The McLaren F1 and Bugatti Veyron set the bar, but now that’s about to be broken.
As the Occupy Wall Street movement likes to point out, there is a certain privileged group of society that holds more wealth than 99% of the population. However, even among such high ranks, there are those who can look down on the one-percenters and laugh. This is what we call the one percent of the one percent, and not unlike our human social constructs, cars adhere to this rule. While most of us would be happy to get behind the wheel of a BMW M5, there are cars out there that can make the poor Bimmer look pedestrian.
It’s arguable that the world’s first hypercars were the McLaren F1 or Bugatti Veyron because they blew everything else, Ferraris and Lamborghinis alike, out of the water with their price, performance, and the level of engineering effort that went into building them. In essence, these two cars were responsible for setting the bar higher, but it now appears that we are about to break the barrier set by the duo and enter a post hypercar era. In this epoch, cars will no longer be compared to other like supercars. Instead, they will simply push the boundaries of what is physically possible. Currently, the fastest class of four-wheeled vehicles to lap a race track are Formula One race cars, but even these must adhere to strict rules.
Such regulations restrict the engineer’s creativity by limiting engine size, aerodynamic properties, and even the specific measurements of each car. On the private market, things are a bit different. The McLaren P1 GTR and Aston Martin Vulcan are proof of this. In the case of the McLaren, the P1 GTR is a hardcore version of the automaker’s flagship hypercar. The P1 is impressive in its own right, but it has to be able to retain daily drivability. Not the P1 GTR, but even so, it isn’t a car that’s as fast as an F1 car. But the Aston Martin AM-RB 001, a car that will be built using the lessons learned by honing the Vulcan and by borrowing knowledge from Red Bull’s racing team, could be the car to break through the F1 car’s lap time barrier.
Along with the Aston, other cars will follow. More recently, a competitor to the AM-RB 001 was announced by Mercedes-AMG, which will come to life in the form of the R50. The sheer capability of each of those cars is enough to bend the mind. Both will feature as much power as the fastest hypercars but will also be lighter, have more sophisticated aerodynamic systems, and the most recent advancements in chassis tuning and powertrain design. While the Bugatti Chiron may win land speed records and hold a certain type of prestige, it doesn’t do much to advance from the Veyron in significant ways. On the other hand, the AM-RM 001 and R50 appear (on paper) to be the next steps in automotive evolution.
Each of these cars are something that hasn’t been done previously. They will be more exclusive than both the Bugatti and the LaFerrari and likely more expensive too. More importantly, they will bend the laws of physics to a degree that’s previously been unattainable. Few of these cars will ever be made since driver skill and money do not usually coincide. The sad fact of the matter is that soon, many people will stop driving entirely and let the robots take over the task. Just like the first humans were able to see mammoths before they went extinct, we will bear witness to these hypercar giants, the pinnacle of what the car do, before it all goes to hell in an autonomous mobility pod.