Are Supercars like Rock’n’roll Stars?

pagani huayraWhen I was watching the Richard Hammond’s review of Pagani Huayra on TopGear, watched its out-of-this world aerodynamic features, the steam punk interior, obsessive attention to detail and  strangely understated, yet magnificient design, it occurred to me that this it The supercar of our time.

Yes, Richard Hammond said something similar just a few seconds later. He mentioned the “innocence” of Pagani, not owned (yet) by any of the big corporations, enabling it to freely explore the craziest ideas and retain the soul, while others, like Lamborghini or Ferrari, are choked by corporate politics.

But I don’t think he’s only partially right. Even if Lamborghini or Ferrari were totally independent, they would never do anything as groundbreaking like Miura was half a century ago, or like Huayra is now. Because supercars, and their makers, are like rock’n’roll stars. They are loud, obnoxious, born to break the law…and firmly rooted in their times.

[Ed: Today we’re resurrecting Submissions Thursday to feature a piece from longtime internet car guy friend Vojta Dobes, a.k.a. Bobash, a.k.a. an awesome guy in the Czech republic with a penchant for American Iron.]

The Beatles

Let’s look at the brand that defined the supercar as we know it – Lamborghini. It’s like typical British rock’n’roll band from the sixties. The Miura represented “The Beatles moment” in the supercar world. It was revolutionary, it was a bit rebellious, but still kinda cute and polished. With the transverse V12 engine, it was doing things differently, but it was beautiful, not provocative. It could make thousands of fans scream in ecstasy, but it could also show up in Buckingham Palace without causing a scandal.

But that was not the end of British invasion, nor the end of supercar revolution. After those four clean-cut boys from Liverpool prepared ground, there came another band. They were louder, they were obnoxious and they didn’t gave a shit about the rules. They were called The Rolling Stones. And likewise the Lamborghini Countach didn’t give a shit. With bright colors and angular shapes, it was guaranteed to attract stares. It was tough to drive and its handling required the driver to have some Sympathy For The Devil. And it was as obnoxious as Mick Jagger’s big mouth.

Countach stayed on the market for nearly two decades. It evolved from the pure, clean and groundbreaking Aftermath like original to brash and slightly tacky Emotional Rescue of the LP500S or 25th Anniversary. But when the time came to replace it, nothing groundbreaking has happened. The Countach was replaced by younger, sleeker version of itself, with the Diablo. And then Murciélago. And lately, the Aventador. Like Rolling Stones were able to reinvent themselves, but not invent anything new with Voodoo Lounge or A Bigger Bang, the famous brand continued with more and more variations of the same.

New Lamborghinis are still wonderful machines, in the same way that going to the Stones’ concert is still great fun and even their latest albums are still great music. But Lamborghini is not any more likely to launch a groundbreaking supercar than Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are to come up with revolution in music. However we may love them, they are just… old.

And it’s not just about Rolling Stones and Lamborghini. This also explains, why Ferrari has never built a true supercar, and never will. The Modena company was well established before the dawn of supercar era and it’s DNA was built on racecars, sportscars and GT’s. It’s not a rocker at heart. It’s like Frank Sinatra, or Tom Jones. It’s part of the establishment, it will show up in tuxedo, perform flawlessly and take itself very seriously. It may be a Sex Bomb, but it ain’t no rock’n’roll.

On the other end of the scale, the Viper, with its unsophisticated character and primitive truck engine represented antidote to increasing complexity and polishment of supercars in the same way crude sound of Ramones was reaction to the overproduced glam rock movement. And while the Viper aged, matured and got a little bit softer and more safe, not unlike its punk rock counterparts, it never ceased to be a blunt, truck-engined tool. Like aging punk-rocker, who maybe got wiser and won’t punch you just because he doesn’t like the way you look at him, but remained the same in his heart.

Which brings us to crucial question – where does Pagani fit in this scheme of things? It’s thoroughly modern, with NASA-grade materials and AMG engines. It’s exquisitely made, and its combination of space-age aerodynamic exterior and steampunk interior is unlike anything we have seen before. To me, Pagani is the Pearl Jam of the supercar world. From the Zonda, coming out of nowhere like Ten album did in the early 1990, to the brand new Huayra.

Thirty years from now, people will not be talking about Bridges To Babylon or Murciélago LP640 nearly as much as about Binaural or Huayra. Because those are the rock’n’roll…


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22 responses to “Are Supercars like Rock’n’roll Stars?”

