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Top Ten ‘Limited-Edition’ Cars

 Spyker C12 Zagato Photo: Kenneth Paulsen
By Kenneth Paulsen
Relatively speaking, there aren’t that many people in the world fortunate enough to have both the desire and the means to own a car that makes them truly stand out from the crowd. So it will come as no surprise to find there aren’t that many cars built to cater for these highly discerning buyers. But if you are in that market, there is no better place on this planet than the Geneva Show to hunt out something so truly exotic that they are built in such small numbers that often the customers have to prove themselves worthy enough to buy one. We went fantasy shopping to find our top 10 favorites. Here they are, listed in no particular order.
2008 Bentley Brooklands Photo: Kenneth Paulsen

Bentley Brooklands

For the past few years at Bentley, it has been the new-wave Continental GT family that has made all the headlines—but Bentley does still make magnificent cars rooted in the pre-GT era, and in Geneva they were back in the spotlight with a vengeance with the stunning new Bentley Brooklands. Named for and inspired by the exploits of the “Bentley Boys” racing at Brooklands in the 1920s and 1930s, it has the most powerful V8 engine Bentley has ever produced, and production will be limited to just 500 cars. It is the classic, two-door, four-seat ultra-luxury coupe in the grand manner, and sitting on amazing standard 20-inch wheels, it looks absolutely stunning, in a solid, muscular, “coming-through-now” sort of way. But the big Bentleys are still big performers, too: 6.75 liters, twin turbochargers, 530 horsepower and 774 lb-ft (1050 Nm) of torque give even a car the size of a small apartment prodigious performance—not that Bentley are nouveau enough when it comes to their more traditional cars to talk today about anything so tawdry as numbers. But just look, and you’ll know.

 

 Spyker C12 Zagato Photo:Kenneth Paulsen 

Spyker C12 Zagato

The Spyker name is almost as old as the industry, and after disappearing for decades it kicked back into life a few years ago. Since then it has built a series of neat and very quick road-going sports cars that have also been pretty impressive in endurance racing—and now Spyker has even joined the F1 ranks. But their Geneva newcomer is one for the road, linking Spyker with another famous name, in the Spyker C12 Zagato. Combining Spyker engineering with Zagato styling for a very exclusive marketplace—only 24 will be built—and it hangs a beautiful new shape around the proven C12 space-frame chassis, and is powered by a 500 horsepower version of the VW/Audi group’s mighty 6.0-liter W12 engine, mid-mounted and driving the rear wheels. 193 mph (310 kph) and 0-62 mph (100 kph) in 3.8 seconds in a car with exquisite design details earns it its top ten place.

 Lotus 2-Eleven Photo:Kenneth Paulsen 

Lotus 2-Eleven

The original Lotus Eleven was one of the most successful small sports racing cars of its day, which was way back in the late 1950s when Lotus was just a baby. But the 2-Eleven looks like a pretty exciting prospect, too, as a car in the true spirit of Lotus founder Colin Chapman, whose unswerving philosophy was ”performance through light weight.” Developed by the race car performance branch of Lotus, Lotus Sport, and aimed mainly at track-day use rather than racing as such, the new 2-Eleven is a totally no-frills, no-compromise two-seater open sports car in the classic sports racing mould, and ready to roll it combines a curb weight of 1,642 lbs (745 kg) with some 252 horsepower from its supercharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. That gives a power to weight ratio closer to a 1960s Grand Prix car than to the original Eleven sports racer, and you can assume that it will be more than matched by the sort of handling that Lotus still does better than almost anybody. Oh, and just look at it—it is absolutely stunning.

 Koenigsegg CCX Photo:Kenneth Paulsen 

Koenigsegg CCX

Two years ago, Swiss supercar maker Koenigsegg turned up in Geneva with a car which that still had the grime on it after recording an official speed of 388 kph, or almost exactly 242 mph, on the vast Nardo test track in Italy—and at the time that was a new maximum speed record for a production car, a specially prepared CCR, which was then the sole Koenigsegg production offering. And now there is the CCX, which is essentially the next evolution (largely to meet U.S. legislation), and as mighty a supercar as you could find anywhere in the vast Geneva halls. It is a fine thing with its smooth skin and scissor doors, remarkably compact for such a beast, and under the surface looking much closer to a race car than a road car, however exotic. It is based on a carbon fiber monocoque with spaceframe add-ons, and powered by a fearsome, twin-supercharged 4.7-liter V8 which, just like the record-breaking CCR, produces 806 horsepower, and in this case 678 lb-ft (919 Nm) of torque—delivered through a six-speed manual gearbox to the rear wheels only, so competent drivers only need apply. It also weighs less than 2,650 lbs (1,200 kg), so performance is not going to be an issue. That means 0-62 mph (100 kph) in 3.2 seconds and 0-100 mph (160 kph) in not much more than twice that—and on to a top speed that will clearly be on the far side of 200 mph (320 kph) even geared for the road, not for record breaking. And that’s all you need to know.

 Brabus Rocket V12 S Biturbo

Brabus Rocket V12 S Biturbo

If you want big numbers, you’ll always find them in the middle of Hall 2, where the specialist manufacturers are corralled together like wagons in a circle, surrounded by the mainstream names doing their own sensible things. Brabus, however, has only a tenuous grip on the concept of sensible, so this year’s offering is way out on the wild side. It is the Brabus Rocket V12 S Biturbo, which was once a humble Mercedes-Benz CLS500 before the German tuner let loose on the 4.9-liter twin-turbo V12, to unleash no less than 730 horsepower, a 974 lb-ft (1320 Nm) of torque mountain, and 0-125 mph in 10.5 seconds. The certificate from the Nardo speed bowl says it recorded a maximum speed of 365.7 kph, or 228.6 mph, which is spectacularly quick for what started out as a big and luxurious coupe. In all-black stealth colors—blink and you’ll miss it.

