A century has passed since Henry Ford’s now infamous comment that ‘You can have any colour as long as it’s black.’ It was an analogy, admittedly, but it still invokes images of stoical figures having their individuality supressed in favour of mass-market production. Luckily for you, the luxury car market polarises his comment to the extreme. As you unleash your engine’s torque through the vivid, summer landscapes of Constable Country, those bleak figures dissolve into dust in your rear-view mirror.
The luxury isn’t limited to performance – exclusivity and personalisation are in abundance as you entertain yourself in the playground of customisation. The result is an aesthetic that’s unique to you; turning heads that watch you drive by see your personality smiling at them through the paintwork.
Wherever you sit on the spectrum of the luxury market’s price point – you’re in the company of the few who can afford the highest standards of engineering and design. The Porsche Cayman GTS or Ferrari 458 Italia will add adrenaline to your weekend and Bentley’s executive Mulsanne Speed will provide grace and luxury, but it’s your specification that will make you stand out amongst the few.
Any design begins with the exterior colour, and colours are personal. But that’s the point – it’s what resonates to the individual. The manufacturer’s digital configurators help to remove the guess work, and allow you to visualise how a Ferrari will look when it’s not painted iconic red. The Giallo Modena – or yellow to the layman – exudes confidence, and when contrasted with the sophistication of black wheel rims, and grey brake callipers to add a subtle touch of calm, you just have to say ‘Giallo Modena,’ out loud. There’s poetry in the language and the Ferrari deserves it. Read about the psychology of colour and unleash the Constable or Picasso that lives within.
The 458 Italia has a choice of solid, metallic or historical colours and is a palette of distinctive colours from the past, including Verde British. Whilst this hue of green may be naturally associated with an Aston Martin, be bold and confident, and be yourself. But if Verde British or Giallo Modena aren’t for you, then another twenty plus colours are available. A two-tone exterior, costing paints the roof in the second tone and provides a unique but subtle contrast to the exterior’s finish.
Bentley offers a rich palette of over 100 shades, with a small set of duo-tone options – Apline Green over Light Emerald – with the side panelling painted in the first tone. Its effect is more dramatic than on the Ferrari as the bonnet is also painted in the harmonious, secondary tone. If you can’t find the right combination you can even specify your own. Bentley’s premier paint is the satin finish, and the ‘Extreme Silver’ will cost you £20, 915.
Porsche offers four standard, eight metallic and three special colours. However, complete colour customisation is available. Whatever your budget – exclusivity is just a signature away.
The perfect complement to the paintwork is the choice of wheel rim. On the Cayman you can add a five spoke SportTechno, partially painted in the exterior colour. Five spoke alloys are standard on both the Ferrari and the Bentley but customisation is, as always, available. For a little extra cost you add a forged, black painted rim to the 458. Forging the wheel, rather than casting, adds strength and ductility (the ability to deform under stress). Just don’t let your local constabulary know of your driving intentions! The brake callipers have six colours available on the Ferrari. Depending on the chassis’ colour, they can add a subtle compliment, or a dramatic contrast.
Bentley is a brand that exudes class and style in its most traditional sense. Adding the Flying ‘B’ radiator mascot, a stainless steel finish to the door pillar, and a ‘Jewel’ fuel filler will embrace the brand’s history. Whilst the filler cap isn’t visible to anyone admiring your car, you will be reminded of the luxury that hard work has afforded as you prepare to re-fuel the 21 gallon tank – the Bentley ‘B’ sparkling with its mirror finish.
Ferrari also allows you to start thinking like an F1 racing engineer, and further optimise your power to weight ratio. A front wing, rear mould, and diffuser, all made from carbon fibre but the options don’t end here.
Optional extras don’t just heighten the feel of luxury, or tune the car’s performance, they help to maintain re-sale value. And what better way to protect your customised trim or satin paintwork by adding a reversing camera with front and rear sensors. You can hand both the keys and your individual sense of luxury over to the new owners.
Whilst the outside world can admire your car’s exterior – the interior is your domain, and this is where your personal additions gracefully glide you over every bump in the road.
When choosing the internal colours and trim it’s like being an open jawed child standing in a sweet shop. Ferrari offers 15 colours of leather and Alcantara (a highly durable synthetic with a suede effect) with Daytona style seats. Coloured stitching can be added and the prancing horse icon can be embroidered into your seat’s headrest, too. And if you have a spare £4,031 there’ll be no more need to manually re-adjust your seat.
On the Porsche the Alcantara and leather trim comes as standard, but is only available in black with two variants of coloured stitching. The leather only interior has more colour variations.
The Bentley, and its spacious interior, feels more like a favourite leather armchair. The material is dual tone with five colour splits to choose from. The Bentley’s customisation only really feels complete with a veneer finish to the trim.
If you’re fortunate enough to be driving the 458’s 4.5L V8 around country rounds, then the music comes from your engine. If you’re about to start driving a Bentley then you might want something different, and the Naim (British audio engineering as its best) Bentley Audio system can be added to your drive. If your rear passengers are likely to groan at your musical tastes, then you also have the choice of adding in a rear seat entertainment system to keep them entertained. DVDs can be watched through eight inch high resolution screens inserted into the passenger seat’s headrests, with the audio transmitted to wireless headphones. And the Porsche driver shouldn’t feel left out either, its 3.4L V6 can be accompanied by a Burmester surround sound system.
The options that have been mentioned here are just the beginning of what could be a long, but satisfying road trip. Other luxury car manufacturers such as Jaguar, Maserati, Lamborghini and Land Rover offer your desires the same level of luxury. There is no reason why anyone else should be driving a car with the same specification – exclusivity is yours.
In addition, these are just the standard options the manufacturer’s offer; it doesn’t have to end here. Specialist centres exist to take personalisation to a level where either the engineers, or a restrictive imagination, impose the limits.
A trip to Ferrari’s head office in Maranello will have you accompanied by a personal designer who will assist you in building your bespoke Ferrari – often using materials that have not been used on any other car before. Bentley’s Mulliner design team offers the same service; they built the Queen’s custom Arnage to mark the Jubilee, and its many features included bullet proofing and a three foot extended wheelbase. I wonder what Henry Ford would think.
As you can see, the devil is definitely in the details, and the only desire that might keep the devil suppressed would be asking Aston Martin to supply a Walter PPK and a licence to kill.
Anything else, you can probably buy.