The race to create the next wave of blockchain innovation

curio invest - the race to create the next wave of blockchain innovation
curio invest - the race to create the next wave of blockchain innovation

It has been a wild, crazy journey – in the past decade, events in the crypto world have had all the elements of a Hollywood blockbuster. First, we had the origin story: Satoshi Nakamoto, the enigmatic author of the legendary Bitcoin white paper published in 2011, who has remained shrouded in mystery. Then, we had The Wolf of Wall Street era – the wide-eyed optimism, hype, and bluster of the crypto boom in 2017. Nowadays, the crypto market is more reminiscent of a grisly survival movie like The Revenant, as blockchain firms battle to escape the crypto winter after being mauled by the bear market.

So what comes next? You’ve probably never seen a Hollywood blockbuster about prudent, incremental government regulation. With good reason – let’s face it, that would be a really boring movie. But the fact is that most industry insiders now say that if blockchain is to enter the mainstream and fulfill its potential, it needs to leave all the drama behind. For this to happen, a stable regulatory foundation will be essential.

That’s why a number of jurisdictions are now in a race to create a solid legal foundation for the next wave of blockchain innovation. At the top of the pack, two neighbouring countries at the heart of Europe, Switzerland and Lichtenstein, are often mentioned as regulatory pioneers.

Indeed, despite the ravages of the crypto winter, the blockchain sector has actually expanded in Switzerland and Lichtenstein, with the number of firms using blockchain technology increasing 20% in 2018. This can be partially attributed to significant progress on the regulatory front.

Switzerland
In December 2018, the Swiss government published a wide-ranging blockchain strategy, which aimed to create the legal underpinnings of the blockchain industry. Unlike territories like Lichtenstein and Malta, which opted to create bespoke legislation, Switzerland has opted to amend existing legislation to accommodate the blockchain sector. The aim is to allow emerging blockchain firms to innovate and grow by integrating them into the wider Swiss financial market, which has thrived for decades.   

In contrast to the regulatory systems in the US and EU, Swiss financial laws tend to be based on broad principles rather than prescriptive definitions. This gives the financial regulator FINMA a considerable degree of leeway to exercise discretion in individual cases. This flexibility can be a huge asset when trying to protect investors and eliminate fraud, without curtailing the creative freedom of innovative startups.  

For those launching a security token offering (STO), it will soon be possible to register with FINMA so that tokens can be sold and traded legally. In addition, proposed amendments would give smart contracts a foundation in law, so that they can be used to legally define the rights of token holders.

Gutenberg Castle in Liechtenstein. Source: Guido Radig via Wikimedia [CC BY 3.0]

Lichtenstein
Lichtenstein is a tiny microstate nestled in the mountains on Switzerland’s eastern border. Although both Switzerland and Lichtenstein share the same currency, there are some pretty major differences in terms of how the countries are run: while Switzerland has one of the most decentralised political systems in the world, Liechtenstein likes to keep it old school with a constitutional monarchy.

But while this all might sound a bit 18th Century, the current Crown Prince, Alois, is actually very tech savvy and enthusiastic about blockchain technology. Unlike Switzerland, Lichtenstein has opted to create tailor-made legislation to regulate the industry. The Blockchain Act focuses on regulating the transfer of digital assets and defining trusted technologies that can be used by businesses seeking to leverage distributed ledger technology (DLT).

Another major advantage of Liechtenstein for firms launching an STO is that unlike Switzerland, it is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA). Thus, as long as the project gains regulatory approval from the Financial Market Authority of Liechtenstein, the security tokens can legally be traded throughout the EU and in the EFTA member states of Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. In addition, the token is given an International Securities Identification Number (ISIN) which means that it can be traded on traditional financial markets like a conventional security.

ferrari f12tdf interior
Curio Invest is launching one of the world’s first tokenized supercars: a Ferrari F12tdf

The best of both worlds
It is for these reasons that Curio Invest opted to create a base both in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. While Switzerland offers the thriving blockchain ecosystem of crypto valley, Liechtenstein provides a unique way to launch a fully legally compliant and tradable asset-backed security token. By leveraging the best of both worlds, Curio is launching one of the world’s first tokenized supercars: an STO directly backed by a Ferrari F12tdf. Click here to find out more.    

Why did the Ferrari F12tdf double in value in 8 months?

The Ferrari F12tdf, pictured above, has doubled in value since it initially went on sale.
The Ferrari F12tdf, pictured above, has doubled in value since it initially went on sale.

When Ferrari first unveiled the much anticipated F12tdf in October 2015, the base price was believed to be in the region of $450,000. Just 8 months later, the first F12tdf became available for private sale in the US and fetched a staggering $1,550,000. Even factoring in the cost of the optional extras, this represents a 200% price increase in less than a year. So what can explain this incredible explosion in value?

“all 799 vehicles were reserved before they had even left the factory”

Scarcity

One of the big reasons for the enormous price tag is scarcity. Only 799 of these exquisite, handcrafted vehicles glided out of Ferrari’s production facility in Maranello, Italy. In order to buy one, you needed to have very good connections with Ferrari’s top brass, because they were sold by invitation only. Nevertheless, all 799 vehicles were reserved before they had even left the factory, leaving many wealthy collectors and Ferrari enthusiasts disappointed.

