It's fun to watch rich dudes with anorexic driving skill make huge mistakes in fully sick supercars. It’s part of what separates us from the animals. So coming up: definitive demolition derby, supercar-style
Inspiration-wise, just the other day, a Chinese multi-millionaire managed to kick a monumental own goal in his $5.5 million Koenigsegg Agera R in what could easily be the most expensive single-vehicle crash of all time. Our hero, let’s call him ‘Sum Ting Wong*’, (*not his real name) apparently got a little ambitious with his right foot. CCTV footage shows Mr Sum* (*not his real name) losing control after punching the accelerator, causing the Ikea hypercar to headbutt a nearby guardrail and spin, resulting in a rapid series of severe shunts front and rear. For expert commentary on how that feels, I approached Pamela Anderson for comment, but she was too busy being Heff’s last nude centrefold, and declined to participate, sadly. I think that’s the first time she’s ever declined to participate.
A witness to the chinese Koenigsegg catastrophe - Mr Ho Lee Fuk* (*not his real name) - told Chinese media the Koenigsegg veered sharply in the lead-up to the crash, and news reports speculate that alcohol may have been a factor. (Use a feather to knock me down there.) Miraculously enough, Mr Sum* (*not his real name) emerged unhurt - unlike the Agera R, which will go back to the Koenigsegg factory in Angelholm, Sweden, for repairs.
But fear not: Mr Sum* (*not his real name) will not be short of high horsepower transportation in the interim. His personal assistants, Hu Yua Hi Ding* (*not his real name) and Shu Man Go* (*not his real name), told reporters Mr Sum* (*not his real name) also has a LaFerrari, Porsche 918 and McLaren P1 in his supercar stable. Let’s hope he manages to exercise better judgement next time. Mr So Dum Gai* (*not his real name) from Chinese insurer Bang Ding Ow* (*not its real name), also declined to comment.
I have a wager with a colleague about how many ‘racism’ allegations that report will generate. She thinks: ‘more than 100’. I'm hoping for more than that. All I can say to you at this point is: Look up the definition first.
It’s axiomatic that extreme wealth and auto-enthusiasm are often experienced in inverse proportion to driving ability. In other words, being a Koenigsegg owner generally doesn’t make you a Koenigsegg driver. Not really, anyway. So - if the rubric for this report is ‘rich dudes who can’t drive’, here are the top most significant 10 supercar smashes.
1. THE ICON
Hollywood's James Dean crashes out in Porsche 550 Spyder
To me, this is the one that really stands out - 60 years later it exemplifies why you should make the most of every day … because there might be no ‘tomorrow’. Hollywood icon James Dean was the face of teenage resentment in his three box office smash hits: Rebel Without a Cause, East of Eden and Giant. Every chick wanted him, and every dude wanted to be James Dean. He was also a pretty capable race driver. He competed in his first professional car race in Palm Springs in March 1955, just before filming for Rebel Without a Cause, and he won first place in the novice class and second in the main event. So he had potential.
James Dean upgraded to a Porsche 550 Spyder, and he got Hollywood legend (the recently departed) George Barris, builder of the Batmobile, to customise it - with red stripes and tartan seats. And who hasn’t wanted tartan seats - admit it. They named the car ‘Little Bastard’. Because ‘Spawn of Satan’ and ‘Evil Motherfucker’ were already taken.
On September 23, 1955, James Dean met up with actor Alec Guinness - yeah, THAT Alec Guiness (right). And right away, the then future Obi-Wan noted a disturbance in The Force surrounding Spawn of Satan. He told Dean (quote): “Luke, I am your father.” Sorry. Just kidding. He actually said (quote): “If you get in that car, you’ll be found dead in it by this time next week.” Allegedly.
So, seven days later, James Dean, travelling with Porsche mechanic Rolf Wutherich in the sinistro Little Bastard Spyder, crashed into a Ford Coupe near the intersection of California State Routes 46 and 41, at a speed of almost 140km/h. No airbags, no stability control… The impact, according to witness John White, saw the Little Bastard Porsche cartwheel into the ground two or three times. James Dean was killed almost instantly. Mr Wutherich survived but required immediate emergency surgery.
At the time of the crash, Dean was en route to a motor racing event in Salinas, California. He had planned to tow the Porsche to the event but took his mechanic’s advice (as opposed to Obi Wan’s) and used the drive to run the Porsche in prior to competing.
