There are luxury brands--Mercedes-Benz and Lexus come to mind--and then there are LUXURY brands, cars with the leather from a herd of cows and wood from a whole forest. Spyker, Ferrari, and Bentley all showed off hand-crafted cars at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show with price tags over 200 grand.
Spyker C8 Aileron
Dutch car maker Spyker presented its C8 Aileron model at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show. Spyker cars feature unique designs, and the Aileron is no exception, with air vents bulging out of its sleek body. For motivation, the car uses a 4.2-liter V-8 sourced from Audi, giving the Aileron 400 horsepower.
Unlike many luxury cars, the Aileron eschews wood for leather and brushed aluminum. But even with leather covering the cockpit from floor to ceiling, for some reason the driving gear, pedals, and shifter, have a very mechanical look. At $312,390, the Aileron is well over the 200 grand threshold.
The U.S. debut of the Ferrari California took place in, appropriately enough, Los Angeles. Ferrari fitted this model with a new engine, a 4.3-liter V-8 mounted just behind the front wheels, that makes 460 horsepower. The California represents the first time Ferrari has put a V-8 towards the front of a production car.
Similar to the Spyker, the California's cabin is covered in leather, but with some metal and plastics visible. Ferrari considers the California a grand tourer, rather than a hard-core performance car, and fits it standard with a retractable hard top.
As on other Ferraris, the tachometer takes the most prominent position on the instrument cluster, with the speedometer off to the right. But the California also gets a user-configurable LCD to the left, which can show trip information, car settings, tire pressure, and other data. At about $200,000, the Ferrari California is almost affordable.
Bentley launched the Azure T at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show, a performance-oriented version of the standard Azure, one of the most luxurious convertibles around. As such, it has a 500 horsepower, twin turbo, 6.75-liter V-8 and various suspension enhancements, driving it to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds.
Bentley fitted the Azure T with its flying B hood ornament, first seen on the 1930 Bentley 8-Litre. Like the hood ornament on the Rolls Royce Phantom, the flying B can retract into the top of the grille, keeping it secure.
Bentley is liberal with wood in the cabin, leaving leather to frequently touched surfaces. The wood surrounds impeccably built switchgear. There are some modern touches, such as an iPod jack and a voice-command button. The Azure T tops this small group of luxury cars at an estimated price over $350,000.