Ignition Spring 2017 (#18)

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Have you ever wondered why so-called ‘halo’ or brand identity supercars exist?

I mean, as much as we may love them these cars are absurdities. They exist not because of the rules governing good business practices, but in spite of them.

Halo cars don’t make good business sense if you’re concerned about things like rationality.

They consume valuable manufacturer development resources, are stratospherically expensive to build and to sell, and their sales volumes are so low that their impact on the bottom line is negligible.

True, these cars wouldn’t get built if they didn’t make money, but the profit they produce is small potatoes compared with the windfalls generated by light trucks, SUVs and passenger cars.

But despite their weaknesses as examples of vehicles the industry should be producing, halo cars exist because they can raise the profile of the brand to which they are attached.

The real benefit of putting a supercar in a dealer showroom is so that it can serve as brand marketing, a rolling mission statement of sorts that broadcasts not only the engineering heft and advanced technology the automaker has at its disposal, but its potential.

Halo cars like the ones we’ve assembled for our front cover, are all about the art of the possible.

These cars show what can happen when the cost-constraining, mass-market appealing, practicality-serving shackles are taken off and an automaker’s best and brightest are set free to create something without reasonable limits.  

These cars show what can happen when the force of a carmaker’s might is poured into one car, and the supercar isn’t the only one that benefits from the exercise.

It’s hard to quantify how many extra A4s and Altimas are sold due to the presence of the R8 and GT-R in the lineups of Audi and Nissan, respectively, but they certainly don’t make those sedans less appealing.

But this rationalizing misses the point of supercars though, doesn’t it?

Supercars exist because of the romantic attachment we as consumers have for sleek, fast and powerful cars.

The automakers build these cars to make money and to generate interest in other products, sure, but also because they know that’s what we as consumers expect.

Most of us will likely never be able to afford a Lamborghini Aventador S or a Mercedes-AMG GT R, but we still expect them to exist so they can fuel our imaginations and serve as our dream purchase if we ever manage to strike it rich somehow.

In the end, halo cars are the purest form of the automobile – exciting, fun and completely freed from the do-it-all expectations and focus-group needs that turn many cars into transportation appliances.

These cars push the limits of automotive engineering, of what is possible and give us something to aspire to, even if that thing probably isn’t attainable.

Simply put, halo cars are what turn many of us into automobile enthusiasts in the first place, and for that we can only be grateful.