Supercar Summit: Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, Lamborghini Gallardo, Audi R8, Porsche 911, McLaren MP4-12C, and Ferrari 458 Italia

Dave Kinney
Greg Pajo John Wycherley

Price of Admission
So you wanna join the supercar club...

Trouble is, you're probably too late.

And too bourgeois.

"The SLS AMG basically was impossible to get. It was like pulling teeth to get one for a client," says a well-placed dealer manager who prefers to remain nameless.

The client -- who has deep pockets and a large Mercedes-Benz collection -- had to go through a vigorous application process before paying MSRP for an early Gullwing.

Welcome to the world of exotic cars, where simply being rich often isn't enough to get the car of your choice without paying a premium to a broker.

Certain Ferrari dealerships, for instance, award cars to clients based on a point system, mostly earned by buying (and trading in) Ferrari models. Next time you see someone driving a 458 Italia, remember: he or she may have done time in a 612 Scaglietti and an F430.

Even the 911 GT2 RS, a $245,950 descendant of the original people's car, is essentially unattainable at a Porsche dealership, although our source's Porsche-collecting client managed to score one.

It's not all bad news for Joe Millionaire. McLaren, having already produced one of the most exclusive supercars of all time in the F1, will likely build enough MP4-12Cs to suit all comers after the initial fireworks fade. Gallardos are generally easy to nab (the red-hot Aventador, however, is not) as is its German cousin, the R8. Audi dealers are happy to sell an R8 at MSRP or even slightly less. It's basically as easy to order an A4 2.0T, a situation Audi hopes to rectify with the new, limited-production R8 GT Spyder. -- David Zenlea

Future Trading
Which of these supercars is likely to be a hot commodity twenty years from now?
If rarity were all it took to ensure collectibility, we could all build our own one-off supercar, put our name on it, and retire. In determining future value, however, there are other, equally important factors, such as the impact the car made on the market, the people who bought them when new, and its general mystique. How aspirational were they? A Hollywood appearance or two will help, as will showing up in Gran Turismo 9 or on an iconic poster affixed to the bedroom walls of preteens. Racing or ally wins are always a big deal, naturally. Finally, vehicles that come to represent their era often become prized collector cars, too. -- Dave Kinney

The Benz
The SLS AMG pays homage to the most recognizable Benz of all time, the 300SL "Gullwing" coupe. As the 300SL's spiritual successor, the street cred is there. If the SLS becomes too popular, though, look out; it will simply become a very expensive used car.
* * * * (deduct half a star each time one is seen in a Neiman Marcus parking lot)

The Lambo
Seriously? Lamborghini has a habit of coming out with special editions and making a big deal out of each one. The idea is to let current owners know that their ride is no longer the baddest bull on the block and entice them back to the showroom. There's currently no Gallardo of the Month Club, but...
* *

The Audi
This could be the dark horse of the bunch. The Audi nameplate doesn't carry the collector-car cachet of the rest of this august group, but the R8 has the distinctive look, the race-car pedigree, and, well, just the aura of something special. Volume is creeping up for a supercar, but collector interest is already strong.
* * *

The Porsche
If supercars were picked for being easy to live with, the Acura NSX would win every competition. We like supercars because they don't play well with others, not because they do. If they scare us into actually having to concentrate in order to drive them, even better. Thus the appeal of the GT2 RS. Yes, the 911 nameplate has been around since forever, and yes, you could argue that this is just another variant. But you'd be wrong.
* * * * *

The McLaren
The jury is out on McLaren's first try at a "mass market" sports car, but if it's a winner, early examples might wind up being coveted (think purity of the initial design). That's the best-case scenario. The worst case? The MP4 takes a swan dive into the pool of yesterday's unloved supercars, and you're looking at a very long wait for a return on your initial investment.
* * *

The Ferrari
You don't need to hire a consultant to tell you that this is a Ferrari. As far as brand recognition goes, if you were born on earth, you pretty much know that Ferrari is an esteemed Italian sports car maker. Downsides? It's not a V-12, and there's no manual transmission option. Upside? Nearly everything else. For a Ferrari not to be coveted, it pretty much has to: (1) come from the Magnum, P.I. era, (2) have four seats or -- God forbid -- four doors, or (3) contain the word Mondial in its name.
* * * * *

7 of 7
Mercedes really needs to get with the program when it comes to tires. A high performance car needs Maximum Performance Summer Tires like the Goodyear Asymmetricals, Continental Extreme Contact DW's, or Michelin Pilot Super Sports, or Bridgestone Potenza S-04s. It makes reviewing Mercedes products a fruitless endeavor.P.S. If you need ideas for an article, try testing a vehicle with all of these tires along with the factory rubber and give your readers a real sense of how important tires are to performance, even among the best.

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