Car of the Year

Overview

The world's best chase the 2008 title, including Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Rolls-Royce, Saleen and more.

From This Issue

Contributors: Nothing but the Truth

After driving the cars, issuing his scores for each vehicle’s 15 judging criteria, collecting the other drivers’ scores, and computing the final rankings for what became one of the closest finishes ever in the Car of the Year competition, automotive editor Gregory Anderson believes a new judging measure should be added. “If we revise the […]

From the Editors: Cars of Yesteryear

You could read the results of recent Robb Report Car of the Year contests as condemnations of American-made luxury and sports cars. The Dodge Viper, Saleen S302 Extreme, Ford Shelby GT500, and a couple of Cadillacs have not fared well. You also could interpret the results as contradicting some of our earlier estimations. After all, […]

Robb Design Portfolio: Moody Beauty

Just as it did with the Ferrari that participated in our Car of the Year competition, mechanical misfortune plagued this Dino 206 SP—the fourth of 18 that Ferrari built—during its highest-profile contests. The car’s career apex came in the spring of 1966, when it was driven to a third-place finish in the ADAC 1,000 km […]

Robb Design Portfolio: Goods Natured

For her first furnishings collection, Kathy Taslitz communed with nature, at least symbolically. “I wanted to do something that was a metaphor for the parallels between man and nature,” says the interior designer, who debuted Pieces of Ourselves at Art Basel Miami Beach this past December. The 14 limited editions—priced from $8,000 to $64,000 and […]

FrontRunners: Music for the Soul

Music “is to the soul what the water bath is to the body,” wrote author and physician Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. While Holmes’ observation might be true, music making, like bathing, does not necessarily merit an audience. The new Yamaha Silent Series (www.yamaha.com) is ideal for those occasions when you want, or need, to keep […]

FrontRunners: Snow Business

The Jiva Hill Park Hotel (www.jivahill.com) in France has begun offering easy access to some of the finest ski areas in the Alps. The hotel, located on the Swiss border near Mont Blanc, has created a package that includes helicopter trips to Courchevel, Megève, Méribel, and other ski resorts in the region. The $22,000, two-night […]

FrontRunners: Southern Hospitality

Addison Mizner no longer wanders the halls of the Boca Raton Resort & Club (www.bocaresort.com) dressed in a silk robe and leading a monkey called Ethel on a leash; Mizner died in 1933. But the famed architect and founder of the resort undoubtedly would give his blessing to recent activities there. The pink stucco, 1,047-room […]

FrontRunners: Personal System

When a Ukraine resident wanted his MartinLogan Summit loudspeakers to match the all-white interior of his home, he turned to the new MartinLogan Custom Shop (www.martinlogan.com), through which he customized the speakers by giving them an exterior of chrome and white leather. The Lawrence, Kan., company’s service allows you to design speakers online, using a […]

FrontRunners: Art Opening

The $74,000 Sveid corkscrew (www.sveid.com) might be more expensive than any bottle of wine it will open—but it can be used more than once. The complex titanium device, which removes a cork by means of an accordion-like motion, is constructed from 52 handmade pieces, including a fingertip lever formed from platinum or 18-karat gold. It […]

FrontRunners: Sharp Razer

The Mako computer speaker system (www.razerzone.com) delivers the most enveloping and robust performance we have heard from a unit of this kind. The system (below) bears the marque and displays the radical styling of the Razer brand, but it was designed by the veteran audio engineers at THX and incorporates some of that company’s patented […]

FrontRunners: Going Nuclear

You know a house is unusual when the seller has been asked, “Does Russia still have this site listed as a target?” A Kansas company called 20th Century Castles buys and sells Atlas-F nuclear missile silos (www.missilebases.com) constructed during the Cold War, and some of them have been converted into extravagant homes. One example is […]

FrontRunners: Screening Room

Runco’s new, 103-inch PlasmaWall XP-103DHD (www.runco.com) is the company’s largest flat-panel TV. Priced at about $100,000, it incorporates a number of Runco’s proprietary technologies, including a digital video-processing system that enhances traditional TV signals to near-high-definition quality. An external digital controller cleans up video signals, provides several options for connecting video sources to the TV, […]

