• Oct 7th 2010 at 7:58PM
  • 80
2010 Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport – Click above for high-res image gallery

Here we go again. Dante should have made the question 'Do Supercars Make any Sense?' one of his levels of hell near Sisyphus, since so many people love to wail and moan and gnash their teeth on it in circular fashion. James May, a.k.a. Top Gear's Captain Slow, has taken up the query and come to the conclusion that the speedy little devils are pointless.

He intends to make his point by asking, "what benefit has accrued to Italy, principal arbour of the mechanism of the Renaissance, by their existence?", and then by comparing the effect that supercars have have on the world to the effects produced by Gore-Tex and penicillin and the radio and the Maxim gun. Mr. May, you have us there – we'd rather our doctor prescribed us antibiotics and not a Ferrari if we had a staph infection. That is, unless we had at least seven days to live, in which case we'd take the Ferrari and trade a ride in it for a prescription.

Most supercars are as useful and as pointless as marshmallows, with little technology actually trickling down to more affordable machinery – at least on a consistent basis. In fact, we're mildly surprised there's any debate left in this issue – even in jest. If May wants to talk about pointless things, let's start with the Salad Shooter or anything else sold by infomercial. We'd live without a Lamborghini Murciélago as soon as we'd live without s'mores, which means that we'd do it but we'd really rather not. Maybe the world hasn't been changed by supercars, but our world has, and that's good enough for us. Ergo, when May ends his piece with "Prove me wrong," we'll admit we can't. But we can prove his article pointless.

How about you? Do you see supercars as pointless exercises? Take our poll below and then weigh in with your thoughts in Comments.

Photos copyright ©2010 Drew Phillips / AOL

Do you agree with James May in thinking that supercars are pointless?
Yes, they are ridiculous. 3124 (15.5%)
No, not at all. 2799 (13.9%)
I'm unsure. 247 (1.2%)
Who cares? Supercars may be pointless, but they're awesome. 13967 (69.4%)

[Source: Telegraph]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      Isn't it funny he owns a Ferrari F430. But, that's okay right?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yes, but can't he make an observation from his experience? Maybe he realizes the Ferrari doesn't offer the value he thought it would have. At some point, super cars become as pointless as monster trucks that never see dirt.
      • 4 Years Ago
      See, you answered the whole question (and on the process, rendered this blog posting pointless) with the last option in the quiz. Yes, supercars are pointless and that is precisely why they are so wonderful. Like a posh suit, Rolexes, and Conservative government: you pay a lot for them, you don't get an awful lot out of them, and ultimately, they're disposable. But they look great.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Mr. May's criticism is a type of category error. Supercars are only one type of car, amongst many other more useful kinds. The other more important advances he listed are revolutions in their industry. Now certainly one can make the argument that supercars are advanced test beds for future road car tech, but not always (especially not these days when every other story is about some dude with a wrench that's going to build the next McLaren F1), and hybrid tech seems to be the next technological focus anyways (something "lesser" cars do very well).

      But penicillin is something that is needed by millions, nay billions, of people. You can't artistically spin penicillin for the hell of it and retain its human-intended functions. Gore-tex can be used for so many important utilitarian purposes. The "maxim gun" was developed as one of many means of defense and isn't intended to work in some emotional, artistic way.

      So I don't think assessing supercars the way he has is really possible. Cars are salient tools for all of society; supercars may not be, but that's not their point in the first place. The only lateral comparison he can really make is to, say, designer watches. Normal watches for $20 work about as well as $20,000 watches. One is for function, the other for show. Or maybe diamonds, where some are used for fashion, and others to dig holes in the earth.

      Mays makes the proper point via the wrong means I think.
      • 4 Years Ago
      If you think about it, a Ford Fiesta with four valves per cylinder, ABS, power steering, disc brakes, electric windows, mirrors, DAB Digital Radio and a five speed gearbox, is better equipped than a Mercedes 300SL Gull Wing in terms of technology.

      Building supercars is utterly pointless for the average motorist... for now. It's what comes about in 15 years time when the bits that don't quite work have been filtered out through time and we're left with actual usable and reliable technology that proves why they needed to be built in the first place.

      You need explorers finding the way, so that when the rest of us plodders walk through, the road is already built.
      • 4 Years Ago
      If you ask that question, you're not a multi-millionaire.
      • 4 Years Ago
      As with racing, supercars are a platform for developing and exhibiting ground breaking new technologies which either make a car more efficient, powerful and / or safer.

      All of these discoveries in one way, shape or form find their way into the cars the masses buy and we're all better off for it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Technological advances are predominantly derived from concept cars, and race cars. Super cars are derivatives of race cars and their sole purpose is to fill the void of things for the super rich to buy.

        They are pointless, but I still love them.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Here's another list of pointless things that we'd rather not do without:

      1) Sports. Other than entertainment, no real value.
      2) Racing. Again...
      3) Fictional literature.
      4) Art
      5) Fashion.

      Need I go on? Just because it doesn't have a measurable effect for our betterment doesn't mean it's useless. Supercars for auto enthusiasts are like high art, high fashion, a good book, etc for people with those interests. Unless you want to (or suggest that we all) live a life of boring utilitarianism, articles pointing out the pointlessness of supercars are themselves quite... pointless.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Rhetorical question: Who pulls more tail? Satellite designers, or SR71 pilots?

      You know how many times his McLaren F1 got Jonas Salk laid? -ALL OF THEM!

      • 4 Years Ago
      You can have just as much fun driving a 54 hp festiva as you can in a Supercar, the speeds are just lower.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think James is stating the obvious here. Look who drives supercars? People who want and need for nothing. People who need to make a statement. They are pointless only in the fact that they are like a an expensive pair of ladies' heels. Shiny, attractive, gets you from A to B, but still a much cheaper pair would cover the job. However, that is from the working man's point of view. For those who can afford the supercar (or for those who long for them), they are far from pointless. They are works of art, they are record breakers, they are the full representations of the wonders of modern technology, they are a goal: a symbol of succes and freedom. They are also changing: today's supercar is tomorrow's old classic.
      • 4 Years Ago
      You need these machines at least to decorate the desktops and to decorate the walls of your sons room. For the price of one, I can have a secure retirement and more, I'm 50 and am from India.
      • 4 Years Ago
      A while ago, I probably would have voted for the "who cares if they are pointless, they are awesome" option.

      Now, I am leaning more and more to just pointless.

      I hate class warfare, and I don't begrudge other people what they honestly earn, even if it is a huge amount.

      But I saw the Lotus Elise pictures when it was introduced before Paris. And the rest of the new Lotus concepts, and a slew of other things, that are intended to sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. An amount of money that is greater than I have paid for all of my possessions combined.

      A few of them were cool. Now that is all there is.

      Regular people don't get to enjoy such sublime shapes as the Lotus Elite. We don't get sedans that happen to look fantastic, like the Eterne, or others like the Aston Rapide.

      Instead, we are left to chew on leftovers in the realm of affordability, like a needlessly complex and expensive Honda Fit, for the sake of hybrid drive politically correct smugness. Or another new paint-job on a Fiat 500.

      Supercars are pointless. They are fun when it is merely a sidebar to contemplate.

      They are an aggravation when they are the only thing of interest, and the rest of the market is treated as surfdom, suitable only for mundane, ugly boring appliance crap.

      I don't know what I like less... the dismal state of the affordable car marketplace, or having to be upset about it, because it is a dismal state. I don't want to resent expensive cars that I can't fully appreciate, while there is nothing of real-world value that is appreciable.
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