but not least, my favorite from this year’s show, the Ruf SCR. The latest incarnation of this 40-year old name is what first looks like a classic 911 (964), but is a fully modern car with a body in carbon fibre and a 4-litre naturally aspirated six-cylinder engine, developing over 500 hp. The price is as high as the car is beautiful!

A year with the E63 AMG

It was in late November -16 that I picked up my then 18-month old E63 AMG Station Wagon (leading to some early impressions that if you missed them, you can read here), so it’s been a bit more than a year and roughly 20.000 kms between then and now – and what a pleasure it has been! Looking back at my past car buying history, they tend to come and go at quite regular (and short!) intervals, but at least for now I haven’t a single time entertained the thought of switching – it’s just too good.

…where it all started…

Starting at the heart of the matter, the engine is quite simply superb. Power is just everywhere, delivery is instantaneous and never-ending, and the sound still gives me goose bumps every time. It’s been rumored that most of these engines deliver more than the 558 hp on paper. I have no clue whether that is true but if someone told me there was another 100 hp under the bonnet I would believe them straight away. I’m actually thinking of getting it measured at some point.

At the same time it’s as smooth and practical as any Merc for the local shopping round, or transporting empty boxes from my wife’s shop to the recycling station. Consumption is highly reasonable; sure, it’s no Prius, but we did 1000 kms through Germany last summer at speeds that would make you lose your permit in every other part of the world, and came down with 14 litres / 100 kms. In normal driving it’ll come down to 10-11 litres which really isn’t much to complain about.

In the first post I mentioned the Speedshift gearbox as a positive surprise, and it still is. It’s so much better than MB’s regular box, up-shifting instantaneously with a thumping sound in Sport and Sport+ Mode, whilst also downshifting highly effectively and always timely. Well done AMG! The same goes for the light-footedness chassis and the perfectly weighted steering.

So what’s on the downside? Well, actually nothing at all (this is the point where I’m actively forgetting a decent amount of speeding tickets through the year…). There is also this saying that a model is never as good as just before it ceases to be produced, and I tend to believe that. Sure, the new model is out (with the same V8 Biturbo engine, and not a V6 as I had claimed, based on false rumors), and it delivers a bit more than 600 hp, but the design still needs to grow on me – and prices on the next-to-new market need to come down, so for now I see little need to change. In fact I find myself surfing around various tuning sites in my spare time, something I haven’t done in many years. A power upgrade doesn’t really feel necessary, but the suspension could be lowered a bit… And maybe that dash-controlled exhaust would be cool… and…. So as you can see, the mid-life crisis is all over, but boy is it fun!

w213 e63
The new model is nice, but perhaps a little too discreet?

Singapore Supercars

On a recent business trip to Singapore, I had the pleasure to chat with the very nice sales responsible for Bugatti in South East Asia, who has this year sold six Chirons across Asian markets (ex-Japan). We met in the very pleasant showroom of the family brand Bentley, and this was the occasion to learn some interesting facts about super cars in Singapore – and to admire the current Bentley collection (sidenote: the Bentayga feels like a Q7 with more metal and leather in it but still too much plastic given the price. Given its looks, not a very wise way to spend your hard-earned money!).

Bentley showroom
A really nice office environment!

Singapore is a small, wealthy country trying hard to avoid congestion, so buying a car starts with buying the right to buy a car, basically a license entitling you to a purchase. The number of such licenses is limited and the price is set through a bid-ask process in an auction format. The latest took place during my visit and came out at around SGD 60.000 (USD 45.000), which is in other words the price of the right to buy four wheels…

Singapore authorities are not very keen on old cars either. Any car is taken out of traffic after ten years, irrespective of its condition, to be scrapped or exported. What mostly happens is that owners either directly or through dealers export the cars to surrounding markets and thus manage to get at least something for them – but it is surely not a great deal. It doesn’t get better when you know that should you wish to buy a new car again after you scrapped your old one, you’ll need to pay up again to renew your buyer’s license…

The final thing to know is far more positive: not only do Singaporeans drive on the wrong side of the road, it’s also impossible to have a left-hand drive car registered for road usage. Any supercar not built as right-hand drive (which notably includes anything by the Bugatti brand) can thus never be used in Singapore outside of a circuit – and as per the Bugatti salesman, Singaporeans don’t really like circuits. He has himself sold two Chirons that are kept in Singapore and that have never been driven. The same goes for Paganis, Ferraris, Lamborghinis etc. Should you actually be interested in driving (as apparently the local Porsche Owners’ Club is), you rent the Sepang track in Malaysia a couple of days and drive over the border.

