'WHO are these sexual inadequates anyway?,' a girlfriend asks me when I tell her I've been up since 5 am with about 30 Hong Kong men, on a cold, wet and awful airstrip in Sek Kong, test-driving the McLaren F1. At $6 million - exclusive of import tax - it is the world's most expensive sports car. And so, of course, the men gathered to drive, to feel, to experience the Big Mac, aren't your run-of-the-mill 'sexual inadequates'. They are some of the richest men in the territory. This doesn't impress my girlfriend. 'So did they go on about how it throbbed and pulsated under their touch?' she says. She is poking Freudian fun with good reason. Who has not heard of the correlation between the size of a man's car and its inverse relation with the size of his, shall we say, stick shift? Or that any man who would spend $6 million on a car should consider diverting some of his funds into self-esteem therapy instead? It is the morning of the test drive. And after a bus ride from the Grand Hyatt, we are silently freezing in a Sek Kong hangar. I am told that although less than 10 people in Hong Kong can afford the McLaren F1, more than 50 'hot' prospects have been invited to dream, to drool, to lust over it. Word has it that Dickson Poon, Felix Kwan and Charles Kwan are seriously considering a McLaren for their own garages. Taking the hot seat today Derek Wong, of Stelux Industries, Asin Ghosh, of Watson's Distilled Waterand Alan Li's son, Sean. 'Each invitation was hand delivered,' a McLaren spokesperson tells me. 'Faxing a man of this calibre would have been completely unacceptable.' I've seen the McLaren in colour photographs, and while the words 'sleek' and 'ergonomic' spring instantly to mind, it is certainly not the kind of vehicle I would choose to wheel to the market. Too cold. Too high-tech. Too male. Admittedly, it does have a vaguely appealing James Bond feel to it - which is why I am surprised to find that among today's prospective buyers, James Bond look-alikes are conspicuously missing (and presumably still in bed). Instead, I find the sweet, the old, the fat, the timid. And let us not forget, the rich. Among this gathering of Y-chromosomes, there is one other woman, the wife of an Indonesian car buff who flew all the way from Jakarta just to view the car. Idly picking at the hors-d'oeuvres, she gives me a look of gender recognition and then, as if this is a secret handshake for our sorority of two, she yawns. 'Oh, it is really very early in the morning, but this car is worth it,' says Hong Kong solicitor Patrick Chung, his eyes gleaming with what looks like lust. Mr Chung, most aptly described as innocuous, sports a silk tie printed with antique racing cars. Healready keeps eight cars in Hong Kong - two Porsches, two Ferraris, one Maserati, one Mercedes-Benz, one BMW, one Silver Cloud Rolls Royce - with two more Ferraris on order. 'When I lived in England I worked as a driving instructor to make some money,' he offers in explanation of why he now collects cars the way most people collect match books. 'I never even tell my wife I'm getting a new car - and she never asks about my affairs. Sometimes I'll just pick her up from work and she'll say, 'Oh, you got a new one'.' I get the feeling Mr Chung can go on for some time about his penchant for very expensive cars, but as he begins his next anecdote, the hangar falls silent. The guest of honour, a gleaming McLaren in British racing green, has arrived. The shining beast moves on to the airstrip in a blur and the men follow, mesmerised. Three photographers race to the edge of the track and point their huge lenses towards the McLaren. One stout prospective buyer, his eyes dancing with delight, squeals, 'Ohdear, oh dear!' as if he is on the verge of an implosion. As we make our way to the track, another man, oblivious to anything but the whirring green vision now doing 'doughnuts' on the airfield, plows into me. His eyes snap into focus. 'Oh, excuse me,' he says. 'I suppose I was getting a little too excited.' Ed Walker, one of the few young and dashing men to turn up this morning, is a member of Hong Kong's Classic Car Club. 'You know, this is every little boy's dream,' he says, his eyes aglow. 'This is the absolute toy.' Asked to explain the attraction, he says: 'It's inexplicable, really. I want it, well, because I want it. I guess it's about making the impossible possible, driving into the realm of fantasy. With a car like this you feel as if you no longer have any inhibitions.' The test drives begin - well, test rides anyway. After all, not everyone can be expected to be man enough to sit at the helm of the McLaren F1. Jonathan Palmer, a former Formula One racing driver, sits confidently behind the wheel. 'If you can't handle driving at 220 miles per hour,' he says coolly to the crowd, 'you must simply place your hand on my shoulder and I'll slow down.' The men practically shove each other on to the ground to get the first test drive. A man in a pair of white trousers seizes the prized seat and a thwarted contender quips: 'Better have a nice look at those trousers now. Because they won't be white when he's through with his ride.' After a dozen or so test runs, the McLaren glides off the airstrip and into the hangar, filling the space with incredible heat. The men crowd around it to warm their hands as if the McLaren is a glowing campfire and they are cavemen. There is something distinctly primal about this scene. Something utterly instinctive about the quest for power, the desire for speed. It is time to clean the McLaren, which has collected mud and dust from the track, and one of the Formula One team drags forward a limp hose. 'There's no water pressure, no water pressure!' he shouts to another team member. Then, as he points the hose at the McLaren, it grows stiff and the water moves in a forceful stream all over the steaming body. Mr Chung, one of the most zealous of this morning's prospective buyers, is allowed to take the driver's seat. I can't help thinking he looks a little frightened. And before he manages to move the car out of the hangar, he pops the clutch and the engine dies. Finally, with Mr Palmer instructing him from a passenger seat, Mr Chung restarts the engine and drives the car on to the strip. Fifteen minutes later, he wheels the car back into the hangar. The door pops open and Mr Chung emerges, his face pale. 'I made the car skid. I made the car skid.' He looks like a boy who has just 'failed' his initiation into manhood during his first brothel visit. The McLaren representatives console him. 'It wasn't your fault. It's the gear box on the car. We'll have it fixed. We can have it fixed. But what did you think of the car otherwise?' The McLaren people circle around Mr Chung who, despite his bumpy test ride, seems more convinced than ever that he needs the McLaren F1 for his very own. And as the car slithers into the field with yet another enthusiastic prospective owner, I can't help but envision the McLaren F1 as a snake, the guests as the sheep, and the McLaren Suits as vultures coming in for the kill. The McLaren wheels out on to the airstrip and idles beneath a hovering helicopter. 'It is time for the McLaren to race the helicopter,' a McLaren Suit announces as the men gather around the track. I decide to stay behind. Is the car faster than the chopper? Is the chopper faster than the car? I can live without the answer. 'Hey,' I whisper to Mr Walker, 'I'm tired of this car business. Can we go now?' He doesn't even hear me. 'Aren't you coming?' he asks, oblivious to anything I have said. 'My God, girl, the race is about to start.' The Indonesian tai-tai places a consoling hand on my shoulder, rolls her eyes in the direction of the car and sighs: 'It's just something to get used to. The car always makes you feel like you're the Other Woman.'