FrontRunners: Select Smoke

The G in the Saint Louis Rey Serie G Natural line stands for grande, and these Falstaffian cigars certainly earn that designation. The slimmest in the line has a ring gauge of 54, the largest size commonly found in smoke shops. The heftiest Serie G is the 6-inch No. 6 shown here. The cigar’s 60 […]

FrontRunners: Ear, Ear

Ultimate Ears has introduced earphones that should appeal to professional musicians as well as iPod listeners. The devices are custom-made to fit your ears, thus sealing out noise and practically eliminating the possibility of the earphones falling out at an inopportune moment. The $1,150 UE-11 Pro (www.ultimateears.com) incorporates four speaker drivers in each earphone, including […]

Home: Car Quality

A collaboration between Poggenpohl and Porsche Design Group has produced a kitchen that is as sleek and as sophisticated as a sports car. Last fall, the two companies—the 116-year-old German kitchen manufacturer and the 36-year-old German maker of high-end men’s products (a subsidiary of the carmaker Porsche)—revealed their finished kitchen to VIPs at Porsche’s automaking factory […]

Boating: Dream Boat

The grand old man of yachting appears to be feeling his years. In earlier days, Norberto Ferretti, founder and chairman of the Italian boatbuilding empire that bears his name, enjoyed offshore powerboat racing, a grueling, testosterone-drenched sport. The high point of his racing career came in 1994, when he won Europe’s Class 1 World Offshore […]

Golf: Keeping Up with the Joneses

Tim Blackford, general manager of the Bahía Beach Resort & Golf Club in Puerto Rico, steps back from his ball on the course’s 13th tee. Before him stretches a narrow fairway lined with clusters of coconut palms on one side and a saltwater lagoon on the other—a scene that, by now, is familiar to his […]

Travel: A Natural Estate

Say, for a moment, that you and your Swedish model-turned-designer wife are concluding your honeymoon on a tropical archipelago. How do you cap it off? If you are the British multimillionaire Sonu Shivdasani, you buy one of the islands for your bride, Eva, so she can transform it into her own vision of paradise. Then, […]

Lifting the Shell

Chuck Hesse had planned to sail around the world, but he took a detour to a then-obscure Caribbean island, where he ended up settling and eventually farming sea snails. A decade after Hesse departed from Connecticut in the early 1970s and steered his 28-foot wooden boat to Providenciales, an island in the Turks and Caicos […]

The Essence of Taste

Oscar Wilde once declared, “I have but the simplest taste—I am always satisfied with the best.” Yet the best has not always satisfied Judy Jordan: The geologist-turned-vintner believes that the best can always be bettered, and this conviction has informed the philosophy of Sonoma County’s J Vineyards & Winery since its doors opened in 1986. […]

Spirit of a New Age

The process of distilling Scotch whisky has not changed since the first drops trickled out of a bootlegger’s kettle in the mid-17th century. The only significant refinements in whisky production have been in the types of barrels used and the duration of the aging process. Glenmorangie, the Highland distillery where the so-called 16 Men of […]

Returning the Pages

Lawrence Yerkes heals ailing books. The master bookbinder treats important and valuable volumes that have been traumatized by fires, floods, and the accumulated insults of advanced age. On a morning in November, he cradled a copy of Annales Ecclesiastici, a history of the Catholic Church printed in 1694 that was caught in a flood at […]

For Love of Besuboru

In Japan, as in the United States, companies have been printing baseball cards for about as long as teams have been playing the sport. Japan has had professional baseball since the Great Japan Tokyo Baseball Club (which later became the Yomiuri Giants) formed in 1934, shortly after Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and other American stars […]

Once Upon a Tie

If a tie’s pattern does not readily identify it as one of Italo Ferretti’s designs, then its construction should. Ferretti, a 64-year-old tie maker from Silvi Marina, Italy, has been producing neckwear for Brioni since the 1970s (except for a recent, brief hiatus) and for his own, namesake label since 1967. His brand’s ties had […]

