Car of the Year

Overview

13 Astounding New Autos Chase the Title. Featuring the Aston Martin DB9, Porsche Carrera S, Chevrolet Corvette, Maserati Quattraporte & More.

From This Issue

FrontRunners: Fast Talker

To address the aesthetic monotony of the mobile phone, Motorola enlisted an Italian design company renowned for its Ferrari silhouettes to shape the new Pininfarina Limited Edition Motorola i833 phone ($599), a silvery, sports car–inspired flip phone available exclusively at Bloomingdale’s (866.593.2540, http://www.bloomingdales.com). Pininfarina, the coachbuilder behind virtually every modern Ferrari, based the i833 on […]

Appliances: Access Granted

When the late Rino Snaidero, former president and CEO of the kitchen design firm Snaidero, opened his original shop in the Friuli region of Italy in 1946, he was not satisfied with making superior-quality cabinets; he wanted his products to be distinctive. Snaidero’s objective eventually led to collaborations with architects Gae Aulenti, Angelo Mangiarotti, and […]

FrontRunners: Donald Dearest

Infants and toddlers traveling to the Trump International Hotel & Tower in New York (888.448.7867, http://www.trumpintl.com) should be tickled pink by Trump Baby Attaché, a new service that places lap children in the lap of luxury. Prior to a child’s stay, a Baby Attaché staff member phones his or her parents to gauge the little […]

The Height of Luxury

“A little bit of the theater in a hotel doesn’t hurt,” architect I.M. Pei once opined. We presume he was speaking tongue in cheek, as the edifice to which he was referring was his own creation, the Four Seasons New York, which opened in 1993 and which Pei endowed with an abundance of theater. The […]

Back Page: Suite Enough for a President

No historical records indicate which American hotel opened the first presidential suite, but the concept probably was borrowed from the royal suites of European hotels. Joe McInerney, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association in Washington, D.C., surmises that presidential suites first appeared at the turn of the 20th century and flourished […]

FrontRunners: In Good Taste

Vincent Van Gogh once bartered paintings for pieces of Debauve & Gallais chocolate, but visitors to the French company’s new Manhattan boutique (212.734.8880, http://www.debauveandgallais.com), the chocolatier’s first in the United States, need not part with precious possessions to savor the bittersweet confections that have tempted kings, queens, czars, and artists for more than 200 years. […]

FrontRunners: Berried Treasures

Procrastinators will find the perfect Valentine’s Day gift with a box of chocolate-dipped strawberries from Berry Gourmet (800.430.6650, http://www.berrygourmet.com). Red, sweet, heart-shaped, and covered in chocolate, the berries fit the holiday theme and, conveniently for last-minute shoppers, must ship on the same day that they are dipped and packed. Berry Gourmet owner Bill Wade, who […]

FrontRunners: Select Smoke

La Gloria Cubana Reserva Figurado La Gloria Cubana stayed the cylindrical course during the figurado renaissance of the 1990s, but late last year the company introduced a tapered-style smoke, the Reserva Figurado, that proves to be well worth the wait. The cigar’s Ecuadoran Sumatra wrapper, Nicaraguan binder, and Dominican/Nicaraguan filler are aged for three months […]

FrontRunners: From the Robb Cellar

Johnnie Walker Green Label This fifth hue in the Johnnie Walker whisky rainbow is predicated on a concept that has fomented controversy in single-malt circles for years. Some British exponents of single-malt whiskies have objected to the concept of a “pure malt” blend ever since Johnnie Walker Green Label’s introduction in the United Kingdom in […]

Spirits: Suave Agaves

Carlos Camarena fills three snifters with the blanco, reposado, and añejo varieties of his El Tesoro tequila. “They are like a woman in different stages of dress,” says the third-generation master distiller. The blanco (white), or “platinum,” as El Tesoro brands it, is “like a woman without clothes, the way she really is.” The barrel […]