Breathtaking driving experience

The Ferrari F12tdf is designed to be an invigorating challenge for even the most experienced professional drivers. Compared to the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta on which it is based, the carbon body of the F12tdf has shed a whopping 110kg of weight, and the 6.3 litre, V12 engine delivers a jaw-dropping 780bhp to the rear wheels. This all adds up to produce acceleration from 0-100km in just 2.9 seconds. For a street-legal vehicle that you could theoretically drive down the road to do your weekly shop, this is outrageous power!

Top Gear’s Chris Harris: “not so much a car, as a Class A substance”

But what really sets the F12tdf apart is that it is breathtakingly exhilarating to drive: the performance is precise, spiky and aggressive, which has proved to be a heart-pounding driving experience for seasoned professional drivers and motoring journalists alike. It is easy to see why Chris Harris of Top Gear describes the F12tdf as “not so much a car, as a Class A substance”.

One very careful owner

While on paper, the Ferrari F12tdf is every car enthusiast’s wet dream, in order for the vehicle to be such an incredibly valuable asset, it needs to be meticulously stored and maintained rather than thrashed around the race track. This is reflected by the fact that the “used” F12tdf which was sold in the US for more than $1.5m had a mere 160km on the clock.

History – the nostalgia effect

The legendary Ferrari 250 GT, nicknamed the “Ferrari Tour de France”, from which the new Ferrari F12tdf borrows its name.
The legendary Ferrari 250 GT, nicknamed the “Ferrari Tour de France”, from which the new Ferrari F12tdf borrows its name.

Investment specialists attest that in order for a great car to be a great investment, it needs to have a compelling story. The F12tdf name pays homage to the Tour de France automobile race held between 1899 and 1986, which was regularly won by the Ferrari 250 between 1956 and 1964. The long bonnet, front grill and sumptuous lines of the F12tdf pay subtle homage to those era-defining Ferraris of the past. On a technical level, the front-mounted, naturally aspirated, V12 engine further echoes the legendary Ferrari 250. Everything about the F12tdf reminds you that this is a magnificent, thrilling vehicle resting on a long history of prestige and success.

Invest in a Supercar: Asset Tokenization Explained

They say that it “takes money to make money” and this is particularly true when it comes to investing in cars. While an average new vehicle loses 30% of its value in the first 12 months and continues to depreciate for years, limited edition supercars like the La Ferrari tend to go up in value almost immediately after they are sold. Writing for Top Gear, RM Sotheby’s Max Girardo argues that “almost any limited edition hypercar” is a good investment.

Up until recently, however, the only people who could profit from this appreciation were wealthy elites who had the bank balance and connections required to pay big money upfront. However, now a new investment technology has emerged that will make it possible for everyone to invest in these cars. This technology, which is likely to shake up the supercar market, is called asset tokenization.

WHAT IS A CRYPTOCURRENCY?

In order to understand asset tokenization, you first need to have a basic understanding of what a cryptocurrency is. A cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin for example, is a digital currency that uses encryption technologies to regulate the supply of the currency and transfer of funds. The value of a cryptocurrency is solely based on what other investors in the marketplace perceive it to be worth, however, and the lack of any tangible underlying asset can lead to volatility. Whereas one Bitcoin traded at around $120 in 2013, for example, during the boom in December 2017 it was trading for $19,000, but it is now worth around $3,300.   

WHAT IS ASSET TOKENIZATION?

Asset tokenization refers to a process whereby a new type of crypto asset is created which is directly backed by a physical asset such as a car. So imagine a limited edition supercar that currently costs around $800,000. Needless to say, most people could not afford this purchase price. If 10,000 investors combined their resources and each invested $80, however, the car could be purchased.

WHAT IS A “SECURITY TOKEN”?

In the case above, each investor would then receive a “security token”, which would be directly backed by the value of the car. If the car increased in value by a given amount, say 20%, the car would be resold and the investors would receive the initial cost of their token and an additional profit proportional to the increased value of the vehicle. This investment mechanism means that the highly exclusive and historically lucrative supercar market is now open to everyone.   

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF ASSET TOKENIZATION?

The main benefits of asset tokenization are as follows:

  1. Liquidity/Divisibility: Tokenization enables you to invest in an expensive asset like a supercar, without needing to buy the whole car (and pay the whole purchase price). While this was not impossible before, investors typically had to pay a so-called “illiquidity discount” of up to 20-30%. By using tokenization, these costs can be avoided.
  2. Diversification: Tokenization enables you to diversify your risk by buying tokens in multiple cars. This means that if one car does not perform well, the loss could be offset by profits on other cars.  
  3. Lower Cost: As there are very few middlemen involved, fees are relatively low.
  4. Compared to a conventional investment, there is very little bureaucracy. Everything can be controlled and monitored online.  
  5. Faster Settlements: The higher liquidity and automated nature of the system mean that transactions are much quicker.
Asset Tokenization: You can invest in a Ferrari F12tdf for as little as $100
Asset Tokenization: You can invest in a Ferrari F12tdf for as little as $100

Find out why the Ferrari F12tdf doubled in value in eight months here. If you would like to learn more about investing in supercars on Curio, click here.

