Supercar economics: how much it really costs to run a multimillion-dirham motor

What are the actual numbers involved with owning a supercar? You'd better hold onto your seats for this one

A handout photo of Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse on Pacific Coast Highway (Courtesy: Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S.) *** Local Caption ***  LM19SE-BUGATTI-VITESSE01.jpg
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It is a cliche, but when it comes to some cars at the rarefied end of the market, if you have to ask about the cost, then you really can’t afford it.

Wolfgang Durheimer, who until very recently was the chief executive of Bugatti, said that, on average, an owner will also have “64 cars, three jets, three helicopters and a yacht”, so the chances are that they won’t be trying to run their hypercars on shoestring budgets – but what are the actual numbers involved with owning such an automobile? Perhaps you had better sit down for this.

Bugatti made 450 Veyrons. It costs about Dh75,000 for an oil change, Dh130,000 for a set of tyres and Dh310,000 for four wheels. Insurance? That can cost the same as a nice new BMW 3-Series – every year. But before you shout about the absurdity of such figures, consider what they cover. The oil change is a bit more involved than driving into an Adnoc station – it requires the removal of the 16-cylinder engine, removal of the four cylinder heads and for the unit to be split open for full visual inspection. Those tyres are specially made Michelins and are glued to the rims, so as to avoid the car's torque tearing them off, which is why the wheels are replaced after three sets of tyres, and the work must be carried out at the factory in Molsheim, France. Mercifully, the entire car doesn't need to be shipped there, you can send the wheels separately.

When you start to grasp the engineering genius that has gone into making a car like the Veyron and its successor, the Chiron, it isn’t difficult to see why the ownership costs are stratospheric, but if you are the kind of person who might already own a large yacht, then you will be accustomed to signing hefty cheques. Not all hypercars are madly expensive to maintain, however, which is something many Pagani owners have come to realise. The engines used in the Zonda and the current Huayra are all made by Mercedes-AMG and, as such, are extremely reliable and simple to maintain. They can be serviced in situ and many parts can be sourced by Merc suppliers, evidenced by a Zonda owner in the UK who damaged the car’s sump and had it replaced at a Mercedes-Benz dealership.

Depending on where in the world your Pagani is stored, it can be serviced by either company approved specialists or, as is the case here in the UAE, sent back to the factory – something highlighted recently by Emirates SkyCargo in a short promotional film that showed the journey taken by a Zonda from Dubai to Bologna in Italy and back.

Emirates SkyCargo transported a Pagani Zonda F Super Car. Photo credit: Emirates Group  *** Local Caption ***  na18no-emiratescargo-04.jpg
<p>An Emirates SkyCargo airlift for a Pagani Zonda Emirates Group</p>

Harry Metcalfe, a British Zonda owner, wanted his early model to be upgraded with the more powerful brakes that were fitted to later cars, which Pagani was happy to do. The problem, though, was that the larger discs and callipers don’t fit under the original wheels, so magnesium hub-carriers were required on each corner, the bill coming in at about Dh120,000. A gearbox upgrade set him back Dh60,000, and he says a full service carried out at the factory cost Dh7,300. Less upsetting is the fact that the 12 spark plugs require replacement only every 60,000 kilometres, but the fuel tank, he says, needs changing every 10 years.

You might reasonably expect Porsche ownership to be a tad less straining on the wallet – and you would be right, but even then the costs can be substantial. Chris Roberts owns a fairly new 911
GT3 RS, and uses it as Porsche intended, participating in the occasional track day at Yas Marina Circuit or Dubai Autodrome, not being scared of increasing the number on its odometer.

“Insurance is Dh15,000 a year with an approved valuation,” he says with a sigh. “I’m in the UAE’s Porsche GT Club and get a 20 per cent discount on certain things, but even then, a set of tyres is Dh8,000, an oil change is Dh1,500, brake pads cost Dh3,000 and a 15,000km service sets me back Dh10,000. I also invested in a paint protection film, which was Dh12,000 even after a 25 per cent discount.”

<p>The Porsche GT3 RS is gentler on the wallet</p>
<p>The Porsche GT3 RS is gentler on the wallet</p>

Not that Roberts expects sympathy. He spends the money because it allows him to do what he loves the most. But there is one thing he hasn't had to worry about, that owners of other supercars are often hit hard with: depreciation. "The GT Porsches are a safe bet when it comes to resale," he says. "I could have turned a tidy profit if I'd sold my car on as soon as it was delivered. Even after 18 months and racking up 22,000km with it, I could sell it for what I paid for it. A 911 Turbo, a McLaren or an Aston [Martin] would lose its owner between 40 and 50 per cent through depreciation in that time."


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