Car of the Year 2006


14 World-class automobiles compete: Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley, BMW, Cadillac, Corvette, Ferrari, Fisker, Lexus, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, Range Rover, Spyker and Vider chase the title.

From This Issue

FrontRunner: New Flame

The quest for fire takes a sophisticated turn with this month’s debut of Luminesse Sculptures, a new collection of oil lamps from Los Angeles model/designer Dayna Decker (866.586.3847, Priced from $200 to $500, the lamps feature minimalist rosewood and white laminate pedestals that range from 4.75 to 10.75 inches tall and from 5.75 to […]

Furnishings: Iron Skilled

In her previous career designing gardens within buildings, Pamela Worley often employed iron sculpture. “I like the weight of it,” says the Texas native, adding that her affinity for wrought iron, as well as steel and aluminum, stems from her appreciation of antique Spanish metal furniture. “I love the elaborately designed light fixtures and the […]

Appliances: Undercounter Culture

When in 2000 the BBC presented a retrospective of items that have become symbolic of 20th-century design, it included the Coca-Cola bottle, the VW Beetle, and the Aga stove. A hundred years from now, the BBC may be able to revisit the cooker—as the Brits call it—and feature it as a 21st-century design icon.   […]

FrontRunner: Trunk Palace

At Paris’ Hôtel de Crillon (+,, the elephant in the room cannot be ignored. The hotel’s Baccarat crystal sculpture, originally created for the Exposition Universelle in 1878 and given to the Crillon in 1990, now occupies a marble platform at the bar in the Jardin d’Hiver (winter garden), a newly renovated space adjacent to […]

FrontRunner: Taking It to the Extreme

The challenging terrain at Aspen Highlands (800.525.6200, helps the resort lure expert skiers away from Aspen Mountain and other high-profile neighbors. Highlights at the ski area include the heart-shaped Highland Bowl, which sprawls beneath the resort’s 12,392-foot summit and offers a gut-wrenching vertical charge of steep pitches and chutes. Until recently, however, the arduous […]

Travel: Up to Speed

When the winter olympics begin this month in Turin, the world will discover what Italians long have known about this industrial hub: Turin is built for speed. This is the city, after all, that became the capital of the European automotive industry in 1922, when Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino, or Fiat, unveiled Lingotto, a futuristic, […]

Robb Design Portfolio: Power Puff

Designing a metal pipe that does not burn a smoker’s hand may not be as challenging as making a 16-cylinder engine that generates 987 hp, but it is an engineering feat nonetheless. When Integral Logistics, a Sunrise, Fla., company, secured the rights to create Bugatti smoking accessories in 2000, its executives wanted to offer humidors, […]

FrontRunner: From the Robb Cellar

Cambria 2002 Pinot Noir Clone 23, clone 115, and clone 667 When more-inventive efforts at description fail, the wine critic often falls back on the stock conceit of labeling the wines at hand as masculine and feminine, like Noah pairing up his cargo of beasts. Thus, readers of the wine press are treated regularly to […]

FrontRunner: Primitive Refinement

The latest creation from Xikar (888.266.1193, would seem equally at home in either the Museum of Modern Art or the American Museum of Natural History. Cigar cognoscenti already considered the company’s Xi3 cutter a classic, perhaps the finest ever built, but now Xikar has added a prehistoric accent to its contemporary design: handles crafted […]

FrontRunner: Select Smoke

  Puros AchEPuros Indios cigar company founder Rolando Reyes dictated the formula for Puros Ache, a Honduran blend with flavors as distinct as its moniker (Spanish for “pure luck,” not “pure ache”). In particular, the buttery wrapper of the medium-bodied Colorado Claro Churchill will charm even the most jaded smoker with its complex nose and […]

Dining: Fresh Vegetables

Farmer lee jones prides himself on being ahead of dining trends. He enjoys introducing chefs to novel herbs, greens, and vegetables, but on at least one occasion he failed to spot what would become the next big thing in culinary circles. In the late summer of 1994, Jones recalls, he drove past a couple hundred […]

