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Keep Calm And Buy The Car


I have a love-hate with my financial adviser. I love her because she has on several occasions stopped me from spending money on stupid things; and I hate her because she has on several occasions stopped me from spending money on stupid things.

So imagine my surprise when I broached the subject of dipping into the capital reserve to fund the purchase of a new car. She didn’t even stop to ask me what I had in mind. She simply said “Yes. Why not?” I was flabbergasted. She never – and I mean never – just says yes. There’s always a cost-benefit analysis, a sober discussion and a stern lecture about how much more use it would be to do something else with the money. 

It’s not like she actually has to give me permission, but I value her counsel exceptionally highly. For reasons I hope I don’t need to go into, The Companion and I keep a significant portion of our personal wealth separate from the other’s. I’m sure you understand; I love him dearly but that doesn’t mean I ever want him to have my stuff. There are things we do together, and there are things we do apart. I buy cars; he buys drones and whisky. And my adviser is my ally.

Anyway, it turns out that I’ve had a very good few years on the financial front. The self-managed super fund is flush and will provide more than adequately when the time comes, and outside of super the investment portfolio is doing just fine. I don’t mean to brag – to be honest, the less involvement I have in it the better it does – but it’s going to be just possible to find the $2 million I need to buy the car I’ve fallen in love with. 

Shall I tell you what it is? This is the bit I find difficult, because if you were to say to me “What on earth are you thinking?” I would be mortified. That’s the thing with cars: you can have yours and I’ll have mine, and even though our tastes may differ, and our opinions may vary, we should each respect and value the other’s.

It’s a Ferrari F12tdf.

There – I’ve said it. That’s what I want, and that’s what I’m proposing to liquidate part of my investment portfolio to possess. It may or may not be a rational decision but I’m well past that point. I simply have to have it. In yellow. There’s only 799 of them – for god knows what reason – and one of them must be mine. OK, so if I’d bought it new it would have cost me probably less than half that amount, but that, at this stage, is very much beside the point.

luxury car

The “tdf” in the name means Tour de France and it has nothing to do with bicycles. Zero to 100 km/h in under three seconds and zero to 200 km/h in under eight. I am, well, let’s just say breathless, thinking about it. Did I mention it will be yellow? You know, just in case you miss the banshee-wail of its 6.3 litre V12 from five miles away.

Right now I just cannot wait. I don’t know how it might end but I can’t wait for it to start. It could be something that lasts a lifetime; it could be like the gorgeous blond from Albury, which was my idea of heaven while it lasted and a time I’ll never forget. All I know is that all my life I’ve been powerless in the face of a beautiful car. To paraphrase Nick Hornby, I fell in love with cars as I was later to fall in love with men: suddenly, uncritically and giving no thought to the pain it would bring.

It will take a few days, perhaps weeks, to get the funds together because even though my adviser has loosened the purse strings she’s not completely ga-ga and she wants an orderly sale of assets to minimize my capital gains tax. She has also pointed out that since the car I have my eye on is pre-owned, there’s no tax payable on the purchase. She remains calm in the face of deeply emotional decisions. And that’s another reason I really love her.

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Ferrari adds Italian touch to local Targa Florio

WOMEN were very much front of mind last week when Ferrari Australasia rolled out $11 million worth of its fanciest metal to celebrate the marque’s inaugural participation in the upcoming
Targa Florio Australia Tribute.

Being a Ferrari-endorsed event, we had to make sure we secured all the right hotels, the best restaurants, so it’s capped at only 40 cars.

Over five days from November 28, the epic motorsport event will wind its way through some of the most scenic parts of regional Victoria in only the second time the
Targa Florio has been held outside its home country, Italy. Now considered one of the world’s most ancient road-based events, last year’s running of the Targa Florio Australian Tribute was the
first time it had been held on foreign bitumen since kicking off in Sicily in 1906.

Ferrari Australasia’s chief executive officer, Herbert Appleroth, is hoping there’ll be plenty of women driving the limited number of classic and modern Ferraris that will be allowed to take part.

“We’re capped because, being a Ferrari-endorsed event, we had to make sure we secured all the right hotels, the best restaurants, best accomodation, so it’s capped at only 40 cars,” Appleroth says.

