Wealth Blog

Train and Tame the Ferrari Boy Racers

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 September, 2012, 8:48pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 September, 2012, 11:30am

Now it’s emerged after being kept quiet for several months that it was Ling Gu, the son of a loyal aide to President Hu Jintao, was the one killed in Ferrari accident in Beijing back in March.

Reportedly Ling was half-naked when the crash occurred and his two passengers were equally or even less well-clad, suggesting high-speed hanky panky pre-crash. Yesterday’s SCMP story came just days after the Beijing government announced Ling Gu’s father had been transferred to a new position, a move that analysts say stymied his ambitions for a stellar ascent to the leadership upper ranks.  And it all started with a Ferrari crash. Not sure why the sins of the son are being visited on the father though. That seems a little harsh, unless he is deemed responsible for having given his fun-loving son such a lethal weapon.

Playboys, hot girls and fast cars - it’s not a new cocktail, but a mix that’s proving too heady for China’s nouveau riche. Add China’s precarious roads, and it’s a lethal combination.

As former Grand Prix driver Rubens Barrichello once commented, the most terrifying part of the Formula One season was the taxi ride from Shanghai airport into town en route to drive in the Chinese Grand Prix. Even the car Princess Anne’s son Peter Phillip’s was riding in got pranged on the way to the Shanghai racing track.

Now each day brings fresh news of blood splashed on the tarmac after yet another Ferrari crash, today’s being driven, allegedly, by the grandson of the founder of caffeine drink Red Bull, who killed a policeman in a midnight hit and run on Bangkok.

Back in May there was yet another: a speeding red Ferrari that ran the red light at an intersection in Singapore, crashing into a taxi. Apart from the Ferrari owner who died instantly, the 52-year-old Singaporean taxi driver and his Japanese passenger also died later in hospital.

It just shows how all those millions spent on brand building by exotic car manufacturers can be torpedoed by bad PR when the customer's driving skills fail to match the performance of his car. These recent high speed smashes involving China's new wealthy and their exotic toys have shown that one optional extra already offered by manufacturers such as Porsche and Ferrari -driver training – should definitely be compulsory. A few hours on a track learning how to drive a sport scar won't be enough to instil a safety culture which seems to have bypassed many of China’s drivers but it would be a start.

The Shoebox Saga – Flat Buying On a Budget

Oh no, said Winston the estate agent sternly. “No chance. You won’t get anything under HK$3million in Wan Chai or Tin Hau.” But I only want a shoebox, I wail. A studio with a shower and a loo will do. Under $2m is possible, surely?  He breathes extreme scepticism down the phone. “No chance. Well...maybe..” he says, reluctantly.  Since then he has found 300 square feet in Jaffe Road, asking price HK$2.63m, 2/F, no view. No thanks. I didn’t literally mean a shoebox.

Then there’s 420 sqf in King’s Road, age 25 years, asking price just jumped from HK$2.68m to HK$2.85M in two days, still want to see? No. Then there’s two bedrooms, 477 sqf, King’s Road again, asking HK$2.4m, 2/F, age 40 years.

Right next to the wet market. Er, probably not.

The best he’s kept till last. Shau Kei Wan Rd, 9/F, 420 sqf gross, asking price $1.9M, age 42 years, two bedrooms. For sale with tenants paying $7,000 per month. Sounds good. “Sure,” says Winston triumphantly. “The transaction price of 8/F - was $1.97m, on January 16 2012.” But sounds fishier than the wet market. Why are they asking less than the unit downstairs sold for eight months ago? Winston pauses. “But one thing I need to tell you...” I sense the other shoe is about to drop.  “...is that about 12 years ago a girl committed suicide inside the flat, so it is the cheapest asking price now in Hong Kong Island...” Oh dear. Well at least he told me.