Smoke: African Queens

The scarcity of unmistakable sensations can make connoisseurship a challenge. Espouse too loudly the superiority of Bordeaux, and someone will surely slip you a Napa Valley wine that you cannot reliably distinguish from Château Margaux. This may be why aficionados often gravitate toward clearly identifiable tastes, sights, and sounds: the trademark roar of a Harley-Davidson, […]

Collectibles: Hail to the Chiefs

Decades of dealing in historic documents have led Kenneth Rendell to an intriguing observation about the presidents of the United States: The greatest were invariably skilled letter writers. “Washington and Lincoln could write staggeringly good letters, and I’ve sold letters by both for $1 million each,” says Rendell, owner of the Kenneth W. Rendell Gallery […]

Spas: Cold Fusion

Swedish skin-care guru Kerstin Florian grew up in Stockholm, but the summers she spent at her family’s cottage in Värmdö, a Baltic Sea archipelago, proved formative for her latest spa therapy. There she embraced the solitude she found among the towering birch trees, and, just as significant, she first learned of the Samis, the native […]

Leisure: Craving Knowledge

The children’s toys scattered on the lawn outside the Santo Stefano dairy’s office present the first indication that this establishment, located outside of Parma, Italy, is different from an industrial cheese-making facility. Further evidence is offered by the living arrangements of the dairy master, who resides on site with his family, many of whom work […]

Leisure: The Art of Cooking

Sudents attending the cooking school at Villa San Michele need only glance upward for inspiration. In the refectory of this former monastery, just across from the participants’ worktables, Nicodemo Ferrucci’s 1642 fresco of the Last Supper depicts in detail the offerings of the famous feast. The students have ventured to this Florentine landmark to learn […]

FrontRunners: The Missing Links

Peter De Savary, the developer behind Bovey Castle in England, Carnegie Abbey in Rhode Island, and the new Abaco Club on Winding Bay in the Bahamas (888.303.2765, http://www.theabacoclub.com), touts his Caribbean property’s Donald Steel design as the world’s first “tropical links” golf course. While short on frigid gusts, drenching rain, waist-deep marram, and prickly gorse, […]

Sport: Survival of the Fastest

While the assembly lines at the ski making industry’s Big Three—America’s K2, France’s Rossignol, and Germany’s Adidas-Salomon—together churn out millions of skis a year, the production pace is decidedly slower in a small, single-story factory in Malters, Switzerland. Here, Stöckli’s four dozen employees gather each morning to assemble skis by hand, deferring to automated machinery […]

Whole in One

The assistant golf pro stands at the fringe of the first tee at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. “Now playing,” he announces, “Mr. Jerry Clark from San Diego.” Clark, a retired dentist, prepares to hit his tee shot from the sliver of grass on the edge of a steep hill, a launching […]

Several Ways To Slice It

Though their approaches may differ, each of the following companies is attempting to apply the concepts of fractional ownership and shared access to the world of private golf. The Eden Club – Unlimited complimentary golf on the links courses (Old, New, Jubilee, Eden, and Strathtyrum) at St. Andrews in Scotland – Seven nights’ accommodations per […]

Robb Design Portfolio: Spurred On

The advent of the hollywood western led to a demand for rococo adornments for the tools of the cowboy’s trade—hats, boots, spurs, saddles, bridles. Indeed, the boot shown here, made by Lucchese for the singing cowboy Gene Autry, is modest and restrained by the standards of its time. However, a cowboy’s concern for the appearance […]

FrontRunners: Fade To Black

After mastering english classicism with his Purple Label collection, Ralph Lauren (888.475.7674, http://www.polo.com) turns to a younger, hipper audience with this spring’s launch of Black Label for men. The new collection’s lightweight stretch wool and cotton suits borrow extensively from the slim-fitting jackets first introduced by Neapolitan tailors in the 1930s. The suits, as well […]

FrontRunners: Utility Player

The Swiss Army Knife has been worth its weight in gold to generations of soldiers and adventurers, and now Bonfort SA (+41.31.311.90.90, http://www.bonfort.ch), a Swiss producer of jeweled accessories, has given the implement its due with the Collection Victoria, a limited release of gold- and platinum-covered examples of the ubiquitous utility tool. Bonfort partnered with […]