James Dean embodied the concept: ‘live fast, die young and leave behind a good-lookin’ corpse’. But he scored only two out of a possible three there - the casket was closed at his memorial, owing to the severity of his injuries. His funeral was held in Fairmont, Indiana in October, with an estimated 600 mourners in attendance, and 2400 admirers gathered outside to witness the funeral procession. He was just 24 years old.
Those 550 Spyders are worth a great deal today. A near perfect restoration of a 1955 Porsche Spyder sold for a record-setting US$3,685,000 at the Gooding & Co. Amelia Island auction in the USA in 2012.
Little Bastard: Not done exemplifying evil yet
But this story does go seriously ‘Stephen King’ after Dean’s death: Cue the Twilight Zone theme because Little Bastard wasn’t quite done wreaking death and depravity. George Barris bought the wreck for $2500 and it slipped off the trailer and broke a mechanic’s leg. Then he sold the engine and drivetrain to two blokes named Troy McHenry and William Eschrid. While they were both racing against one another in cars that had parts transplanted from the Little Bastard, Mr McHenry lost control and hit a tree, killing him instantly, and Mr Eschrid was seriously injured when his car suddenly locked up and rolled over turning into a bend.
George Barris sold two tyres from the 550, which survived Dean’s accident. Not long afterwards, both blew out simultaneously, causing that car to run off the road. Then a couple of would-be thieves got missile lock on what was left of Satan’s Little Bastard and one of them had his arm torn open trying to steal the steering wheel while the other was injured trying to remove the bloodstained tartan seat. Hard to be overwhelmed with sympathy there.
Then the cops used the cursed demonic wreck as a highway safety exhibit. The first exhibit ended prematurely because the garage that housed the car caught fire and burned to the ground. But, having been forged, apparently, in the fires of hell, the Little Bastard car suffered virtually no damage. The next safety exhibition at a local high school ended abruptly when the car fell off its display and broke a student’s hip. Little Bastard also managed subsequently to crush a truck driver who was transporting it.
Little Bastard’s whereabouts are currently unknown, but unhappy incidents have dogged the Porsche Spyder, that’s for sure. Most recently, in October 2015, British Millionaire Paul Bailey lost control of his $1.1 million contemporary Porsche Spyder at a rally in Malta. The Porsche clipped a grass verge and slammed into the crowd, injuring 26. Five of those - including a girl aged just six, and the millionaire driver himself - were left in a critical condition.
2. BIGGEST, DUMBEST INSURANCE FRAUD
Andy Lee House takes Bugatti Veyron for swamp swim
This is the most Tarantino-esque supercar crash. And the most fraudulent. It’s what happens when toxic waste gets into the drinking water and small minds make big plans with fast cars. Back in 2009, a 39-year-old car dealer names Andy House, from Lufkin, Texas, acquired a 2006 Bugatti Veyron for US$1 million. He insured it for US$2.2 million. You can probably already join the anorexic assortment of dots required to see where this story is headed.
In November 2009, after reading How to be a Criminal Mastermind for Dummies, Mr House told authorities he’d reached for his mobile telephone while driving the Veyron, and when he got his eyes back on the outside world, he was forced immediately to swerve violently to avoid … a pelican. That’s right: and admit it - you’ve had that happen. A pelican mistakes your Veyron for a fish, and goes for the jugular. What a card-carrying bozo. Who in their right mind builds a two-million-dollar insurance scam on the foundations made of bogus pelican? I guess it seemed like plan. Never work with children or animals - the 11th Commandment - the one Moses dropped on the way back down.
The alleged pelican swerve, Mr House said, caused the vehicle to leave the road and crash at highway speed into a three-foot-deep East Texas swamp near Galveston. Anyway, things went pretty well in terms of the actual execution. Car: write-off. Dickhead: uninjured. No pelicans were hurt in the production of this scam. If you’re Mr House at this point, you’re pretty much wading through brackish, thigh-deep mud, calculating how much of the one-point-two-million in profit you’re gunna spend on blow, and how much is left over for hookers. Mission accomplished.
But, sadly for Mr House, the crime spree was already seriously derailed. It seems citizen journalists - like that’s a vocation - anyway, punters travelling in a nearby vehicle had filmed the rather distinctive Veyron on a mobile telephone as it left the road. They thought it was a Lamborghini...
Volkswagen’s head designer would be shaking his head in disgust at that comment, if he weren’t currently choking on oxides of nitrogen. That video, posted on YouTube, showed the crash to the world. It also alerted authorities to a critical discrepancy in Mr House’s account: vis a vis the complete absence of a jihadist pelican cruise missile locked on an infidel Veyron.
