Oh, 2009. Our maiden year proved to be an exciting one, and the world of luxury, despite the financial crisis, kept churning out weird cars, glamorous yachts, top of the line business jets, odd watches and geeky motorcycles. We even caught glimpse of a personal submarine here and there - not to mention the miniature hand built WWII bomber...
However, some of the toys that showed up here on James Spotting gathered more attention than others. The perhaps famous example would be the already legendary (has the bloody thing even been made yet?) PROMBRON. Back in October, news broke that Russian ultra-luxury group DARTZ were planning to build an SUV (or tank, depending what mood you're in) featuring, among other pretty tasteless things, a leather interior made out of whale penises (presumably several). The blogosphere quickly caught on - the article was our most well-read in 2009 - and our Russian friends quickly became the talk of the town. So much so that the fame spilled over into the "real" world when Greenpeace and distinguished (apparently) friend of animals Pamela Anderson got their teeth into Dartz. The press release has to be read to be believed - same goes for its follow-up, too.
A less controversial addition to the inventory here at JamesList was when the Maltese Falcon turned up on the site in May. At the end of summer, the 289ft monster hybrid yacht was reported as sold but only after a €29 million price cut (from the original €99 million), to an undisclosed buyer. After winning the Perini Navi Cup in September, the Falcon's new owner was eventually revealed to be hedge fund wizz Elena Ambrosiadou. After all, keeping the fact that you've spent the equivalent of the GNP of a small country on a boat secret might be difficult in the long run.
Those were arguably the biggest stories of 2009. But what about our personal favorites? The writing staff here at James Spotting are never late to boldly express their opinions about things they like... and things they don't. However, in the spirit of maintaining contentment with the past and optimism for the future, I managed to gather the tribe here at JamesList who were happy to share some of their favorite gadgets of 2009 - along with some predictions for the new decade. In typical dictatorial fashion, I'll put myself in the spotlight first.
It was without a doubt the year of the Rolls-Royce; nothing came close to the two eye-popping models from different eras owned by titled types – one real, one extremely dubious – that crossed our pages. We’re talking of course about the Prince of Brothels’ Louis Vuitton-bedecked Phantom Drophead, and the famous Star of India. The first perhaps the world’s most vulgar Rolls, the second the world’s most expensive.
Elsewhere in the world of ultra-high end autos, we were particularly impressed by the Holland & Holland Range Rover by Overfinch for sporting country types; the Mansory Vincero Bugatti Veyron, for, well, extremely rich oil sheikhs; and the UK-made Prindville Prestige Lamborghini for those who eschew mere off-the-rack supercars.
And in the concept car realm, the two most promising projects among a number of strong contenders were Bruno Delussu’s resto-futuristic Bugatti Stratos concept, based on the famed Type 57; and Iulian Bumbu’s awesome BMW S.X., which will be the sportiest Bimmer ever if it goes into prodution some day.
On to private jets. We saw the debut of both the Emivest SJ30, the world’s fastest, longest range and highest flying light jet; and the Sukhol Superjet, the only one made in Siberia. For pure aesthetics however neither matched the Falcon 7X designed by Lord Foster for NetJets.
In the powerboat category, we were wild about the muscle-bound Magnum Marine 80 designed by the famed house of Pininfarina, with its razor-sharp lines; and the out-there Code-X High performance hybrid sports boat, straight out of Battlestar Gallactica.
Sailing wise, the 58-metre Ethereal, designed by Ron Holland and built by Royal Huisman, represented the ultimate in eco-luxury; while Azzura Marine dazzled us with their sleek-lined, super-stylish carbon fibre cruiser-racer, the Marten 49.
Moving on to motos, we saw a pack of electric superbikes set new records but none so advanced as the Motoczysz E1PC, whose instrument panel consists entirely of an iPhone; the Confederate C120 Renaissance Fighter meanwhile stole the show for killer looks.
That concludes the first part of the 2009 JamesList Year in Review. Click here to read part 2, with some more dazzling input from our writers.