5 Ways the Car Industry Will Transform by 2050

Did you ever wonder what driving will be like in 2050? All indications are that it will be radically different from today. Indeed, most analysts believe that the car industry is on the cusp of a fundamental reorganization not witnessed since the birth of the automobile at the beginning of the 20th Century. So what sort of changes are we likely to see and what are the implications for our daily lives?

Mercedes F 015 Autonomous Concept Car
Mercedes F 015 Autonomous Concept Car

1. Fewer combustion engines

Let’s get the most obvious change out of the way first. Due to increasingly stringent emissions standards, the industry will transition away from producing classic internal combustion engines powered by petrol and diesel, and move towards battery electric, hybrid, hydrogen and bio-fuel powertrains. In the UK, for example, 50% of all new car sales will need to be ultra-low emission by 2030. The EU legislation has not yet been finalized, but is likely to be similar. A car is considered to be ultra-low emission if it produces less than 75g of carbon per kilometer. For comparison, a new one-liter Ford Fiesta EcoBoost petrol emits 114g per kilometer, which illustrates that a car would need to be at least hybrid to meet this requirement.

2. Fewer private cars

Environmental targets and government legislation mean that manufacturers will not just need to cut emissions, but that there will also need to be an overall reduction in the number of vehicles on the road. So how can car companies survive and maintain profitability in a world of fewer cars? They will need to move away from the existing business model of selling cars to individuals, towards selling access to a network of vehicles.

3. Networks of fully-autonomous vehicles

So let’s say you commute from a suburb to a city-center office each day by train, but the station is a little bit too far from your house to make walking a practical option. In 2050, you will use an App to locate the closest vehicle to your home, which will then autonomously drive to your address. You can then either take control of the vehicle and drive it to the train station or enable autonomous driving and catch up on some work or sleep en route. Once you have reached the station, the car will drive on to meet the next customer.

Mobility Vehicle: the Renault EZ-GO concept
Mobility Vehicle: the Renault EZ-GO concept

4. Much fewer parked cars

Such an autonomous ride-hailing service would be cheaper than owning a car for the user and would enable vehicles to be in use for a much greater percentage of their life span. While today, the average car is parked 95% of the time, this business model could reverse those figures, enabling car firms to extract more revenue from fewer vehicles by keeping them on the road more often. Less need for parking spaces would mean that roads could be widened with extra lanes to help reduce congestion.  

This model will be especially important for the viability of battery electric vehicles, which create 57% more carbon emissions than standard cars during production, but are much more efficient to run thereafter. In fact, studies indicate that over the entire life cycle of an electric vehicle, 46% of the total carbon footprint is generated at the factory. Thus, by keeping vehicles on the road more often, the carbon footprint per kilometer will significantly drop. In total, McKinsey predicts that by 2030, 80% of the car industry’s profits will stem from ACES (automated, electric, connected and shared) vehicles and services.

5. New business model

Successful firms in the tech industry will need to move away from just manufacturing cars, towards providing the physical and digital infrastructure to make smart mobility possible. Some of the biggest players in the auto industry in future will be more akin to tech firms or service providers rather than classic vehicle manufacturers. Most of the largest firms in the car industry are already making plans to prepare for this transition. This is illustrated by the fact that in 2016, half of all investment in research and development in the automotive industry globally was directed towards advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). Here, the traditional players are joined by tech giants like Google’s parent company Alphabet in the race to develop safe and reliable self-driving vehicles.

Of course, all of this does not mean that nobody will own their own cars in future, or that petrol cars will be completely abolished. However, a growing distinction is likely to emerge between “mobility”, which will be strictly about travelling from A to B, and “driving”, which is likely to become more of a niche leisure pursuit for car enthusiasts. Sitting in traffic jams will hopefully be resigned to the dustbin of history, but just as there are still people who enjoy listening to vinyl in the digital age, there will always be those who occasionally enjoy driving a roaring V-12 in the age of mobility.

Curio Invest is using blockchain technology to enable everyone to invest in the lucrative collectable car market. Click here to register to invest in an exquisite Ferrari F12tdf for as little as $500.

Curio’s Davos Plans in Full Swing

davos2.jpg

Since 1971, the WEF has been a bastion of the global economic and political elite. Every year, the world’s most prominent politicians, business leaders, economists and celebrities meet in Davos, Switzerland to discuss the global economy and economic development. Davos played a central role in facilitating the international response to some of the most dramatic events of the last 50 years, including the collapse of Bretton Woods in 1973, the global financial crisis of 2007 and the Eurozone debt crisis of 2009.   

“STOs now represent one of the most solid business cases for blockchain”

While the event remains a byword for power and exclusivity, it is now broadening its reach to encompass emerging businesses in the digital economy, and blockchain technology is at the forefront. Davos Conference Week provides a forum for innovative start-ups and entrepreneurs to rub shoulders with titans of the economic and financial establishment. The series of events, dinners and parties also attracts keen interest from venture capitalists seeking to exploit the new wave of digital innovation unleashed by blockchain technology. There has been lots of buzz about asset tokenization recently, along with a growing recognition that it represents one of the most solid business cases for blockchain.