Mr House ultimately admitted to crashing his Veyron deliberately into the swamp in the hope of collecting the insurance, and also leaving the engine running after the crash, which caused the majority of the damage as a result of filling the engine with salt water. Because engines and water don’t mix. Commandment 12, sadly also destroyed roughly around the time Moses told the Red Sea to piss off.
Our hero actually bought and paid for the Veyron with a US$1 million loan from a friend. Who does that? [ON PHONE] Mate - need a million bucks. What? Oh - just want to buy a Veyron. Hey, that’s great. I’ll come straight over. You’re a champ. Ciao. (It’s not abundantly clear whether the parties are still friends, following this wrinkle in the plan… Probably not - just speculating.)
Mr House settled out of court with his insurer. He also pleaded guilty to criminal fraud in 2014 and was due to be sentenced in June 2015, but sentencing was postponed after the lead prosecutor on the case was unavailable to attend the sentencing hearing. Might have been snatched - by a pelican. I’ll have to check. Our hero faces up to 20 years in jail for US wire fraud. Puts the $1.2 million he had hoped to make in perspective, huh? In 2014 the US Coalition Against Insurance Fraud named Mr House one of its nine new inductees in its annual Hall of Shame awards. So at least it wasn’t all for nothing...
3. FOOTBALL'S ON-ROAD OWN GOAL
Manchester United's Ronaldo smashes tunnel with Ferrari 599 GTB
This exemplifies the absurdity of allowing a rich young idiot to drive a hypersonic supercar. Let’s see: 23-year-old testosterone-fuelled football-playing asshole plus Ferrari equals… Mayhem. This story is proof that extreme physical prowess doesn’t necessarily propagate across domains. Manchester United football go Ronaldo, aged just 23, scored his biggest own goal with his new Ferrari 599 GTB in a tunnel near Manchester Airport in January 2009. He slammed into one wall before careering into the other. Seriously: who loses control in a tunnel? Aside from Princess Diana’s driver?
The young Portugese winger, who had owned the car for just two days, emerged completely unhurt from the crash. Looking like the cover of GQ Magazine. The 599 GTB - terminal. You know, that car cost the equivalent of $420,000 back then, which, in perspective, was somewhat less than two weeks’ pay for the young football kicking/dickhead. It did, however, get insurers offside, making Ronaldo virtually uninsurable - pumping up the premiums to about $200,000, hypothetically, or roughly 50 per cent of the cost of the vehicle, or a week’s pay, depending on how you look at it, according to insurers who were polled at the time.
Imagine being in that rareified atmosphere where making a $400,000 mistake was just a fortnight’s worth of problem. Most people would be gutted; he probably just went out and slammed the Black AmEx down on another one.
4. ULTIMATE POLITICAL FOOTBALL
China's Big & Little Ling embroiled in nude Ferrari 458 Spider threesome
From football to the ultimate political football: I’m pretty sure, here, that the cost of the damage to 23-year-old Ling Gu’s Ferrari 458 - it was written off, so about $600,000 - paled into insignificance, compared with the cost of the consequences. Young Mr Ling was driving so fast on a Beijing ring road, allegedly, that when the 458 lost control at about 4am on March 18, 2012, it split in two.
Mr Ling, who was sadly killed in the crash, was the son of Ling Jihua - chief of staff to then Chinese President Hu Jintao. News of the crash erupted, fuelled initially by the salacious detail that Little Ling was found naked in the wreckage, along with two young women, who survived and were also variously described in reports as either naked or “scantily clad”, suggesting some form of - you know - high-speed horizontal folk dancing - around the time of the crash. To a news outlet, this is like riding a rollercoaster and having multiple orgasms while Heston Blumenthal prepares dinner for you and the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders. It’s journalism heaven. Like, hold the front page: Son of communist political bigwig dies in 300km/h Ferrari threesome. In a newsroom, it’s a safe bet that nothing short of a full-blown 9/11 tops that.
Just to be clear on this: Driving a Ferrari: good idea. Having a threesome with two young hotties: Excellent idea. Doing both contemporaneously: Bad idea. Therefore: Two rights do make a wrong: QED. Seriously: I have dreams like that - who doesn’t? Driving a Ferrari, nude, with a couple of young hotties. Look me in the eye and tell me you don’t. I’m sure it seems like a good idea at the time. It’s easy to be critical. And the only problem with those dreams is: Then you wake up, there’s a Corolla in the driveway, and the lawn still needs mowing. Or, in Little Ling’s case, you wake up dead.