Wine: Royal Red and White

War is often acknowledged as the shaper of destinies, but seldom as the shaper of wines. Yet the ancient winemaking tradition of Champagne took a major evolutionary step in 1914, when a young cavalry officer was stationed at the Château de la Marquetterie near Epernay during World War I. The 18th-century château, situated among sprawling […]

Spirits: Continental Imbibe

Spring on the savannas of southern Africa arrives with an aromatic flourish, thanks to the bold tropical-floral scent of the fruit of the native marula tree. Yet this close cousin to the mango offers Africans more than an indication of the changing season. The tree—dubbed “the great provider”—presides majestically over the sub-Saharan grasslands (the only […]

Art: Carving His Own Niche

The way a stonecarver holds his chisel can reveal much about his skills and his training, and in the case of Walter Arnold, his grip earned him the biggest break of his stonecarving career. In 1971, Arnold, who now operates his own 3,000-square-foot home workshop and showroom in Elgin, Ill., applied unsuccessfully to join the […]

Leisure: Lost in Translation

Tonight’s party in the atrium of New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum has not yet begun, and the excitement already is reaching fever pitch. By the doorway a scrum line has formed between several hundred fashionably attired guests anxious to enter and guards determined, for the moment, to keep them out. Inside, the preparty photo […]

Back Page: Truth or Consequences

The Michelin Guide’s publishers are notorious for refusing to specify the criteria they use for granting a restaurant their highest, three-star rating. But apparently the Michelin folks have expensive tastes, because, as noted in this month’s account of the guide’s debut in New York City (“Lost in Translation,” page 161), the costs of operating a […]

FrontRunner: Into Thin Air

To prepare his body for the stress of ascending Mexico’s Orizaba (18,700 feet) and Iztaccihuatl (17,340 feet) volcanoes in a five-day span last year, Explorers Club president Richard Wiese simply showed up for work. There, in his office at the Manhattan-based adventure and research society, Wiese confined himself to a 9-by-7-by-7-foot aluminum and vinyl altitude […]

Collectibles: Keeping It Reel

With a boast from one of the soon-to-be partners, Joe Janciuras and Fred Balling began their foray into the replica reel business. After seeing one of Balling’s fly reel auctions on eBay in fall 2004, Janciuras, a retiree in New York state, contacted the West Cornwall, Conn., vintage fishing tackle dealer and asked if he […]

Sport: Polar Express

Churchill, Manitoba, has been called “a town built in the wrong place,” not because it is located 700 miles from its gateway city, Winnipeg, or because no roads lead there. (Visitors must arrive by plane or train.) Rather, it is a town that gets in the way of the polar bears that roam the area […]

FrontRunner: Smooth Operators

The Monaco Groom Center from Parisian manufacturer Hommage (817.229.0300, could make you actually look forward to a morning shave. In addition to displaying sculptural curves that are intended to evoke its namesake principality (Shanghai, Chicago, and Stockholm are among Hommage’s other shaving sets), the Monaco center ($390 as shown) also has more practical attributes: […]

FrontRunner: Making Scents

Selecting a fragrance is a personal exercise, and no scent could be more personal than one custom-made from scratch. Last fall, Jean Patou Paris (+ introduced Parfum-Couture, a program that invites women to participate in the development of their own fragrance. Jean Patou’s master perfumer, Jean-Michel Duriez, meets with each client in Paris (or in […]

FrontRunner: Art In A Box

Italian jeweler Paolo Piovan’s diamond pavé snake bracelet sinuously wraps around the wearer’s wrist before culminating at a large ruby head tipped with a yellow diamond tongue. Such flamboyance is a hallmark of Piovan (800.443.1479), who views his craft as a particularly challenging form of art. While some artists work with large canvases, Piovan and […]

Wardrobe: Changing Course

When David Chu sold his Nautica clothing brand in 2003 to VF Corp. for more than $585 million, the designer and businessman envisioned whiling away his days on the golf course. But after only nine days of indulging in his favorite pastime, he became restless and realized the life of leisure was not for him. […]

Jewelry: Yankee Swap

Nearly a decade ago, fourth-generation jeweler Walter McTeigue resigned his position as Harry Winston’s buyer for diamonds, gemstones, and estate jewelry, and purchased a dairy farm in the Berkshires. Milking cows seven days a week, however, proved not as romantic as he thought it would be when he had envisioned the country life from his […]

