What's also different is the behavior of a steadily increasing number of luxury sports car owners, who no longer seem to buy their cars for their enjoyment, but mainly to flaunt their riches. To quote Vladimir Putin, of all people, supercar ownership by certain folks is synonymous with wearing gold teeth.
I'm not even talking about those gold “Grills” worn by some rappers in hip hop videos from ten years ago, but actual teeth implants. In relation to the increased popularity of an Instagram account called “richrussiankids,” Putin had this to say: “In Soviet times, some people used to flaunt their wealth by implanting gold teeth, ideally front teeth, in order to demonstrate the size of their fortune. Lamborghinis and other expensive toys are exactly those gold teeth.”
Now, buying a blacked out Mercedes-AMG G65 tuned by Brabus or driving around in a pearl-white Lamborghini Aventador is nowhere near to being considered a crime. But, some things are more well-suited in places like Monaco or Dubai, not Moscow's dirty streets. Things like driving a six-figure luxury car that most people who see it will never afford even if they sell all of their possessions and most of their body parts.
The Russian economy is not only in a recession, but the sanctions imposed by Western countries and low oil prices have crippled purchasing power for everyone but the 1 percenters.
Apparently, almost 20 million Russians, which translates into slightly less than 15 percent of the entire population of the country is currently living on less than the poverty threshold. To put things into perspective, the minimum subsistence level determined by the Russian government in the fourth quarter of 2015 was 9,452 rubles (about $147). Those 20 million live on less than that.
From that point of reference, the rich Russian kids of Instagram look even worse, and most people take it on the cars, since they're apparently the new gold teeth and used only as a symbol of wealth. By the way, I realize that the analogy could probably work in a significant number of countries, but it's probably more evident in Russia, mainly because of the details mentioned above.
My personal view on this is a bit mixed, since, like most of you guys, I'm obviously a fan of sports cars and luxury cars, even those that cost an arm and a leg. If I somehow would become incredibly rich over night I would probably rock a couple of Porsches, Lotuses, and AMGs as well, but not because they're flashy and expensive, but because I love them. I get the ideas behind them, why they were developed and designed that way in the first place.
I find that their pricing is only secondary to other qualities, like design, performance or craftsmanship. I see a lot of supercars and especially hypercars as works of art on wheels, not merely symbols of wealth, though that doesn't necessarily make me correct.
Sure, Ferrari is notorious for being extremely picky with its customers, but that doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of Ferrari-owning douchebags. Heck, there are probably a couple of flat-brimmed hats-wearing guys who own Paganis and Koenigseggs out there, even though in theory they shouldn't be part of the demographics that Horacio or Christian thought of when they were designing their hypercars.
To trim this harangue a bit, I'm only trying to say that there isn't a carmaker out there that designs cars specifically for douchenozzles. Luxury cars are made to provide superior comfort, while supercars and hypercars only aim to offer tremendous performance. Incidentally, all of those traits cost money, and since wealth doesn't always arrive hand in hand with taste, things like richrussiankids Instagram accounts happen.
Paraphrasing Saint Augustine, Mahatma Gandhi once said that you should hate the sin and not the sinner. In this case, maybe you shouldn't hate the sin of owning an expensive car, but the reasons for doing so.