You don’t really build a halo car for sales glory; you build it as the pinnacle of your lineup. The halo car shows your competition what you’re capable of, and also gets looky-loos through the doors of your dealerships – which you can sell a lesser model to. The halo cars of today have all done battle in our imaginations and in our comparison tests. But this time, we’re not looking for best performance, but rather, best sales.
By definition, halo cars are low-volume vehicles. As such, their numbers are almost always the lowest on the sales charts. But the award for lowest of the low goes to the Lexus LFA at 62 units sold in 2011, and 10 sold in December. This is understandable, as the Japanese supercar retails for close to $400K, and has a planned production run of just 500 units total; so selling 62 units at $375K-plus a pop isn’t so bad. As the LFA was new for 2011, no year-over-year percentage change is available.
Next in line is Mercedes-Benz’ superlative 563-hp V-8-powered SLS AMG, with 722 units sold in 2011, and 86 units sold in December. This represents an increase of 44.7 percent over last year’s total of 499 units, and also a 79.2-percent increase over December of 2010, when 48 units were sold. The SLS AMG’s base price hovers just under the $200K mark, a fact that makes the SLS customer base a pretty exclusive club.
The Audi R8 placed second in the halo car sales race, at 1145 units sold in 2011, with 133 units sold in December alone. This marks a 43-percent gain over the 799 units sold in 2010, and an 11.8-percent gain over the 119 R8 models sold in December of last year. Those numbers account for the entire R8 range, including the standard R8, which carries a base price of around $123K, the $150K V-10-powered R8 5.2, and the near-$200K R8 GT, which has a production run limited to just 333 units, with just 90 of those bound for the U.S.
But the sales trophy goes to the Nissan GT-R, which sold 1294 units in 2011 and 35 units in December. This represents an increase of 47.5 percent compared to the 877 units sold in 2010; however, it is also a decrease of 7.9 percent from the 38 models sold in December of last year. The GT-R received some significant upgrades for the 2012 model year, including subtly revised suspension geometry, improved aerodynamics, and that all-important bump in output to 530 hp and 448 lb-ft of torque. Priced under $100K, the technology-rich GT-R has the potential to terrorize a few much more expensive machines on the track, which makes it worthy of its nickname, “Godzilla.”
While these models always appear on the monthly sales reports, other halo cars like the Corvette ZR1, Mustang GT500, and Porsche 911 Turbo are all be sub-models of higher-volume nameplates, and aren’t specifically reported on. You could argue that the Corvette itself is a halo car, as the standard model can still draw a crowd, and it also represents some of GM’s best performance technology. The same could be said for the entire 911 range, as the nameplate has often been the brand’s top-of-the-line model.
Looking at it from that perspective, Corvette would be the winner at 13,164 units sold in 2011 (up 4.3 percent from 2010), and 1038 in December (up 6 percent from the same month last year). The 911 was also a strong sales performer, with 6016 units sold in 2011, and 423 units in December. Ford was unable to give us a breakdown of GT500 sales, but the Mustang as a whole sold 70,438 units in 2011 (down 4.4 percent from 2010), and 5057 units in December (down 7.2 percent from December of last year).
With a new Acura NSX and Dodge Viper on the way, as well as rumblings of a Ford GT revival and Porsche Carrera GT replacement in the future, the sales battle between the halo cars could soon heat up. We’re always more excited to actually drive a car than we are to see its sales report, but knowing more supercars are on the way and on the streets gets us a little excited for both.