Hunchbacked Contender: The Weber SportsCar

The Bugatti Veyron made us question just how far we could go in the pursuit of pure speed, just how much we'd sacrifice in terms of looks, style, and low speed fun for a car that would outrun a cruise missile. As it turned out, the bar went pretty high. But Weber Engineering might have pushed things beyond the rational boundary with its new $1 million super sports car. Now they're hoping for more than 248 mph from their seven-liter bruiser and it is just bristling with technology, unsurprising as they're building it to showcase their engineering skills. There's intelligent four-wheel-drive, a monumentally modified seven-liter engine that looks nothing like the tractor that originally rolled off GM's line and aerodynamics so advanced they have done away with door handles to make it slip unnoticed through the air.

Sounds pretty cool. In fact it should be the start of a eulogy when the car's predicted zero-to-62 mph time lies firmly in superbike territory at 2.5s. But there's a problem, this car is so ugly it should be kept in the cellar and fed through the door.

Now every car, even the lowliest, cheapest hatchback goes into the wind-tunnel and comes out with a smoother bumper, a lower roof, a bigger grille, something. Every car except the Hummer.

But even when faced with the most convincing set of numbers, the stylists still have the power of veto. There is a point where they will simply say no, it doesn't matter how much more effective the car is, how much faster it is, if it looks like it's built from Lego then they have the right to stop it. Car design, all design, is a compromise between form and functionality.

Weber didn't follow that tried and trusted routine, though, they seemingly built a car without referring to a designer. An Etch-a-Sketch? Yes. A designer? No...

The mock-up was at Top Marques in Monaco and they insist this is what the finished car will look like. I just kind of hope they're wrong. Because this thing looks like the surprise toy in a Kinder Egg. Even the Veyron looked a million times better than this purse-lipped, square jawed freak show. A bizarre collection of angles, caved in roof and hunchback, it got worse every time I saw it. Coming in from a heavy night in the local bars, it even threatened breakfast.

This machine will hit the road later in the year, and it will go for the landmark speed right away. And the weird thing is if it hits that record then Weber will sell every one of them. There will always be people with more money than sense and the burning desire to own the fastest car in the world to go with their giant house and trophy girlfriend(s).

But the Weber needs that record like a flower needs the rain. With it, this will become a landmark car, the best at something. It will be faster than the Veyron, therefore it will be better, in some folks' eyes at least. Ignore the fact they'll never do the top end speed, the fact that it's technically there within the car is all that matters.

If it fails to break the landmark and become the fastest car on Earth, though, this car will disappear without a trace. So there is the rational boundary. If it's the fastest car on Earth it could come with a severe skin condition and body odor. If it isn't, it wants to look better than this.


[Birmingham, UK-based Nick Hall's Car Hack's Notebook column runs whenever he has a free moment between flogging exotic tuners and supercars on European highways and test tracks. Right now, he's between sips of sherry cocktail in his favorite chaise lounge, positioned somewhere in southern Spain.]

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