Robb Report Car of the Year 2008: Steering Committee

Charles Banks co-owns Napa’s Screaming Eagle Winery and is a member of CSI Capital Advisory Board, a wealth management firm.   Scott Bodenweber is CFO of Hudson Capital Group, an investment firm based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.   Anthony Brill is a partner in the Los Angeles law office of Baker & Hostetler. He devotes […]

All the Tees in China

My tee shot on the third hole of the Mission Hills Golf Club’s newest course, a Pete Dye design that opened in September, has found the first cut of rough. Given that my drives on the first two holes of this 6,800-yard layout in Shenzhen, China, landed in the fescue beyond the cut, the shot […]

Time: The Re-Animator

Swiss watches served as a kind of appetizer during Pascal Raffy’s childhood in Lebanon. Before the family’s Sunday dinners, Raffy’s grandfather would show off pieces from his collection to Raffy and his cousins, teaching them about complications and marks of high quality and how to assess rarity. Raffy, who is now in his early 40s, […]

FrontRunners: From the Robb Cellar

Tradition permeates the history of Laphroaig as thoroughly as peat smoke does the distillery’s whiskies. This sense of tradition, from the beginning, has taken the form of a certain stubbornness—as was the case in 1745, when the McCabe brothers’ loyalty to James II during the Second Jacobite Rebellion forced them to change their name to […]

Robb Report Car of the Year 2008: No. 3 Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet

Impulse Purchase. After 40-odd years of refining the 911, Porsche has created automotive perfection. The Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet may not have garnered as many first-place votes as either the Audi R8 or the Ferrari 599, but it dominated our unofficial “Will Buy” category, which, had it counted for points, easily would have given Porsche […]

Robb Report Car of the Year 2008: No. 8 Maserati Granturismo

In It for the Long Haul. The suave, Pininfarina-penned shape of the Maserati GranTurismo coupe makes a promise that the car’s performance does not deliver. While its appearance screams track star, beneath all that sculpted sheet metal is the Quattroporte sedan’s portly platform. Capable of reaching 60 mph in just over five seconds, Maserati’s new […]

Robb Report Car of the Year 2008: No. 9 Lamborghini LP640 Roadster

All Revved Up. Lamborghini does not simply build high-powered exotic sports cars; it creates sensations, and after I climbed out of the LP640 Roadster, my first impulse was to bum a cigarette. This sexpot from Sant’Agata is an orgiastic combination of brute strength, deafening noise, and visual audaciousness. It may not possess the finesse of […]

Robb Report Car of the Year 2008: No. 12 BMW M6 Convertible

Downshifted. To anyone who has driven BMW’s M6 Convertible, it may come as a surprise that the car is available with a manual transmission. However, judging from the judges’ comments, the 7-speed sequential manual gearbox (SMG), which acts like an automatic, is entirely responsible for the car’s position as the lowest-ranking member of our European […]

Robb Report Car of the Year 2008: No. 13 Saleen S302 Extreme

Mustang with the Most Horses. Although I cannot quite put my finger on it, something about the shape of the S302 Extreme seems familiar. Seriously, though, Saleen’s extreme modifications have rendered the Ford Mustang almost unrecognizable. Saleen’s 620 hp supercharged V-8 (the second most potent engine in this group, next to the Lamborghini’s) overpowers even […]

One Last Thing…

The Item. This original, 40-by-60-inch promotional poster for Forbidden Planet shows the 1956 film’s real star, Robby the Robot, carrying a supine Anne Francis. Considered one of the best science-fiction movies of its era, Forbidden Planet marked the screen debut of Robby, cinema’s first robot with a personality. In the film, Robby bantered with astronauts […]

Robb Report Car of the Year 2008: Jury of Your Peers

As contrasts go, this one was a doozy. In the green corner was the Napa Valley Reserve, 80 acres of natural splendor that could convert an atheist into a creationist. In the not-so-eco-conscious corner was a group of 14 supercars, which collectively produce 7,270 hp. The two elements were as disparate as a California-cultivated Cabernet […]