Europe in a 333kph McLaren 12C
McLaren gives you drama too. Look, I just stomped on the brakes. If dustbin-lid discs weren’t enough, I glance in the mirror, and it’s gone orange. An airbrake! How very overblown: I was only doing... well, never mind what speed I was doing, but, you know, it’s single-carriageway speed. Sure the air-flap helps a bit by raising drag and moving downforce onto the rear tyres, but until you’re at autobahn speeds, its principal contribution is theatrical, and, like the orange paint and the exhaust noise and the scissor doors and the carbon-fibre bonnet badge, it’s about taking some small functional advantage and leveraging a whole lot of extra drama out of it.
Even when barely moving, supercars are like a Batcape that makes their drivers feel a hero and bystanders grateful. Their aura illuminates the roads they travel. Men of great wealth and feeble self-confidence (for they are mostly men) tend to believe that driving a supercar will make them the star of the show. It won’t, because everyone looks at the car and no one at the driver.
We take the McLaren to Monte Carlo too, because it’s dense with supercars. Is it the race circuit that attracts them? Of course not: have you seen the traffic jams? This place has a pretty high concentration of the feeble-egoed wealthy. I’ve never been anywhere where you are more openly and mercilessly judged by the price of your possessions. Among the tinselly opulence of high-end luxury-goods shops clustering around the Casino, the McLaren manages to fit in well enough, but it does manage to stop short of vulgarity. The best supercars do. They might be outlandish, but they aren’t flashy or trashy.