Women represent 9 per cent of Ferrari drivers in Australia – the highest rate of female Ferrari ownership in the world – but Appleroth has made no secret of his drive to get that number up to 15 per cent in the not-too-distant future.

He’s putting his money where his mouth is, too, knowing that the best way to get women to buy Ferraris is, first, to get them past the intimidation-factor often associated with high-performance vehicles. The next trick is to actually get them behind the wheels of his cars. 

To that end, Appleroth’s set up a new “Ferrari Driven Women” program to enable women to experience Ferraris the way they were designed to be driven – fast, on a racetrack. Madam Wheels took part in the first of these events and can understand why they are gaining, as Appleroth says, “huge momentum”.

Today, the Targa Florio is a symbol of some of the best things in life – a passion for cars, luxury, elegance and the Italian lifestyle. It predated Formula One racing and was considered pretty dangerous back in the day. Of course, this meant it attracted the greatest racing car drivers around, as well as cars from the most prominent car makers, including Ferrari and its founder, Enzo Ferrari.

It’s a “regularity race” which means speeds must be tamed. Drivers nominate their average speed for the days leg and those closest to what they predicted end up ahead. It’s held on public roads, at any rate.

The event is a nod not only to classic cars that took part in the original races but also to beautiful scenery. And there’ll be plenty of that on the Victorian drive, which takes in the Great Ocean Road, Mornington Peninsula, Bellarine Peninsula and Yarra Valley. The five-day route is included here. 

Ferrari owners and their classic and modern cars from around Australia and the greater Asia Pacific region are expected to take part.
The cost will be $7000 per Ferrari couple. That’s if there are any spaces left.

Ferrari staff were signing up participants at the launch event, with Appleroth predicting they were already close to capacity before the night ended.

No doubt the cars on show at the CBD-based Ferrari Zagame, which hosted the launch event, inspired some to get on board. Included in the mix was the iconic, lightweight F40,
the last of the analogue super cars and highly sought because of it. Also present was the deceptively pretty 360 Challenge Stradale, a favourite among
staff at the company’s factory at Maranello for its raw, go-cart-like dynamics and exceptionally loud note. Known affectionately as “the baby Enzo”, it’s just really cool.

Madam Wheels columnist Jemima Clarkson was more taken by a yellow F12 TDF (Tour de France).
She’s weighing up parting with the $2m asking price given it originally sold, apparently, for $900,000. Knowing Jemima, she’ll get it if she
wants it and will probably beat the price down, too. She’s competitive like that.

Then look out, Targa Florio.

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Madam Wheels appears on Channel Nine’s Today Extra program


 

Madam Wheels founder Jacquie Hayes speaks with Channel Nine reporter Susanne Gray about some of the inequalities women face in the car-buying equation and how they can overcome them to bag the best deal.

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Madam Wheels Helps Women Purchase Luxury Cars

 

Madam Wheels


They say cars are toys for boys. Not anymore.

New business Madam Wheels helps women experience fast and fabulous cars on their terms. The venture is a first-of-its-kind, customized service for women with a passion for luxury cars. It helps to get them into the sexiest and most fabulous cars around so they can discover what suits their personality, lifestyle and sensibilities before they spend the big bucks.

Madam Wheels’ Founder, Jacquie Hayes, has been a long-time lover of luxury cars and has written about them for many years. She founded Madam Wheels off the back of her years as a columnist at the Australian Financial Review where the imbalance between what women want and what they get in their car-buying experiences became apparent. “I love luxury cars, and know many other women do, too,” Jacqui says. “But they rarely get the chance to experience them properly because they’re reluctant to return to the car showroom where, in the past, they may have been patronised or treated with intimidation or aggression.”

Madam Wheels aims to put the power and fun back into women’s hands when they’re dealing with cars, whether they’re ready to buy or are just shopping around. Those in the market for a car will find tips and tricks on how to negotiate the best possible deal on the Madam Wheels website, which also offers smart and entertaining news, reviews and interviews about the latest high-end cars.

Exclusive Madam Wheels’ ladies-only Drive Experiences allow participants to step out of their lives and join like-minded women for a glamorous weekend of champagne, fine dining and, of course, an incredible driving experience through spectacular scenery in exotic cars. Madam Wheels is run by a woman.

Categories
Events

Madam Wheels Helps Women to Purchase Luxury Cars.

luxury cars

They say cars are toys for boys. Not anymore.

