The Youabaian Puma debuted earlier this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show, and I think it's great. It's hilarious, it's loud, and its logo is possibly a thong covering the globe. And that's what's great about all vanity cars – they are always unique.
When I say "vanity cars," I'm using the word "vanity" very loosely. Sometimes they're built out of pride, which comes close to the meaning of vanity, I suppose. Other times they're made by someone who just couldn't find the perfect car for them, or they're made with the attitude that of course the car they would make is better.
Either way, they seemed joined by the common thread of one person building a car that seems way too wacky, way too weird, to be real. I'm not talking about the Koenigseggs and the Paganis of the world, as those seem like serious efforts, with full-on racing programs, massive engineering efforts, and handcrafted, bespoke touches.
No, these are the labors of love by a guy in a shed. They are also set with a price of somewhere between a gazillion and a bazillion dollars, and they almost always look like they were built with nothing but a bag of hammers. They are the products of dreams, ambitions, and not much else. And I love them.
If you're anything like me, when you think economic theory, you think speed. Warren Mosler is just like me, in that regard. An economist who started his own hedge fund, he made a crapton of money in the 1980s before starting up his own auto manufacturer, Consulier. Later re-born in a more credible effort as Mosler, Consulier made this bizarre-looking thing, the GTP. It had tiny wheels, big overhangs, an upright cabin, and who knows what guy built it.
Basically, it was crazy. But also crazy fast, Mosler claimed. Even though it was powered by a Chrysler four-pot putting out 190 horses to start with, Mosler just knew it was faster than anything else in the United States. He knew it so much that he challenged anyone to beat the GTP around any track with any street-legal car, and he backed it up with $25,000.
So Car and Driver did, which was easy. They showed up with a bone-stock Chevrolet Corvette, and beat it around Chrysler's test track by over a second. Mosler claimed that the GTP was just worn out, and with a new car it would still totally beat anything, because of course it would why wouldn't it.
Who knows if C&D ever got its 25 grand, but Mosler did later run for President, so there's that.
The Cizeta-Moroder V16T's tale is well-told, but I'll tell a brief version here just because it is hilarious and Italian. The story goes that Marcello Gandini designed the Lamborghini Diablo, and since Marcello Gandini designed it, ipso facto, it was great.
Then Chrysler bought Lamborghini, and they did not think it was so great. They asked Gandini to soften it a bit, which is like asking a famous French chef for ketchup on your steak frites, and he was gravely insulted. He took his grand design, with its quad-pop-up headlights, to Claudio Zampolli and the guy who did Donna Summer's "Love to Love You Baby," and the rest is great super car history.
Just kidding. They did spice things up by mounting a sixteen cylinder engine sideways (???), but less than twenty were made. Supposedly you can still order one, though, so if you want a 25 year old car that is brand new and insane, you can do that.
Photo credit: Craig Howell
Vector, founded by an engineer named Gerald Wiegert, has been around since the 1980s. If you asked most people what Vector has been doing in that time, most people would probably say something along the lines of "who knows?"
If you asked Vector, though, they've been making 300 MPH, 2,000 horsepower insanity projects that weirdly less than 20 people have ever bought, so there's that.
The W8, introduced in 1990, was one of Vector's early efforts. It had a 650 horsepower V8, and a three-speed transmission, because anything more than three is just too much and three is a nice round number, isn't it? Oh, and they also claimed it would do over 220 MPH, when its body looked like all angles and straight lines. I'm no aerodynamicist, but that doesn't sound exactly right. Either way, let's just go with it.
Vector now claims to be making the WX8, which has blue headlights. And it will do 275 MPH, because of course it will.
Photo credit: Craig Howell
A V16 engine with 5,000 horsepower from a company no one has ever heard of before? We declared it bullshit. But this is like your one friend at the bar who gets hilariously drunk and then tells you stories about the time he went back in time and punched Abe Lincoln in the face.
"Sure you did, big guy," you say. Because if he believes the story, and nobody gets hurt besides Abe Lincoln, that's all that matters.
Oh, and that "coming soon" picture is all that there is on Devel's website when you try to look at the Gallery. Something tells me we'll be seeing "coming soon" for a long time.
The Dartz Kombat is the one that was infamously offered with a "whale penis" leather interior. Is whale penis traditionally known to be soft, supple, and smooth? Beats me. (The question, not a whale penis. That's a horrific image.) But it's also got diamond-encrusted gauges, and who doesn't want that? Right? It's from Russia, so the answer to that is always "right."
Is Dartz real? Who knows, as its website borders on satire. Seriously, this is their promotional information:
PROMBRON' Red Diamond edition.
Car which from it's release got many titles with adition 'most'
World most expensive SUV
World most luxury SUV
World most notorious SUV
World most tastless SUV
And that's not all.
Pneumatic Pam Am organised protest wave again world most luxury car interior, which was (thanks Ari Onassis) planned to make from whale penis.
We save whales penis and Pam Am still don't pick up her gift - 'Save The Whales' car. Even she visited us this year in Monaco.
Which makes it one more amazing story in the world of vanity cars. Either way, they're always crazy, and that makes them always great.
Photo via Dartz