Therefore, next time you’re thinking about a low-mileage supercar, don’t forget to check out the offer in Singapore!

Chiron backside
Not a likely site on the streets of Singapore!


Test drivers gone for a swim

When coming to Santa Monica beach a few days ago after a drive down from San Francisco, seeing a Volvo test squad (or rather their cars) in a parking lot was not a sight I expected! I first reacted to the new (and already fairly common) XC90, parked next to the far less common S90, then to the giant screens on the passenger seats of both cars and then obviously to the covered one in between. It didn’t take much to figure out that this is the upcoming small SUV XC40, but unfortunately the cover was really well fixated so this is all you get to see. Still haven’t figured out what kind of test you conduct on a parking in Santa Monica beach, but I guess test drivers need to go for a swim every now and then as well…


Now we know who finances Marcus Ericsson

If all F1 races were like the one in Baku last Sunday, then arguably the sport would not have lost so many followers lately, tired of the Mercedes dominance and the uneventful racing. In Azerbaijan this all changed. Vettel ran into Hamilton twice (the second time very much on purpose), Ocon pushed his “team mate” Perez into a brick wall, the safety car was out three times and everybody then came in for a red flag as there were so many car parts lying around the track that it had to be cleaned. The final podium was made up of Ricciardo, Bottas and Stroll, and anyone who put a few bucks on that before the race surely walked away a rich man!


Marcus Ericsson didn’t make it into the points this time either, but is arguably getting closer, this time finishing eleventh behind Wehrlein who thus secured a point for Sauber. The main news involving Sauber last week was however not that, but rather that team head Monisha Kaltenborn was unexpectedly sacked a couple of days before the race. As the days have gone by, the reasons have become increasingly clear, and the question on who finances Marcus Ericsson has been answered.

Sauber is since many years in dire financial straits and was once again rescued in the eleventh hour last year, this time by an obscure Swiss financial company called Longbow Finance SA, outside of Geneva. As became clear last week, Longbow is connected to a certain Rausing family, and is part of the Tetra Pak empire. Therefore, when Kaltenborn in late spring sided with German prodigy Pascal Wehrlein as the team’s designated first driver, her days became numbered. Longbow is not necessarily pushing for Ericsson to be designated first driver, but is at least insisting of both drivers being treated equally.

Clearly, the Rausing pockets are theoretically deep enough to get him a better seat than Sauber. Given he has proven his driving skills this season, maybe therefore we have a new Swedish F1 star in the making?



Carspotting Saturday in Zurich

Today is the first sunny, warm spring Saturday in Zurich, and as always, it was the perfect time to wake some of the nice cars hiding in the garages round here out of their winter sleep. As can be seen, some twins (or close relatives) were underway as well. It may be interesting to know that all the pictures below were taken within a distance of 100 meters…

This was the first time I saw the DB11 live and it is truly a beautiful car. It is design evolution, not a revolution, and to me it doesn’t reach the heights of the DBS, to me the most beautiful of modern Astons. But desirable? Oh yes!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The F1 season 2017 about to take off!

The 2017 Formula 1 season is slowly but surely getting up to speed, with most cars having been presented last week and the first of two four-day training sessions starting today, before the season then kicks off at the end of March in Melbourne.

The biggest change to the cars is a very visible one, namely the sheer size. The front aisle is now around 2 meters wide, and cars have also grown around 20 cm in length, in both cases contributing to giving them a more muscular look. The rear aisle has grown as well, and all these factors taken together should contribute to better downforce and hereby also higher speeds, estimated to as much as 40 km/h higher cornering speed.

Larger, longer – and still as dominant this year?

This obviously puts increased pressure on tires and the (only) supplier Pirelli, and the solution is not only larger but also more durable tires that will make one-stop races possible again.

On the engine front the talk is about more than 900 hp and also the decision to continue to work on engine development during the season, something that could clearly benefit the smaller teams.

