This one-off Nio EP9 art car is somehow also for sale | Top Gear
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Saturday 3rd December
Electric

This one-off Nio EP9 art car is somehow also for sale

Stacking rare on top of rare... on top of blisteringly fast. What’s the catch?

Published: 28 Sep 2022
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In ‘Summer of 69’, a Canuck by the name of Bryan moans wistfully about all the good times he left behind in 1969 and how perfect it seems by comparison. He also calls a guitar a ‘six-string’, which is the easiest way to jump on the last nerve of most guitarists, and talks about some pretty grown-up things occurring, considering he would have been 10 years old at the time. But that’s rather beside the point.

The point we’re actually inching towards is the summer of 2017. OK, so it doesn’t have the same ring to it, but it did have an awful lot of ’Ring in it – 2017 was the year when Nurburgring hot laps stepped up a gear, then another, then a whole gearbox. Across the warmer months of 2017, we saw the McLaren P1 LM, Huracán Performante, Glickenhaus SCG003, Porsche GT3 and GT2 RS, Viper ACR, Corvette Z06, Camaro ZL1 and an extensively named Subaru take chunks out of ’Ring lap times we thought were pretty low already.

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And, of course, the Nio EP9, which lapped the Nordschleife in just over seven minutes. Which, in turn, seemed like absolute dawdling, when Peter Dumbreck managed about 20 seconds off his own time, netting a 6min 45.9sec lap time and some serious bragging rights for himself and Nio. Which were then yanked away by Kenny Brack in a McLaren, and the cycle continued apace... in every sense of the word. But we digress. An absurd lap time, faster than manufacturers with decades of experience and achieved after a comparative handful of laps – that’s how the EP9 introduced itself, and Nio, on the world stage.

But what about this particular EP9? Well, it’s run at quite a few racetracks, including international-level tracks and... er, Bruntingthorpe. Because... sure. Anyway, since November 2021, it’s sat in the Petersen Museum. Just when it received the rather lurid livery, courtesy of Nicolai Sclater – who goes by the moniker ‘Ornamental Conifer’ – we couldn’t tell you with any confidence.

In any case, before its one-off paintjob by that coniferous fellow, the EP9 was already a seven-figure proposition, with more power (and better power to weight) than a Rimac C1. And, as we’ve established, something of a lap record around a rather fearsome circuit. It was also limited to a run of just 10 cars and imbued with such steely focus that one wonders if it runs on electricity or Ritalin.

Which makes Bonham’s estimated final price of between $800,000 and $1,400,000 seem almost good value – even if this particular EP9 comes without the motors or indeed the batteries that propelled it to such prominence and preposterous lap times.  

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OK, maybe we’re caught up in some ‘what could be’ dreaming, rather than cold assessments of what is, but fitting new batteries and motors – something Nio’s willing to help out with, apparently – does not seem insurmountable. And who’s to say you couldn’t wait it out for a few years, then install next-gen batteries that’ll offer the same power and less weight? The rest of the EP9 is still the achingly rare, full-carbon, track-only monster that lodged a thorn in the side of any number of manufacturers, which makes it a more interesting living room centrepiece than your average artwork. And, with custom paint, you could conceivably pass it off as a sculpture... should your tongue be sufficiently silver.

Or maybe we’ve just been desensitised to outrageous sums – eight-figure Ferraris can have that effect – but it just doesn’t seem outside the bounds of sense for a machine that operated outside the bounds of most people’s self-preservation instincts. And all the proof you need on that score is in Peter Dumbreck’s six-minute wrestling match around the Nordschleife... back in the Summer of ’17. Yeah, that’s not going to catch on, is it?

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