The Enzo Ferrari is the greatest contemporary car that money can buy, according to an investigation by an independent panel of UK motoring experts.
The Enzo won pride of place based upon performance, exclusivity, brand heritage and style status in the Zurich Iconic Car Index, developed for Zurich Private Clients.
An expert panel of motor pundits conducted an in-depth analysis of all the cars currently available on the new car market retailing at over £50,000. The cars were judged on a range of criteria, including rarity, design, power, motoring heritage, marque and price.
- Enzo Ferrari
- Porsche Carrera GT
- Ferrari F599
- Aston Martin Vanquish S
- Mercedes-Benz SLR
- Bugatti Veyron
- Ferrari 612 Scaglietti
- Lamborghini Murcielago
- Bentley Continental GT
- Pagani Zonda
To own a car at the top of Zurich’s Iconic Car Index, it pays to be seriously wealthy. The most expensive car, the Bugatti Veyron, driven by the likes of Hollywood A-lister, Tom Cruise, is priced at £840,000. The second most expensive is the Enzo at £425,000, with owners including Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. The late Pope, John Paul II, even had one after he was given the 400th Ferrari to be manufactured by the prestigious factory. Those on a smaller budget can look instead to the Bentley Continental, at £115,000, or the Ferrari F599 at £157,000.
David Moxon, associate lecturer of psychology at Loughborough and Anglia Universities, said: "Cars and driving ‘tap into’ very primitive behaviours within human-beings. Unlike other types of engineering which are predominantly judged on their technological efficiency (very cognitive processes), cars possess other qualities that lie more within the realms of emotion for example aesthetics and image/status.
"Having the right look or badge is as vital as the right bhp or engine size. A good example of this is the Bugatti Veyron. It was only rated as sixth by the panel despite stupendous price and performance - yet it still didn’t have quite the right ‘emotional pull’ to elevate it into the top three."
As an insurer for high net worth individuals, Zurich said it has seen a change in the investment habits of millionaires over recent years with traditional high value purchases like art and sculpture now being joined by iconic cars. The insurance company developed the Iconic Car Index to better understand what type of cars millionaires are putting top of their shopping list.
The new car market is constantly evolving as technology, design and manufacturing processes continue to improve. But it is these iconic cars that are often supported by powerful brand heritage, which can help them hold their value and therefore present not only the drive of a lifetime but a good investment opportunity as well.
Head of Zurich Private Clients Nick Brabham said: “The Zurich Iconic Car Index provides a fascinating insight into what the world’s most affluent people may consider buying if they’re after the ultimate drive. The panel of independent motoring experts we spoke to concluded that a model from the Ferrari family is the best that we should aspire to own, with three places in the top 10. At Zurich Private Clients, we have seen an increase in the number of customers wanting to cover these sorts of vehicles, and we’ve responded to that change by providing the insurance cover and claims service they deserve to protect these valuable assets.”
David Moxon said: "As the nationality (or perceived nationality) of a car is frequently part and parcel of its image, one can see why humans very quickly start accessing nationalistic stereotypes and applying them to the supercar league. At an irrational emotional level we find the aesthetically beautiful Italian supercars taking up five of the top ten spots. German engineering precision and reliability take up three and quintessential British ‘classiness’ takes up the remaining two."
The research was conducted in late 2006 by Motoring Research Ltd. The methodology, which was based upon worldwide contemporary cars costing over £50,000, used both quantitative and qualitative research - together creating a robust algorithm which enables the Index to be repeated on an annual basis. The algorithm was based upon a points system weighted against a range of factors.
For each car that fell within the specified price bracket, 15 individual attributes were established as factors likely to affect the iconic car status. Objectively measured factors included:
- engine power
- engine size
- top speed
Other factors were subjective and it was for this part of the research that Motoring Research drew upon the opinion of a panel of 10 "opinion-forming" motoring journalists (none from PistonHeads!) who ranked the cars according to their view; the journalists remain anonymous.
There can be no doubt that the higher up the price scale a car is, the more iconic it tends to be. Cars were allocated a maximum of five points if they were listed at over £500,000, down to 1 point for under £100,000.
Cars were allocated a maximum of 5 points for 500bhp-plus, down to 2 points for under 200bhp.
No car here has less than six cylinders. Most have at least eight, with the Bugatti as high as 16. The more cylinders the car, the more points it was awarded.
The greater the litre capacity the more points awarded.
Acceleration and top speed
Most of the cars analysed are high-performance machines with acceleration to 60mph in under four seconds. A top speed over 200mph was rewarded with five points.
Too easily overlooked and rarely understood, an engine’s torque is what makes a car quick in everyday use, rather than on the test track. Diesels have high torque, which is why they are so easy to drive. However, many of these petrol cars have too, largely because they have massive engines. More than 500Nm (369lb-ft) qualifies for the maximum five points.
The expert panel were asked to rate each manufacturer on the overall strength of their image. Some - Ferrari and Rolls-Royce - have a brand image that everyone agreed deserved a full 10 points.
Cars only qualified for five points if less than 100 cars are built a year. Over 5,000 and it was just one point -- Aston Martin, watch out.
History counts, even if a company has died and then been resurrected years later -- Bugatti is a prime example. For the purposes of the index, a company founded before 1945 gets the maximum five points, and the figure then reduces by one point in 15-year steps.
The expert panel gave its judgment on the strength of the motor sport image of each company, with success breeding publicity and a warm feeling among owners and prospective owners.