News of the nude-threesome-politically-scandalous Ferrari smash was rapidly suppressed in China’s tightly controlled media, and Big Ling reportedly even attempted to deny the body was even that of Little Ling after viewing the post-high-speed threesome remains in the morgue. Apparently Big Ling also attempted to reach an arrangement with other powerful Chinese political officials to cover up Little Ling’s untimely death.
In China at the time, internet search terms like ‘Ferrari’ were blocked. The South China Morning Post detailed later reported details of payments made to the two women involved in the crash, allegedly to keep them silent as part of the cover up. But let’s face it, they were probably relieved to be covered up. For a change. As were their parents.
All cover-up attempts ultimately failed, however. Big Ling’s powerful position in Chinese politics did not survive the crash. He was demoted, later expelled from from the Communist Party of China, and arrested for various corruption offences including bribery, illegally procuring state secrets and sexual misconduct. One day, Chinese scientists hope to identify the Ferrari threesome driving with hotties gene, in the hope of developing a new therapy to treat this debilitating hereditary condition. In the future - I hope - we might look at the high-speed-hottie-threesome syndrome in the same way we look at polio or smallpox today.
5. TOO FAST & TOO FURIOUS
Paul Walker goes 100% Hollywood in Porsche Carrera GT
This is the ultimate proof that cheating death is always easier on the big screen. Forty-year-old Hollywood actor Paul Walker cheated death many times as Bryan O’Conner in five of the six iconic The Fast and the Furious Hollywood blockbusters. But the crash he would not walk away from occurred in the real world on November 30, 2013.
Mr Walker was a passenger, and the owner, a friend, was driving. The red 2005 911 Carrera GT hit a concrete lamp post in Santa Clara, California, and the Porsche burst into flames. The crash was captured on CCTV, and the LA County Sheriff’s Department declared both men dead at the scene. The bodies were burned beyond recognition.
The curve where the men died is a popular spot for illegal drifting, and the coroner’s report on the deaths declared the Porsche to be travelling at around double the posted speed limit. Walker’s body was cremated (I guess, technically it was cremated twice…) and later, his daughter Meadow Walker and his father filed lawsuits against Porsche, claiming the Carrera had several design defects that contributed to Paul Walker’s death. Porsche denied any wrongdoing, citing the authorities’ determination of excessive speed as the main cause of the crash.
For pop culture trivia fans, three Paul Walker films - Hours, Brick Mansions and Furious 7 - were released posthumously. The Wiz Khalifa song See You Again, from the Furious 7 soundtrack, is a tribute to the late Paul Walker.
6. GREEN MACHINE MAYHEM
Joshua Flot proves he's a dead arsehole in a Tesla Model S
This is the greenest exotic wreck to date: Twenty-six-year-old fuckwit Joshua Michael Flot, from Inglewood, California, stole a Tesla Model S from a Tesla service centre in West LA in July 2014 - the famous US public holiday commemorating independence from England.
Our hero, celebrating - apparently - his own independence from rational thought and social responsibility, fled police before crashing at high speed into vehicles and a steel pole, which ripped the Model S in half, and ultimately killed him. No great loss there.
The rear half of the Model S came to rest wedged in a building and the front half struck a stationary 2012 Honda Civic carrying five people, who were among those injured in the crash. Civic Driver Ruben Hakobyan, 27, was knocked unconscious when the front half of the Tesla struck the Honda’s roof. The roof had to be cut off to rescue those on board. He didn’t regain consciousness until after firefighters had extracted him from the wreckage. He said, quote: “I didn’t hear anything before it happened. No sirens - no nothing.” After the impact, the Tesla caught fire. Mainly because batteries are dripping in stored energy, too. Just like petrol, only somewhat less of it.
7. BOND EX MACHINA
Aston Martin BD5 versus Astra reveals UK's biggest loser
For me, this is the saddest - purely in the context of the car that was damaged. Possibly the most expensive crash ever involving a Vauxhall Astra took place in July 2015 in the UK, near Manchester Airport. The other vehicle? The classic Aston Martin of all classic Aston Martins - a gorgeous $2 million Aston Martin DB5, the kind exemplified in the 1964 Bond movie Goldfinger, starring Sean Connery as 007 … and more recently in 2012’s Skyfall and this year’s Spectre, with Daniel Craig playing the British super-spy.
Outrageous automotive adventures have been the DB5’s staple diet for more than half a century. Unfortunately, in the real world, the crash that destroyed this one was for more mundane. No saving the world. No hottie in the passenger’s seat. No super villain in pursuit. This took place at a set of traffic lights on Wimslow Road, just off the M56 motorway. No word on who was at fault. Dad and the young son were on board the DB5, injured but OK, by all accounts, so that’s a silver lining.