  1. OA5599 Avatar

    I like the band analogies, particularly Ramones/Viper.
    I think the closest band for Pagani would be Queen, though. Blending space-age and steampunk? What better band than one with hits rooted in opera, rockabilly, R&B, disco (and rap via Vanilla Ice's wholesale sampling), and good old rock&roll? As far as NASA-grade materials, tell me of another legendary rock band whose guitarist and sometime songwriter has a PhD in Astrophysics.

    1. BobAsh Avatar

      Hmmm, you may be onto something…

  2. Jeff Glucker Avatar
    Jeff Glucker

    As a massive Pearl Jam fan… I can get behind this call 100%.

    1. pj134 Avatar

      Yes… All I can think to say is yes.
      [youtube UvKVxzgIHV4 youtube]

  3. PotbellyJoe Avatar

    <img src=""&gt;
    <img src=""&gt;
    (I couldn't find anything but video from the Montreal 1992 concert, so this will have to do, damn I'm old enough to make a roundabout joke 21 years in the making)

  4. PotbellyJoe Avatar

    TVR (any) = The Who, right?
    Super loud, super awesome, and when they are done almost everything is broken?

    1. BobAsh Avatar

      Absolutely. Both TVR and The Who started out simple, extreme and dangerous and became a bit softer, even kinda mainstream and "Hollywood" (from TVR in "Swordfish" to The Who in CSI), but remained crazy rockers at heart.

    2. Irishzombieman Avatar

      TVR: For folks who want to die before they get old.

  5. kah Avatar

    Love the analogy
    as Neil Young told us on
    Rust Never Sleeps "It's better to burn out than to fade away"
    I guessYoung would be his converted Lincoln Continental Mark IV
    Not a car that seems likely to do many burnouts but like Young it has endured a long time.
    would this logic make the The Who a Bugatti Veyron? or maybe Foo Fighters Wikipedia list them as the Loudest band ever

    1. pj134 Avatar

      For many reasons, I think of Young as something like the Lamborghini Cheetah.

      1. BlackIce_GTS Avatar

        The military wrecked him and lost the remains?

  6. BAMacPherson Avatar

    What a fantastic article. Just stellar.

  7. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    Hmm , what's Jamie Kitman doing now?

  8. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    A great read and one that has provoked my thoughts. I always thought that Pink Floyd were a good analogy for Lamborghini.
    Their early work, like the GT and Muira, was revolutionary but enjoyed by a select audience and under the radar for many. But, with Dark Side Of The Moon in 1973 they were catapulted onto the world stage and, like the Countach, passed into legend.
    Their later releases remained popular but won them few new fans, and then they returned for one last fling with the Diablo SE and The Division Bell.
    The analogy runs out of steam in the late 90s, but I suppose you could say that VW and Radiohead stepped in and ran with the same formula, same ingredients but administered in different, contemporary ways.

    1. OA5599 Avatar

      Pink Floyd is the GT/40.
      MK I was the early years with Syd Barrett
      MK II was Gilmour joining, through Dark Side of the Moon, which was one of the longest-charting albums of all time and the musical equivalent of a 1-2-3 finish.
      MKIII was Wish You Were Here and Animals, changed a little after and by success.
      MK IV was The Wall. Everything was dialed in to perfection.
      Ford GT was everything after, when the band was in the process of splitting up, and then later without Waters (or Waters's solo career). It resembled the best versions, and was still pretty good, but it wasn't as great as what had been.

      1. skitter Avatar

        The moral of this thread:
        Try to build a supercar that's like Dark Side Of The Moon.

  9. dculberson Avatar

    The Huyra might be an awesome car, but to me it looks an awful lot like the Zonda, enough so that it doesn't seem to break any new ground visually.
    <img src="; width=700>
    I think the Hyura is Pagani's Diablo – a dressed up follow-up to their already gone groundbreaking car. Not that it isn't awesome, it's just not entirely new.

  10. nowhereman Avatar

    NONE …

    1. BobAsh Avatar

      Supercars are not about winning races. They are about shows. Keith Richards wouldn't win any running contest either.

    2. FunWithBuns Avatar

      I can't tell if you're trying to be funny, or just one of those Ferrari fans that gets upset at the smallest slight against "your" brand. Either way, BOOOOOO.

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