 KTM X-Bow Photo: Kenneth Paulsen

KTM X-Bow

KTM might be a newcomer to the four-wheel ranks, but Europe’s second largest motorcycle maker has come onto the scene with a bang in Geneva, with a high-tech sports car that could seriously frighten more than a few established players in the track-day ranks. The KTM X-Bow (that’s crossbow) is a totally uncompromising two-seat, almost open-wheeler with a mainly carbon fiber chassis and more than enough grunt from a four-cylinder FSI direct injection engine from Audi. The theory is, less is more, and there’s little or nothing on the X-Bow that isn’t purely functional—which also gives it a fantastic, take-no-prisoners look in its aggressive black and orange skeletal bodywork. Starting point is 220 horsepower and around 1,550 lbs (700 kg), for 0-62 mph in 3.9 seconds, but if you want more power and more performance, you only have to ask. Looks like a very serious big boy’s toy…

Lamborghini Gallardo Superlegerra Photo: Kenneth Paulsen

Lamborghini Gallardo Superlegerra

Superleggera? It’s Italian, and literally means ”super light”—a term that used to be used on some classic sports cars for the special lightweight coachwork based on a lattice of thin, light tubes. In the Gallardo it means another 10 horsepower and 220 lbs (100 kg) less on the scales, to create what they call “the sportiest and most ’purist’ Gallardo ever.” With a power to weight ratio of only 5.5 lbs (2.5 kg) per horsepower—that’s a tough one to argue against, and it is backed up by a 0-62 mph time of just 3.8 seconds—or 0.2 seconds quicker than the standard car. In the Superleggera the superb 5.0-liter V10 gives 530 horsepower and with a new suit including several lightweight composite panels, and even polycarbonate windows, its curb weight is down to 2,932 lbs (1330 kg) in European spec. And as every child physicist knows, big power and small weight equals huge performance.

Morgan Aeromax Photo:Kenneth Paulsen 

Morgan Aeromax

The Morgan Aeromax appeared last year as a concept car based on a design done by a young design student for a coupe version of the BMW-powered Aero 8, and taking its styling cues from some classic coupes of best part of 80 years ago. And now they are building it, in very limited numbers, all of which were ordered virtually as soon as the news got out. It’s a hell of a statement, and with all the mechanical underpinnings of the mighty Aero 8, it’s a huge performer, too. Above all, don’t be fooled by the idiosyncratic, caricature-retro looks, there’s nothing whatsoever old-fashioned about Aeromax performance. The all-aluminum chassis is light and immensely strong and the 4.4-liter BMW V8 is mighty powerful, with around 330 horsepower in its most basic Morgan form. So look at around 4.5 seconds to 62 mph and a top speed of around 160 mph (257 kph). And you probably won’t keep bumping into other Aeromaxes on the street.

Aston Martin V8 Vantage Photo:Kenneth Paulsen

Aston Martin V8 Vantage N24

Last year, on the same weekend in June when the works’ DBR9s were campaigning at Le Mans, a slightly lower-key Aston effort was taking part in another 24 Hour race, at the Nurburgring. And this was a private racing enterprise in the true spirit of the Nurburgring race, even though both car and team had been put together, out of hours, by people from the company—and included Aston Martin chairman Dr. Bez. So not only did they achieve their goal of finishing the race intact and respectably placed, they also realized that a customer version of the car—in effect a modestly modified Vantage V8 with racing safety kit and just a bit more performance—could be quite attractive to a limited audience of weekend racers. Hence the V8 Vantage N4, is hand-built at Aston’s Gaydon home, and closely based on the Nurburgring racer. Modified for reliability as well as performance, it gains 30 horsepower, to give it 410 horsepower, a six-speed manual transmission with racing clutch, retuned suspension, upgraded brakes, racing wheels and special tires, and a fairly stripped interior. And there you have an ideal car for club and national endurance racing. It’s what Aston racing is about.

Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione Photo: Kenneth Paulsen

Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione

It wasn’t only because of the exceptionally easy on the eye assistants on the Alfa Romeo stand—for whatever reason, the 8C Competizione, looking absolutely sensational in black and silver, appeared to have more people crowded around it and trying to fight their way into it at any time during the press days, than any other car in the building. And now the 8C Competizione is moving from concept to very limited production status, it’s even clearer how special this lovely car is in giving the brand a true flagship in the great Alfa tradition. Not only is it very, very good to look at, it promises to be a genuinely serious performer, and with a character just far enough off the dead-ahead to be suitably appealing to those who just want to be different enough without being considered eccentric. Its soft curves and dramatic proportions were penned in house by Alfa Centro Stile near Milan, and are cleanly modern but with hints of some of the great motor-sport-bred Alfas of the past. And it has more than enough power to deliver on its visual promises—with 450 horsepower and 347 lb-ft (470 Nm) of torque from its all-aluminum 4.7-liter four-cam V8, which gives a claimed top speed of around 190 mph (306 kph) and a sub-4.5-second 0-62 mph time. But all those impeccably dressed and manicured Italians queuing up to try out the driver’s seat in Geneva must surely first have sensed the emotion

 





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