As a central pioneer of asset tokenization in the Swiss crypto scene, Curio Invest will be playing an active role at the Davos Conference Week this year. Curio is harnessing asset tokenization to break down the barriers to entry to the lucrative collectable car market, meaning that everyone can now invest in exclusive vehicles like the Ferrari F12tdf. CEO Fernando Verboonen has placed particular emphasis on recruiting financial and legal experts to ensure complete regulatory compliance.

A highlight for Curio this year will be co-hosting the Em-Tech Investment Meetings, which will examine how digital assets will impact our lives in the coming years. Curio is a proud sponsor of EM-TECH, a non-profit project.

Will you be attending Davos too? Click here to contact us and arrange a meeting.

4 classic cars that set the standard for aerodynamics

In the current age of stringent emissions standards and scarce resources, aerodynamics are very firmly on the agenda for carmakers. What might surprise you is that long before computer modeling and wind-tunnels, as early as the 1920s in fact, some trailblazing innovators produced vehicles which were as slippery as many of the cars of today. Here are four classic cars that set the standard for aerodynamics in the auto industry.

The Rumpler Tropfenwagen. Image: German Museum of Technology [GFDL or CC BY 3.0]

RUMPLER TROPFENWAGEN

Designed by Austrian aircraft designer Edmund Rumpler in 1921, the Rumpler Tropfenwagen is widely regarded as the first production car to employ streamlined design. During this era of aerodynamic design, engineers looked to nature for inspiration and observed the shape of a water droplet as it fell through air. They assumed that the air would reshape the droplet into its most aerodynamic form. Thus, the name “Tropfenwagen” literally translates as “drop-car”. Much later, scientists discovered that a water drop is not actually the most aerodynamic shape, but it was a good start nevertheless.

Launched at the 1921 Berlin car show, the Tropfenwagen was able to seat five adults and could reach a top speed of 110 kmh, despite the fact that the engine only produced 36hp. The driver sat on his own in order to accommodate the single pane curved window at the front of the vehicle. Astonishingly, the car had a drag coefficient of just .28, a value that would still be competitive with today’s vehicles: For example, a modern Audi A3 has a drag coefficient of .31 (and lower figures denote more streamlined vehicles).

Despite all of its impressive technical innovations, however, the Tropfenwagen was a commercial failure and only approximately 100 vehicles were manufactured. This has been ascribed to the vehicle’s unusual appearance and its lack of storage space. Only two remaining examples exist, which are exhibited at the Munich Transport Museum and the German Museum of Technology in Berlin.

THE AUREL PERSU AUTOMOBILE

Aurel Persu Automobile, Image: Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-09892 / Georg Pahl / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de]

When you think of bleeding-edge automotive technology today, you probably do not think of Romania. However, it was a Romanian aircraft specialist who conceived and engineered one of the most important innovations in vehicle aerodynamics in history.

In 1922, Aurel Persu had the idea to place all four wheels within the aerodynamic line of the vehicle rather than outside its body. Although we take this for granted on modern cars, this played a major role in reducing wind resistance and had never been tried before, even on highly innovative cars like the Tropfenwagen. This meant that despite the vehicle’s somewhat more conventional shape, it had a drag coefficient of just .28. At a speed of 100kmph, the vehicle would have required merely a fifth of the fuel of the average contemporary vehicle. Although only one vehicle was ever built, it travelled 120,000 km in its lifetime and is now on display at the Dimitrie Leonida Technical Museum in Bucharest.

THE CHRYSLER AIRFLOW

The 1936 Chrysler Airflow. Image: Greg Gjerdingen [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Unveiled in 1934, the Chrysler Airflow was one of the first US production road cars to use wind tunnel tests and streamlining to optimize the aerodynamics of the vehicle. These tests revealed that typical vehicles of the day featuring a “two-box” design, such as the Ford Model B, were so aerodynamically unrefined that it would be more efficient to drive them in reverse.

Chrysler’s engineers decided to employ a unibody construction to achieve good rigidity with less weight and a more aerodynamic shape. The front hood and grill were rounded and the the windscreen was recessed at an angle. Rather than using curved glass to improve the airflow around the windscreen, two flat panes of glass were placed in a v-shape. Although the wheels were not placed within the aerodynamic line of the vehicle, they were shielded with large wheel arches.

In terms of consumer tastes, the Airflow was too far ahead of its time, and sales were disappointing as a result. Including updated models released in 1935, 1936 and 1937, a total of 11,292 Airflows were produced. However, the design went on to influence countless models by other manufacturers in the decades which followed.

An honorable mention here goes to Paul Jaray, an Austrian aerodynamic engineer who developed the Czechoslovakian Tatra 77 vehicle. Jarray patented the idea of a streamlined car and Chrysler ultimately settled with him out of court to obtain the right to use his patent.

A 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona. Image: PSParrot [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

DODGE CHARGER DAYTONA

So far, we have been mostly talking about drag coefficient, but when it comes to race cars, there are many other factors to consider. As the previous examples show, many of the early pioneers in the design of aerodynamic vehicles came from a background in the aviation industry. However, there are some key differences when designing a car rather than an aircraft.

Most importantly, while drag coefficient measures how efficiently an object can glide through air, a car does not glide through the air, it travels on a road. Needless to say, if a car begins to leave the road and take-off at speed, this makes the vehicle very difficult to keep under control.

