TOY FOR THE WEALTHY: The last Bugatti Veyron ever to be made has pride of place in Geneva. Image: Newspress.
GENEVA, Switzerland - They have fighter jet-type accelerations, custom-made interiors and seven-figure price tags: "supercars" are centre stage at the Geneva show, even as one of its legendary stars is bowing out.
The last Bugatti Veyron ever to be made has pride of place at the 2015 Geneva auto show so enthusiasts can say farewell. The brand announced in February 2015 that it had sold the 450th and final model of the car with its 16-cylinder monster engine that produces up to 1215 horsepower.
Stefan Brungs, Bugatti's head of sales, said: "With the Veyron we created a modern icon and this show is an opportunity to put the car on a pedestal, to celebrate, to say thank you to everyone involved, and close the chapter,"
Since the Veyron was unveiled to the world at the beginning of the 2000's competitors have rushed to carve a niche in this exclusive world of cars that only the ultra-superrich can afford. Sweden's Koenigsegg, for instance, boasts it makes not "supercars", or even "hypercars", but full-blown "megacars".
The company is presenting its Regera at the Geneva show, which opened to the public on March 5. The car comes with a hybrid powertrain that produces 1500 horsepower and can accelerate from rest to FOUR HUNDRED KM/H in 20 seconds.
That's roughly twice the horsepower of a regular Formula 1 car, though the Regera is much heavier.
Jens Sverdrup, the brand's head of sales, commented wryly: "Now it seems to be pretty normal to have almost 1000 horsepower."
The cost? Around R23-million.
Or way more depending on what the customer wants.
DRIVE ON RACE TRACK
That's also how much the thrill-seeking rich will need to fork out for McLaren's P1 GTR. Like Aston Martin's Vulcan, which also premiered in Geneva, it's a car destined for "gentlemen drivers" that can only be used on a race track and the price tag comes with piloting lessons included.
But Dave Eden, spokesperson for the brand made famous by its Formula 1 success, warns that the P1 GTR will only be made available to those who already own the P1 road car - a hybrid supercar unveiled in 2012 that already costs more than a million euros.
And orders for the GTR have been limited to 40, a figure almost attained, he said.
"We've got people flying in from all over the world to see the cars," Eden added.
While the stalls of more general brands are open to all, those of the "supercar" manufacturers are surrounded by glass barriers and entrances are guarded by imposing security men.
In front of the stalls belonging to Italy's Ferrari and Lamborghini, men gather in search of selfies - and photos of models in figure-hugging dresses posing next to the vehicles of their desire.
Some brands, such as Italy's Pagani, make an effort for the vast majority of visitors who will never have the means to pay for such "supercars" by giving out posters.
Pagani spokesperson Luca Venturi explained: "We sell cars but we give as a present dreams to car lovers all around the world.
"We are the kind of guys who used to have a Lamborghini Countach poster on the wall."
The brand manufacturers the "Huayra", a carbon-fibre lES Batmobile lookalike whose interior is all leather.
The price? Nearly R17-million..VAT not included.
As for Bugatti, its Veyron may be bowing out but the brand, owned by Volkswagen, has no intention of leaving it without heirs. Brungs said Bugatti still holds the speed record for a production car at 431km/h and its next vehicle "will be fascinating and even better than what you see here".
"The car will come most probably in 2016," he added. "We love competition and if somebody tries to beat us, we'll take this as a challenge. We enjoy striking back."
Keep up with the 2015 Geneva International Motor Show with Wheels24.