So, you already know about what under-the-radar exotic you’ll need to squirrel away to make it rich at a Pebble Beach auction 50 years from today, the best performance cars to get for any budget and the best homologation special hypercars to get if you don’t know what to do with your billions.
But what if you’re a stylish nomad that loves driving long distances frequently? After all, the ancient Mongols understood that a life lived on the move needn’t mean having to sleep and eat like a hobo.
The golden age of motoring during the interwar years, too, understood this with more legendary super-fast, super-luxe Bentleys and Bugattis than you could shake a stick at.
And while the grand tourer—a breed of car that blends presence, performance and practicality—never really went away, now is probably the best time to get one.
If we may be so bold, we’re living in the second automotive golden age. Advances in materials technology (high-strength lightweight steels, aluminium and carbon fibre) have made it so that a car can be made bigger without the associated crippling weight penalty.
Turbocharging has made it so that specific outputs of around 150hp/litre isn’t too uncommon. And lastly, electronic systems in the form of driver aids and/or chassis trickery has made driving quickly easier and safer than ever before.
And these cars are the best of the grand tourer breed, the perfect sort of thing to get if you want to drive far… and fast.
Bentley Continental GT
If we’re being honest, we’ve never been fans of the Bentley Continental GT’s styling. The first-generation car was too bulbous; the second-generation model cured that somewhat, sharpening the haunches, but still retaining that odd, stepped bootlid.
This third-generation car, though, is the first Continental GT we’d call beautiful. Taking a good many styling cues from the EXP 10 Speed 6 concept car, the new Continental GT is curvy and angular in all the right places. A brute in a suit, if you will.
Backing up its svelte good looks is a 6-litre W12 engine (a V8 should follow in the fullness of time) with 635hp and a thumping 900Nm of torque. If previous models are anything to go by (the current model will only be landing here in a few months), the new Continental GT should have an insatiable appetite for distance, happily eating up long ribbons of tarmac all day long.
Unfortunately, a 358 litre boot and rear legroom on the short side of things limits practicality somewhat, but if you’re the sort of person that travels solo or with just your significant other, the Continental GT will more than suffice.
Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe
Shakespeare once wrote that a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet. And while that may be true of flowers and Romeo, the same certainly can’t be said of cars. Case in point, the artist formerly known as the Mercedes-Benz CL-Class.
Blessed with neither the sleek lines nor the hallowed nameplate of the SL-Class, a car that can trace its lineage back to the 300SL ‘Gullwing’, the CL-Class plodded on for 22 years and three model generations before being killed off in 2014.
The car that replaced it, however, was a masterstroke. Effectively, all Mercedes-Benz did was to give it a new name: the S-Class Coupe. The new edgier and less droopy styling also helps, of course.
But anyway, the model’s new name makes it clear in no uncertain terms what the car is and who it’s aimed at. Specifically, people who want all the trappings of S-Class ownership—things like a super-luxe cabin and autonomous driving systems up the wazoo—but in a rakish two-door package. In all fairness, that was the mandate of the CL-Class as well, but see what a difference a name makes?
BMW 8 Series
If you need even more proof that the 90s are back again, look no further than the BMW 8 Series. Reviving a badge not seen since the Backstreet Boys were topping the charts, BMW has seen fit to bring back its most luxurious grand tourer.
Yes, the cynical will point out how it’s merely a replacement for the outgoing 6 Series, but as we’ve established earlier with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe, what you call a car matters as much as what it can actually do.
In fact, the 8 Series Coupe is 33mm shorter than the 6 Series Coupe, which means it has even less room in the back, though a more compact car bodes well for handling. Which is where BMW seems to be heading with the new 8 Series.
Still, the 8 Series has some appropriately upmarket equipment. A carbon fibre roof panel is available as a cost(ly) option, along with a laser-based headlight system. As for its cabin, expect leather, metal and glass. And lots of it. It is, after all, BMW’s new flagship two-door sports car.
If you don’t see the point of the Rolls-Royce Wraith, it’s only because you can’t afford one. Seriously though, if you even have to question the existence of a coupe the size of most luxury limousines equipped with a 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12, it means you’re the sort of prole who can’t count a private jet and a 100-foot superyacht in their vehicle fleet.
If, however, you have the means to own your own form of land, sea and air transport, then you’ll find no finer grand tourer than the Wraith. Just about anything is customisable, from the exterior paint colour, to the upholstery colour, to the materials used in its cabin.
Want a Spirit of Ecstasy bonnet ornament made of hand-cut crystal? Or palladium? Tungsten, even? How about seats upholstered in crocodile leather, or interior trim panels made of titanium? If your royal highness desires it.
And the Wraith really is the grand tourer with the most, because unlike some of the other cars here, which have middling or sparse legroom in the back, the Rolls-Royce has two individual seats in the back with acres of space. But well, you do get what you pay for.