$100,000? $1,000,000? Or much, much lower?
The 2022 Monterey Car Week is in the books, and this year brought some outrageously expensive metal (or carbon fiber). Some of the reveal highlights from the event include the V10-powered McLaren Solus GT, 1,578-horsepower Bugatti W16 Mistral, and the 1,817-hp Hennessey Venom F5 Roadster. But here's the question; at $3.5 million, $5 million, and $3 million, respectively, does any real car enthusiast truly care?
We posed this exact question on social media with over 80% of nearly 500 respondents answering "no." This got us thinking, at what point does a car enthusiast tune out on reveals like these because they are simply unobtainable without winning the lottery or being adopted by Jeff Bezos? The discourse surrounding this idea was quite interesting, so we've come up with some theories about what makes these seven-figure cars worth admiring or ignoring.
The easiest way to make anyone stop caring about your product is to tell them it's already sold out by the time they are even hearing about it. Take the Bugatti W16 Mistral as an example: the company will only build 99 units and every single one is spoken for. Even if you won the lottery tomorrow, you can't have it. The McLaren is no better with 25 units all pre-sold to customers who previously ordered the Sabre. We understand that exclusivity is a major component of why these cars command seven-figure price tags, but we'd like to see automakers make it feel like there's a non-zero chance that an average person might possibly obtain one someday.
Of all the Car Week reveals, the Koenigsegg CC850 is easily the most notable (in our opinion). It's not because the 5.0-liter twin-turbo V8 offers the best performance out of all the cars revealed that week (it "only" produces 1,363 hp), it's because Koenigsegg went through the trouble of developing a revolutionary new gearbox. The CC850's transmission is a nine-speed automatic that can act as a gated six-speed manual with a clutch. This feature does little to improve track performance or the top speed, but it's so darn cool.
Offering world-first technology like this, which may eventually trickle down to an affordable car, is one way to grab enthusiasts' attention. Even though the CC850 will likely cost well into the seven figures and only 50 will ever be built, we are interested in it for the transmission technology alone.
On the inverse side of the Koenigsegg, which introduces a world-first piece of equipment, we have special editions and new bodies on familiar cars. The first is pretty self-explanatory with reveals like the Range Rover SV Carmel Edition. It's a 17-unit special edition of the Range Rover that costs $345,000. That's 50% more than the already pricey SV trim ($218,300) merely for some unique styling details. Yawn.
Cars like the Bentley Mulliner Batur are more interesting because they offer a bespoke body and more power than the model they are based on. However, these are still less interesting to us because they cost many times more without offering anything revolutionary outside of the styling.
There is no exact cut-off price where enthusiasts stop caring about new cars, but we'd argue the Porsche 911 is a fairly great car to draw the line with. Starting at $106,100 for the base Carrera, the 911 is anything but "affordable," though we could envision ourselves owning one if things break the right way in life. Of course, higher-performance models like the GT3 and Turbo S reach well into supercar territory with hefty dealer markups putting them in the same realm as Ferrari, Lamborghini, and McLaren. This is why we believe the 911 bridges the gap between unobtainium exotics and realistic expectations.
Some enthusiasts may set the bar much lower, choosing to appreciate affordable engineering over the expensive stuff. Koenigsegg's transmission is nice to marvel at from an engineering standpoint, but we find it equally impressive that Mazda and Subaru/Toyota can sell extremely fun rear-wheel drive, manual transmission-equipped sports cars that start at under $30,000.
We want to know where you stop caring about expensive cars. Is it based on price alone, or are there other factors? Let us know in the comments.