The DB5 was actually Bond’s third, and most famous, car, going on to star in Thunderball, GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, Casino Royale, Skyfall and Spectre. It was manufactured only between 1963 and 1965, and only 1023 were ever made.
(And in case you were wondering, the DB5 they allegedly blew up in Skyfall was really a much less iconic, Porsche 928.) More Bond supercar destructo-news in just a sec.
8. RED-HOT RENTAL RACER
Flavio Pierlioni lights the wick in renter Lamborghini Aventador
Have you ever dented a rental car? If you have, this crash probably puts any renter fender benders you might have had into perspective. Just four days before Christmas 2013, 24-year-old Italian racing driver Flavio Pierlioni was driving an $800,000 Lamborghini Aventador in the mountains near Solihul Castelvetro - just 30 kilometres from the Lamborghini factory.
Unfortunately, he lost control, with 48-year-old Daniele Valestri in the passenger’s seat. Mr Valestri owns Pit Lane Rental Cars and, presumably, owned the Aventador. The Lamborghini left the road at high speed, and skidded about 100 metres before coming to rest in a ditch, where it caught fire.
Both men were pulled from the burning wreckage by the owner of a nearby vinegar factory before the car burned beyond recognition. They were taken to hospital, both in critical condition, suffering major burns.
9. THE SPECTRE OF SPECTRE
Hollywood Moviemakers trash multiple Aston Martin DB 10s
Most supercar destruction is unintentional. This is premeditated, on a grand scale. If you sit down and enjoy the latest 007 James Bond epic, Spectre, which I thought was only average, it might interest you to know $50 million was the budget for exotic car destruction to facilitate your couple of hours of viewing pleasure. Tragically, seven Aston Martin DB10s lost their lives during the film, plus a Land Rover, and - possibly - a Jaguar C-X75.
The bill for crashed cars in Spectre represents more than 10 per cent of the $400 million film’s budget. Scenes shot in Rome - which include cars rocketing into the Vatican at more than 170km/h - include damages estimated to cost “seven figures” according to insiders. Can you imagine calling the Pope’s henchmen to set this up? “G’day - just calling to discuss destroying a bunch of supercars in the Vatican … next Tuesday with the big guy? Great. Is he still infallible? Cool. See you then.”
Gary Powell, the chief stunt co-ordinator on the film, told reporters: “We set a new record for smashing up cars on Spectre. In Rome, we wrecked millions of pounds’ worth. We shot one entire night for four seconds of film.”
The silver lining in this rather bleak cloud of destroyed DB10s is that three of the 10 survived the filming, and all were acquired at a significant discount to the retail price, because Aston Martin has a commercial agreement relating to the supply of cars for Bond films. Can you imagine a more positive product placement agreement?
10. LOOKS LIKE WE DESTROYED US A CONVOY...
Japanese supercar convoy goes 'Hiroshima' on wet freeway
This last award is all about efficiency. Why destroy just one exotic car, when it would be far more efficient to take out 11 at once? Efficiency is very important. It’s like Al Qaeda - stated aim is to kill four million westeners. You’re never going to do that by flying planes into buildings. Anyway, in December 2011 an outrageous multiple casualty supercar event took place on a Japanese freeway.
This is perhaps the only known occasion in which a Prius has ever been seen to beat eight Ferraris, a Lamborghini Diablo, two Mercedes-Benzes and a Nissan Skyline GTR. (The Prius’s somewhat pyrrhic victory came about by virtue of being the least costly casualty.) It’s safe to say that in all the news reports of this incident - and it whipped around the world faster than Oprah shovelling up a baked ham - nobody - and I mean nobody - gave a shit about that Prius.
News reports suggest the supercars were in convoy between Kyushu and Hiroshima when a Ferrari F430 in the lead hit the central barrier after losing control while overtaking in the wet. How can you lose control on a freeway? [REACHES FOR PAPER] Huh - thanks - And in breaking news, new research reveals rich dickheads generally can’t drive. I’ll bring you more as the story unfolds.
What happened in Japan was a textbook chain reaction of supercar stupidity stretching several hundred metres, in which the Prius nobody ultimately gave a crap about was unfortunately struck from behind. Collateral damage. Speaking of damage, the damage bill was estimated at $5.5 million - about the same as the Koenigsegg we kicked off with. The highway was closed for more than six hours for supercar clean-up operations. News reports at the time dubbed it the “world’s most expensive crash”.
So take heart if you’ve ever bent your car. It probably wasn’t as bad as any of that.