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The 88th Geneva Motor Show is the Breeding Ground of the Hypercar

The Geneva International Motor Show – now in its 88th year—is the one place in all the world this side of maybe Top Marques Monaco or Pebble Beach where you can see so much vehicular unobtanium in one place.

Avatar By: Dan Heyman March 9, 2018
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Geneva, Switzerland: It’s the supercar show, they say.

The Geneva International Motor Show – now in its 88th year—is the one place in all the world this side of maybe Top Marques Monaco or Pebble Beach where you can see so much vehicular unobtanium in one place, the Palexpo conference centre beside Geneva International Airport.

As if the word of mouth wasn’t enough, you know it as soon as you enter Halle 1 (there are seven of these, but they’re so interconnected it’s more like one giant hall), and the first thing you see is the all-American, 1,600 horsepower Hennessey Venom mega car. Wonder how much boss John Hennessey had to pay for that prime real estate? Yep; this must be the place.

The Hennessey is a good jumping off point, because it serves as a great demonstration of a kind of sub genre within a sub genre at Geneva, and that’s the boutique supercar manufacturers. We’re talking “only one in the world” stuff, 1 of 3 stuff, 1 of 5 stuff; the amount of these boutique types almost equals the full-blown full-line manufacturer count at the show.

Hennessey Venom F5

Those guys, of course, don’t want to be denied either. This is where all the biggest names get to strut their stuff, too; there’s the Lamborghini Huracán Performante Spyder and Urus, over there is the latest Bugatti Chiron S, the Koenigsegg Agera and the Ferrari 488 Pista (actually, its stand is at the other end of the hall, but you get the idea). It gets to the point where you start to wonder why the Fast and Furious or Ocean’s 11 crews haven’t used Geneva for their next heist target.

But I digress.

Like a fine timepiece, it pays to stop and really take the time to admire some of these extremely rare beasts. I could name about 100 highlights from the show floor, but there are some that stick out even amongst this rarified group and that’s quite the feat to accomplish.

Italdesign Zerouno Geneva

The Italdesign Zerouno Duerta is one of these cars. It starts with the name, which is spectacular in itself; Italdesign is a brand that few are familiar with, but they’ve had a hand in designing everything from fast Audis to weirdo Alfa Romeo concepts. The Zerouno Duerto seen here is the second car from Italdesign Automobili Speciali, which is now a Volkswagen Auto Group sub-brand. The first was the hardtop version, called just “Zerouno” and revealed at last year’s Geneva show, because of course it was.

It looks miles better with the top lopped off, somehow more proportional and athletic than the coupe model. All that aero addenda you see? Though it looks good, it’s not just for show as it’s all been wind tunnel tested and is fully functional, aside from the optional rear wing. Sure; it may be nothing more than an Audi R8 underneath (thank you, VAG), but that’s a fine baseline to start from and it looks spectacular overall. Love the white-on-black Pirellis, too.

Rimac Concept 2 Geneva

At the other end of the megacar spectrum is the Rimac Concept 2; yes, the sequel to the car Richard Hammond famously reduced to a charred heap on the first episode of the second season of The Grand Tour. The Croatian firm is back, this time with about 1,500 fully-electrified horses and a sub-two second 0-60 mph time. I don’t care what anyone says; that’s vehicular insanity of the highest order and the fact that a grand total of zero carbons get spat out the tailpipe during all that madness is not something I would have imagined even ten years ago. Apparently, Rimac is convinced it can do two laps of the Nurburgring at full-chat on a single charge, too. It also has upswinging doors, because of course it does.

Everywhere you turn, the hits just keep on coming; not one but two specialized versions of the McLaren 720 Senna, already a special version in itself; ultra-bulletproof Range Rover limos from Klassen built to shuttle dignitaries around (their display includes a collection of the country flags you see flying over the front fenders of presidential vehicles) and then, there’s Mansory.

Some of you may know this Swiss tuner, some may not; those that do will know that if it ain’t finished in carbon, it ain’t a Mansory. We’re not talking about Honda Civics or Mitsubishi Evos. Either; we’re talking really specialized stuff like the Ferrari 812 Superfast (called – no joke – the ‘Stallone’) and Bugatti Veyron, with a carbon weave designed to look like marble. Marble. On a Veyron. My word.

Mansory Veyron Geneva

The Bugatti Chiron S also arrived with its weight-saving carbon fibre wipers and wheels (among other things), and while it makes no more power than the standard Chrion, it’s faster around VW’s Nardo test track by about five seconds.

The really interesting part in all this, however, is how the Chrion – as spectacular as it is – is kind of…normal in this company. Maybe it was its red colouring, maybe it was the lighting on its booth but the Performante Spyder across the way was a way bigger draw, if only because it was front and centre on the Lamborghini stand. That’s part of it, but upon reflection, the real reason this is the case is how there’s so much spectacular machinery here, it actually makes the Chiron – which is actually more mass produced than a lot of this stuff – look pedestrian.

Bugatti Chiron S

Especially when if you take a walk equalling about a half block away and the British answer to the Veyron (sort of) is sitting in spectacular fashion at the centre of Aston Martin’s display: the 1,000 hp, hybridized, V12-powered Valkyrie AMR Pro. It runs to “only” 225 mph, but its advanced design and aero tech gives it the ability to corner at 3Gs. It also has it looking like one of the “Vision Gran Turismo” models from the famous racing video game, or like something out of the Tron universe.

If I had to pick a winner in the supercar stakes here, though, it would have to be the Pagani Zonda HP Barchetta. The Zonda has been replaced by the Huyara at the top of the pile over at Pagani, but this particular Zonda is so advanced looking, I though it actually was a Huyara when I first saw it. Carbon fibre all over the place, colour-matched tire script with silver wheels on one side and blue wheels on the other and deliciously covered rear wheels mean this particular Zonda will have no trouble going toe-to-toe with the latest from the Italian firm. The 789 hp, 811 lb-ft V12 helps, too.

Aston Martin Valkyrie AMR Pro pagani zonda

The last you could say “group” that’s better represented here more than it is anywhere else are the more established tuning brands, lead by the fabulous folks at RUF who revealed their latest concoction, the SCR. It’s as if they’ve taken the best bits from the 930, 964 and 993-era 911 models as inspiration and made an entirely bespoke creation that’s not based on any one car. There’s no 997 or 991 underneath; just Ruf’s own carbon monocoque, which is something even Porsche themselves hasn’t done. Power from a naturally-aspirated flat-6 good for 510 hp and 347 lb-ft of torque. If it’s anything like the original RUF, the CTR Yellowbird, it should be a real cracker and perhaps even a future legend.

6 x 6 trucks, three-wheel track specials, wild concepts; Geneva is the candy store for car people and we’re all that much better off for it.

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