If you want to pick up a new supercar, there are few better places to do so than at the Top Marques show in Monaco. This year's Monegasque exposition featured a staggering array of exotic machinery packed into close proximity, and for the first time included a closed-off section of the street course used for the Monaco Grand Prix, placed at the disposal of automakers and interested customers for test drives.
Among the debuts this year was the Porsche Cayenne-based Tornado, made by Gemballa as its first new product since the mysterious passing of its namesake founder. Along with the Panamera-based Mistrale, the Tornado was set to be available for test drives around the iconic Rascasse corner by the Monte Carlo marina, but it didn't quite make it there. Not because of a problem in transit or some mechanical issue preventing it from starting or anything like that, but because an unnamed Arabian sheikh snapped it up before anyone else could get their hands on it. A mere 16 seconds after the doors opened, according to show organizers. Think he got good terms on a finance deal?
Follow the jump for the official show recap, including the story of one vehicle that barely made it through the doors of the Grimaldi Forum.
Top Marques Monaco 2011
Revving in the glory
Top Marques Monaco...the groundbreaking show which pushes limits with extreme machines surpassed the expectations of fast car aficionados at its 8th edition this past weekend with the world premiere launches of six supercars. The power players of the industry made next generation car history including Gembella's world premiere launch of the Tornado, which didn't even make it for a test drive on the iconic Monaco Grand Prix F1 circuit before it was snapped up within 16 seconds of the show doors opening by a Sheikh eager to have a piece of the action. Making its European debut was the bespoke, luxury armour plated Knight XV by Conquest. Taking the organisers over three hours just to manoeuvre it through the hall doors, the imposing size of this bullet-proof, armour security vehicle makes the Hummer look petit.
For the past eight years the show has reinvented the way the world's luxury car drivers and devotees experience the industry's innovative, peak performance designs. Top Marques ingeniously utilises the reputation and race course of the celebrated Monaco Grand Prix circuit to brilliant effect showcasing supercars on the fast track. This year for the first time in the history of the show the test drive circuit was closed to traffic for drivers to experience a blood pumping trial around the famous F1 Racasse corner.
Other launches included the U.K.'s Keating Supercars, which stunned onlookers, including TV and radio presenter Chris Evans with the hand built, gull-winged ZKRs, which boasts engine power from 600BHP-2200BHP (twin turbocharged and supercharged assisted). Breaking the mold in green and clean technology hidden behind its sleek exterior was the Fisker Karma. This hybrid beauty inspired by a conversation with Prince Albert II of Monaco, who visited the show on the 14th April for a private viewing, is the first luxury 4 doors coupe with EVer® technology (Electric Vehicle extended range) which delivers more than 400 HP. The launch of Tirrito's Ayrton R, a limited edition supercar no doubt targets a select group of drivers who want to stand out as well as appreciate the finesse of such technological advancements and an extreme driving experience.
At the frontier of this year's show was a new feature, Superboats, which stopped visitors in their tracks before they even entered the glass-domed Grimaldi Forum. Greeted by the world's most stunning powerboats dry docked on the esplanade, guests were also able to sea trial these stunning, sleek machines in the Principality's Port Fontvieille, extending Top Marques Monaco's winning formula of See it! Drive it! Buy it! to a new category of speed. The incredible Goldfish 36 P1 Supersport proved its performance is like no other boat of its size with top speeds up to 175km/h.
Fast sellers were the world's fastest water sled - the SEABOB, one of which was sold every hour during the four days of the show. Another show launch was the James-Bond style, seriously expensive water toy novelty the JetLev-Flyer. For 130,000 Euro it's a vision come true for those who want to soar through the air and dive in the water, this high power water jet flying machine was a winner, stunning visitors who watched as it hovered meters above the Mediterranean's surface in view of the show's nautical themed VIP Lounge, furnished by Californian company Summit Furniture.
Married several years now at TMM, supercars and distinctive timepieces are the perfect couple, highlighting the natural match between speed and time, with polished precision and skilled craftsmanship at the core of this liaison. This year Top Marques Watches had the stamp of approval of the Fondation de Haute Horlogerie as partner.
This veritable showcase of the world's finest timepieces and collector's limited editions expanded this year with the arrival of five of the most prestigious brands from the Richemont Group's rich collection - IWC, Montblanc, Piaget, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Roger Dubuis, official timekeeping sponsor of the Superboats. Also sought by serious connoisseurs who appreciate the precision of an exceptional instrument, Franck Muller's latest addition to haute horlogerie was the Aeternitas Mega, which has earned its title as the most complicated watch in the world with more than 1,483 parts and 36 complications. Ateliers deMonaco debuted its magnificent new limited edition model, La Sirène studded with blue topaz, which was inspired by the future Princess Charlene Wittstock. The charming bride-to-be will be presented with a gift of the first of only ten to be crafted in the world. One of this year's novelties was a unique piece by Christophe Claret allowing the wearer to enjoy a game of roulette on the reverse side of the watch or some casual Black Jack as they check the time.
Other novelties included a 24-carat gold chassis sculpture of the legendary Ferrari 250 GTO sports car by Swiss artist Dante and limited to 10 exclusive pieces, one of which was whipped up by TV presenter Chris Evans and the M55 bike from Hungary – reputed to be the most sophisticated hybrid e-bike the world has ever seen. At 35,000 Euro this state of the art bike utilises technologies and materials used in the Formula One and electric super sport cars such as titanium and carbon fiber.
The most expensive and ambitious launch at the show is without doubt the Tour Odéon, the largest real estate project currently under construction in the Principality of Monaco. At 170 m tall this avant-garde style "skyscraper", will comprise accommodation, offices and boutiques that combine to create a luxurious living space with panoramic views over the Mediterranean Sea and the Principality to a backdrop of the Alps.
Over 33,000 visitors crossed the threshold for the April 2011 show, up almost 10% on last year – no surprise with the quantity and caliber of exhibitors continuing to push the limits.
Top Marques Monaco launched six supercars world premieres from Gembella – the Tornado and the Mistral (Germany), from Spada Vetture Sport – the TSS Codatronca Monza (Italy), from Keating Supercars – the ZKRs (UK), from Tirrito – the Ayrton R (Italy), from Identity Cars the i1 (Spain), and from Soleil Motors – the Anadi (Italy); Top Marques Superboats hosted world launch of Black Magic by Cranchi.