Billed as the first Arab supercar maker, W Motors started as an idea of college friends Ralph Debbas (the company’s founder) and Anthony Jannarelly. A chance meeting with Magna Steyr and, later RUF Automobile at the 2007 Geneva motor show would bring that idea closer to reality.
The built-on-order Hypersport isn’t made in the UAE at all. The bespoke portions of the vehicle are made in the company’s temporary Torino, Italy factory and the engine and chassis are made in Germany by frequent Porsche collaborators RUF Automobile. However, the W Motors execs plan to open their permanent headquarters in Dubai in late 2014.
The pre-production Lykan Hypersport debuted at the Dubai Auto Show last year to much fanfare and skepticism. People were shocked at the price and the gall of a new company making the second most-expensive car on earth and at the same time intrigued by the product. By now you should know the specs of the $3.4 million ride, but just in case you don’t, W Motors debut auto boasts a 750hp turbo boxer engine and a top speed of 245 mph. The LED headlights feature white gold around encrusted diamonds. If that wasn’t enough extravagance, the interior comes with gold-stitched leather and a “Virtual Holographic Display.”
To get more insight into what these guys are cooking up, we sat down with W Motors Design Director Anthony Jannarelly in Dubai—a day before the Lykan was set to be recorded for the upcoming film Fast & Furious 7—to ask a few questions about the up-and-coming brand. Here are the results:
In the UAE everything is extravagant, did that have an influence on the way you designed the Hypersport?
To be honest with you, we didn’t do market research or anything like that. We wanted the Lykan to be a blend between luxury and sportiness. My background is in designing jewelry. I did jewelry but my passion was always automobiles. My background gives a different perspective for creation. I want to make sure every single part is right. The difference between us and other automakers is we can pay more attention to every detail. Everyone thought the car was very eccentric because of the gold and diamonds but its more the labor and time and the fact that everything is bespoke.
When you debuted the pre-production car at Dubai Auto Show and since then you’ve done a few more shows, how has the reaction been in person?
Well when we first showed the very basic model of the car in the factory in Torino in 2013, I saw the reaction of the people there and it was good. Since then we’ve learned the car has still the greatest attention of all, so we realized now that wherever the Lykan is, people do feel attracted to it. Also, although we increased the sound of the engine, people told us that for this extreme hypercar they want to hear an even scarier sound. Fortunately it is an easy fix
What is your response to critics who say that the Lykan’s exhaust isn’t tuned to reflect the sound of a 750hp supercar?
My personal opinion is that talking about the sound of a car is like talking about music: it depends mostly on your taste and it depends how you listen to it. Live music is different from music on your mobile phone... it's the same for cars. Most of the people based their opinion on YouTube videos of the Lykan recorded with phone of small camera at a low pace. But we understand that is how most people can judge, so as I said before fortunately it is something easy to fix we just have to tweak slightly the exhaust to go even wilder, at the end this is our client who chooses what he prefers, the car is fully tuned to his taste.
The difference between us and other automakers is we can pay more attention to every detail.
How many Lykan’s have actually been made?
It’s seven that will be made. People got confused because in Arabic 7 looks like a V so they translated it like it was Roman numeral and thought we were only making five cars.
Have all of the vehicles been sold?
Some of the cars are sold, but I can’t say how many.
Do you have any plans to show in the US at all?
We’ve had a lot of demand to show in the US and people in the US wanting to buy the car, but I don’t know when it will happen.
The car was recently added to the mobile game GT Racing 2. Will we see the Lykan in more games?
Video game companies contact us usually when they hear about the company and see the car, we are open to put the car in many games so people can learn about the brand and enjoy the extreme look of the car. We are very happy that a wide audience can enjoy this experience. The car will feature in other games like Drive Club on PS4 for instance.
What can you share about the upcoming Lykan Supersport?
It’s 95 percent ready. We showed a teaser at Dubai Auto Show. We’re now in the engineering phase. Maybe six months to a year away. If you sit inside the Lykan, you have lasers, luxury seats. In the Supersport you will not get a stripped-down experience, it is more about giving the customer a choice.
How soon will we see the LM GTE in competition?
Not before next year I think.
Has the normally extravagant Lykan interior been stripped down like most LeMans racers?
Yes, if it has to become a racecar.