New business Madam Wheels helps women experience fast and fabulous cars on their terms. The venture is a first-of-its-kind, customised service for women with a passion for luxury cars. It helps to get them into the sexiest and most fabulous cars around so they can discover what suits their personality, lifestyle and sensibilities before they spend the big bucks.

Madam Wheels’ Founder, Jacquie Hayes, has been a long-time lover of luxury cars and has written about them for many years. She founded Madam Wheels off the back of her years as a columnist at the Australian Financial Review where the imbalance between what women want and what they get in their car-buying experiences became apparent. “I love luxury cars, and know many other women do, too,” Jacqui says. “But they rarely get the chance to experience them properly because they’re reluctant to return to the car showroom where, in the past, they may have been patronised or treated with intimidation or aggression.”

Madam Wheels aims to put the power and fun back into women’s hands when they’re dealing with cars, whether they’re ready to buy or are just shopping around. Those in the market for a car will find tips and tricks on how to negotiate the best possible deal on the Madam Wheels website, which also offers smart and entertaining news, reviews and interviews about the latest high-end cars.

Exclusive Madam Wheels’ ladies-only Drive Experiences allow participants to step out of their lives and join like-minded women for a glamorous weekend of champagne, fine dining and, of course, an incredible driving experience through spectacular scenery in exotic cars. Madam Wheels is run by a woman.

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No white knuckle ride, just electric disappointment

ABOUT this time each year I find my thoughts turning to Germany, and the Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung (IAA) – the International Motor Show, to get all Anglo about it. Last year the show was in Frankfurt, where it featured passenger vehicles (this year it’s in Hannover, and features commercial vehicles).

Frankfurt is one of my favourite cities in the world, certainly in the top five. Wandering around the Romerberg in September is simple bliss. The city’s airport is inevitably frightful, of course, as all major ports are. More than 60 million people traipse through it every year and in my experience most of them seem to be in an airport for the first time in their lives.

But once the strangely alluring German customs officials have been negotiated, and assuming The Companion restrains from making the kind of comment that results in him being hauled off to a small room again, it’s less than 20 minutes’ drive to the city centre and to the Grandhotel Hessischer Hof.

It’s perhaps not the most luxurious accommodation available, but it’s the place The Companion and I always like to call unser Zuhause for the brief time we’re there. To be honest it’s one of the increasingly few places anywhere in the world that still lets The Companion stay in its bar until midnight. They have discreet but excellent security. 

After the gruelling travel required to get to Frankfurt, it is absolutely vital to get some quality time in a hot bath with Boërl & Kroff, and the bar is as good a place as any to leave him while I attend to myself. At least I can be confident I’ll know where to find him when I’ve finished.

 

More importantly, Hessischer Hof is just a short mosey in the Maybach to what The Companion infuriatingly insists on calling Hamburger Alley, and to the show itself.

 

It’s always good to drop into the IAA, and a year ago I had hoped in Frankfurt to experience the first flush of genuine excitement at the idea of what an electric vehicle could be. I was disappointed, and so this year I’m adopting less lofty expectations.

 

I have become increasingly perturbed by reports that another country is moving to abolish petrol-driven vehicles by such-and-such a date; the thought of being condemned to driving an electric vehicle leaves me as cold as The Companion’s bar stool at 12.01am. I also cannot see the use for a vehicle that has a range limited to a few hundred kilometres and which one then has to wait for overnight while it recharges. It would make a trip to even our closest rural property a two-day drive, at the very least.

I understand that the world moves at a breakneck pace and technology will improve to meet my expectations, eventually. But what I cannot fathom is why designers continue to believe electric vehicles need to look like something out of a 1950s Flash Gordon feature film of my youth, or Will Smith’s conveyance in I, Robot? 

 

Why not just drop an electric motor and batteries into something that’s already undeniably gorgeous – you know, like they did with Prince Harry’s 1968 E-type Jaguar? That unutterably beautiful powder blue number he drove Meghan to their wedding reception in.

 

It turns out that Jag had previously been owned by Toby Grafftey-Smith, the co-founder and outrageously gifted keyboard player in Jamiroquai. Grafftey-Smith funded the conversion before he passed away in 2017 at the tragically young age of 46.

