CHRIS HARRIS' COLUMN - WEEK 4

Once upon a time, at this point, I’d have suggested that I’d rather have an F40 than any of them.

CHRIS HARRIS' COLUMN - WEEK 4

A hypercar update is probably needed now that Mercedes has finally shown the AMG One in its finished state. The only caveat to using the AMG as the catalyst for this hearty round-up of what’s going on in the world of cars that are way too fast to be used as, er, cars - is that the One appears to no longer be a hypercar. Of course its over-£2m price tag is still very much hypercar, but Mercedes seems to have reduced the pressure on its new arrival - much like asking for your kid to be dropped from Maths set 1 to 2 - by giving it no more performance than a McLaren 765 LT. Which in the McLaren range makes it a mid-table slugger. It’s McLaren’s 5-Series.

So before we begin the round-up, I suppose we’d better define what a hypercar is, because of the three such items we’ve been waiting to see in finished format -Valkyrie, T50 and AMG One - one of them appears to have pulled a fast one and switched teams. Writing this and avoiding use of the word ‘one’ is proving tricky -apologies for that. The Mercedes AMG One is a hypercar-priced supercar. A concept I’m actually quite happy to embrace - a car full of mechanical interest because it really does use a de-tuned F1 engine and will no doubt be built to a very high standard. But the inner-child in me will always look at the performance section of a manufacturer’s initial offering, and the One isn’t that impressive in a straight line - and it weighs 1695kg. That last figure I really don’t understand.

Porky bits notwithstanding and somehow digesting the fact that an engine rebuild at 50,000km is 850,000 Euro (that’s not a joke btw) and that the car won’t now be sold in the US, I’m still very interested to drive this bizarre machine for one simple reason. In my experience, flash cars that experience a troubled gestation and somehow don’t make sense on paper often have a habit of being very special. The Lexus LFA was, on-paper, slower than a Nissan GT-R and about five times the cost. What the spec-sheet didn’t show was pretty much every aspect of the car’s brilliance. Same thing with the Porsche 918 - overly complicated, a nightmare to develop, not as fast as its rivals on paper - turns out to be the pick of the bunch. 

Write-off the AMG One in many drag-race situations, but not as a machine to celebrate and enjoy.

And it is at least finished, which I’m not entirely sure can be said of the Aston Valkyrie. Yes, Aston is delivering these remarkable looking things, but only the most benign chassis mode is working and they will all need a trip back to a dealer for the spicier stuff to work. But the performance offering is mind-bending with well over 1000hp from a 6.5L V12 and some electric shenanigans. Kerb weight was supposed to be around the 1000kg mark, but reports suggest that figure has bloomed to nearer 1300kg, but frankly, the acceleration will still be insane and any Valkyrie depositer unhappy with the car’s weight gain will surely be grinning at the fact the AMG One appears to have been dining exclusively on KFC these past few years. 

Stories of the Valkyrie’s problematic early years are now as common as ugly BMWs, but people love a good gossip, and once the dust has settled, the Valkyrie will be a normally aspirated V12 hypercar designed by Adrian Newey. That alone will guarantee its acceptance as one of the all-time greats. Lest we should forget, the McLaren F1’s gestation was equally fraught and demand so weak that only 67 standard machines were delivered. Once again, problems at the time can bolster legacy in decades to come.

Which brings us neatly onto Gordon Murray’s T50, which seems to be trucking along nicely with its much simpler components, a 663hp atmospheric V12 and no electrical shite to confound the clever people or contaminate the sub-1000kg kerb weight. Murray seems to have exposed the other two as being over-complicated and slightly missing the point of what a road car should be. Maybe he’s actually trolling the notion that a technology statement is what a great driving device could or should be? My only reservation is that the car looks a bit ordinary to me - it lacks that sense of corblimey every car like this should have dripping from every panel. Somehow I suspect it’ll be quite the device to drive.

Once upon a time, at this point, I’d have suggested that I’d rather have an F40 than any of them. That’s probably still the case, but there’s enough intrigue contained in each of these new machines to keep that smug stuff on the back burner for now. Just want to drive them!

Chris Harris' column is a new weekly initiative where Chris will get stuck into the latest topics from the automotive world and other conversation points. The column will be published on the Collecting Cars platform and available to read in our new publication 'Club//Sport' that is distributed at our events around the world.