Watches: Spin Art

It seems fitting that when Paris-born Alain Silberstein established his watchmaking business in 1985, he did so in Besançon, a city in the Franche-Comté, once a watchmaking center. Besançon is directly across the border from the Swiss Jura, the region that is now synonymous with premium timepieces. Like his company, Silberstein’s designs are beyond watchmaking’s […]

Wardrobe: More then Skin Deep

Zilli’s Alain Schimel first elevated the image of the leather jacket in the 1970s by rendering it in lamb suede, peccary, alligator, and other costly skins, and then finishing his designs with artisan details such as custom-printed Italian silk linings and fully taped seams like those applied to tailored clothing. “Before that, leather was mostly […]

Jewelry: Ice Sculpture

For the last 14 years, Richard von Sternberg has claimed to hold the secret to producing the most precisely cut diamonds, but only recently have the experts begun recognizing the soft-spoken CEO of EightStar Diamond Co. His credo is slowly gaining acceptance as gemologists, jewelers, and designers—including Steven Kretchmer and Paul Klecka—have been converted. Now […]

From the Editor: Beast of Burden

Nature has endowed us with a longing for movement—a kinetic fascination—that the rather humble equipment with which she furnished us was destined from the beginning to disappoint. Our locomotive apparatus, in comparison to those of other animals, seems to have evolved in a direction that, while adequate for the secondary goal of inventing and manipulating […]

Robb Design Portfolio: New England Expatriate

From 1926 through 1931, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars crafted just over 1,200 left-hand-drive Phantom I (or New Phantom) chassis for its American customers. The resulting cars, dubbed Springfield Phantoms after the Springfield, Mass., factory in which the chassis were built, derived their power from a massive inline-6 engine that produced 100 hp. Many of the Springfields […]

In the Driver’s Seat

The distinctive group of panelists charged with choosing among these remarkable vehicles the one that best fulfills its mission—whether this be to provide the finest family luxury sedan or the most spine-tingling turn on the track—comprises several of the world’s leaders in business, finance, media, connoisseurship, and the arts. In addition to members of Robb […]

Car of the Year 2005 Winner: Aston Martin DB9

Once in a rare while there appears an automobile that has it all and will go the distance, and then go beyond the farthest horizon. It must be born with a magic and with a design of perfect proportions that offers visual satisfaction from any elevation or angle. There will be hints of heritage in […]

Car of the Year 2005 Porsche 911 S

Whenever I get my hands on the latest 911, I cannot help but compare it with its predecessor. True confession: I never really loved the 996, despite using one as a daily driver for many years. It was more a marriage of convenience, a union loyal and dutiful but without the passion shared with the […]

Car of the Year 2005 Maserati Quattroporte

If the meaning of the Maserati Quattroporte’s descriptor is not obvious, it is Italian for “four doors,” but it does not refer to something stodgy, slow, sensible, and Omaha suburban. This is an Italian sports car that, with a top speed of 170 mph, could have outrun Hurricane Andrew. It is quicker to 60 mph […]

Car of the Year 2005 BMW 760i

From the outset, I was impressed with the appearance of BMW’s new-Bangled 7 Series sedan. Its unconventional lines seem to reflect the spirit of designs produced by Italy’s carrozzerias in the 1950s and 1960s—Frua’s Maserati Quattroporte in 1963, for instance—which were dramatically sculpted but not necessarily pretty. BMW’s new design vocabulary has raised the eyebrows […]

Car of the Year 2005 Cadillac CTS-V

Equating a Cadillac with one of GM’s economy marques might seem like slander, but Car of the Year participant Bill Harlan intended it as a compliment when he dubbed the CTS-V a Pontiac in disguise. “I like it,” Harlan said of the car. “There’s a disconnect between the name of the car and how it […]

