Though not all that glitters is gold...
In the world of high-end motorcars, finishes made of luxurious materials are hardly a new trend. What many people don't know is that almost every modern car actually features precious metals like platinum and palladium in their construction – particularly in the catalytic converters. However, for the purpose of this article, we wanted to find cars that used gold and other precious metals either in their construction or in their design, not in the same way as any other car, but in ways that make them unique in the motoring world.
The McLaren F1 is an iconic piece of 1990s automotive history. A world speed record holder, the three-seat hypercar derived its power from a 6.1-liter BMW V12 engine developing 618hp. Weight saving was the order of the day in many aspects, with items like ABS being foregone in favor of reduced weight. However, in stark contrast to this, Gordon Murray ordered the F1 be fitted with 24-carat gold leaf. The gold leaf was applied to the inside of the engine bay, making the F1 even more unique. It wasn't out of vanity, but for a more practical reason, as the gold leaf was one of the best heat shields available in the world at the time. Now it's no wonder the F1 is valued as highly as it is – not only was it incredibly limited, but it was a real golden performer of its era.
The Lykan HyperSport is a divisive piece of machinery, built in small numbers and powered by a RUF-sourced 3.7-liter twin-turbo flat six engine developing 780 horsepower. It's been included as a member of the Dubai police force vehicle squad, which should mean it comes as no surprise the Lykan HyperSport can be optioned with real gold. At the request of the client, high-end gold thread is used in the stitching of the seats; while the headlights can be encrusted with real diamonds if that's the kind of thing that floats your boat.
Koenigsegg is no stranger to unique materials and means of construction – the Swedish carmaker has been pioneering carbon fiber use for nearly two decades now. Its one-hundredth model ever built was a Koenigsegg Agera S, commissioned by a collector from Hong Kong, and dubbed the Hundra. What made the Hundra unique though was the unpainted carbon fiber finish body, offset by 24-carat gold leaf high-end, trimming, and detailing on the underside of the active rear spoiler.
Carlsson is known for building some rather insane machinery from Mercedes platforms, but the CS50 takes the gold medal for its completely over the top design work. 25 cars were built from the base of an S-Class, most of which went to China and the Middle East, and all featured real gold sheets applied both inside and out. The exterior gets great big patches of the precious metal down the flanks, while the interior adds gold to the dash, the center console, the air vent surrounds, and even the steering wheel. At a price of $500,000 apiece though, we still reckon Carlsson is making a fat profit on each one sold.
This one is a little divisive as not much information is actually available, though plenty of rumors have done the rounds. This Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren is registered to a billionaire from the UAE, though the car is regularly seen in Monaco and the streets of Dubai. It is rumored that the exterior is coated in white gold, though there's never been any confirmation of this. The truth is though, that white gold is very soft and would not work as a body coating on any car, let alone one that frequently withstands the heat of Dubai. In reality, this car likely just has a chrome wrap. Sorry, we had to debunk it for you. There are also rumors of a 1600-hp quad-turbo V10 drivetrain, but those are sadly not true either.
The Tata Nano is one of the world's cheapest cars, with a base price of just $3,360 in India. Well, jewelry company GoldPlus thought it would be rather ironic to take the world's cheapest car and deck it out in 150 pounds of 22-carat gold, 28 pounds of silver, and numerous other precious stones. The result is that the Tata Nano GoldPlus is estimated to be worth $4,570,000. Try explaining their reasoning in any way that makes sense. Go on, I'll wait.
This list wouldn't be complete without an entry from Mansory – the aftermarket tuning house famous for excess and insanity. For this bedazzled wonder, Mansory got its hands on a Bugatti Veyron, decking it out in a full carbon fiber wrap, and attaching pure gold leaf to key areas like the grille surround, wheels, mirror housings, door handles, and fuel filler cap. Just one Vincero d'Oro was built by Mansory, and the gold theme continues inside with much glowing gold adorning all surfaces. Has gold ever looked so tasteless?
In true McLaren form, the Speedtail debuted recently as the official successor to the McLaren F1. Like the F1, just 106 are to be built, and in the same vein as the F1, the Speedtail is the fastest McLaren ever built. But, McLaren will also offer gold on the Speedtail, as the badges can be optioned as 18-carat white gold items with carbon inlays for extreme personalization. If gold isn't to your standard, the badges can also be had as solid platinum versions, though those with a serious eye for detail and weight saving will trade in the precious metals for a carbon composite emblem instead.