Time: Revisionist History

Nicolas Hayek did something that every serious watch collector only fantasizes about: He ordered the reproduction of Abraham-Louis Breguet’s most coveted creation, the so-called Marie-Antoinette pocket watch. An acquaintance of the French queen, possibly her lover, commissioned the original timepiece, which, with every then-known complication under a transparent rock-crystal dial, was the most complicated watch […]

Contributors: Judges, Jury, and Executors

Few assignments are as enviable as the one that requires some of our staff members to join a select group of readers and spend a couple of days each autumn at and around Napa Valley’s Meadowood resort, driving the Car of the Year contestants. But serving as an organizer, judge, and chronicler of Robb Report’s […]

From the Editors: Taking Stock of Bond

His tastes were sophisticated, his manners refined, his appearance elegant. To quote one admirer, “He looks very clean.” He drank the best wines and drove the finest automobiles, and he regularly demonstrated his nerve and his proficiency at high-stakes card games. And had he come along 25 years or more later, he might even have […]

Robb Design Portfolio: Natural Born Killer

The rapture’s menacing appearance is no accident: Paul Yang and Larry Nagel of Dreamcraft Studios wanted to evoke a futuristic war machine with this prototype bike, which they debuted at the Los Angeles Calendar Motorcycle Show last summer. Intended to intimidate everything on the road—passenger cars included—the bike features such stylistic elements as winglike gas […]

Car of the Year 2006: Ferrari F430 Spider

Wine is art in a glass,” William Curtis, CEO of Robb Report’s parent company, CurtCo Media, posited to our Car of the Year coterie during a dinner toast at one of the Napa Valley wineries that helped to host the event. Harvest season had just come to a close, and so it was a good […]

Car of the Year 2006: Bentley Continental Flying Spur

The Bentley Continental GT, Robb Report’s Car of the Year for 2004, has added a set of doors, a Flying Spur appellation, and almost another trophy for the display case in Crewe. Even when compared directly to the newly crowned Car of the Year, the Ferrari F430, the Flying Spur holds its own. Both cars […]

Car of the Year 2006: Aston Martin V8 Vantage

The V8 Vantage upends the notion that an automaker’s most expensive vehicle is its most desirable. According to the consensus of our judges—who last year crowned the Aston Martin DB9 as Car of the Year winner—this two-seat sports GT offers the British marque’s best drive. The Vantage betters the DB9 and the bespoke Aston Martin […]

Car of the Year 2006: Maserati GranSport

The GranSport is a refinement of Maserati’s Coupé Cambiocorsa, with extra power, tighter suspension, aggressive but tasteful bodywork, and interior options that set this sports GT apart from every other car in its class. Former design chief Frank Stephenson’s muscular update of Italdesign-Giugiaro’s original form appears handsome and purposeful—as opposed to Aston Martin pretty—and resonated […]

Car of the Year 2006: Mercedes-Benz CLS55 AMG

What a difference $22,000, a supercharger, some transmission reprogramming, bigger wheels, beefier brakes, tighter suspension, classier trim, and a couple of discreet AMG badges will make. They transform a CLS500—ostensibly a Mercedes E-Class with bold architecture that makes the four-door look like a two-door—into the CLS55 AMG, from the performance division of Mercedes-Benz that routinely […]

Car of the Year 2006: Chevrolet Corvette Z06

Here was the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 joining Seabiscuit, Jim Braddock, and the ’55 Brooklyn Dodgers as an underdog but sentimental favorite. Most of the judges were willing this snapdragon yellow, beautifully drawn, perfectly poised sports car to win or at least to leave our field of dream cars with its shield, Old Glory, and its […]

Car of the Year 2006: Audi A8 L W12

Audi’s A8 L W12 was the tuxedo in our wardrobe of beautifully tailored driving machines. It carried itself with Department of State formality on a wheelbase of near-limousine dimensions. The deep, bottomless azure paint coating its exterior added to the car’s evening-wear elegance, and with enough insulation to reduce a Boston Pops performance to an echo, […]

