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Rich and gaudy: The Gumball 3000 kicks off

CNET Car Tech stops by the start of the 10th annual Gumball 3000 rally, and only likes a little of what it sees.

Ferrari dressed for Gumball 3000
It's a Ferrari underneath all the ugliness. CNET

Last weekend marked the beginning of the Gumball 3000 rally, the 10th anniversary of the event. As the cars would be on display at the Fairmont Hotel, within walking distance of my home, I went up to take a look. There were plenty of crowds gazing at the penned-in cars, a collection of exotics and rarities that you seldom get a chance to see up close. The rally was set to start that day in San Francisco, with the first stop being Los Angeles, Calif. The drivers go on to Las Vegas, then they are flown to North Korea to watch the Mass Games, but the cars go on ahead to Nanjing, China. When the drivers catch up, they drive through Shanghai and on to Beijing. The rally covers 3,000 miles and takes eight days. According to the Gumball 3000 Web site, there will be "partying each night fuelled only by adrenaline, amusement and amity, the 2008 route will undoubtedly be a real once in a lifetime adventure!"

Lamborghini and Rolls-Royce at the Gumball 3000
A Rolls-Royce sits next to a chromed Lamborghini, showing the level of competition. CNET

The cars on display confirmed the horrific excess of the Gumball 3000, whose entrants pay $120,000 to be part of the spectacle. Lamborghinis, sleek Ferraris, bulbous Gumperts, and Porsches with their own unique beauty all sported gaudy coverings and logos. Among all these high-performance cars were two Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupes, a Maybach, numerous Bentleys, and a Lexus LS, proving that the rally isn't about competition, but a cruise for the idle rich.

Ferrari 246 Dino
OK, the Dino is nice. CNET

OK, maybe I was a little impressed by the Ferrari 246.