The World’s Most Exclusive Cars
At the top of the automobile industry is a strata of cars specifically designed for the discerning billionaire. These vehicles are the highest value, the fastest, and the most beautiful on the market. They come with impeccable service, flawless design, and enough technology to stock a small store. These five cars are the cream of the cream of the crop. We discuss their characteristics, features, value, and – for our many aviation-loving readers – their private jet equivalent.
Hennessey Venom GT
Maker: Hennessy, USA
Model years: 2011-2017
Price: $1.2 million US
Private jet equivalent:Cessna Citation X for all-American engine power
Called “the most formidable supercar in America” by Road & Track, “one of the world’s most exciting performance cars” by Top Gear, and “mind-expanding” by Evo, the Hennessey Venom GT is likely the most talked-about car of the decade. The shocking part is that the Venom GT lives up to its hype. Based on a modified Lotus Exige, but packing an unholy 1,244 brake horsepower (bhp) twin-turbocharged reincarnation of the Chevrolet Corvette’s engine (a V8), this Texas-designed supercar can achieve a heart-stopping 270.49 miles per hour (435.31 km/h). This makes the Venom GT (arguably) the fastest production car on earth. “Arguably” because, while the Hennessey’s punchy wunderkind reached this speed in testing, it was only while travelling in one direction. As well as being one of the fastest cars on earth, the Venom GT is also one of the most exclusive. Only 29 are being made, and in January 2017 Hennessey announced that one-third of these were already sold.
Maker: Koenigsegg Regera, Sweden
Model years: 2016-
Price: $1.9 million US
Private jet equivalent: Dassault Falcon 7X for marrying high speed and comfort
In Swedish, “Regera” means “to reign”, and with 1500 plus horsepower (hp) and acceleration to 62 mph (99.7 km/h) in 2.8 seconds, the Regera was born to lead. Exclusivity is the hallmark of Koenigsegg; the 23-year old manufacturer, based in Ängelholm, North Sweden, has produced fewer cars in its history than Ferrari releases in a week. The main reason is Koenigsegg’s emphasis on technical innovation, which makes the development of new vehicles slow. Instead of being attached to a normal transmission, the Regera uses Koenigsegg’s “Direct Drive system”: a little crank-mounted electric motor which fills the torque gap and acts as a starter motor. Each rear wheel has its own electric motor, and according to Koenigsegg those motors alone create approximately 700bhp. Then there is the styling, done entirely in-house. The Regera has a sculptural and elegant body (with broad side scoops, a deployable rear wing and sleek bodywork), and a surprisingly commodious and plush cabin – rare virtues in a Koenigsegg. The Regera costs around $1.9 million US, and in total 80 have been manufactured.
Ferrari 250 GTO
Maker: Ferrari, Italy
Model years: 1962-1964
Price: Up to $52 million
Private jet equivalent: SIAI Marchetti FN.333 for classic Italian design
In the Sixties it raced at Le Mans and Sebring, finishing first-in-class, and despite turning 55 this year (2017), the 250 GTO can still reach 170 mph (273.5 km/h) and accelerate 0 to 60mph (96.5 km/h) in six seconds. These are some of the reasons that, as the number has crawled ever higher, the Ferrari 250 GTO has routinely set the record for most expensive vintage car on the market. Another is exclusivity: Although the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) insisted that for a car to qualify for Group 3 Grand Touring Car racing, manufacturers needed to build at least 100, Enzo Ferrari built only 39 of the 250 GTO. He then tricked the FIA by numbering the chassis from 1 to 100 with gaps between, and shuffling the same cars to different locations during FIA’s inspections. And original buyers of the 250 GTO (which sold for $18,000 US in 1964) had to be approved by Ferrari himself or one of the regional dealers. While the 250 GTO’s body was based on the 250 GT SWB, its engine was the Tipo 168/62 Comp. 3.0 L V12, previously used in Ferrari’s Le Mans-winning 250 Testa Rossa. Today, would-be buyers regularly have to wait years – sometimes even decades – for a Ferrari 250 GTO to be sold on the open market.
Maker: Bugatti, France
Model years: 2016-
Price: €2.4 million US
Private jet equivalent: Boeing 747 8 VIP “Dreamliner” for billionaire exuberance.
The defining feature of the Bugatti Chiron is extravagance: six exhausts; a 16-cylinder engine; 1479 bhp; 60 mph (96.5 km/h) from a standing start in 2.5 seconds, and a one-carat diamond membrane inside the speakers. It can outrun the most powerful LMP1 prototype at Le Mans, and down its 100 litre fuel supply in 7 minutes. The Chiron takes Bugatti’s revolutionary Veyron as a springboard, adding torque, power, and speed. There is a new four-wheel drive system, and electro-mechanical steering system. The driver can switch between five modes: Lift, Auto, Autobahn, Handling and Top Speed. Named after Monégasque racing driver Louis Chiron, Bugatti’s enfant terrible transmits data home to France for monitoring and can be repaired anywhere in the world by the “flying doctors” of Bugatti. Its makers say the Chiron can reach up to 288 mph (463 km/h), but it is electronically limited to 261 mph (420 km/h) for safety. The car has a top speed mode, unlocked with a key. The Chiron’s interior is as memorable as its chassis, with customizable leather and knurled metal. As of March 2017, one half of the entire 500 car production run of Chirons were sold.
The Submarine Sports Car
Maker: Hammacher Schlemmer, USA
Model years: 2014-
Price: €2 million.
Private jet equivalent: ICON A5 for seaside fun and novelty design
For those looking for a car so eye-catching, extravagant and strange it draws a crowd, Hammacher Schlemmer designed the Submarine Sports Car. Based on James Bond’s submarine Lotus in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), the car floats when driven into water and, at the pull of a lever, plunges to the depths. It then “drives” along the seafloor or lakebed. The car can travel 2 knots at depths of 33 feet (10m), using two water jets at the front to provide steering and lift, and propellers at the rear to drive the vehicle forward. Built-in scuba tanks mean the driver and one passenger can remain underwater for up to an hour. The Submarine Sports Car is also a zero-emission vehicle, with a 54 kW 160 NM electric motor. Its maximum speed is 75 mph. The car’s steel body is identical to that of a Lotus Elise, and the interior is (fortunately) entirely waterproof.