Taking all this together, larger cars with more downforce, larger tires and stronger engines will surely be capable of faster lap times. To what extent they also contribute to more exciting races and less Mercedes dominance remains to be seen once the season starts in a month’s time.

Forza Alfa Romeo!

After decades of corporate maltreatment of truly epic proportions, and corresponding desperation for all of us car lovers with a faiblesse for the once so proud Italian brand, it truly warms the heart being able to write that it looks like Alfa Romeo maybe, just maybe, is on the way back. Sure, there was the 4C a few years ago, a car that as so many Alfas does the trick design-wise but was no real match for the usual suspects in the two-seat sport car class. But then last year the new Giulia followed, initially in the most powerful Quadrifoglio version, and it went on not only to do well in tests against the very best in the class, but actually to win a number of them. And when an Alfa without excuses beats a BMW M3 Competition Pack in a recent Head to Head you can see here, then it’s time to pay attention.


The new Giulia is rear-wheel drive (yes!!!) and is the first Alfa to be so since the Alfa 75 was discontinued in 1992 (which at least in my book was the last great driver’s Alfa). It has a perfect 50/50 front-rear balance and, as it seems a truly great chassis with fantastic handling. The engine is a new 2.9 lire biturbo V6 with 510 hp and 600 Nm torque, said to have been derived from the Ferrari California by Ferrari engineers. How much truth there is to that we will never know, but it clearly does the job very well indeed. Design-wise it’s… nice, but to me a bit too M3-like and quite far from the prettiest Alfa there has been. So it would seem that we have an Alfa that shines more on the inside than on the outside – strange world indeed!

Speaking of inside, the cabin does not look like a bad place to be either!

Enough said – watch the video (if you didn’t click above you can do so here) and when you do so, remember that this is a car costing around EUR 80-90.000 new, at least EUR 20.000 less than an M3 with Competition Package – la vita è bella!


Less luggage space and double the hp – the perfect family car!

Our family car, the MB GL 350 also known under the nickname Helmut for a certain visual resemblance to a former German chancellor, has left our garage. He will be missed in some regards, most notably for his endless luggage space and  superb long-distance comfort, but less so in others, particularly a number of larger and smaller problems of the electrical kind (the things that tend to make you nervous as the guarantee nears the end) and a turbo lag which sometimes felt as long as the Gotthard tunnel. And no, he was not really much of a thrill to drive either. I therefore took the decision a while back to cut the losses, and after the missus to my great surprise declared complete disinterest in what the replacement car would be (except for the small caveat that it should have a star on the bonnet and a decent luggage space in the back), the road ahead was all of a sudden clear as a star-lit night in the Alps.

Auf wiedersehen Helmut!

Some of you may remembered my post from a wonderful morning in AMG-heaven a while ago, that can otherwise be found here. I never really got over the eye-opening experience from back then when I experienced the huge difference between a regular W212 E-class and the E63 AMG, not only in power but in the whole driving experience. So when the occasion presented itself to trade in Helmut against a one-year old, 4-wheel drive E63 AMG T in what can actually be described as a fairly good deal, it felt like a no-brainer. It’s been four weeks now, and having walked around with a stupid smile on my face every since, I figured it was time to convey some initial impressions.

Obviously, these need to start with the engine. Sweet Lord what an engine… A 5.5 litre V8 with twin turbos, it develops 558 hp and a torque of 800 Nm and can only be described as taking your breadth away – every time you floor the pedal. But even if it nails you to your chair, the delivery is smooth and above all tireless, with no turbo lag and the second turbo kicking in barely noticeably at… highly illegal speeds. Man am I happy to be burning petrol again!

E 63 AMG (W212)) 2011
…where great things happen….

They guys in Affalterbach aren’t much for acoustic discretion either, and the sound that accompanies this rapid automotive progression is as fantastic (and loud!) as a V8 can be. Driving with the windows open and the radio turned off in the middle of December all of a sudden feels fully natural. I also like tunnels a lot these days.

