When the Swiss police clocked a gentleman doing 290km/hr in a Mercedes, the penalty was always going to be punishing.
Most people think the Swedish are dull. Hans Blix or Sven-Göran Eriksson comes to mind as the immediate archetypes. Neither are exactly dynamic people.
However, those with an inside view know the Swedes are brilliant, if broadly a little challenging. It must be the lack/abundance of light. So, when the Swiss police clocked a gentleman doing 290km/hr (170km/hr over the limit!) in a Mercedes SLS AMG (a beautifully understated car which alongside Aston Martin's Vantage is my favourite thing on four wheels) the penalty was always going to be punishing.
However, a potential fine of USD1 million is eye-watering. I assume his lawyer is currently banging his head on a large IKEA desk in disbelief, or that his client beat his own top-speed…
But the story got me thinking about three other things.
First, just how lenient the UK is on these issues. The two GCC-plated Lamborghinis clamped in Knightsbridge last month and issued with a rather puny GBP140 fine is, well, typical of the wonderfully approach Brtis take. And that egalitarian view should be treasured. I know the lawyers among the Spear's readership will point to the RND rules of the Brown-era. But lets face it, there are plenty of ways to mitigate the situation and only really a challenge to the “merely wealthy” ex-pat crowd.
Second, why is there such an attraction to driving super-cars super-fast? Now, I must admit I am as guilty of this as anyone in the City. My own driving licence is a wonderful tapestry of fines, points and other endorsements. Motorbikes are my weakness. It must be the part of us that knows the risks, but once in a while, decides to throw it all aside and say “yes” to the moment. I suppose there must be a balance, but I am yet to find it – in driving as much as my investments. So it seems is the Swedish gentleman (at least in his driving).
Finally, Mercedes' marketing department in Stuttgart are probably working overtime. Now, a traditionalist would say they are on damage limitation. I would like to think the Germans are planning how to capitalise on this free PR opportunity.
After all I cannot think of a better way to get a few more very wealthy adrenaline junkies to join the SLS club without being too brash about how fast the car is! After all, the understated element is the most attractive aspect of the SLS. If not, grab a Koenigsegg; it is Swedish after all.