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Exotic cars make no sense

What's the point of exotic cars like the McLaren Elva? All they do is sit in warehouses, never to be driven. Is there a better way?


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My favorite game to play is called “what cars would I own if I was a billionaire?” I always come up with some good ones. Rare M3s like the E90 CRT. A Porsche 911 GT3. Of course a 3000GT (hey, it’s me). Some truck thing. Maybe a few others. But when I play this game and start to wander up the price ladder, I realize something: exotic cars make no sense. I spend a day with a McLaren Elva, a Senna GTR and AMMO NYC to explain why.

For this article, you’ll have to play the game too. I’ve just deposited a billion dollars into your mental car fund account. Let’s go shopping.

Our journey begins here.
Senna GTR
The tire for the Senna GTR.

Special special editions

Car people. We always have to have the best. Manufactures know this, so they make a special car. Then, they make a special edition of the special car. Then they make a special edition of the special car that you can only drive on a track.

But, we’re rich. So we can afford to buy one, and then swap it for the latest and greatest. We’ll head to the nearest show room for a look. Or maybe even a test drive. And wouldn’t you know it. The local dealer has a McLaren Elva available for immediate delivery.

Too bright. Needs more carbon…
McLaren Elva
I’ll take one of these instead: a McLaren Elva.
McLaren Elva
Yes, this is the right amount of carbon.

This is a rare thing. If I’m going to drop two million dollars on a car, I’d love to see how I fit in it, how it feels, and how many disgruntled looks my significant other snaps my way.

In this case, it’s only a few side eyes. We’re taking it home.

Now please…

Don’t touch me

McLaren Senna GTR
Might as well wash both since we’re here.

I will admit to wearing driving gloves in my cars. I hate the sheen of worn leather on the steering wheel, and I can’t clean the car every single day.

Now, imagine an entire ownership experience like that.

Please take off your shoes before you enter. Don’t touch the leather. And you better not touch the paint. Or, in the McLaren Elva’s case, clear-coated carbon fiber. A single swirl mark and your investment goes down the drain.

In fact, let’s hire someone to detail it. That should kill some of the enjoyment of owning a car like this, because washing and detailing your own ride really can be so satisfying. Problem is, on such a rare car, rare detailing issues can occur, and you can’t just hire any ole’ Exoti-clean to make it nice.

But it’s me, and I know people, so let’s bring in Larry from AMMO NYC to clean up the McLaren Elva. And Larry, while you’re here, you might as well clean up my track toy: a Senna GTR.

McLaren Senna GTR
I’ve never seen a car with so many complicated creases, slats, wings and curves. It’s an expert level detail.
McLaren Elva
Only the best work on my pretend cars.

Don’t drive me

We’ve snuck it past the significant other. We have a master detailer to come out and give it weekly tubbies. It’s all ready for you to take it for a spin.

But is it too cold outside? Rainy? In fact, is it anything more or less than sunny and 70 out? Because if not, it’s staying inside.

And no, I won’t take it on the highway to risk a random stone hit.

Motorcar Manor
We need a place to store the toys.
Motorcar Manor
Motorcar Manor can host a car show simply based on current inventory.
Dodge Conquest
This Dodge Conquest was a rebadged Mitsubishi Starion, the predecessor to the 3000GT.
What, you didn’t think I’d find a modern M car?
Motorcar Manor
It’s just an odd collection of things you’d never expect together.

Track it? Is that what you’re saying? And “wear it out”? The tires, the oil, the brakes? No thanks, I’m not Lewis Hamilton.

It’s a scary world, and this is an expensive car. It’s probably best to just leave it in the garage and kill off another enjoyable part of ownership: driving it.

But you know what? A lot of people feel this way, and there are garages meant to keep my beauties safe and clean whenever I don’t need them. Places like Motorcar Manor can form a museum of their own with the rare and odd collection of cars they normally keep.

And yes, that Dodge Stealth R/T TT does interest me, thank you very much. Park it right next to the Elva.

Dodge Stealth
Save all the 3/S things!
Honda S2000
Love that this S2000 is now a classic.
Motorcar Manor
Well, hello there E30.
Motorcar Manor
Motorcar Manor’s “greeters”.

Pay attention to me

Well, at least your exotic car won’t get hurt just sitting in the garage.

But maybe you need a trickle charger. Don’t want the tires to flat spot. Did you start it to circulate the oil once in awhile?

And even if you did, at some point, you’re gonna wanna use it. So, we’ll drive to the garage, uncover it, make sure the tank is full, check the tire pressure, and ease her out.

