There’s something about supercars — Ferraris, Bugattis, Lamborghinis, Maseratis, high-end Corvettes — that causes people to act like complete idiots. These ultra high-end autos, which reach 60 mph in less than six seconds, are routinely crashed, stolen, stopped for speeding and confiscated from their scofflaw owners. A fool and his Ferrari are soon parted.
This post was inspired by an account of Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi’s last days, published in the New Yorker. At one of the Dear Leader’s looted tents, author Jon Lee Anderson found among the garish art and gold-plated Kalishnikovs a black BMW 7-Series with its doors yawning open, “revealing leather seats, walnut trim, windows of four-inch-thick bulletproof glass.” Here are liberators enjoying the spoils of war — a pair of Gaddafi's cars, which appear to be some kind of golf carts:
Big German sedans are standard African dictator cars, but for hand-waving parade duty, they prefer Mercedes to BMW. Their playboy kids, meanwhile, are raising hell with fast cars bought with blood money in Paris and London. You want outrage? How about this classic example of sub-Saharan kleptocracy. Equatorial Guinea is, like much of Africa, rich in oil and gas, with a per capita GDP higher than that of Japan or France. But as in Libya, where Gadhafi was said to have $8 billion stashed in foreign banks, longtime leader Teodoro Obiang Nguema keeps all the money for himself — or parcels it off to the jetsetting kids.
In Equatorial Guinea, 35 percent of the population (average income, $1.60 a day) die before the age of 40, and 58 percent have no safe drinking water. But Teodorin Nguema, the strongman’s son, apparently makes enough as a government minister to spend $1.2 million on Champagne in just one weekend, and import no less than 26 supercars from the U.S. in 2009.
Amazingly enough, French authorities actually investigated the misuse of government money on ill-gotten luxury, and that’s why police recently swooped down on Nguema’s Paris compound and confiscated not one but two Bugatti Veyrons, worth $4.8 million. They also hauled off a veritable fleet of Ferraris, Porsches, Maseratis and a Rolls-Royce. The Republic of Equatorial Guinea is squawking about “acts contrary to international law.”
An absence of good roads for high-speed chases sends the oil playboys to the West for play. This video shows a London police action against a squad of illegally parked supercars with Gulf state plates:
Car-loving dictators are all over the world, though. The shah of Iran had quite a collection of high-end vehicles, including an ex-Hitler Mercedes 500k, a Phantom IV Rolls-Royce and a brace of Lamborghinis (which he used to drive wildly through the streets of Teheran). When they get tired of their supercars, they throw 'em away. The Ferrari Enzo below is gathering dust in a car yard in Dubai.
Veyrons have a particularly short shelf life. I recently documented someone running a brand-new one into a salt marsh. And a former Gizmodo executive conclusively demolished a 2003 Ferrari Enzo on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu after a highway race with a Mercedes SLR.
In British Columbia, the coppers impounded a Dupont Registry of 13 high-end sports cars from their playboy owners after they raced them on a metro Vancouver highway at speeds of up to 125 mph. “These drivers [all of whom were under 21] seemed to be looking for attention. Well, they definitely got the attention of police,” said Cpl. Holly Marks. The rich kids are reeling from the $196 (Canadian) fines.
The confiscated cars: 2007 Ferrari 599, 2010 Lamborghini Gallardo, 2010 Lamborghini Gallardo, 2009 Lamborghini Gallardo, 2009 Audi R8, 2012 Nissan GT-R, 2010 Nissan GT-R, 2010 Nissan GT-R, 2010 Maserati Turismo (X2), 2011 Mercedes SL63, 2011 Mercedes SLS and 2005 Aston Martin DB9.
And here’s an idiot at the wheel of a Dodge Viper, wrecking it after some reckless highway driving:
Canadians were also complicit in the arrest of six more playboys speed-racing over 90 mph on two-lane Highway 18 in Oregon’s Coastal Range. There were the usual Ferraris, but also a Lamborghini with “BADBUL” plates from Alberta. Five of the six arrested were Canadian, and they said the highway blast was an annual event.
Customs officials in California seized this ultra-rare Italian Cizeta V-16 (only 10 were made in the 1990s). The 560-horsepower, 203-mph car, which fails to meet U.S. emission laws, was imported years ago and should have left the country in 2004, but its owner apparently liked having it around.
Finally, we have some poseurs wrecking a $400,000 Lamborghini Murcielago after a night of boasting and drinking strong cider down at the pub in the British enclave of Wooton. These characters had rented three Murcielagos and a Bentley Continental for $8,000 each. After imbibing, they took off at 160 mph, and immediately wrecked one of the Murcielagos against a tree. The culprit sped off in one of the surviving cars.
I’ve driven plenty of supercars without wrecking any of them. Strangely enough, I don’t usually get out of them with much regret, either. Marvelous feats of engineering, of course, but they’re just not my style. Maybe I don’t like what people are thinking when they see me behind the wheel of one of these cars.
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