For this reason, engineers in the 1960s began to pay more attention to reducing front-end lift and increasing downforce. This was exactly the challenge presented by the Dodge Charger when competing in Nascar races in the United States. Although the Charger had ample power and could theoretically reach speeds of up to 320 kmh, drivers reported that steering became noticeably volatile at high speed.

After extensive research and wind-tunnel testing, the engineers opted to add a large nose cone to replace the previously upright front grill and an enormous 584mm rear wing, which gave the Daytona an audacious look. The purpose of the wing was to prevent what aerodynamic experts call “flow separation”, whereby an air flow leaves the body of the vehicle behind the rear window causing additional drag. The facelift resulted in significantly less front-end lift, more downforce and less flow separation.

The car broke the Nascar top-speed record when it reached 322 kmh on March 24, 1970 and it went on to win a total of six races over the 1969 and 1970 seasons.

The 5 Most Bizarre Street-Legal Supercars of All Time

Wealthy backers with crazy dreams have produced some really weird supercars over the years. If you have a few hundred thousand dollars burning a hole in your pocket and very eccentric tastes, one of these 5 vehicles might just be for you.

The Panther 6. Image: 19Bozzy92 via YouTube

THE PANTHER 6

Panther Westwinds was a UK manufacturer of expensive niche cars in the 70s and 80s. A lot of their cars were pretty weird but the Panther 6, which debuted in 1977, is particularly bizarre. Aesthetically, it looks like the love child of a hot tub and a truck, but it was actually a very fast car in its day. The monstrous 8.2-liter twin-turbo V8 engine produced 600 bhp and a top speed of 320 kmph, which was unheard of at the time.    

So why does it have 6 wheels? It was inspired by the Tyrrell P34 Formula 1 car, which introduced 4 small, 10-inch front wheels that could fit below the vehicle’s front wing to minimize aerodynamic drag while retaining the same surface area of rubber on the road. This made sense in Formula 1, because there was a rule at the time which restricted the size of the front wing to 1.5 meters. It made less sense for a production road car, which explains why there haven’t been many 6-wheeled supercars since, despite Italian manufacturer Covini’s efforts to resurrect the idea. Only two Panther 6 vehicles were ever built, one of which was exhibited at the 2015 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este.  


The Caparo T1 has twice as much horsepower per kilogram as a Bugatti Veyron. Image: By Mike Roberts – Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

CAPARO T1

First, let’s address the elephant in the room – the Caparo T1 looks like how an 8-year old would draw a Formula 1 car before they learned about perspective. However, the vehicle does have the performance to match the aesthetic.

Designed by the team behind the McLaren F1, the T1 aims to incorporate the design principles of Formula 1 into a production road car. It has a 3.5-liter V8 engine which produces 575 hp, while the lightweight carbon fiber body means that the entire car only weighs 470 kg. For comparison, a modern VW Golf weighs about 1,351 kg. This means that the Caparo T1 has an outrageous power-to-weight ratio, delivering twice as much horsepower per kilogram as a Bugatti Veyron, enabling it to reach a top speed of 330 kmph.

The Caparo T1 had a recommended retail price of around $300,000 when it was released in 2007 and as of 2012, 16 had been sold in the UK.

Even without the weird paint job, this car looked odd. The Mosler Consulier GTP.

MOSLER CONSULIER GTP

If it is true that “style never goes out of fashion”, what the hell was going on in the 1980s? Released in 1985 when Careless Whisper by Wham was top of the charts, the US-made Consulier GTP looks as if it has the front-end of a snow plough and the windscreen of a Lada. Following similar design principles to British manufacturers like Lotus (but not the aesthetics), the car’s designer Warren Mosler paired a modest 2.2-liter Chrysler engine with a lightweight fiberglass body. The car had an excellent power-to-weight ratio as a result, which made it very competitive in International Motor Sports Association races. Only 83 examples of the original design were produced and it was originally priced at $60,000, which equates to about $138,000 in today’s money after adjusting for inflation.

Be careful not to cut yourself: the Aston Martin Lagonda

ASTON MARTIN LAGONDA

The dashboard of the the Aston Martin Lagonda. Image: via Youtube, The Fast Lane Car

On the outside, the 1976 Aston Martin Lagonda was an extreme interpretation of the “folded-paper aesthetic” favored by British designer William Towns. The 5.3-liter V8 engine was unbelievably thirsty, burning an average of 35 liters of fuel for every 100 km traveled (8 mpg). It had a top speed of 240 kmph and could accelerate from 0-100 km in 6.2 seconds.

However, it is the interior that really makes the Lagonda stand out, but not in a good way. Aston Martin was basically trying to create a Tesla interior with technology from 1976, replacing the entire dashboard with a massive and notoriously unreliable system of gas plasma monitors, LED panels and capacitive touch buttons. These complicated electronics were plagued with unreliability issues and were discontinued completely in 1980. When it was released, it was one of the most expensive cars in the world, priced higher than some Rolls Royce models of the same period. In total, 645 Lagondas were sold.

The Mitsuoka Orochi. Image: Kim H Yusuke via commonswiki [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

MITSUOKA OROCHI

Designed by Japanese sports manufacturer Mitsuoka Motors in 2006, the Orochi is supposed to resemble a dragon but looks more like a bottom-feeding fish. This car wouldn’t look out of place in a children’s cartoon and is regularly cited as one of the ugliest supercars of all time. Indeed, if you manage to make scissor doors look bad, you must be doing something wrong.

