Photos: China’s playboys’ supercar club gives Dubai a run for its money
October 11, 2011Jing GaoOne CommentBMW, chinese red cross, display of wealth, Guo Meimei, hatred for the rich, Lamborghini, luxury, Oriental Outlook, rich second-generation, Sports Car Club, Sports cars
SIC Club Challenge at Shanghai International Circuit is the single biggest supercar gathering in China. Among all cars and racers that show up at the annual event, “Sports Car Club” (SCC) is a tight-knit, elite automotive enthusiast group of 500 registered members, almost all of whom are either corporate heads or the rich second generation.
The most recent time when the word of “supercar” caught on and became all the rage is because of Guo Meimei, a rich girl who boasted about her splurge while posing as a Chinese Red Cross manager on the immensely popular microblogging service Sina Weibo with million-dollar cars and a dozen designer handbags, which mired both herself and Chinese Red Cross in corruption scandal and public outrage.
Zhang Kuan, founder and organizer of the Beijing-based SCC told the magazine Oriental Outlook half-jokingly, “Those who do street-racing are never the real rich people. What they drive are not the best sports cars either. The real deals are all babied in the private villas. The real racers are hidden underground.”
“The public nowadays envy, grudge, and hate rich people and the rich second generation in a one-sided and overwhelming manner, which has put pretty big pressure on those who play with supercars,” Zhang Kuan said. Zhang, 32, prefers to describe himself as a self-made supercar lover. He said, sports cars that are priced at around RMB 4 or 5 million are people’s favorite.
“Men’s attraction to cars is bred in the bone. I have been fond of sports cars since I was little. But I am not a car enthusiast. My first look at the real Lamborghini was in 1994 in the movie Rumble in the Bronx (by Jackie Chan).” Zhang Kuan bought his first car, Volkswagen Santana, in 1998. At the end of 2007, his roaring business enabled him to buy a Ferrari.
Zhang found some kindred spirits in a few online clubs for luxurious cars. They decided to found a club for supercars. Soon, 13 super cars gathered. “At first, we simply wanted to find people to hang out with. We never expected that Beijing has so many supercar owners. Then we realized many of them lurked there and remained low-key to avoid unwanted attention and trouble,” Zhang said.
So far, SCC has more than 500 members from all over the country, and is still growing. “We have been constantly raising the threshold for membership. At first a BMW M3 would qualify. Now it has to be a Porsche 911 at the very least.”
Zhang Kuan said that car lovers who started from scratch like him account for about 30% of all supercar owners. “From my point of view, I simply bought sports cars with the money that others would’ve used for an investment in the real estate market. Besides, sports cars of limited edition will increase in value. Buying a sports car is not as hard as people have thought.”
By his definition, the cheapest “supercar” can be bought for RMB 1.2 to 1.3 million in China, (US$185,000 to 200,000) whereas high-performance cars that are priced at around RMB 4 and 5 million (US$620,000 to 770,000) are people’s favorite.