Super Car Saturdays has quickly become my favorite reason to look forward to the first Saturday of the month. This month’s event was held at The Arboretum of South Barrington, and sponsored by Midwest Motors. There really is little else like it in the Chicago area. The variety of cars, the exclusivity of cars, and just the overall “wow factor” of what is on display, all make it worth a visit each time. So far, I have seen something unique and/or surprising every time.
For instance, not just one, but four De Tomaso Pantera’s on display! Opinions on the Pantera might vary, but there is no question this car comes from quite an interesting legacy. De Tomaso was a small volume car manufacturer based in Italy, started by a race car driver from Argentina. Sound interesting? Well, what if I told you this Argentinian somehow convinced Ford Motor Company, specifically Lee Iacooca, to support him in building an accessible Italian exotic sports car, at half the price of a Ferrari? It is a story with enough odd links and colorful characters to base an HBO series on, although lacking in number of murders by sword. With this kind of back story, the limited number of cars made, and a startlingly low price tag, these are special indeed. The hand made, mid engine super car, powered by a big Ford V8, did not have the greatest reputation for build quality, which was perhaps it’s fatal flaw. Decades later, this car seems to have quite a fervent following, including the uber car guy himself, Jay Leno. Leno put together a great video on this car, that I highly recommend checking out on his Jay Leno’s Garage YouTube channel.
Another great sighting, was this BMW M coupe. The M coupe was made between 1998-2002 as a hatchback version of BMW’s Z3 roadster during that same time. This is another car that I find to be special. I do not see these especially often on the street, and there aren’t many cars that combine rear wheel drive, an inline six cylinder, and a hatchback body. What stands out about these as well, is the company it came from. BMW is generally the last company you would expect to produce a car that would be affectionately known as the “clown shoe”, but that is a testament to the loads of character this car embodies. For a company that has a relatively buttoned down approach to styling, lots of starch in the collars, this thing is as whimsical as a purple tuxedo. Underneath that love-it-or-hate-it exterior, it is all business, a proper well sorted performance car. Personally, I am in the ‘love it’ crowd, it is definitely on the ever expanding list of my dream garage.
Also spotted at this weekend’s Super Car Saturday was this beautiful Porsche 918 Spyder. It looks down it’s nose at the other mere supercars attending, as it is an entirely new category of car; the Hyper Car. A legitmate unicorn car, both for it’s scarcity (only a few hundred were made) and the incredible speed it is capable of. Mash your foot down on the accelerator in this car, and you will be doing 60mph quicker than you can say “Porsche 918”, that’s no exaggeration. It will get to 120mph in about the amount of time a lowly Corvette gets to just 60mph! It achieves all this otherworldly thrust by means of witchcraft and a perverse hybrid electric drivetrain. Hybrid electric, as in a Toyota Prius. Although, if you consider a Toyota Prius like a friendly Pilsbury dough boy, the Porsche 918 is like the dough boy pumped full of steroids…and methamphetamine. No, this car is not your friend, it is dangerously powerful and capable of inflicting great harm to a careless driver. What a magnificent machine.
The Mercedes Benz SLR McClaren was a joint venture to build a super car by Mercedes Benz and McClaren. McClaren at the time, was still partially owned by Mercedes Benz, and the two companies worked together in racing and production vehicles alike. While the SLR hearkens from a simpler time than the 918 Spyder, using superchargers to cram more air and thus power into a V8 engine, it is still a properly quick machine. It will get to 60mph in about three and a half seconds, and a top speed of around 200mph. That 200mph speed is still a relatively exclusive club, and additionally not many of these were made, but upon further inspection this particular SLR seems even more exclusive yet. It appears this car is one of a handful of re-released versions of the SLR that was made to reflect a more McClaren-esque version of the car. A unique, flashy color scheme as well, and I’d say this is definitely something you don’t see every day.
Finally, I have a “one that got away” story for this meet. That “one” is the Koenigsegg CCXR. This one will haunt me for a while, as I have been a huge fan of this car company and it’s visionary founder, I would have loved to catch it in person. I love a car that I find special, and it doesn’t get much more special than a Swedish made super car, with the coolest doors ever. Seems silly to talk about simple doors? Trust me, see for yourself in this clip. (Funny enough, this was the same color as the one at the meet today, maybe the same one?) Unfortunately my timing was off, and I missed it completely. Better luck next time I suppose, now I’ll just have to be back in July!
-photos and writing: Robert Sixto