But not too far, ok? I don’t want a lot of miles on the car. What if it’s worth a lot of money? I know I just bought it for a lot, but I think I can sell it for even more.

Don’t forget to charge it while it sits forever.

Don’t sell me (sell me)

This part right here has become the most enjoyable of exotic car ownership: when to sell it.

I mean, we don’t need the car. It’s not even under our roof. I can’t even get to stare at it lovingly whenever I choose. So I guess we’ll just watch the prices on duPont.

“Price not listed.” Blah.

A month later, another. Only 1.5 million, but that’s because it doesn’t have my special bare carbon fiber body. Maybe next month…

Then, finally. Here’s a comparable. Kind of. It’s bare carbon fiber, like mine. Racing stripes…ehh, ok. What’s this? “Equipped with extremely rare optional windscreen”?

Well I can’t sell mine now. It’s not as special.

I guess we’ll just let it sit for now. Maybe we need to wait awhile for the car to appreciate and find a niche.

McLaren Elva
Cars like the Elva might be rare and special, but that ensures one will almost always be up for sale.

Forgotten, but not gone

This article might be sad, but I’ve been around a lot of rare metal so I can tell you it’s true. Yet the biggest disappointment might be for the people who design such special cars like the Elva and Senna GTR. Exotic cars like these are too capable and enjoyable to just sit in a dusty warehouse for months at a time.

Actually getting to drive (or ride) in the Elva truly is an event. You have to put on special glasses that tint on bright days (hey, I didn’t get one with that amazing windshield). It fires up with an F1-like pulse, and the interior wraps around you like an F-16.

McLaren Elva
What a hoot the McLaren Elva is to drive!

Once you’re moving down the road, you feel naked and exposed (in a good way). Only a motorcycle can give you a bigger sense of freedom.

Of course it’s fast, but the theater continues even at slower speeds, when a hood-mounted spoiler rises to deflect air. Larry had a blast in it.

And that Senna GTR? It’s like the Aston Valkyrie. Places like the Thermal Club will store these types of cars for you. Call them to prep the car, arrive that day, and it’ll be ready and waiting for you. Cars like this make more sense to me than the Elva, because you can only ever exploit the performance on a track. Not that a regular Senna is a slouch.

And to be fair, while hanging out at some exclusive track like Thermal, I have seen some F40s and other truly priceless cars being thrashed about. Ferrari, McLaren, Aston…these are makers with F1 experience. They are truly works of art in motion.

Welcome to earth

I assume these are all good problems to have, though because I’m not a billionaire I’ll never know. I’ll just have to stick with M3s.

But that does raise another good point: money. So let’s play one more game: “How much do you need to spend to go fast?”

In 1994, a McLaren F1 hit 60 mph in 3.2 seconds for the price of $815,000. That same year, a BMW E36 M3 did the mark in 5.4 seconds, and cost $35,800.

You could buy 23 E36 M3s for the price of one F1.

McLaren Elva
2.8 seconds. The McLaren Elva is really fast.

Time travel to today. Our 2022 McLaren Elva has a base price of $1.7 million and gets to 60 in 2.8 seconds. A 2022 BMW M4 xDrive costs $79,995 without options, and takes you to 60 in…what’s this?

2.9 seconds?!

That tenth of a second is going to cost you.

Now hopefully, you’re reading this and smiling, because we’re having some fun at the Elva’s expense. It’s a stunning car that truly is a work of art. The M4 is a 4 Series Coupe with a big motor and softer leather. We’re comparing apples to potato chips.

But if you purchase your exotic cars with the intent to drive them and be thrilled, does it matter if the bodywork is made of carbon fiber, or just the roof?

Do you think my wife would give a disapproving glance if I just order 21 M4s instead? Is it wrong that choice excites me more?

McLaren Elva
Drive your McLaren Elva. Please.

Elva and Senna GTR Gallery

McLaren Senna GTR McLaren Senna GTR
McLaren Senna GTR
Dan from Turn 7 takes special care when working around trim and decals.
McLaren Senna GTR McLaren Senna GTR McLaren Senna GTR McLaren Elva McLaren Elva McLaren Elva McLaren Elva McLaren Elva McLaren Elva McLaren Elva McLaren Elva
Thanks as always to Larry from AMMO NYC.

See these amazing cars getting a wash with Larry

This McLaren pair is available for purchase via McLaren North Jersey.

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I use Nikon camera bodies and lenses, a Westcott Ice Light 2, Manfrotto tripod, B + W filters and an iMac Pro to make the art you see here.

Email me at with any questions. Follow along on Instagram @machineswithsouls

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