Next to the engine, the whole car has made enormous progress under AMG’s treatment. The chassis is responsive, the steering is precisely as heavy as it should be without the front heaviness of the regular car. The four-wheel drive setting sending 70% to the back wheels convey a lightness to the whole experience that is fare more reminiscent of a 911 than of a taxi Merc. Finally the heavily modified 7-speed gearbox going under the name Speedshift, although not quite as quick as a double-clutch, is still miles ahead of the regular box. And all this in a packaging that offers ample room for five and the largest cargo space on the market. If this is not the perfect family car, then I don’t know what is. As for the Thrill of Owning, let’s just note that the new E63 that will come to the market during next year will no longer have a V8 up front but rather a V6


Obviously the journey is only beginning and I will provide updates as I get to know the car better. Living in Switzerland where speed cameras are as frequent as holes in an Emmentaler cheese, it feels like a trip to the Autobahn will be necessary as soon as temperatures get slightly warmer (and preferably at night time…). Until then I must however find a suitable name for my new friend, but I can’t really think of a quick, agile German with an opera voice, so any suggestions are welcome!



A classic car evening with Corrado Lopresto

Classic car enthusiasts gathered at the stables of The Classic Car Fund in Zurich last night for an evening together with Corrado Lopresto, Italy’s leading car collector and restorator and a multiple winner of the Villa d’Este and Pebble Beach competitions. He is also the img_2483only person on the car scene to have been awarded UNESCO’s World Heritage Award for his extensive work in restoring (rather than renovating) many classic automobiles through the years.

Mr. Lopresto spoke about his collection, the amazing restoration work he undertakes together with his rather large stable of mechanics/restoration 195qeccx24cosjpgworkers/artists, and also as a world premiere showed a 1948 Isotta Fraschini 8C Monterosa Cabriolet Boneschi, the last car built by the little-known (at least outside of Italy) Milan auto manufacturer Isotta Fraschini, active in the first half of the 20th century, and probably destined to win many prices at automobile shows the coming years.

As always, the wonderful car stable of Flippo Pignatti’s Classic Car Fund that I interviewed a few months ago, an interview you can read here, provided the perfect setting.





The Thrill of Owning – BMW M3 E46

As mentioned in my post from last week, some of the cars intended for this section saw a price increase so steep before the time of writing that they disqualified themselves on the premises of being both great drives and sound investments. One of these was the wonderful BMW M3 CSL (Coupé Sport Leichtbau, a legendary name originally featured on the 70’s 3.0 CSL), a lightweight version of the E46 M3 built in 2003-2004, with more power, lots of carbon and various other weight-saving measures compared to the original car. If a year ago you could still find a low-mileage version of the CSL for around EUR 50.000, be expected to pay around double that today.


Interestingly however the “regular” M3 E46 has not seen the same price explosion and remains a very fine car – many would even call it one of the best M3’s ever. Built between 2000 and 2006 (the convertible from 2001) it features the legendary BMW 3.2-liter straight-six engine that here produces 343 hp (106 hp/l) with a tone that gets more Pavarotti-like the higher you rev it towards the 8000 rpm limiter. Still 80% of the max torque is available from 2000 rpm, and that’s actually quite good, since even if the tone towards rev limiter is increasingly intoxicating, just below the limiter the engine pistons travel at 20 m/s (yep, that’s meters per second). As the disclaimer on French alcohol advertising used to say, “à consommer avec modération”…


The E46 M3 was available both as a manual and with the second generation semi-automatic SMG box. The latter cost an extra 3.000 EUR new but does not command a premium today as it has been known over the years to be slightly problematic and prone to more or less serious breakdowns. Given BMW are quite good at building manual boxes that is a good alternative. One of the most popular after-sale improvements include reducing the gearshift travel of the manual box, making it even more dynamic and reinforcing the case for a manual even further.

In terms of looks, gone was the discretion of the predecessor, the M3 E36, which was hard to distinguish from a regular 3-series. The E46 M3 looks fat, standing on its 18″ or 19″-inch wheels under the slightly (roughly 4 cm) larger body, with the lateral air intakes and the four end pipes. To round it off, this is obviously the car that featured the Powerdome, which was not an onboard computer game but rather the slight elevation of the central part of the hood. This had absolutely no practical function at all given the engine fitted under the regular bonnet without problems, but it both sounds and looks cool, and all in all the package is highly attractive!


