The truth behind Vancouver’s Lamborghini-driving Chinese students
Craigslist ad posting went viral
Take one Lamborghini supercar, throw in some racial stereotypes, add a hefty scoop of envy and voila: A high-octane viral internet sensation.
Such was the result of a posting on the Vancouver Craigslist site, better known for snowshoes and Ikea bookshelves, in which a Lamborghini Murcielago SV in a chameleon purple/green finish was offered for sale at a knockdown C$388,888. Awesome enough, but the jaw-dropper came in the vendor’s description.
“I'm returning to China next year after graduation so I have to sell it,” the November 11 posting said. “Serious buyers only. Asking $388,888 firm. Will also accept trade + cash to take the car back to China. Value of trade must be $200,000 minimum. Must sell before Lunar New Year.”
One month later and the posting has been shared more than 500,000 times on the GTSpirit website, which posted photos of the car in all its lurid glory.
The advertisement seemed believable enough; there is no shortage of very young Chinese men driving very expensive cars around Vancouver with “N” [new driver] plates. The phenomenon was even referenced in the YouTube video “How to be a Vancouverite”.
Notoriously, an entire convoy of young men driving 13 Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and other supercars worth more than C$2 million was yanked off Vancouver’s Highway 99 in 2011 for alleged street racing. A majority of the baby-faced Asian drivers were on their N-plates, said police. Several were reportedly boarding students at Vancouver’s elite St George’s School, which issued a statement which did not deny the claims.
But back to that Craigslist ad - which, in case you hadn’t guessed, seems to be a fake.
Emails to the two addresses listed with the posting now go unanswered. However, the University of British Columbia’s student newspaper said it received a response from someone who claimed that the ad had been posted by a friend as a prank.
There is also a clue in the ad: the wild chameleon paintwork is described as “Grigio Telesto”, a standard Lamborghini tone better described as “battleship grey”.
GTSpirit eventually published a retraction of sorts: “We have since found out that the car is not really for sale and was instead posted by a friend of the former owner.”
The ad may have been fake, but what of the actual car in the photos and its owner? This is where the plot thickens.
Because a purple/green Murcielago LP670-4 SuperVeloce, apparently the same car pictured on Craigslist, HAS been spotted in Vancouver. In 2011, that car was seen in the window of Vancouver customisers SR Auto Group.
This was the car dubbed “Project Setaro”, featured on car sites around the world, including the BBC’s Top Gear, because of its wild paintwork. Small “K” decals on the doors represent one of the owner’s initials, SR Auto said; such a decal can be made out in the Craigslist ad.
A car-spotting website showed what appears to be the same car, minus decals, in Vancouver in June 2011. An auspicious “888” number plate is just visible in one shot.
Asgar Virji, the president of Lamborghini Vancouver, said that he knew nothing of the vehicle in the ad, one of fewer than 200 LP670-4 SVs in the world.
“I don’t pay any attention to these kinds of things. If someone wants to sell their car like this it’s of no interest to me,” Virji said. He declined to discuss specific sales, adding that the business was “in a growth pattern, but we don’t share numbers”.
However, there are at least three LP670-4 SVs in Vancouver: the Craigslist/Project Setaro car; this white model with an “880” number plate and a very young Asian driver; and this purple number which looks strikingly like the Craigslist/Setaro car but has different plates.
The Craigslist car and its ownership, meanwhile, continue to be discussed widely on car sites around the world, with one wag describing it as “the purple penis eater”. Racists took aim at the ethnicity of the “seller”, while others were merely envious. “If this guy is even moderately attractive then his life at university must have been pretty amazing,” wrote one Reddit user.
The Hongcouver blog is devoted to the hybrid culture of its namesake cities: Hong Kong and Vancouver. All story ideas and comments are welcome. Connect with me by email email@example.com or on Twitter, Ian Young @ianjamesyoung70