When it comes to the most expensive luxury cars, auto shows are increasingly irrelevant. For years, the most prestigious automakers in the world have saved their best debuts (and the bulk of their event marketing budgets) for such glamorous locales as the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the Goodwood Festival of Speed, and the Villa d’Este at Lake Como. Auto shows may draw a lot of people, but with their fluorescent lighting and retro carpeting, they’re hardly a seductive showcase for wealthy private buyers.
The exception is the Geneva Motor Show.
With press days starting next week and a public opening to run from March 7 to 17, the annual event near Lake Leman will be the first gilded showcase of the year for the likes of Bugatti, Koenigsegg, Lamborghini and Pininfarina, among others.
“Auto shows for automakers to send messages to each other—or basically, just show off—are going away. That has gotten really expensive,” says Matt DeLorenzo, the senior managing editor for Kelley Blue Book. “The only show that has that still really going on is Geneva. This is where the Italian design houses and the Bentleys and Bugattis of the world can really show off, and they do.”
“In Geneva, they actually sell cars to really rich people,” DeLorenzo adds, noting that the region holds some of the world’s wealthiest people, who are happy to deign to visit the Palexpo centre, where the show is held. At least it’s near the likes of the Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and Jaeger-LeCoultre watch houses. “Aston Martin may skip a show in the US, but they’ll be at the Geneva show with a full product line, selling cars from the stand.”
Where the fashion world flocks to Paris for its seasonal runway spectacles, tout le monde from the elite automotive world convenes in Geneva.
This year Geneva has turned the hypercar knob three clicks to the right. Koenigsegg will bring a much-anticipated successor to the world record-setting Agera RS; Pininfarina will show its first-ever production car, an expected all-electric, 1,900hp, elegant beast; and Bugatti may bring an $18 million modern take on the iconic Atlantic from 1936. That’s just the start.
French brand Bugatti will show “110 ans Bugatti” tribute Bugatti Chiron Sport to celebrate the anniversary of the brand’s founding in 1909. That is the latest of the Chiron series and follows the $5.8 million Divo that Bugatti brought to Pebble Beach last August. More spectacular though, and currently secret, will be a second Bugatti car with a rumoured $18 million price tag.
Sweden’s Koenigsegg will bring the much-anticipated successor to the Agera RS, code-named Ragnarok, which is a term from Norse mythology that connotes the apocalypse.
Italy’s dual pride and joys (Ferrari and Lamborghini) will each bring supercars to Geneva, though they’ll likely be divided in purpose. Ferrari has announced it will bring the F8 Tributo, the evolution of the 488, a turbocharged V8 with 710 horsepower and a six-figure price tag.
Lamborghini will bring the edgy Huracán Evo Spyder, a tuned-up open-top version of its segment-leading Huracán.
In the meantime, Alfa Romeo will bring Giulia Quadrifoglio and Stelvio Quadrifoglio “Alfa Romeo Racing” limited editions made to honour the brand’s return to Formula 1.
The British will invade Geneva, too: Aston Martin is going to debut the Project 003, the third high-performance, mid-engine car the private equity- and Kuwaiti-owned company has built in recent years, following the $2.6 million Aston Martin Valkyrie and Valkyrie AMR Pro. (Those cars were called “001” and “002,” respectively). It’s expected that Project 003 is some sort of street version of the Valkyrie and will go on sale by 2021.