Sam Philip, Senior Writer (Follow Sam on Twitter)
Forget the McLaren 12C and the Ferrari LaFerrari LaFerrari. Forget the pastrami-slicer Lamborghini Veneno and the mass-suicide-doored Rolls Wraith. Selecting Geneva’s three finest cars is a simple, clear-cut decision for me, and here they are:
1) Mansory’s ‘Stallone’ F12
2) Mansory’s ‘Aero II’ Cayenne
3) Mansory’s convertible G-Wagen
In fact, maybe awarding gold, silver and bronze isn’t entirely clear-cut. It seems tough that Mansory’s full-carbon Aventador and Mansory’s matte-black golf buggy must miss out on medals, but this is a serious business, and tough decisions must be made.
Sure, less far-sighted commentators may herald Alfa’s commitment in pushing the 4C project to production, or the engineering brilliance of VW’s XL1. But can either company truly hold a candle to the mighty Mansory, a firm for which the answer to the question ‘Seriously, is this too much?’ is always ‘Hell no! And have you considered covering that in CHROMED LEOPARD SKIN?’ It regards heinous excess as a civic duty rather than a fault.
What other company would look at the peerless Ferrari F12 and think, ‘You know what would make this car even better? A freakish chin-spoiler to make its front end resemble the chap from the Pringles logo! And why not name it after a melty-faced Eighties Hollywood action hero’? And what other company would have the insight to realise the venerable Mercedes G-Wagen, after so many years of plodding along in boring, fixed-roof guise, could be given a new lease of life as a cabriolet?
There’s a (slightly) serious point here. As the VW Empire released another few dozen worthy-but-predictable MQB-platform profit-churners - Skoda Octavia estate, Golf GTI, Seat Leon SC - it was easy to worry that the wilder, weirder corners of the motoring world were being sanded smooth, that profit margins and globalisation were driving eyebrow-raising creations to extinction. Moreover, through the relentless drip-feed of teaser images and leaked info, even before Geneva opened its doors we all had a fair idea how the Ferrari LaLaLa and Wraith and the rest were going to look, and how fast they might be. As Twitter tightens its iron grip on the motor industry, auto show reveals are becoming ever less revealing, with genuine what-the-hell-is-that show-floor shocks at a premium.
But Mansory, for better or worse, always serves up surprises. OK, so those surprises tend to be more ‘Dear God, Fido, what have you left on the kitchen floor?’ and less ‘A weekend away at the Monza Grand Prix? Darling, you shouldn’t have!’, but innovation must be rewarded in whatever form it arrives.
For Top Gear, as you know, always wishes to see the boundaries of automotive endeavour stretched to - and often beyond - their limits. In the last couple of years, we have feared the world of dubious-taste tuning might be on the decline, what with, y’know, the global financial crisis and the fall from fashion of conspicuous consumption. But it’s good to see that there are enough, ahem, aesthetically adventurous millionaires left out there to sustain firms like Mansory - or, at least, that firms like Mansory haven’t yet realised that even aesthetically adventurous millionaires don’t dare to buy grotesque, bodykitted Cayennes any more.
We must, of course, give honourable mention to the other pioneers that helped to make the Geneva show floor a more diverse-retina challenging place: Hamann’s purple-pink Range Rover will live long in our hearts, not to mention stomachs, while Brabus - despite a very tasteful updated Merc 280 SL - continued to do things with carbon fibre that contravened most EU Health And Safety Guidelines.
But for pushing car design to places it has never been - and, in truth, ought never go again - no company can touch Mansory. Pray raise your diamante-encrusted, carbon-fibre goblets to the Swiss sultans of swagger!