Both the convertible and the coupé with less than 80.000 kms can today be had for around EUR 30.000, which is nothing short of a bargain, also considering the price increase the M3 CSL has seen in the last year. As always the convertible weighs more (here around 150 kg) and is less rigid than the coupé, on the other hand it allows you to enjoy the engine tone singing out of the rear pipe better, so it’s rather the usage of the car (and the climate where you live) that should decide whether you need a roof or not. A manual will also probably be less prone to surprises than an SMG box. Ultimately however given the limited number of low-mileage, original cars available, the individual condition and service book are what really counts, as is the fact that it is an original, non-“improved” car. The powerdome is in all cases included for free!


Thrill of Owning – evaluation of recommendations so far

It’s been awfully quiet lately under the Thrill of Owning heading, something unfortunately due to a rather hectic work schedule of yours truly. Another factor at play is however the steady rise in collector car prices over the last year, by no means a new trend and no doubt one of the side effects of a zero- to negative interest rate environment and investors’ feverish search for alternative investments. This actually has led to quite a few objects that were intended for the column rising so much in price before the time of writing that they disqualified themselves!

In light of that I felt it was time to go back and have a look at the cars presented so far. If you had purchased them (and who knows, maybe you did?), would they so far have been a good deal not only driving-wise but also investment-wise? Given we started this heading in 2015 the track record is obviously short, but summarized below is an estimate of the price evolution seen by the cars presented during 2015 as per today, i.e. in November 2016.


It would not take much academic effort to completely disqualify the methodology behind the price estimations in the above table, but at least it is consistent with how prices were initially estimated. Basically I have done a rough estimate of average market prices for the presented cars in Germany, Switzerland and partially Sweden, according to the specs (for example max kms) as described in the post. Given in all cases samples are also small and the individual condition therefore critical, it should really be taken as an indication at best.

Still, it is interesting to see how some models have seen spectacular rises in a short time, none more so than the Lancia Delta Evo, whereas others such as the Porsche 996 or the BMW Z4M have had a moderate, although still positive price evolution, probably also due to them being newer cars produced in larger numbers. However, you will probably struggle to find another investment in the current period that has a comparable performance on average whilst at the same time bringing true driving pleasure!

Even if the mission of the Thrill of Owning has become harder, the column will remain and I still have a few objects up the sleeve to enlighten the darker and colder season. Stay tuned!

The Thrill of Owning… a 12-cylinder GT coupé!

A few months ago I wrote a short laud to the mechanical twelve-cylinder, which much like one of those friendly, vegetarian dinosaurs is heading towards rapid extinction.

Having given the matter some thought during the long and mostly sunny summer (isn’t that what summer is for?) and done some quick market research, it struck me that the damage is probably even greater; beyond not only the mechanical 12-cylinder but most probably any modern 8- or 12-cylinder engine that won’t pass modern emission standards (and that cannot be cheated with as easy as a VW diesel engine), it is a whole car segment that risks dying; that of the elegant, powerful, luxurious and highly desireable GT coupé. This is a car type that was never associated with strollers, Ikea furniture or skiboxes, but rather with leather bags for two, sunshine and magnificent drives in company of a lovely lady along the Grand Corniche in southern France. And importantly, unlike the flashy convertible, the true coupé is always be understated. If that is not a type of car worth preserving, then I don’t know what is!

When the road is the goal…

The German magazine “Auto, Motor & Sport” a few years ago did a survey among readers on whether GT coupés fit the description in the above paragraph, or are rather meaningless, ugly and unpractical. Luckily 91% seem to love GT’s, which is some consolation. I would also think this is an interest helped by… a slightly maturing age. Sure, an Elise is a true driver’s car, but it’s also one that leaks water, kills your spine and lacks any form of practicality. Not so the GT, which will transport you in utter comfort anywhere you want, always in sublime comfort and with sufficient room for your weekend bags, and without messing up the little hair you have left. The kind of thing you start appreciating after a certain age!

The really great thing, and the reason for this post, is the fact that many of those true GT coupés with large engines have seen massive depreciation in spite of often having quite low mileage and a perfect ownership and servicing history. This is probably because those who had the money to buy them as new were, you guessed it, a bit older, and typically haven’t driven them that much. So if they were beyond your means as new, they are not any longer, in spite of not being more than 7-10 years old.