 

Harry’s Jag is valued at more than $470,000, apparently, though it’s not clear how much of that is the cost of the conversion. I’ve seen a story about a 1971 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow being converted to electric; it only cost a reported $25,000.

 

But in general, the closer we get to fully electric in power, the closer we get to fully awful in design. Some of the prototypes are simply comical. If we’re lucky, by the time electric cars get into production in any meaningful numbers, most of the stupid bits will have been knocked off and left on the design-room floor (from where I presume they will be swept into a bin, to be picked out at random and used to construct the next Mini).

 

It is not enough that a car just be well built, or that it only perform well (and sound good doing it – another strike against electric vehicles). Both of those things are fundamental, and it must also please the eye. Build, performance and looks are the automotive equivalent of the holy trinity. Removing any one of the three, thereby minimising a car’s full assault on all of our senses, reduces the pleasure of engagement. And pleasure is the point of life.

 

Still, we remain some years away from being forced to drive electric cars. There’s hope yet that manufacturers will come to their design senses and start considering all of ours.

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Bullrush Rally crew share the drive-day love

IF YOU love your cars and you’re into good company and beautiful scenery, there are few better ways to spend a day out than taking part in an organised drive day.
There are a handful of companies offering the opportunity to drive super cars through picturesque Australian countryside with pitstops for gourmet refreshments and fine dining somewhere lovely.
They’re not cheap, however, involving a spend upwards of $1300 per person, which is not unfair considering what’s involved, including costly insurance premiums.

‘The key ingredient to gaining entree to a Bullrush Drive Day will be the calibre of your car and whether it’s high-end enough to make the cut.’

 

Madam Wheels recently took part in a particularly impressive event open to the public with the Bullrush Rally’s
inaugural Victorian drive day.
Fittingly, the event started on a sunny Sunday at Coombe Yarra Valley, at Coldstream, about an hour’s drive from Melbourne.
I say “fittingly” because the property was formerly home to famed opera singer Dame Nellie Melba who was a car fan herself and reportedly the first woman to get a drivers’ licence in Australia.

The Victorian event attracted about 80 cars, including a C63 Mercedes-Benz, Porsche GT3S, Ferrari 488GTB and Rolls-Royce Ghost. A well-specced white
Lamborghini Performante stole the thunder, though a P-plate-wearing yellow Lotus was lovely to see, too.
Our route took us through the misty beauty of the Black Spur and its snow-frosted tree ferns to Marysville, then back through rich rainforests and wine country to Yarra Glen.

One of the standout features of the Bullrush Drive Days are that participants bring their own cars, enabling them to get their
wheels out of the city and experience them more fully on the the open road. A friend can ride shotgun for company, but organisers discourage
having too many people on board by way of keeping the community real.

The days are also free, apart from the cost of lunch if you choose to stay for it, which you should because it’s one of the highlights of the day.
It gives those there the opportunity to mingle with some seriously impressive and down-to-earth corporate talent who just happen to be car nuts.

 

Not just anyone can get on board the Bullrush Drive Days, however, with a vetting process conducted in advance via a web-based application. The key ingredient to gaining entree will be the
calibre of your car and whether it’s high-end enough to make the cut. We’ll get into exactly what that means later.

The 20 or so Bullrush Drive Days currently on offer out of Sydney, Brisbane and now Melbourne are designed to
keep the dream alive for past participants in the annual five-day Bullrush Rally as well as to showcase the Bullrush culture to prospects.

Kicking off in Sydney about a-year-and-a-half ago, the first drive day attracted 35 cars.
Today, Sydney’s eight events are considered light-on if there are less than 120 cars in tow.

Founder Marko Seider started the Bullrush Rally in 2015 with a road trip from Surfers Paradise to Melbourne, including over-night stays in the Hunter Valley, Sydney and Canberra.

His aim was to bring together like-minded people in pursuit of adventure and unforgettable experiences.

Seider’s inspiration was the exclusive Gumball 3000 rally out of London which celebrated its 20th anniversary earlier this month.  That event is notorious for the super and hyper cars it attracts, along with high-profile personalities and  its over-the-top events and parties. Not surprisingly, it involves massive, city-blocking crowds and  global media attention along the way.

