Where Do You Bring a One-of-a-Kind $2M Bertone Mantide for Maintenance?
Say you are an exceptionally wealthy individual with a penchant for the automotive that far exceeds amassing as many mid-engined Ferraris as your garage can hold. What if you are the type of well-heeled connoisseur that knows that one incredibly rare car can outweigh a full stable of supercars. Then you would appreciate the impetus behind the Bertone Mantide. The Bertone Mantide is a one-of-one hypercar, based on the Corvette ZR1, using plentiful carbon fiber, and fetching a $2 million price tag. Wikipedia calls the car a “design study,” but how many concept cars do you see out on the open road? PHOTOS: See more of the 2009 Bertone Mantide Italian design firm Bertone plans on making ten of these fantastical machines, but at the moment, it is the only one in existence, and it was at a friend’s garage.
Safi Baeqawi is the owner of AVI in Newton, Massachusetts. AVI specializes in customization of supercars and exotics in a way that leaves the car still looking stock. Why was a $2 million one-of-a-kind car there? We could answer that question with another question: where do you bring a 1-of-1 supercar when you want it to be worked on?
Bertone spend countless hours crafting the exterior of the car and honing its performance. The Mantide employs the chassis of the ZR1, complete with the 638-horsepower supercharged 6.2-liter V8 at the front, sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transaxle. Through the extensive use of carbon fiber, the Mantide is actually 220 pounds less than the ZR1. The exterior has been thoroughly reworked, adding 30 percent more down force than the ZR1. (Note: You may see some photos of a red Mantide and say, “Hey there are two!” Nope– it’s the same car and the owner had it painted white. We think it looks much better in this color.)
The Mantide does 0-60 in just 3.2 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 218 mph. That’s great, but when are you going to use that performance when not on the track? What if other items like the stereo were not up to snuff? That is where someone like Safi steps in.
His process and mantra is “OEM-Plus.” The idea is that more exotic automakers like Maserati, Aston Martin, etc. do not offer some of the same options and technology that perhaps a larger automaker with bigger tech budgets can offer. He fits supercars with the latest technology, but integrates it in such a way that it looks stock. The greatest compliment he can receive is if someone asks an owner if his navigation system install was a factory option.
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So here we reveal the purpose of the Mantide’s presence in my fair state of Massachusetts. The owner loves the cars performance, but felt the stereo was lacking. It’s not like Bertone has a network of dealerships, with service bays. If he wants something added to the car, he needs to go somewhere special.
According to Safi, the Mantide is having its audio system overhauled. He is also installing more carbon fiber bits, to match the car’s lightweight bodywork. AVI added a carbon fiber mirror, edging of the dash, and various other interior panels.
This approach was being employed on another car, a Factory Five Roadster. We’ve driven one of their no-frills Shelby Cobra replicas, and they are an absolute blast, but can be a little light on the creature comforts. So AVI added a backup camera, beefed up the stereo and installed a touch screen entertainment system, which can be hidden by a stock-looking tape deck.
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So the next time you see an ultra-rare hypercar, and wonder where they go for alterations, modifications and upgrades, its folks like Safi that help make one owner’s exotic even more special.