Media coverage: press
Again, the panel was called upon -- by asking them to rate “simply how well each car model rates in your overall judgment” -- a marks-out-of-ten based upon what it sets out to do and how well it achieves it”.
Media coverage: film and TV
A fun insight in to the cars of the Index, a movie database was reviewed to establish a rating ranging from five points if the car was actually a major part of the movie to one point for a background shot.
Top Gear coverage
Top Gear’s opinions carry weight far beyond the viewing figures, so two criteria have been taken from the TV programme, the “Cool Wall” and the Stig lap times. This is the only criterion where it is possible to get a negative rating, which occurs when a car is given the thumbs down on the cool wall. For some manufacturers it is better for a car to never appear on Top Gear than to take the risk.
Flashy versus discreet
The final rating by the panel, this has not been included in the overall calculation, but served as a useful tool for comment in individual cars.
1. Ferrari Enzo -- £425,000
The ultimate combination of top-notch heritage, amazing performance and rarity. Ferrari built only a few hundred Enzos, but had to keep upping the quota to keep loyal customers happy. Even at -- £425,000 you can’t buy a new one now - used cars fetch even more. Panel comments include:
“Looks, performance, heritage, sport, limited numbers, stratospheric awareness”; “As good as it gets”, “The ultimate iconic super-car” and “As iconic as they come, and still fabulous”.
2. Porsche Carrera GT -- £315,000
Porsche surprised everyone when it pulled this one out of the can at the Paris motor show four years ago. Like the Enzo, it’s a racing car for the road, though the Porsche is even more compromised than the Ferrari. The purpose-built V10 engine, heady -- £315,000 price tag and limited production seal it for the Carrera GT.
“Not so exclusive as Ferrari but cast-iron reputation”; The choice of driving connoisseurs, tainted a touch by becoming the clichéd choice of city boys”, and “The ultimate sports car brand, with the most iconic sports car silhouette in the world”
3. Ferrari F599 -- £157,000
The newest model in the top 10, and the very latest Ferrari, the 2006 F599 has received accolades from everyone who has driven it. Technically advanced, thrilling to drive, it goes to show that if the formula is right, a car doesn’t have to costs more than a quarter of a million nor be made in limited numbers.
“The most well known brand and sports car firm in the world bar none” and “The most coveted cars on earth”
4. Aston Martin Vanquish S -- £177,000
The oldest Aston Martin in the current line up is also the most iconic. The Vanquish combines high technology engineering with a composite bodywork. It may look very similar to cheaper Astons, but its ranking just goes to show that there is no getting away from class.
“British treasure, beauty, brawn and soul”; “James Bond, need you say more?”; “Swaggering with widescreen gloss and allure, Aston Martin’s status is unassailable, reinforced by solid new product, and “Superb, timeless designs that never make the driver seem flash or arrogant - a rare thing for a high-end sports car”
5. Mercedes-Benz SLR -- £317,000
Mercedes exploits its Formula 1 link with McLaren to the highest degree with the SLR. Designed by the race team, the SLR is a tech-fest of awe inspiring performance combined with luxury. Some might say that the end result isn’t as good as the sum of the parts, but there is no denying the SLR’s impact.
“A three-pointed star logo on your car is synonymous with success the world over”; “One of the most noble names in motoring, tarnished of late but polishing up well”
6. Bugatti Veyron -- £840,000
The Veyron’s measly sixth place shows that extraordinary price and performance don’t necessarily place a car at the top of the iconic tree. With its whopping eight-litre W12 engine producing 1,000bhp and stratospheric performance, the Veyron is remarkable but arguably a step too far.
“Long-awaited Veyron puts Bugatti back in the spotlight, but the marque's true allure rests with its history”; “Pointless but you have to admire the awesome engineering”; “Great history but a one-hit-wonder for the modern day?”
7. Ferrari 612 Scaglietti -- £175,000
Get your tongue around the name and this four-seater Ferrari just grows and grows on you. It does everything right, just in a rather more subdued manner. It’s the most sensible Ferrari in the range, if there can be such a thing as a sensible Ferrari.
“The ultimate iconic supercar (but owning one can call into question the size of your manhood!)”
8. Lamborghini Murciélago -- £175,000
Ferrari’s major Italian rival, you choose a Lamborghini for its exclusivity. You certainly don’t lose out on performance and the fact that Lamborghini is owned by Audi is rather more pleasing than Fiat owning Ferrari. The Murciélago is big, brutally fast and jaw-dropping in appearance. Perhaps too flash for some.
“Ferrari alternative - and arguably even brasher”; “The wild-child choice in the ultracar set”, “Great for Rod Stewart, but needs to match Ferrari with relevant cars”
9. Bentley Continental GT -- £115,00
The most affordable car in the Top 10, the Continental GT has been the surprising success of the new millennium. A cheap Bentley? Why not? Owner Volkswagen has disguised well a mechanical package from the VW Phaeton, and with a six-litre W12 engine producing a staggering 550bhp in a funky coupé body, the GT has proved highly iconic.
“Great British success story under the Germans”; “Getting cooler by the minute, but needs to stay up-to-date”, “No other factory in the world turns out more bling than Crewe”
10. Pagani Zonda -- £380,000
The wild card here, the remarkable Italian Pagani Zonda proves that heritage isn’t quite everything when a car is simply so good in its own right. Alarmingly expensive but with its distinctive avant-garde design and luscious technical package, the Zonda has earned a place alongside the greats.
“Hugely expensive, hugely fast, hugely gorgeous”; “Tiny but among cognoscenti rising very fast”, “Plaything of rich Arabs, but held back a touch by obscurity of product”.