Beneath the hood, the Orochi has a 3.3-liter V6 Toyota engine producing 233hp, which enables a top speed of about 250 kmph. The Orochi Final Edition had a recommended retail price of $125,000 and production was limited to 400 units.

Sorry Jeremy Clarkson, the future of supercars is electric

All the major motor shows are now filled with electric concept vehicles and even established players with unrivaled heritage like Ferrari are announcing plans to release electric models. Will electric vehicles come to denominate the supercar market?

Mercedes SLS AMG Electric Drive
Mercedes SLS AMG Electric Drive

For a number of years, it seemed unlikely that electric cars would ever gain much traction at the top end of the market. This was largely ascribed to consumer tastes. Supercar owners were typically expected to prefer the feeling of interacting with the vehicle through a manual transmission and hearing the distinctive timbre of a large naturally aspirated petrol engine. The supercars of the late 1980s and early 1990s, such as the Ferrari Testarossa for example, reflect these ideals.

In this regard, the biggest advantage of electric cars was also the source of their biggest image problem among hardcore enthusiasts: electric cars don’t have gears. As electric motors generate usable torque in a much wider band of speeds than an internal combustion engine, gearing is simply unnecessary. In addition, some of the first electric vehicles to gain mass market acceptance, like the Toyota Prius or the Nissan Leaf, did not exactly set pulses racing in terms of performance.

Jeremy Clarkson: “That’s the future and it’s made of petrol.”

Thus, electric cars used to be regarded as slow and boring to drive, and did not have the manual transmissions and low engine growl that typically appealed to petrol heads. A repeated trope of shows like Top Gear and the Grand Tour was to manufacture scenarios in which electric cars ran out of battery and supposedly left the presenters stranded. In a 2017 episode of the Grand Tour in which this storyline was recycled, Jeremy Clarkson quipped “get a petrol-powered car, put some petrol in it and be home in 2 hours. That’s the future and it’s made of petrol.”

Despite all this bad press, however, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Porsche, Mercedes as well as a myriad of other exciting start-ups are all developing either hybrid or fully electric vehicles. So what has caused this dramatic shift in the supercar market?

The Tesla Model S
The Tesla Model S

The most important factors here are speed and performance. There has been an increasing tendency for supercar manufacturers to move away from obsessing about the theoretical top speeds of their vehicles, given that they are impossible to reach in all but the rarest of circumstances. This change in focus had made acceleration a far more important performance benchmark and in this area, electric vehicles rule the roost. Indeed, the two fastest accelerating production road cars on Earth are either partially or fully electric. The Porsche 918 Spyder uses a 4.6-liter V8 engine in combination with two electric motors on the front and rear axles to achieve a mind-boggling 0-100 km time of 2.2 seconds. The all-electric Tesla Model S P100D uses its instant torque to cover the same distance in 2.28 seconds, when the aptly named “Ludicrous +” mode is enabled.

In addition to acceleration, electric cars also offer potential benefits in terms of weight distribution and stability. For example, the battery pack developed by Tesla spreads the weight evenly across the chassis of the vehicle, which results in an almost even weight distribution of front 48%, rear 52% in the Model S.

The Porsche 918 Spyder is the fastest accelerating production road car on Earth (0-100 km).
The Porsche 918 Spyder is the fastest accelerating production road car on Earth (0-100 km).

Another reason that supercar manufacturers are going electric is due to changes in transmission technology. Whereas the older automatic transmissions featuring torque converters and planetary gears were slower and less efficient than a manual transmission, this all changed with the advent of dual-clutch transmissions in the early 2000s. These modern computer-controlled transmissions can accelerate faster and more smoothly than any human driver using a gear stick. For this reason, supercar manufacturers have already switched over from manual to automatic transmissions in their petrol vehicles. Indeed none of the current generation of supercars from Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren or Bugatti have a manual transmission.

McLaren: “stick shift is not even a conversation at this point”

“For the technological level of integration our cars offer, a manual gearbox would reduce the performance capabilities—which, for Ferrari, is unacceptable” remarked the head of product marketing at Ferrari, Nicola Boari, in an interview with Bloomberg. In the same article, McLaren spokesman John Paolo Canton argues that “the quantitative argument for a stick shift is not even a conversation at this point”.

Thus, as manufacturers have already decided to dispense with manual transmissions, it becomes a relatively small jump to switch to fully electric propulsion, especially if faster acceleration can be achieved. For this reason, expect to see many more fully electric supercars in future.

6 of the best cars to invest in under $30k in 2018

When you buy a new car, it loses over 30% of its value on average within the first year and will continue to depreciate for 15-20 years. However, particularly if it is rare or has an iconic design, some cars will eventually begin to increase in value again. For example, even the humble VW Beetle can now cost up to $35,000 if it has low mileage and is in mint condition.

A clever investor tries to spot vehicles which are close to the end of the depreciation cycle and resell them a few years later at a profit. Here are 6 vehicles under $30,000 which could be about to increase in value according to industry insiders.    

