FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Gumball 3000

Apr 23, 2014
2014 / May 2014

On June 5, Miami will witness one of the world’s most expensive traffic jams. More than a hundred supercars will line up at the start of a week-long, hard-driving, hard-partying, 3,000-mile journey across two continents. Anyone can take part. All you need is a suitable car. Oh, and £40,000 (approximately $67,000) for the entry fee. Still interested?

At the dawn of the automobile era, one thing was certain: If you owned a motor vehicle, you were fabulously rich. A car was more than simply a means of getting from one place to another. It was a novelty, a plaything, an ostentatious status symbol.

Henry Ford undermined that. When the Model T rolled off the world’s first production line in 1908, motorcars were suddenly affordable to the masses. The wealthy were condemned to share the roads with an egalitarian cross-section of society. Driving lost its exclusivity and its glamour.

But wealth will always find a means of expressing itself. When simply owning a car was no longer enough to proclaim the magnitude of your bank account, the kind of car you owned assumed paramount importance. Rolls-Royce, Mercedes-Benz, Bugatti, Cadillac. They are names that continue to carry instant prestige.

Gather some exclusive vehicles together, and you can recapture the fun and glamour of the past by staging a rally. Which is more or less how the Gumball 3000 came into being. In 1999, British designer Maximillion Cooper invited a bunch of friends to take part in a rally from London to Italy and back. The event was launched by a stellar cast of celebrities including Kate Moss, Billy Zane and, er, Monica Lewinski.

Okay, so the celebrity threshold is flexible (the Gumball 3000 still regards David Hasselhoff as an A-lister; he’s a regular participant), but the matters of the entrance fee and the appropriate vehicle are not. To take your place on the Miami start line, you need a car that will not be out of place in a line-up of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Bugatti Veyrons and the occasional vehicle that makes even those marques seem commonplace (last year’s rally included a $1.6 million custom-built replica of the Batmobile from The Dark Knight movies).

In 2013, the Gumball 3000 stuck to Europe, starting in Copenhagen and ending in Monte Carlo. The 2014 edition will bridge the Atlantic. After setting off in Florida, the expensive convoy will head up the Eastern Seaboard to New York via Atlanta. From New York, the cars will be flown to Edinburgh, from where participants will drive to London, then on to Paris, Barcelona and, ultimately, the appropriately hedonistic island of Ibiza.

The Gumball 3000 is not to everyone’s taste. Its unashamed celebration of wealth and celebrity may appear to some excessively vulgar. Fortunately, there’s a solution. In July 2014, a rival rally will take place, starting in Reims, France, and ending in Venice, Italy. The Crumball Rally, first staged in 2006, makes a mockery of the Gumball’s entry criteria. The cheaper the car, the better, so long as it is road legal and was bought for less than £200 ($333). The wrecks (and drivers) are decked out in fancy dress before embarking — often more in hope than expectation — on the three-day odyssey.

The spirit of Henry Ford endures. The Gumball seeks to persuade us that certain automotive pleasures are beyond the reach of mere mortals; the Crumball is proof to the contrary. All you really need is a set of wheels. Camaraderie and an irreverent sense of adventure will do the rest.

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FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

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