Jalopnik s exploration of the tension between art and commerce in the review sections of various US car mags continues. Meanwhile, we couldn t help but notice a stunning example of this literary sub-genre in the 11 October issue of Brit weekly Autocar. Although Spyker doesn t advertise within Autocar s glossy pages, Chris Harris article on the Dutch automaker s C8 supercar is the single best example of this car sucks but I m not going to say so in so many words review we ve ever read to date. As the British like to say, Harris starts as he means to finish.
Loud Spyker [Autocar (edited version)]
Standing beside the Spyker C8 Spyder in the upmarket Kensington mews that houses dealer Hunt and Keal s showroom, I was fully prepared to hear the obligatory How much mister? answered with something on the large side of unaffordable But it s as much as I can do to stop an unfortunate combination of the words laugh , having , you re and mate spilling out when the aforementioned figure is casually tossed into conversation.
Harris is working his literary magic on the British expression You re having a laugh mate. [The less graceful US equivalent: Don t think I m stupid enough to fall for that shit. ] Harris then reveals that the Spyker C8 Spyder costs 188,000 ($333k), which is two grand less than the price of a Lamborghini Murcielago roadster.
Harris proceeds to compliment the Spyker s meticulous craftsmanship. He points out that the C8 Spyder is as well-made as the ne plus ultra of hand-built supercars, the Pagani Zonda — which also costs 188,000. And then he s off; pissing on the Spyker Spyder from a great height, hammering home his theme of astronomical over-pricing with a well placed metaphorical mallet.
Humans simply stand still and attempt to locate the source of this mechanical frenzy. The more knowledgeable of them perhaps look out for a trio of Mercedes E55 AMG s with exhaust baffles removed, because those might, if thwacked with enough venom, make a similar noise to this diminutive rag top. Equally their combined value — give or take the odd thousand — would, by chance, be somewhere near the 188,000 mark.
I m not a great fan of the whole awfully nice to meet you English literary style (a venomous thwack?), but Harris certainly has it down pat — I mean, cold. And the 188,000 routine just keeps getting better.
The next passage finds Harris worn-out by the Spyker s industrial-strength clutch and unservoed brakes. He wishes he was in the backseat of a [conveniently] passing Maybach 57 — which can be had for 188,000. Harris gives it some (thrashes the car) and wonders if the Spyker C8 Spyder could scalp a Porsche Carrera GT, a pre-owned example of which could be purchased for a sum in the neighborhood of — you guessed it.
The author saves his best price reference for the second-to-last paragraph. He chides the Spyker for not being a touch softer (i.e., its suspension makes rocks seem like Tempurpedic pillows).
Otherwise, it just skips the bumps and becomes airborne. At which point it could, if we stretch the comparison a touch, become a rival for the 150,000 Robinson R22 helicopter.
Now that s funny. Unfortunately, Harris stumbles at the last fence, falling prey to AutoWeek syndrome. He sums-up the Spyker with the usual it-sucks-but-I ve-got-to-say-something- nice-because-these-chaps-were-good-enough-to- lend-me-their-hyper-exotic-sports-car-and-let s-not-forget-we-sell-magazines- reviewing-extreme-machines-like this-and-we-don t- want-to-screw-that-up routine. As Harris puts it:
I just can t bring myself to wholly dislike a car with an exposed gear linkage and — sorry — Aretha Franklin s lungs.
Damned by faint praise? In any case, we re willing to bet Mr. Harris could have achieved complete antipathy to the Spyker C8 Spyder — if he d been writing for someone a little less hidebound than Autocar.
[Jalopnik s Between the Lines column parses the rhetoric of the automotive industry, and the media that covers it, from the point of view of that kid at the back of the class with ADD, a genius IQ and a thirst for mayhem.]
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