Car of the Year 2006: BMW M5

Few events stir more memorable moments than baseball season openers; the third Thursday of every November, when the Beaujolais Nouveau is uncorked; and the introduction of any BMW bearing an M badge. That single initial always has designated the addition of a Motorsports performance package to BMW’s sedans and coupes, which already drive dramatically quick […]

Car of the Year 2006: Lexus RX400h

Although it is equipped with the industry’s best navigation system, the Lexus RX400h still managed to arrive one day late to our annual soiree. But if you are going to show up tardy to this party, you had better be attractive and have a stellar personality, or you will risk being snubbed. Like that of […]

Car of the Year 2006: Spyker C8 Spyder

First things first: The Spyker C8 Spyder received my vote for 2006 Car of the Year. Although driven by emotion, my ballot choice is nonetheless defensible; the Spyker is the car among this group that I would most like to own. That it does not represent sensible daily transportation—a point that also could be made […]

Car of the Year 2006: Fisker Tramonto

Those not familiar with former BMW designer Henrik Fisker or his Irvine, Calif., company, Fisker Coachbuild (and many of our Car of the Year judges were not), can think of him as a kind of custom tailor who, using only the most exclusive materials, will nip and tuck your Mercedes SL55 AMG or BMW M6 […]

Car of the Year 2006: Land Rover Range Rover Sport

Seldom is heard a discouraging word when home on the range with any Land Rover. Since 1948, the name has been synonymous with superb off-roading, all forms of agribusiness, and most military forces. More than three decades ago, Land Rover introduced the Range Rover, which established a standard for luxury sport-utility vehicles that has yet […]

Car of the Year 2006: Dodge Viper SRT-10 Coupe

Like its poor reptilian namesake, the Dodge Viper is a misunderstood creature. Regarded by most of the judges as a brute beast lacking the manners befitting a civilized motorcar, the raucous coupe found few ardent fans among our drivers. But those who knew better—the drivers with competition experience and the knowledge that there is no […]

Car of the Year 2006: Cadillac STS-V

Patterned after m-wearing BMWs and AMG-badged Mercedes-Benz cars, V-Series Cadillacs pack more performance than the average Caddy. In building the STS-V, the hot rod version of its stately STS sedan, Cadillac affixed a supercharger to its Northstar V-8, creating the marque’s most powerful engine ever. Fitted neatly under the STS-V’s bulging hood, this V-8 breathes […]

Car of the Year 2006: Competition Judges: The Driving Force

Jim Abramshas started several successful businesses, including VenVest, a venture capital company in Sarasota, Fla.   Bob Bailey, chairman of Racemark International, was a member of a Porsche America Racing Team that won the 24 Hours of Daytona GT class. Maria Bartiromo hosts CNBC’s nationally syndicated The Wall Street Journal Report with Maria Bartiromo and […]

FrontRunner: Rocket Ship

Part megayacht, part missile, the Pershing 90 (, a scaled-down version of the Ferretti-owned Italian builder’s flagship 115, blends spacious accommodations with performance—a top speed faster than 50 mph—that is amazing for a boat of its size.   The 90’s main deck, characterized by open space, high headroom, and minimalist decor, holds a U-shaped sofa […]

Aircraft: One and Perhaps Done

The Hondajet offers everything you would want in a business jet—speed, fuel efficiency, and a comfortable cabin—but you can’t have the airplane. The designer says it will fly as fast as 480 mph, operate at altitudes as high as 41,000 feet, and have a range of 1,200 miles. The Honda Motor Co. claims the aircraft […]

Boating: Kick in the RIBs

A navy seals tour of duty or a Greenpeace crusade would present the opportunity to experience the capabilities of a rigid inflatable boat, aka RIB, the preferred watercraft for both entities. However, for those who are less committed and less daring, Kangaroo Island Marine Tours offers a RIB adventure off the southern coast of Australia. The […]

Car of the Year 2006: The Competition

It was perhaps worth the reader’s while to pause at the threshold of so much automotive wit and wisdom to weigh the value of a “Car of the Year” feature in what is, properly speaking, a lifestyle magazine. Certainly, inquiring readers can choose from a variety of dedicated car digests whose editors have scoured the […]