Only true enthusiasts with serious backing apply to make the Gumball 3000 grid. The buy-in for this year’s event from
London to Tokyo was something like $US100,000, with vehicles transported by plane between continents.

Seider first encountered the Gumball 3000 in 1999 and thought it was “the wildest thing” he’d ever seen.

 

“I couldn’t believe it, thinking it would top my bucket list,” Seider says. “I thought, ‘Australia needs that experience’.”

But it wasn’t until he returned from working in the LA music industry in 2014 that he finally decided to bring it to fruition.
It took eight months’ of planning before it hit the road with 25 cars.

“Things have been flat to the floor ever since,” he says.

In typically understated Australian style, the Bullrush Rally is a more modest affair than the Gumball, involving a $8795 spend for a team of two or $5495 for a single, which pretty well covers everything during the trip. Some proceeds are distributed to various charities, with this year’s focus on depression and suicide prevention.

Despite its more humble approach, the Bullrush Rally is no less anticipated by those who have bought in from the outset and swear they’ll
continue to do so every year. One such disciple is Melbourne-based James Smith, CEO of Smith Brothers Media.
His two cars, a black Ferrari 360 Spyder and C63 AMG Mercedes-Benz, happened to be in the
workshop for this drive day, so he and girlfriend Connie hired a Porsche 911
so they could take part anyway.

Over lunch at our end-point for the day, Balgownie Estate, at Yarra Glen, Smith’s enthusiasm was infectious as he
recounted some of the experiences and people he’d met on the past three tours.
His best mate flew in from the UK to take part in the first one with him, with Smith vinyl-wrapping his car and kitting the
pair out with self-designed Bullrush Rally T-shirts and caps.

He talked of the unique, money-can’t-buy experiences which Seider works hard to
include as part of the rally, the most outrageous of which involved closing down
the airport at Casino, in the Northern Rivers area of NSW, to enable quarter- and half-mile drag races on the tarmac.
Seider even convinced a local pilot, who happened to be tinkering on his helicopter in a nearby hangar, to get in on the action.

 

On another occasion, the motorcade received a pre-arranged, four-bike police escort as it left the Gold Coast’s Versace Hotel heading into Tuesday morning traffic.
What they hadn’t expected was that police had shut down a section of the Gold Coast Highway to facilitate a quick and trouble-free getaway.
Meanwhile, drivers in traffic banked up for 2km on the other side of the road gawked at the procession of luxury cars speeding away.

“My mate couldn’t believe it,” Smith says. “He was fist-pumping out of the sunroof.”

That’s not to suggest this is an all-male event, though it naturally fell that way in the beginning.
These days, however, more women are getting on board, and they don’t do it by halves, either.
Last year’s rally attracted a couple of female Porsche fans from Sydney who wrapped their car in a Wonder Woman theme, and occasionally dressed accordingly, too.

Co-organiser Simon Allsop says the rally travels through spectacular scenery, taking in the
most exclusive hotels and the best restaurants along the way. Last year, the opening event involved taking over the top
floor of Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), while the year before it booked out the upper level of Quay Restaurant overlooking Sydney Harbour.

“And after the dinners, we always put the credit card on the bar, not that many people get too silly,” Allsop says. “During the rally, those who
come are introduced to networks and make connections with successful people who are in a position to be in cars like these.
They’re making relationships which last a lifetime, and many of them describe the rally as the highlight of their year.”

Some, like Warren Jack, founder of the Australian Institute of Training in
Sydney, are so enthusiastic, they buy a car especially for the event. Last year, Jack picked up a Ferrari
488GTB and wrapped it in glaring eyes and teeth as part of his Bullrush livery (seen here on Sydney Harbour).

While the rally involves about four hours of driving each day, Seider says cars are not the main game.

“We put so much focus on the cars but it’s more about the people,” he says.
“On the first night, everything’s quite quiet and they’re all getting a feel for each other. But by Day Two, everyone’s on the same level
and the noise is so loud you can’t think, with everyone coming together with a common passion.”

This year’s event will leave Melbourne on October 30 and cover 1400km en route to Sydney with stops at Mt Hotham, Canberra and Bathurst.
Included are five nights of dinners, parties and accomodation, with at least one track day – though, airport tarmacs are not guaranteed.

Seider works closely with local authorities such as police and councils to ensure everything goes off without a hitch. Safety is obviously paramount.

