ANTARCTICA, the world's most inaccessible continent, has finally been conquered by the car, with scientists and commercial adventure firms creating three new 'road' routes from the coast to the South Pole.
So far about 10 convoys of modified 4x4 vehicles have made the trip, their occupants enjoying heated cabins, electric windows and reclining seats as they journey to the remotest place in the world.
One recent expedition saw the British explorer Jason De Carteret make the fastest overland journey to the South Pole from the coast in less than three days in a modified off-roader. Robert Scott sailed from Britain in mid-1910 and did not reach the South Pole until January 1912. Scott and his crew died after two more months of trekking back towards the coast.
Today Scott's successors can make similar trips in comfort in a fraction of the time, thanks to a new generation of vehicles adapted from commercially available 4x4s such as the Toyota Hilux.
'These vehicles are revolutionising Antarctic travel,' said Felicity Aston, a renowned polar explorer who has written about them in Geographical, the magazine of the Royal Geographical Society.
She travelled there with Extreme World Races, a British firm that recently pioneered a 'road' route to the South Pole from Russia’s Novolazarevskaya base. The road, made of compressed ice and inspected for crevasses with ground-penetrating radar, is followed with the use of GPS systems.
A second route, from the southern end of the Antarctic peninsula to the pole, was created by another commercial expedition firm while a third, built by the US government to get supplies to its polar base, is also being used by adventure tourists.
A boom in ship-borne tourism around Antarctica has already prompted concern about the increased environmental impact that the new roads will have.
Sultan of Brunei
Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei's name regularly appears when the phrase the world's most is used. Whether it relates to his overall wealth, his palaces, or his investments, the Sultan never comes up short. As is the case with his car collection. He is the proud owner of the world's most unique car collection. Total price of the collection containing 7,000 high performance cars is $5,000,000,000.
Where do you keep 7000 of the world's rarest cars? Well, he doesn't have a 7000 door garage, instead he stores most of them in five ultra-secret aircraft hangars,where specialist teams from the various manufacturers maintain it.
What exactly is hiding behind the garage-doors in the Sultan's palace, nobody knows for sure. According to the Daily Mirror, as of June 30th 2010, the wealthy sultan is a proud owner of 604 Rolls Royces, 574 Mercedes-Benzes, 452 Ferraris, 382 Bentleys, 209 BMWs, 179Jaguars, 134 Koenigseggs, 21 Lamborghinis, 11 Aston Martins, and 1 SSC, among others. To put this whole thing into perspective, 10 of those 11 Aston Martins are the super-rare-one-77. In case the obvious isn't obvious enough, there were only 77 of those supercars made.
Wait, it gets better: Koenigsegg puts out a limited 20 cars a year and Sultan of Brunei has 134 of them. If that's not enough to tickle your fancy he also has an array of super-rare one-off cars that really makes his collection stand apart. These one-offs include two, rare, operational,Ferrari Mythos concepts, a modified Jaguar XJ220 designed by Pininfarina himself, a Bentley Java, and a Bentley Dominator 4 x 4. He is also the owner of the only Cicero BDB Maestro ever built. Other cars include the only right hand drive Mercedes CLK GTR, built just for him, the only Porsche Carma, and the only Koenigsegg Agera CC GT.
Around 3000 vehicles reside in the complex, all logged onto a central computer system based in the workshop administration center on the site. If not driven by immediate members of the family, then they are used by the ministers of state, government officials and members of the royal household.
Garage Outside - On The 11th Floor
FROM two expansive windows in Glauco Lolli-Ghetti’s 11th-floor condominium in West Chelsea, there are sweeping views of the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building. But visitors will not find an inviting sofa in this room, no place where a guest might sit back and admire the cityscape.
Most of the room, you see, is filled with a 2004 Range Rover.
Mr. Lolli-Ghetti has one of the world’s most expensive parking spaces, a costly talking point in a city where residents spend dearly to shelter their cars. His three-bedroom apartment at 200 11th Avenue — now on the market for $7 million — includes a 300-square-foot “en suite sky garage” that would be valued at more than $800,000 if priced at the same rate per square foot as the rest of the apartment.
It is not the parking spot in the sky attracting buyers to the new 19-story building at 24th Street, Mr. Lolli-Ghetti says, but the Hudson River panorama, the floor-to-ceiling windows and the thousands of square feet of space. Still, the sky garages in the building, which was designed by Annabelle Selldorf, are what has drawn the most attention.
“This is about as close to a suburban home that you can achieve in an urban area like New York,” he said. “You walk out your door and three steps later you’re in your garage.”
The technology of the single-car garages is relatively conventional. Mr. Lolli-Ghetti, a co-developer of the building, says the walls and doors are fire-rated, and sprinklers are positioned high overhead. When sensors detect high levels of carbon monoxide or nitrogen oxides, vents open to prevent a buildup of fumes.
To park cars at their apartments, drivers pull up to a black door on 11th Avenue where an electronic reader that operates like an E-ZPass opens the gate. After the driver pulls inside, the door shuts. Drivers then make a left turn, where the reader prompts an elevator gate to open.
Once the car is inside the elevator, a flat-panel display on the wall reminds the driver to shut off the engine. Infrared sensors monitor the car’s position and, when needed, the driver is prodded to back up or pull forward. The elevator automatically goes to the owner’s floor, where the driver backs the car into the garage space. When leaving the building, cars exit onto West 24th Street.
The inspiration for the sky garage, Mr. Lolli-Ghetti said, came from the commercial Starrett-Lehigh Building, just a few blocks away. There, he once saw Martha Stewart driving her car into the building, destined for her office.
For residents, the convenience of arriving directly at their doorstep — handy when groceries or luggage are involved — would be a minor selling point. In this price range, the sky garage conveys a more important characteristic: exclusivity. But that is not something readily expressed in terms of dollars.
Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuel Appraisers said there was no rule of thumb for how much a parking spot adds to the value of an apartment.“It was clearly a marketing hook,” he said. “It doesn’t mark the beginning of a trend.”
Despite the building’s delayed opening — it was originally set for completion in 2009 — there are signs that the concept may hold some appeal, at least at the top end of the market. Last month, plans for a 57-story building in Miami Beach with apartment parking were approved. The project, a joint effort of the Porsche Design Group and a local developer, suggests that there are wealthy drivers who will pay for the privilege of pulling up directly to their front door.
“Obviously, when you have a nice car, at least now you know you’re the only one touching it — it’s safe,” Mr. Lolli-Ghetti said. “I don’t think it needs views like this, but it does need heating and it wants to be inside.”