27 Mar 2019

Supercar City: An Auto Show For A Rich Palette

Luxury and performance rule the roads of Vancouver
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Walking among the cars on display at the 99th annual Vancouver Auto Show, you might think you’d wandered into a supercar dealership.

In many ways, you have. Vancouver is a city full of supercars, exotics and luxury vehicles that reflect the Canadian cities taste for money, both local and imported.

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It’s not an opinion though, it’s a fact: as Canadian automotive journalist Zack Spencer said at the beginning of the auto show, a walk outside and a glance at the streets can prove there’s plenty of these supercars tearing up the tarmac in Western Canada.

“Some of the biggest brands, the most exotic brands in the world - all of them are right here in Vancouver.”

Conceding that British Columbia was “a weird market,” Executive Director of the Vancouver Auto Show, Jason Heard laid down some numbers in explaining why Vancouverites have a taste for the finer forms of transport.

“Per capita, we have more ultra-exotics than anywhere else in North America,” he said, adding that “per capita, Langley British Columbia has more classic cars than anywhere in Canada, and per capita we have the largest EV charging infrastructure.”

 Overview

Heard said that it was all “part of BCs love affair with the car,” explaining that as a North American city sharing a coastline with the city of highways - Los Angeles - it made sense that some of that automotive love would spread to Vancouver.

“It's really expanded from California in the heydays back in the 30s 40s 50s where everything was coming up (from Los Angeles) - and that’s where all the big shows were.”

 Overview

Then he touched on a common perception of why there’s so many exotics around.

“But also a lot of new Canadians with disposable income and that’s why we see a lot of those ultra luxury and super sports cars.”

To hammer the point home, the press tour of the Auto Show consisted of multiple pit stops to show off supercars, including the 2019 McLaren Senna.

General Sales Manager of Pfaff McLaren in Vancouver, Chris Belear was eager to show off the star of the Mclaren pavillion.

Belear described the Senna as designed to be “track-focused high performance cars,” with a hefty nod to Vancouver buyers, noting that the Senna was “perfectly drivable on city streets.”

The one on show was valued at US$1.45 million, with the regular retail price just shy of a million at US$989.

No doubt they’d be selling them in Vancouver, with 25 of the 500 Senna’s built coming to Canada.

The Senna has 800 horsepower from a V8 twin-turbo, allowing it to go from 0-60 in 2.9 seconds, or as Belear said: “really really fast.”

He described the Senna as the result of “everything that McLaren knows and has learned from F1 racing.

“Decades of success in F1 racing has been put into this car.”

No doubt you’ll be reading about someone testing out those F1 capabilities somewhere they shouldn’t sometime soon.

Also on show was the Felino CB7, retailing for US$275 with only 10 built by the Felino Corporation which is owned by Canadian former race car driver Antoine Besette. Just another little slice of the exotics on display.

Nevermind all the others on the show floor -  Lamborghini, Ferrari, Maserati, McLaren, Lotus and Bentley, along with more accessible brands like Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Infiniti, Cadillac and Acura - though plenty of upper crust models on that front as well.

For his part, Heard was diplomatic on what his favourite car at the show was - as expected, but he described Ken Block’s Hoonicorn Mustang - which was “not really a ‘67 Mustang anymore” as a piece of art.

“I love everything - I love driving, but seeing a piece of artwork like (the Hoonicorn)... that's what some of these cars are right - Its artwork.”

Looking ahead, 2020 will mark the 100th annual Vancouver Auto Show - an auspicious occasion.

Though Heard said he couldn’t let the cat out of the bag on what was next, he said they had big plans for a show that’s become known for its supercars.

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