You could obviously define this segment in many different ways, but to stick to the theme of 12-cylinders and illustrate the point, I have chosen three fantastic coupés that cost somewhere around EUR 200′-250′ when they were new and have today dropped to EUR 40′-50′ with 50.000 – 100.000 kms on the clock, thus offering an extreme value for money. Whether they will depreciate further time will tell (but as we all know, when the offer is reduced, the price tends to go up…), but already at today’s prices, it is difficult to find better – and more stylish! – bang for your buck.

  • Bentley Continental GT: the car that made Bentley a mass brand (at least if you live in Zurich) was launched in 2004 and features the same VW W12 engine as the top version of the VW Phaeton at the time. In the Continental it develops a healthy 560 Hp and 650 Nm of torque, and has the additional benefit of being four-wheel drive. Contintentals are today in amply supply from EUR 40.000 for 1-2-owner cars.


  • Aston Martin DB9: launched in the same year as the Bentley, the utterly beautiful DB9 (which was co-designed by Henrik Fisker) has a 12-cylinder engine producing 457 hp, so less than the Continental, but then at 1800 kg the car also weights half a ton less. They can today be bought for around EUR 50.000, often with less than 50.000 kms on the clock.


  • Mercedes-Benz CL 600 and CL 65 AMG: the C216 CL-series was produced from 2006 to 2010, and both the 600 and the Überhammer CL 65 AMG, one of the most potent machines ever built by the guys in Affalterbach, was launched the first year and feature the same V12 engine which in the AMG version develops 612 hp, 100 hp more than the 600. At 1000 Nm, the torque of the AMG car is almost absurd, and just for the fun of it, the CL 65 does not have four-wheel drive, so that’s 500 Nm of torque per rear wheel… Still, this is a coupé on the S-class chassis, so comfort and refinement are sublime in both versions. Both the CL 600 and CL 65 AMG are a bit more difficult to find, but prices today start at around EUR 50.000, for both, again with less than 100.000 kms on the clock. If you are going to be unreasonable, why not be so all the way and go for the AMG version…


The enormous depreciation these and other GT’s have seen have the additional benefit of leaving you just enough money to afford running them – and especially for the CL 65 AMG, for buying a few sets of rear wheels per year… The purchase price may be comparable to a new Opel, the running costs are certainly not. But then again, grooming your image was never for free!

Electrical power and pshychology

As you may have noted, the blog has been on summer leave and both Sven and myself have done a lot of driving. Sven recorded a clear win going all through Europe from Barcelona to Stockholm, for my part it was shorter but I did nevertheless cover the roughly 3.000 kms back and forth between Zurich and Sweden’s west coast.

Going north, from somewhere around Hamburg and onwards, you start noticing a large number of Teslas. Some in Germany, more in Denmark and clearly most in Sweden, although many of these are on Norwegian plates. The ones I saw all had one thing in common: none of them were enjoying the stomach-gripping torque and acceleration the Model S is capable of. In fact with one exception, they were all traveling in grandpa speed in the right lane, a number of them behind a truck or – God forbid – a caravan-towing car.

Surely this must be due to a combination of the laws of physics and human psychology. Physics to the extend that you can’t replace acceleration with distance/autonomy (only a larger battery pack will allow you to go further on a charge), and psychology insofar as when you see your remaining distance dropping quickly on the futuristic digital screen each time you use your right foot, you become careful. It doesn’t matter if you have planned your route and know that you should safely make it to the next charging station, it is human nature wanting to make sure you get there, so your speed drops. Surely you could claim that this phenomenon is temporary and that when there are as many supercharging stations as petrol stations (or at least vastly more than today) the problem will be solved, but then again charging will still take 20 minutes, something that will not change until battery technology sees a revolution.

Until then, it seems that the main reason people who enjoy driving quote when buying a Tesla, the torque and acceleration, is a bit like buying a Cayenne in southern California because it is four-wheel drive…

Every Tesla driver’s nightmare…


New Porsche Panamera spotted in Weissach

Yesterday I drove past Porsche’s research facility in Weissach. I was able to spot a few of the brand new Panameras. I must say it looks much more better than the old Panamera. My photos don’t do it justice, it is actually really beautiful.

After Weissach, I went to the Porsche Museum in Zuffenhausen. I will post photos from the museum soon. I will keep you posted!