Well, yes it is. But that’s no reason not to do it. I mean, what else are you going to do in Monaco? Unless you’re the kind of person who is happily granted entry to the Hotel de Paris or you’re a diehard Formula One anorak, there’s no real reason to come here other than to witness obscene wealth of others. It does have a certain charm, but Monaco doesn’t really offer anything that can’t be found elsewhere on the French Riviera.
However like most readers of Any Given Reason I’m into cars and boats and rally and Formula One, so Monaco was a must-see destination while recently traveling around the Riviera. And the cool thing about not giving a damn about obscene wealth is that I had no issue with attempting to fit in or looking like a tourist, which meant I had no issue with taking photos of the cars.
The heart of Monaco and the centre of its ‘supercar barrel’ is Casino Square, the tourist filled block of land that acts as the valet area for the most opulent and exclusive hotels and casinos in the Principality.
It’s impossible for mere mortals to gain entry to the casinos, but if you can stand the throng of tourists and the wealthy showing off in front of them it’s worth a recurring visit to the Square as the lineup is constantly changing. One moment there will be a New Jersey registered Rolls Royce Corniche…
To create the Stallone, Mansory takes a perfectly good F12, adds a whole bunch of carbon trinkets, paints it in garish colour scheme (skunk inspired, in this case), makes the exhaust louder and gives it a shade more power. Quite how a small German tuning company thinks they can improve on possibly the most incredible road-going V12 of all time, I’m not sure. But there you go.
The Stallone highlights everything that is wrong with exotic cars today. The F12 is more car than any person can handle, especially on the road, and there is zero reason to modify it. It is perfect. But old mate down the road can buy an identical one, and we don’t want that, do we?
Truly standing out in Monaco takes a little more imagination, which is why I think this Lamborghini LM002 is far more interesting. Any Russian billionaire can buy a Mansory, but I truly respect any person who decides to tackle the city in an off-road dune buster powered by an old Lamborghini V12 with six Weber carbies. Later that night I saw this LM002 parked on the strip outside a nice restaurant, which takes a lot of guts. I wouldn’t want hundreds of the most judgmental people in the world staring at me as I attempt to leave, trying to feed fuel down twelve individual carburetor throats madly hoping the thirty year old twelve cylinder fires into life. I’d prefer to save that potential embarrassment for the privacy of my garage, thankyou very much.
From the Z8 we go to another V8 powered, rear-wheel drive car – the Chevrolet SSR. Possibly the only car that doesn’t know if its a ute or a convertible sports car. Not my cup of tea but bonus points for being different, and huge kudos to Chevrolet for actually building this thing. The world needs more cars like this.
This incredibly rare Fiat 600 Jolly Ghia, complete with wicker seats, attracted far more attention than the Rolls’ and Bentley’s surrounding it. The Jolly was conceived in 1958 as shore transportation for the owners of large yachts, and was designed to be small enough to unload once docked. They cost almost twice the price of a regular 600, and it is thought that there are fewer than 100 are remaining today.
Back to the cars, and like any big city the best of the supercar stock in Monaco isn’t just sitting on the side of the road, you’ve got to go searching for it. It’s not like you’ll just see a Veyron parked on its own… okay, this one was an exception.
The funny thing about the underground carparks is not just the exotica you find, but the truly suspicious vehicles. Look at that long wheelbase Cadillac limousine up the back there – it was fitted with inch thick bulletproof glass. What kind of person deems it necessary to own a car like that? It was at this point I decided it was best to put the camera away and get out of there quicksmart.
At the rear of the workshop was a 250 Spider undergoing the final stages of an extensive and meticulous restoration. I simply can’t think of a more perfect car to tackle the hills above Monaco late at night than this, the Colombo V12 echoing off the rock faces high in the hills. I hope it gets used in this manner once complete.
The passion for motorsport runs deep in Monaco, and it is almost impossible to explore the principality without continually stumbling on various landmarks. It might be the La Rascasse Casino, lending its name to the famous Rascasse hairpin…
… and the throttle pinned wide open as I passed another scooter around the outside through the tunnel, then hard on the brakes as I dipped down into the Marina. This all took place at about 40km/h, but it might as well have been 140. You can’t legally ride a scooter through Casino Square thus making a full lap impossible, but so keen was I to film a complete lap that I ignored the yells of the Police and did it anyway. It was quite a laugh to thread the Vespa through the Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s and stunned onlookers to complete the full lap, however the video is one that will be firmly staying off the internet.
… and bid farewell to one of the most contradicting places I’ve visited. By definition I thought I would hate this place – chain Louis Vuitton stores and superyacht owners have a way of homogenizing the world into one big popularity contest, and I’d much rather explore a muddy backroad or meet an eccentric mechanic than witness an immaculately manicured playboy park his Ferrari outside a cafe. But…. there’s an undeniable charm to the place. It has an old money, old world taste that is difficult to replicate, and I think I like it.
It doesn’t hurt that there are some stunning vistas and some frankly excellent driving roads within short reach, either. Given this, my visit to Monaco wouldn’t be complete without riding the star of the Rallye Monte Carlo, the most famous rally stage in the world…
… the Col De Turini. The rally stage passes up to the top of the 1607m summit, and then races back down again through hairpin bends; knee-high rock walls your only protection from falling off into space.
… but it is the hairpin bends that the stage is most famous for. During the rally, tens of thousands of people cling onto the rock face and cheer their heroes on through the snow and ice covered stage.
The Col de Turini is most famously run as a night stage where the slicing headlights as the cars duck and weave around the hairpins has earned it the nickname “Night of the long knives”. It’s often past midnight, it’s snowing and freezing cold, yet the fans still come in their thousands. I found myself camping that night at the bottom, so went for a midnight ride up and back down again to experience the ‘long knives’ for myself.
The Veyron’s and the Bentley’s down in the Principality are nice to see, but this was by far the most impressive and humbling experience of my time in Monaco.
Words and photos by Andrew Coles