Wealthy people in UK still driven to splash out on supercars

Wealthy people in the UK are buying more luxury supercars than ever before, according to Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency figures shared with the Guardian.

Almost 16,000 supercars – such as Ferrari, Bugatti, Aston Martin, Maserati and Koenigsegg models – were registered at UK addresses in the year to December 2019, according to figures released after a freedom of information request.

They cost from hundreds of thousands to more than £1m each but concerns about the economy have done nothing to dampen enthusiasm for the trophy vehicles. The DVLA registered an increase of 12% from 14,000 in the previous year, according to the data released to the accountants UHY Hacker Young, and seen by the Guardian.

The City of Westminster, which includes the central London areas of Mayfair, Knightsbridge and Belgravia, is home to 532 supercars – making it the supercar capital of the UK.

The underground car park at One Hyde Park, the most expensive block of flats in the country, is thought to hold one of the highest concentration of supercars in the world. Parking spaces in the Westminster development – in which one apartment was sold for £160m – have sold for as much as £300,000 each.

David Kendrick, a partner at UHY Hacker Young, said: “Despite all of the economic uncertainty around Brexit, UK celebrities, sports stars and business executives continue to snap up the latest supercars, leading to many manufacturers having lengthy waiting lists.

“Out of all of the brands, Ferrari is still the biggest selling but Lamborghinis and McLarens are quickly becoming the supercars of choice,” he added. “While Westminster maintains its supercar hotspot crown, we’re likely to see a bigger concentration of supercars outside of London as the wealthy seek more space as working from home becomes the new norm.”

In 2018, Ferrari sold its entire production run of a new Monza £1m-plus supercar before it had even begun making the vehicles.

Luxury car producers are also cashing in on the expensive taste for personalising vehicles, with upgrades including televisions, champagne fridges and even paint mixed with crushed diamonds. One Swedish billionaire paid for a one million satin stitch rose garden fabric interior. Others have had the roof of a vehicle studded with more than 1,000 LED lights recreating the sky at night – complete with shooting stars.

The royal borough of Kensington and Chelsea, home to socialites, celebrities and City bankers, comes in a close second, with 479 supercars registered. There are so many supercars in the borough that the council has set up cameras to tackle drivers using streets as racetracks.

The council said it introduced the technology after receiving dozens of complaints that some of its streets were becoming a “magnet for Lamborghinis and Ferraris”.

More than 100 people were issued with warnings in only two weeks after the introduction of the first noise cameras brought in to tackle antisocial supercar drivers.

The devices detect when a 74-decibel noise threshold is exceeded and record the offending vehicle’s numberplate. Drivers are warned that a second offence will lead to a fine. In the first 11 days of operation, the cameras were activated 130 times, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service. The loudest recorded sound was 104dB – equivalent to a helicopter flying nearby.

Johnny Thalassites, Kensington’s lead member for transport, said: “Residents have had enough of drivers using our streets as a racetrack.

“Supercars look good and most drivers are considerate but when they’re not, it is disruptive and irritating for people living and working in the area.”

Drivers face fines of between £100 and £2,500, and persistent offenders may have their vehicles seized.

In third place is Cheshire, with 296 supercars. The area, known as the “Golden Triangle”, is home to some of the world’s most famous footballers.

Elmbridge, in Surrey, which has been dubbed the “Beverly Hills of Britain”, takes the number four spot, with 236 supercars. Many celebrities and sportspeople live in the area. The private St George’s Hill estate popular with overseas billionaires is also in included in the district.

In Scotland, Edinburgh has the highest concentration of supercars, with a total of 89.

The number of new supercars registered in 2020 is expected to dip slightly because of the coronavirus pandemic but the number of secondhand sales could rise.

HR Owen, Britain’s biggest luxury car dealership, said it had noticed an uptick in secondhand supercar sales as the wealthy splashed cash that might have otherwise been spent on exotic holidays curtailed by lockdowns.

HR Owen sold 1,058 cars in its latest financial year to July 2020, down from 1,646, according to filings at Companies House, but secondhand sales increased slightly. The company recorded sales of £389m, down from £532m a year earlier. Pretax profits dropped from £8.3m to £1.9m.