Car of the Year 2005 Acura RL

While most of our Car of the Year guests descended upon Meadowood on a Wednesday, a few, including myself, reached Napa the previous day. The Acura RL also made an early arrival, granting me an extended test-drive in this sleeper candidate. It proved to be time well spent.   Although initially not eager to drive […]

Car of the Year 2005 Mercedes-Benz SL65

Excepting the exotic SLR, the bad boy in the Mercedes-Benz convertible clubhouse is the SL55’s bigger brother, the SL65. It is an amazing creation in terms of engineering, and its stealth factor is second to none. The car is a brute in a Brioni suit. It is not a well-dressed gentleman, as one might imagine […]

Car of the Year 2005 Chevrolet Corvette

Commonly referred to as the C6, the sixth-generation Corvette had been the subject of much speculation over the last few years. ’Vette enthusiasts may not be as fanatical in their devotion as those who worship at the altar of Porsche, but they have strong opinions nevertheless regarding the evolution of the American sports car. Even […]

Car of the Year 2005 Bentley Arnage T

Bentley’s 2005 Arnage T is a lovely leftover, a mechanical souvenir from distant days when Rolls-Royce was its builder and any thought of an ownership change was just a gleam in the eye of Volkswagen. This big, blocky car is still very much a 1999 Bentley Red Label—without the red label, but with identical lines […]

Car of the Year 2005 Lamborghini Murcielago Roadster

My favorite modern Lamborghini is the Gallardo. In fact, it is my favorite sports car, period, for reasons elucidated in last year’s Car of the Year issue. That said, the Murciélago Roadster leaves me longing for a car (like the Gallardo) that is friendlier and less flagrant. Perhaps it is unhealthy perfectionism and impatience born […]

Car of the Year 2005 Lotus Elise

Herb Harris, one of the Car of the Year participants, steered the Lotus Elise into the parking lot at the Napa Valley Reserve, killed the engine, and took a deep breath, for the hard part was next. The 6-foot-4 Harris, who had somehow managed to fold his frame into the car’s claustrophobic cockpit, placed his […]

Car of the Year 2005 Land Rover LR3

Not long ago, Land Rover—with its Range Rover and Discovery—held a monopoly on the luxury SUV market. Then Lexus joined the fray in 1996, and before long the competition also included entries from Acura, BMW, Cadillac, Hummer, Infiniti, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Volvo. In this crowded field, the elderly Discovery’s deficiencies have become increasingly apparent, […]

Car of the Year 2005 Chrysler 300C

The Chrysler 300, as proven by multiple sightings of black, white, and blue variants on the roads of Napa Valley, cannot claim exclusivity as one of its trademarks. While only several dozen fortunate owners will pocket the keys to the convertible version of the Lamborghini Murciélago each year, thousands of drivers have already acquired the […]

Boating: Cat’s Meow

American boaters long have shown a preference for single-hull yachts over catamarans, whether for charter or ownership. Accordingly, many docks in the United States and the Caribbean are not equipped to accommodate the wide-beam vessels, and even at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, catamarans on display are relegated to Las Olas Marina, a dock […]

Aircraft: Wings sans Strings

Skybridge private air chairman Michael E. Napoliello Jr. envisions a day when his company’s offering—private luxury air travel without a membership requirement, fractional shares, or other long-term commitments—will be at parity with full-fare, first-class commercial flights. That day will come, Napoliello says, possibly within five years’ time. “There’s a chance the SkyBridge format [will] become […]

Wings & Water: Saving Grace

When Paul and Chrissy Kaplan first saw Santana in 1997, the 63-foot schooner barely resembled the proud vessel that Humphrey Bogart once called his own. “Bogie’s Boat,” which the actor had raced in the 1940s and 1950s and employed to host the likes of Lauren Bacall, Richard Burton, Frank Sinatra, and Ingrid Bergman, was raised […]

Car of the Year 2005

Oscar Wilde argued that the only excuse for making something ugly is that it be useful, while the sole justification for an utterly useless object is its inherent beauty. This principle may obtain in the realm of art, but those of us enamored of things automotive have come to appreciate in particular how designers and […]