'18 Top Marques _ 15th Anniversary

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After 67 years of faithful service Land Rover discontinued production of their legendary Defender in 2016. It was first introduced at the Amsterdam Motor Show in 1948 as "Series I" and while its career spanned over six decades, it never actually changed. Not really. It was a simple recipe. A sturdy, reliable off-road vehicle capable of climbing walls and fording rivers. There's a lot you expect from a Defender, and not a lot can surprise you, and what you always expect is the sonorous, raucous diesel rattle. Well, no. You don't actually hear that in the Twisted Defender I'm sitting in. Twisted Automotive, a tuning company from Yorkshire, put a very loud 6,2L V8 in the Defender. They also removed the roof and the result is very Monegasque. Big, lazy V8, auto gearbox, millions of miles of headroom and off you go.

The reason I'm saying this is because I've been thinking about what luxury, both as a word and as a concept, actually means. Logic dictates that "luxury" means you're able to buy what you want, and the marketing department of any international business would tell you that it means you're free to do what you want. Which is true, but also limitative. I think what it really means is you're able to choose your own weather. A lot of people spend time and money and energy chasing warm weather, waiting for Summer and the sun. If you're in the money, you don't have to chase it or wait, you just go wherever it's warm. It's always summertime to you because it's always 5 PM, 30 degrees and sunny somewhere in the world. That's luxury.

For 15 years, the Top Marques Supercar Show in Monaco has been the pinnacle of automotive luxury. It began in 2004, solely about cars, then it evolved and reinvented itself and now, in 2018, you can go to the Grimaldi Forum, take a look at the amazing creations from Galerie Birch, go for a spin in the 430 BHP Defender and end your day with a sip of Vodka or eat a chocolate with edible gold flakes in it (actual pure gold). And I know this because that's exactly what I did.

If you only care about cars you don't have to worry, because this year's edition featured Zenvo (also available for test drive), the Corbellati, Aston Martin Monaco, Tesla, Brabus, Donkervoort, Shelby and Tushek. I could go on... and so I shall. There was the Honda NSX (Groupe Cavallari), Klassen and the absolutely incredible Apollo Intensa Emozione. A lot of media people always like to explain how they've caused a "stir" when pulling up in their borrowed supercar or other. Well, it's a lie. It isn't accurate enough. Because what you get when driving around in a supercar in Monaco is mild attention, what the Apollo I.E. got was chaotic obsession. Just go on YouTube and search for "Apollo-Monaco" to get an idea.

I have to admit, I'm biased when it comes to the Top Marques. They could have a Fiat Multipla on display, and a couple of tuned Subarus and I'd still say it's the best show in the world. However, I don't have to do that. I don't have to tell you how relevant it is, I don't have to convince you. All I have to do is shut up, stop writing and just let you look at the pictures.

In fact, I'm going to do this now.

See you next year.

Monaco, 19-22 April 2018

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