At around $110,000, you might think you’ve found a real steal for the Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa. Yes, it comes with Pirelli tires and is finished in the brand’s own paint. However, hearing that it’s fully electric and can do up to 60 mph in a straight line might raise your suspicions, especially once you see a fully grown adult hop inside. As it turns out, this Ferrari is 3/4 of the real thing.
“Owners of a real Ferrari love to see their car next to one of ours,” Emily Giddings, director of marketing for the Little Car Company, told InsideHook. Under license, the concern from the United Kingdom produces scaled-down versions of supercars such as Bugatti, Aston Martin and Ferrari. “Some take their ‘junior’ cars to track days or use them to get around their properties…because the full-size car they own has become too valuable to drive. They are not road-legal, but both adults and children can ride them.” Start them early, as they say.
According to Giddings, the hardest part of her job is describing what she does for a living. “It’s like, ‘What? Small cars? What are you doing?!'” she says. But the fact that Little Car Company launched just a few years ago, in 2019, and now has order books full of some of the biggest names in luxury car manufacturing, is a testament to just how insane our car obsession has become.
“There’s just such a community of wealthy and very serious car enthusiasts who are now looking for something different,” says Giddings. “I mean, our customers tend to buy these junior cars for themselves, not for their kids.”
Indeed, the car accessories market – all the accessories you can attach or place in your car, as well as the endless list of car-related goods – is currently valued at around $1.576 trillion globally and is expected to see record growth to another $370 billion over the next five years. How is that possible when the car itself, not the additional ephemera, should ostensibly be the focus? According to analysts at Valuates, that’s partly due to a desire for more car customization in a market that probably sees too many cookie-cutter vehicles. It’s also due to the fact that our choice of car – like our clothing and decor – is an expression of our identity.
For those with money, this creates a niche for more expensive and weirder ways to celebrate the car craze.
“Car people are so loyal to their brand that they even want to wear it,” says Christy Schimpke, founder and designer of Crash Jewelry. Her husband runs a body shop in Los Angeles for supercars, fixing their fenders; Schimpke takes salvaged metal parts from said cars and turns them into cufflinks, bracelets and other accessories, using methods she has developed to preserve the original paint finish. You can now wear your Porsche 911 GT3, Maserati Ghibli or Bentley Continental on your wrist.
“It’s a niche,” she admits, “but there are a lot of very enthusiastic car enthusiasts here in California.”
The scope of the market for ephemeral luxury cars is borderline fanatical. UK publisher Barker Cason will feature your favorite vehicle in one of its glossy coffee table book series; “Real cars, real owners” is its motto. It is aimed at those who have always dreamed of seeing their car glorified in print. Hartnack and Co. is an “artisan binder” that makes custom leather folders and boxes to store your classic car documents. And for those who want to look good while driving their vehicle, Greycar sells replica period-appropriate helmets, driving gloves, goggles and overalls.
“I’ve always been a bit of a petrolhead,” says Simon Wright, founder of Limited100, although that might be a slight understatement. “I think that [this kind of automotive paraphernalia] is a way for people to get closer to their car, or for some, to get closer to a car they may not be able to afford. In fact, I think the love of a particular car is often something that connects us to our youth or to pop culture more broadly.”
That’s why Wright’s company offers huge acrylic glass images of your favorite car – or indeed your own car – taken by one of his roster of six of the world’s leading automotive photographers, including McLaren’s in-house photographer. This dazzling wall art, measuring up to 16 feet wide, can be yours for just $12,000.
“We just delivered one that size to a guy in the south of France who wanted it for the garage where he keeps all his cars,” says Wright, who also sells more affordable prints from his photographers. “Of course, you need a lot of space to be able to put a picture that size.”
It’s somewhat easier to find room for one of Anthony Holt & Sons’ silver models on your shelf, but they’re no less expensive. The British silversmiths have in the past been model makers for the UK’s Royal Artillery and Royal Tank Regiments, but, as company director and craftsman Gil Holt points out, “I’ve never really liked tanks, all that military stuff. What I wanted to do was cars. Like a lot of men, I’m just in love with cars.”
Holt began making silver inlaid ashtrays, humidors and other items for Aston Martin and Bentley Mulliner. He now spends anywhere between four months and a year making by hand, one at a time, 1/24 scale silver models of his customers’ cars for about $7,000 a piece.
And Holt is really ready to go to town. That is, go to your city, take extensive photos of your car, take measurements, and then copy it down to the smallest detail in the precious metal. At its most extreme, one of his so-called “masterpiece” models could include fully working parts — a rotating steering wheel, removable seats, an opening gas cap, and so on — which would take him the best part of three years. , to make and will cost about $1.2 million.
“What can I say? I’m basically a model maker for car fanatics,” says Holt, who is also currently making a model for himself of his own Ferrari. “My customers just seem to like the idea, in a way, of having the car in their home. It’s a reminder of what they parked in their garage. It’s a piece of art, a conversation piece, an ornament that integrates their interest in cars. And, it seems, the desire to express that interest can be very, very deeply.
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