To date, there haven’t been any accidents, and traffic infringements have been few and relatively minor. On one occasion when a country police officer pulled over the convoy, he ended up taking a green Lamborghini Huracan for a spin. No fine was issued, which indicates this didn’t happen in Victoria.

The name “Bullrush” refers to a game Madam Wheels played as a child (though we called it Red Rover) in which one or two children are “it” and stand in the middle of a field while the remainder line up on one boundary. When those in the middle call “Bullrush!” (or “Red Rover!”), the line breaks into a sprint, dodging and weaving around those in the centre trying to get to the other side without being tagged. Those who are caught join the centre crew to target the remaining runners on the return pass. 

There’s a fair bit of chasing on a Bullrush event but certainly no tagging, other than on the plethora of social media hits that result.

As for what type of cars are welcome, Seider is reluctant to be seen as exclusionary, though he identifies any BMW “M” and Mercedes-Benz AMG and upward as being appropriate. 

“Generally, we try to keep the level above Golf R/Audi RS3,” he says. “It’s a very tight community and we try to limit it.”

Last week, he gave the green light to a Ferrari 812 Superfast, Nissan Nismo GTR, Porsche GT2RS, Rolls-Royce Ghost and Aston Martin Rapide, taking to 36 the number of cars signed on for the rally. The event is capped at 50 cars.

As for the drive days, ladies, this is definitely a Madam Wheels-worthy day out and I’d encourage you to try to get on board with a girlfriend by using this sign-up page and the Facebook group. 

In the meantime, good luck and pleasant driving!

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Democracy is fine – just not in the hands of the people

PERHAPS it’s because I am of a certain age; perhaps it’s because I have a known tendency to speak my mind; or perhaps it’s because I’m happy to do any number of things for $150 cash-in-hand, but I recently was invited to take part in a focus group by a manufacturer with a new model to sell. I can only presume that I wasn’t selected for the group because I might end up buying one of the said vehicles because … well, that might become clear.

‘We were intended to represent the manufacturer’s target market in microcosm. If that’s true, the manufacturer’s target market is ever so slightly deranged.’

 

If you’ve been involved in a focus group for anything before – financial services, dishwashing liquid, cars, holidays – you’ll have an idea of the basic set-up. Six strangers, all of whom are prepared to give up two hours of their time for a modest payment, are brought together to answer questions, provide their opinions and thoughts, and to guide manufacturers on how to sell their products to consumers. 

 

I suppose it’s a form of democracy – letting the people choose – but I sincerely hope the manufacturer in question has run more than one focus group otherwise in the not-too-distant future you’re going to have a car advertised to you with a genuinely peculiar tagline, possibly combining the quirky appeal of East German engineering with the menstrual cycle.

 

All of the participants are vetted, so the manufacturers know the kind of person who’ll be in the room, if not the precise foibles of each personality. So there were no greenies, no cycling nut-jobs and no-one who wasn’t both a competent and enthusiastic motorist.

We were, in short, intended to represent the manufacturer’s target market in microcosm. And if that’s true, then the manufacturer’s target market is ever so slightly deranged. It was a credit to Kim, the moderator, that she didn’t punch anyone, barely raised her voice, and that she didn’t throw anything.

 

We were asked about cars we’d owned previously. We were asked about our ideal car of the future, and opinions of electric, hybrid and good old-fashioned petrol-driven variants. We heard sets of characteristics of different cars and different manufacturers and we were asked to nominate brands that fitted particular sets of attributes. And we ended up with Kia and Lamborghini together in one group, Bentley and Holden in another, and Trabant in the same group as Porsche (I can’t resist being a smart-arse sometimes).

 

We were asked to assess potential advertising slogans and sort them in order of preference considering the level of rationality versus emotion in each statement, and whether a given slogan differentiated the car from the pack. For the most part, the slogans were variations on the same theme – you don’t need to be embarrassed about wanting to own something as unapologetically awesome as this car – that didn’t really work for me because I have never, ever, been embarrassed to own the very best cars I can possibly afford (and even ones I really can’t afford).

 

So my responses were out of step with some of the others, especially one of the male participants whom I shall call “Michael” because he had an air of smugness about him that reminded me of Michael Douglas and made me want to give him a new round of spontaneous cosmetic surgery using my water glass.

