The Hateful Eight Hundred | Buy Hard

Pagani's Huayra R promises to be epic – but then so does pretty much everything with more than 800hp…

By PH Staff / Saturday, March 20, 2021 / Loading comments

Nowadays, it can be easy to sulk as a car fan. New four-wheeled projects tend to focus on sustainable mobility, whisper quiet propulsion and ecological harmony – which can seem a long way from the freedom and excitement of driving that made us all so insatiably keen in the first place.

Then there's a week like the last one, where cars like the McLaren 720S GT3X and Pagani Huayra R come along, and everything seems rosy. Now, obviously, circuit playthings for captains of industry do nothing to change the plight of the layman, but they don't half lift previously sombre moods. Both Huayra and GT3X look how you imagined the craziest supercars as a kid, with lairy spoilers, incredible proportions and the ride height of a Dyson hoover – they're enough to make you giddy even in static pics.

Furthermore, though both are fantastically lightweight, there's also no shortage of combustion-engined fury powering them along. Pagani has gone to the effort of building a whole new V12 for the Huayra, and the McLaren has 200hp more than a GT3 race car, for heaven's sake. And while alternative power sources have been capable of big outputs for a while, there's really still nothing to match the thrill of big horsepower from an appropriately enormous engine.

So that's exactly what this week's Buy Hard aims to celebrate: the preposterously powerful cars that anyone wealthy enough can buy and drive how and where they please. We'd all love to be on the Modena and Woking special invite lists, but that's a privilege reserved for the very select few. And although none of these three are what might be called cheap, and none will come close to the track stars on circuit, they're all available right now and in possession of at least 800hp – that seemed as good a reason as any to draw them to the collective attention. Especially as such gratuitous displays of petrol-powered potency are on borrowed time. Best enjoy them while we still can…

Dodge Challenger Demon, 2018, 450 miles, £115,000

Nothing could be further, surely, from the huge power offered in something like the 720S GT3X and Huayra R than the huge power offered in a Dodge Challenger Demon. Where both McLaren and Pagani are all about motorsport derived prowess, any flab surgically stripped in the pursuit of ultimate performance, the Demon is nothing less two tonnes of supercharged V8 mayhem. I absolutely adore it.

Nobody needs 850hp in a two-wheel drive road car; nobody really needed the 700-and-a-bit offered by the standard Challenger Hellcat, really, but it's hard not to smile at such wanton silliness. Because muscle cars are about fun, are they not? In an ever more serious automotive environment, so a car that exists apparently just for an outrageous supercharged soundtrack, big smoky burnouts and styling straight from a Marvel comic holds even more appeal.

Although a Demon was certainly still capable of all that, it was rather more serious than other Challengers about one thing in particular: drag racing. So much so, in fact, that the Demon was sold without a passenger seat and with road legal Nitto drag radials – look at the profile shot for how small they are in the cavernous arches of the widebody.

Dodge made 3,300 Demons for North America only, so finding one in the UK isn't an everyday occurrence. This one is a 2018 build, yet has covered only 450 miles and is yet to be registered here; in black with black and then more black, it looks mean as hell – why have it at any other way? I worry that driving an 850hp Demon here might be like trying a coconut shy with hand grenades, but perhaps the risk of disaster is what makes me love it so. This one costs £115,000, which is actual supercar money for the obscenely over-engined old tank – I'd have it in a heartbeat. MB

Ferrari 812 Superfast, 2018, 8k, £199,995

In a way, the Ferrari 812 Superfast is a muscle car as well. Not because it's the size of a Target store or terrifies pedestrians (neither of which actually apply here) but because the experience is utterly dominated by what's under the bonnet. Never mind that the 812 is actually a supremely well sorted Ferrari flagship – it could corner like an oil tanker and ride like a luge, and neither would matter, because there'd always be that V12.

That the engine can now be purchased for £199,995 – with a functioning and very good looking car thrown in – seems like a deal too good to ignore. As Dan recently attested to in his 812 GTS drive, if this really is the end for the atmospheric Ferrari V12, then it's going out in some style. There simply isn't a weak spot: it's torquey but still revs to 9,000rpm, docile when required and deranged the next, a model of smoothness yet in possession of a feral edge as well. It's surely one of the greatest V12s ever produced, exhibiting the kind of emotional pull that so many other powertrains lack – most noticeably those from McLaren, it should be said, even those with an overboosted 750 horsepower. But which Pagani, to its credit, does rather seems to understand the importance of…

This Superfast is the least expensive in the classifieds simply because its previous owners wanted to experience that almighty V12; it has 8,000 miles recorded where no others have done more than 6k. Given delivery mileage cars can cost 50 per cent more again, it isn't hard to see the appeal of an 812 that's actually been driven. Primarily as you'd need not feel guilty about further adding to the tally, which is good; because this Ferrari – in any company you care to mention – is little short of irresistible. NC

Brabus 800, 2019, 5k miles, POA

What better way to demonstrate what 800hp can really do than in a 2.5-tonne bomb shelter? Despite the obvious challenges presented to it by the laws of nature, the Brabus 800 can crack 62mph in 4.1 seconds and pummel its way through the atmosphere to an electronically limited 150mph. Key to that sort of progress is the 4.0-litre V8's 737lb ft of torque, which arrives at 3,600rpm, before the motor's muscle builds to an 800hp peak at 6,600rpm. That means it's as tractable as it is thumping. And bloody hell does it make a great sound, with the side-exit exhaust noise measured through your chest as much as your ear drums.

Now, I'm not going to suggest that this Brabus-tuned G63 will have real-world pace to match Matt and Nic's alternatives. They're both Usain Bolts to Anthony Joshua. But anyone who's driven the AMG base model will tell you how astoundingly deceiving the 21st century G-Wagen's appearances are. Its retro design, the clunk of its heavy doors and even the driving position all suggest heft. Yet with only half a squeeze of the throttle this hulking 4×4 does things no G-Wagen has ever done before, before the chassis and its ultra-tough adaptive dampers tense and ensure you can carry speed through the corners, too. Brabus's work turns that lot up to eleven.

Yet at the same time, it doesn't detract from the base model's roundedness, with the same comfortable Mercedes interior and undeniable sense of occasion. It's unashamed brashness in the most illogical package possible. As Matt says, nobody needs more than 750hp; for that reason, a machine that makes little sense already might just be the perfect expression of 800hp motoring. SS

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