The conspicuous classiness of the Jaguar XJ is back in style (pictured here: the XJ X308)
The conspicuous classiness of the Jaguar XJ is back in style (pictured here: the XJ X308)

Jaguar XJR (X350)

The Jaguar XJR X350 was not very popular when it was first released because the brand was suffering from a bit of an image problem: it was regarded as an old man’s car. For this reason, many younger drivers opted for the more modern aesthetics of Mercedes and BMW.

Ironically, this is exactly what makes this model a great car for collectors now. The low demand meant that not many vehicles were produced, whereas the postmodern tastes of millennial consumers mean that the conspicuous classiness of the XJR is back in fashion. Even better, despite the car’s regal exterior, it is actually quite fast and fun to drive: The supercharged version of the 4.2-liter V8 engine produces acceleration from 0-100 km in about 5.3 seconds. In Britain, the X350 costs $6,000-$12,000, and is tipped to increase in value soon.     

Carefree urban chic: the Fiat 500
Carefree urban chic: the Fiat 500

Fiat 500 – Original Model

The Fiat 500 is a perfect example of a simple, utilitarian vehicle with an iconic design that captured the Italian public’s hearts and defined a lifestyle. The 500 was the original city car and oozed charm and carefree urban chic. It must be said that it was not exactly quick and the engine has been compared unfavorably to that of a washing machine, but this vehicle is all about nostalgia and character rather than performance. You can buy a really good example for $12,000, whereas a pristine original can cost up to $25,000.

The legendary Nissan Skyline GT-R
The legendary Nissan Skyline GT-R

Nissan Skyline GT-R (R32)

Nicknamed “Godzilla”, the Nissan Skyline GT-R 32 conquered the world of motor sport in the 1990s. The 2.6-liter twin-turbo engine fitted to the road-going version of the vehicle produced 320 hp in stock configuration, increasing to a jaw-dropping 600 hp in race trim. In addition to the power, however, the R32 distinguished itself with an advanced all-wheel-drive system which dynamically split torque between the front and rear axle.

The car proceeded to dominate the FIA’s Group A class throughout the world. It was so dominant, in fact, that the Australian Touring Car Championship ended up changing its rules to make the races less predictable. The R32 has remained largely off the radar of Skyline collectors until recently and you can still acquire one for about $30,000. There is now an expectation that values will begin to markedly increase, however, particularly as the 30-year anniversary is coming up.

Elegant rounded styling and graceful handling: the Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider
Elegant rounded styling and graceful handling: the Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider

Alfa Romeo Spider

The Alfa Romeo Duetto was the first generation of the Spider, which was produced from 1966-1970. The Duetto is famed for its elegant rounded styling, twin-cam engine and graceful handling. The US version of the the 1.7-liter engine produced 130 hp when it was new, whereas its European counterpart generated 116 hp. While prime examples can cost upwards of $50,000, it can still be found for as little as $29,000. However, be aware that this is an old-fashioned, temperamental Italian vehicle which needs regular, careful maintenance.

Quick, agile and fun to drive: the Lotus Elan +2
Quick, agile and fun to drive: the Lotus Elan +2

Lotus Elan +2

Lotus was one of the first manufacturers to bring high performance driving to the masses in Britain. For tax reasons, the car was often sold in kit form, meaning that new owners needed to install certain components such as the engine, gearbox, wheels and exhaust at home after delivery.

However, this inconvenience led to a very competitive price: In 1963, you could purchase a new Elan 1500 for £1317, which amounts to around £26,200 ($33,200) in today’s money when adjusted for inflation. For comparison, this compared to £1,900 (£37,800 / $47,000) for an entry-level Porsche 1600 of similar vintage.

Although it only had a 1.5-liter Ford engine, the minimal weight and fiberglass body made the Elan quick, agile and fun to drive. While for many years, its reputation and value suffered from the stigma of its kit-car origins, it has now become something of a cult classic and is growing in popularity among collectors.  You can still pick up an Elan +2 these days for as little as $15,000, although a really good early example would cost $30,000-$40,000.

The Ferrari F12tdf, which doubled in value in 8 months.
The Ferrari F12tdf, which doubled in value in 8 months.

Ferrari F12tdf

Ok, ok. So the eagle-eyed readers among you probably realize that you cannot actually buy a Ferrari F12tdf for $30k. However, this article is about investment and you can actually invest in an F12tdf on Curio Invest for as little as $500. Just 799 of these exquisite masterpieces were produced and they rapidly became the subject of intense intrigue and speculation online. When the first examples finally became available for sale on the private market some 8 months later, the value had already doubled. Curio is using crowdfunding to let you and other car enthusiasts buy an F12tdf together and share in the profits when it is sold. Find out more here.

Ferrari on a budget? The Cheapest Ferraris in 2018

It is the stuff of childhood dreams – the innocent fantasy that one day, you will be able to own your own Ferrari. While this remains a dream for most people, some car enthusiasts have made it a reality without breaking the bank. So what is the cheapest Ferrari money can buy in 2018?

Ferrari Portofino

If you are determined to buy a new Ferrari, it will probably come as no surprise that they don’t come cheap. The least expensive model in 2018 is the Ferrari Portofino, which costs approximately $190,000 with base level trim and no optional extras. This equates to a monthly payment of around $3,567.