The six of us really couldn’t agree on anything. I’m not sure if that’s an error in the selection process or simply reflects how hard it is to come up with a line that appeals to everyone at the same time. What I thought was perfectly rational Michael dismissed as emotional; what I thought was claptrap he thought was concise and succinct. He really was insufferable and before long the two of us were dominating the conversation and trying Kim’s patience as she tried to include the four others, who had disappointingly fallen somewhat silent.

The manufacturer is going to have a tough time defining a clear marketing strategy out of this particular farrago, but it did give me a bit of an insight into why so many car ads just don’t resonate with me at all. I’m not interested in price, or if it’s on sale, or if it’s got seven seats and 16 cupholders; I want to know how it goes in a straight line, how it goes around things and how it stops, and how I’m likely to feel when I’m in it. When Michael told me I had a particularly “female” attitude to cars (whatever that means) I was grateful to Kim for shutting him down before I lifted his sagging eyebrows with a carafe.

Anyway, right at the end there was the big-reveal and we learned who the manufacturer was. I can’t tell you who it is, because of a confidentiality agreement we signed on the way in. Let’s just say that even after not mentioning them by name once when given an opportunity, Michael asserted that he knew them very well indeed, and that he’d seen and really liked their ads on TV. He then went on to describe in excruciating detail an advertisement for an entirely different company. 

The people sitting behind the one-way glass (I presume there were people there) must have been tearing their hair out. But that’s what you get when you have to interact with the public – especially the Michaels.

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Spoilt for choice with bespoke McLaren offerings

 

MCLAREN Automotive has been doing a fine job these past few years rolling out some pretty special hand-built cars. The luxury high-performance sports and super cars may not be the obvious first choice for a woman, but that’s likely to change for those who get to experience them.

 

‘When you’re already spending half a million dollars on a set of wheels, a bit extra to stamp your personal preferences on it is typically a small price to pay.’

Provided driver and passenger have the glute, thigh and calf muscle strength to get in and out of them – they’re pretty close to the ground – it doesn’t take long to get an understanding of how well put-together these vehicles are. Everything in them is there for a reason which, ultimately, is to provide the driver with pure automotive pleasure. And that applies across the three product lines the brand builds, from its most accessible Sports Series range to the Super Series, right up to the Ultimate Series.

 

Madam Wheels has had the pleasure of road testing the the Super Series 570S Spider which, along with the McLaren Senna, was rolled out last year. This year, McLaren gave us the 600LT, which has been dubbed the most extreme, road-legal set of wheels yet produced in the brand’s Sports Series lineup. LT references the “Longtail”which harks back to McLaren race cars featuring elongated bodywork which reduced drag and increased downforce. Perfect for the race track, probably not so relevant for those looking for a day-to-day drive.

But people buy these cars for all sorts of reasons, and the lucky ones get to detail their own. After all, when you’re already spending half a million dollars on a set of wheels, a bit extra to stamp your personal preferences on it is typically a small price to pay. Hence the popularity of bespoke detail offerings from the best brands around. 

The McLaren Special Operations (MSO) division hand-holds people through the minutiae of that process, offering limitless possibilities to fulfil customers’ visions.

 

Two new design themes, for example, have been bestowed on the highly acclaimed McLaren 720S as part of bespoke commission requested of MSO. The so-called Track and Pacific themes were showcased at last year’s Geneva International Motor Show, featuring unique paintwork as well as satin and tinted carbon fibre finishes. The special treatment celebrated the design of the McLaren 720S, which took out “Best of the best” accolades at this year’s Red Dot Design Awards, one of the world’s largest and most important design competitions. 

 

The Pacific Theme, commissioned out of McLaren Glasgow, focuses on the technical luxury of the 720S, while our pick of the pair, the Track Theme, commissioned by McLaren Manchester, features an MSO Bespoke exterior paint called Anniversary White inspired by the championship-winning McLaren Formula 1 cars of the 1980s. It also includes plenty of that outstanding McLaren Orange throughout the car.

There’s a lot to love about these cars, and McLaren’s not done yet. More broadly, the company recently outlined its “Track25” business plan which will see it tip £1.2 billion ($A2.1b) into research and development to produce 18 new cars or derivatives by the end of 2025.

Ladies, it looks we’re going to be spoilt for choice.