Hong Kong's top-end showrooms seem busier on our recent rounds of Gloucester Road. Sancy Chan of Italian Motors and AutoItalia agrees, while Porsche Centre Hong Kong spokeswoman Mabel Wong reports 'steady' traffic, after a year of 505 sales of mainly 911s in Hong Kong and 27 in Macau. But she warns of a risk of a 'price increase for sports cars later this year, due to the exchange rate' of cars bought with strong euro, and then sold in the pegged Hong Kong dollar.
Fai Tsang of Richburg Motors reports 'a lot of walk-ins' to the luxury parallel importer and Lotus dealer's showrooms, with 'a lot of people from the finance and banking industries'. Many are splurging in the boom, he says. 'We've also seen a lot of our customers hiring [chauffeurs] to drive them in their MPVs, whereas previously they'd drive the cars themselves,' Tsang says. 'They are nearly all paying for the cars in cash - a lot of it due to year- end bonuses and profits from the financial markets - and rushing deliveries for the end of their financial year'.
Richburg's old customers have also shortened their ownership period and 'are upgrading their cars for higher-spec models, demanding more options and exclusivities', Tsang says.
Richburg says the rich are interested in GTR, Lexus Supercars, and bosses are drawn to the luxury mobile office and entertainment centre in the partitioned Alphard (HK$830,000). 'We have sold a number of these to CEOs of some of the largest companies in Hong Kong, movie stars and entertainers,' Tsang says. Developed and built by Richburg, it's a plush answer to the Lexus LS460, Japan's car of the year, and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, voted top luxury car at What Car?'s 2007 'Oscars' last week.
It seems an average MPV on the outside, but is as plush as it gets, from its Connolly leather reclining seats to gold-cased Chopard clock. Security's been upgraded too, with the steel-plated structural reinforcement of the chassis; double-insulated windows; limousine partitions with electro-transparent glass that switches from opaque to transparent, and an inter-com.
The bossmobile's also fitted with two cameras surveying outside surroundings and road conditions; an anti-kidnap/intruder panic-alarm system, and a fingerprint recognition safe box.
Congratulations to Ferrari, whose 599 GTB Fiorano won the SCMP Style award, and Bentley, whose Continental GTC convertible brushed aside the Rolls Royce Phantom, Bugatti Veyron and Maybach 57S to win the US luxury lifestyle magazine Robb Report's car of the year award. The 312km/h convertible also scooped a design award from Italy's L'Automobile piu Bella del Mondo awards, says Sarah Wong of Bentley Hong Kong.
And the Vauxhall/Opel Corsa (far left), voted What Car?'s Car of the Year is 'coming to Hong Kong around June or July', says Metro Motors' Lucy Wan.
We see that a BMW motorcycle was salvaged on Monday (left) after container vessel MSC Napoli beached off Branscombe, in Devon, southern England. So, we ask bikers: if you spotted a storm-lashed BMW bike on Shek O beach, would you try to clean out the salt, or strip it for parts to sell on eBay? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, Volvo Hong Kong is cutting the prices of 10 cars; S80 2.5Ts from HK$438,000 to HK$398,000, and the XC90 2.5TSE by a similar margin to HK$468,000. The company is also offering upgrade packages, says dealer spokesman Pinky Yang.