The real bargains are on the second-hand market

The Portofino is a 2-door, convertible, grand touring sports car with a top speed of 320 kmph. However, some pretty basic features you would find in an average hatchback carry a hefty price tag in a Ferrari. If you want to use your phone for navigation and music, for example, Apple Carplay costs an additional $4,219. One of the cup holder options costs an eye-watering $2,531. So clearly, if you are looking for a real bargain, you would need to look at the second-hand market.

Ferrari 350 GTS
Ferrari 350 GTS

On the used market, many of the cheapest Ferraris tend to be models from the 1980s and 90s. These vehicles are old enough to have depreciated in value, but not old or rare enough to be considered genuine classics.

For example, a 1993 Ferrari 348 GTS can be purchased for around $49,000 on the second-hand market in the US. Assuming a down payment of about $6,000, this would lead to a monthly payment of only about $520. While certainly not as quick as a modern Ferrari, the 3.4-litre V12 engine could deliver 320 bhp when it first came out of the factory, producing acceleration from 0-100 in 5.6 seconds and a top speed of 275 kmph.

In a similar bracket, a mid-90s Ferrari F355 Spider can be found for around $50,000. The 2-door convertible was one of the most popular F355 models, which explains why it is well represented on the used market. It is a little bit quicker and more powerful than the Ferrari 358,  although it originates from the same Dino family of engines. The V8 engine originally produced 380 hp leading to a 0-100km time of 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 295 kmph.

A 1975 Ferrari Dino 308
A 1975 Ferrari Dino 308

While good examples of the earlier Ferrari Dino from the 1960s now cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, if you want a cheaper option and don’t mind the boxy late-70s aesthetic, you can pick up a later version for about $60,000. Being an older car, it cannot quite match the newer Ferraris for speed or acceleration, but it still has a top speed of 248 kmph, which is certainly nothing to be sniffed at.

However, always remember the cautionary maxim among owners that “the cheapest Ferrari you can buy is actually the most expensive Ferrari you can buy”. This is because maintenance costs can be extremely expensive, particularly if the vehicle was neglected by the previous owner. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true. Nonetheless, if you do your research and make sure to inspect the service book, you can own a Ferrari for less than you might think.

Should I Invest in Classic Cars or Supercars?

Over the past decade, collectable cars have been a very profitable investment. In 2017, the Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index revealed that while assets like wine, watches and coins offered investors returns of between 3% and 10% over 12 months, cars had produced incredible returns of 28% over the same period. Unsurprisingly, this has led many to view collectable cars as a potentially clever investment rather than merely a wealthy indulgence. This change in attitude was confirmed in 2018, when German banks began advising their clients to consider purchasing classic cars as an investment.

“in any collectable market, scarcity drives value”

The raises an interesting question – if you are buying a vehicle as an investment, is it better to opt for classic cars or modern supercars? Up until very recently, the conventional wisdom among investors was that classic cars make better investments than supercars. The argument is that in any collectable market, scarcity drives value. As there is a finite number of well preserved classic cars in existence, values will continue to increase if demand does not fall.

The Ferrari 250 GTO, regarded as the holy grail in the car collecting community due to its rarity and beauty.
The Ferrari 250 GTO, regarded as the holy grail in the car collecting community due to its rarity and beauty.

Indeed, many of the most expensive vehicles ever sold are classic cars. As ever, Ferrari tends to lead the field in terms of price here: the most expensive car ever sold is believed to be a 1963 Ferrari GTO which cost a staggering $70 million in a private sale. The previous highest price was also for a Ferrari GTO, regarded as the holy grail in the car collecting community due to its rarity and beauty, which was sold for $52 million in 2013.

“the conventional wisdom is beginning to be challenged”

However, recently the conventional wisdom is beginning to be challenged due to two interesting trends. The first trend is that after years of stellar growth, the market for classic cars could be starting to level off. JBR Capital CEO Shalom Benaim contends that although extremely rare classics still command high prices, the average prices in the classic car market may have “plateaued”. This trend is also in evidence at big car shows, such as the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in Florida. Overall sales have decreased at the event in recent years from $140m in 2016, to $121.3m in 2017, and $80.5m in 2018.

The LaFerrari now commands a value of around $3m, double the initial asking price.
The LaFerrari now commands a value of around $3m, double the initial asking price.

The second trend is that the values of rare hypercars have skyrocketed recently. The Ferrari F12tdf, for example, had a production run of just 799 vehicles and an initial list price of $450,000. Just 8 months later, a well optioned F12tdf fetched a staggering $1,550,000 in a private sale, representing a growth in value of 200%. Similarly, the LaFerrari, which had a production run of 499 and an initial list price of around $1.5 million, now commands a market price of $3 million. Writing in Top Gear Magazine, Max Girardo of RM Sotheby’s Europe argues that “almost any limited-production hypercar” is a good investment.

Top Gear’s James May puts the LaFerrari through its paces.Of course, all this does not mean that you cannot make money by investing in certain classic cars. Bloomberg’s Hannah Elliot contends that despite softening in the classic car market, “people will pay plenty of money for the “right” thing—not necessarily the biggest or the most-hyped.” However, there are many more factors to consider when investing in classics, such as proof of providence, maintenance and ownership history, all of which are less onerous with newer supercars. Thus, if you can gain access to them, the smart money might be on limited edition supercars right now.