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Test Ride: $1.8 Million Zenvo ST1

Zenvo ST1

Zenvo

The country of Denmark is known for its bicycle sharing programs, pedestrian-friendly city centers, $10 a gallon gasoline and 180 percent tax on automobile purchases. 

Sounds like the perfect place for a $1.8 million supercar with a top speed of 233 mph, no?

Well, that’s exactly what the Zenvo ST1 is, and it’s built in the town of Præstø, just an hour’s drive from Copenhagen’s car-free Stroget district. Of course, you could cut that trip down to 15 minutes in the ST1 if you don’t mind breaking the speed limit.

The ST1-50S is the brainchild of Jesper Jensen, a Danish IT entrepreneur making his first foray into the automobile business. His team of 15 or so is lead by Troels Vollersten, an engineer with a background in auto racing, which is reflected in the Zenvo’s steel tube frame chassis and adjustable double-wishbone suspension.

Nevertheless, the focus of the ST1 is on design. Jensen says he hoped to capture the spirit of the crazy supercars from the 1980s with sharp, aggressive lines, and the car definitely delivers on that count. On the jaded streets of New York City, where Lamborghini sightings are a daily occurrence, the white Zenvo attracted the kind of attention that Lady Gaga would at a meeting of the Skull and Bones society.

Read: 2012 Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4

Like her, it’s got pipes, too. Big ones. The ST1-50S is powered by an aluminum-block 7-liter V8 that was developed in house and is turbo and supercharged in that order. Vollersten says the blower likes breathing the pressurized air, and he must be right because in the U.S. version of the car, the ST1-50S (50 states, perhaps?) it puts out 1,250 hp. That’s 50 more than the Bugatti Veyron SuperSport, which currently holds the title of “World’s Fastest Production” car at 268 mph.

Read: 2011 Bugatti Veyron Super Sport

If you’re wondering why Zenvo’s more powerful effort can’t get closer to that speed, the answer is twofold. First, Jensen says he didn’t want to compromise the exterior design for the aerodynamic efficiency necessary to hit reach that mark. Also, the ST1-50S runs on off-the-rack tires that are rated for just 233 mph, not the custom-made $30,000 per set rubber that Veyron owners have to pony up for every couple of thousand miles. And the savings are passed on to you.

The interior of the car is a less impressive effort than the bodywork, with the handsome but pat leather and Alcantara-upholstered look of a first effort supercar. It’s a far cry from the ornate cabins done by the boutique competition at Pagani and Koneggsegg, but give Zenvo time.

Read: Italy's $1.4 Million Pagani Huyara Supercar

The example we got a look at in New York City was a prototype and Zenvo importer Bobby Khan of Emporio Motor Group (located in the high-performance mecca of Jersey City, N.J.) says there will be some changes to the final production cars. The most notable being the replacement of the current Porsche  911-based instrument panel with digital gauges.

A six-speed manual transmission is standard, but an F1-type automatic is also available. The seats are excellent, and the driving position perfect, with plenty of headroom to accommodate the kind of Brobdingnagian professional athletes that are among the target market for this kind of car. Not to mention the too-tall Danes who Jensen doesn’t think will buy his creation anyway, thanks to the aforementioned hurdles to automobile ownership there.

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Of course, when I say “driving position” I’m being speculative. While I was hoping to take the car for a test drive during its visit to NYC, some last-minute insurance issues on Zenvo’s end turned it into a once around the block test “ride” with Vollersten behind the wheel.

Vollersten apologized for the stiff suspension of his baby, pointing out that it was still set up for a recent track session and not the surface of the moon blacktop of Manhattan's 11th Ave., but he needn’t have. I’d just spent a few days in a Nissan GT-R and the ST1-50S felt no worse from the passenger seat.

Unfortunately, in the heavy traffic we faced, he was only able to give the throttle one good prod, but boy if it didn’t take off with all of the ferocity of a 3,000-pound car being propelled by 750 angry horses. Yep, that’s right, 750 hp.

The ST1-50S comes equipped with three settings: Wet, Street and Track. In U.S.-spec models Wet dials back the engine to about 750 hp, Street turns it up to 1000 hp and Track unleashes all of the horses in the stable and kills the traction control. Vollersten kept it in Wet for our drive, which seems like a wise, if unfortunate, decision.

Or not. After getting out of the car and giving it one last look, I realized that as potentially fun as it would be to drive the ZT1-50S unfettered, that’s not what’s going to sell it. It’s the glorious absurdity and rarity of it that will attract buyers to the fold.

How rare? Zenvo is building just 15 cars, and only three of them will be sold in the United States. One red, one white and one blue. Each car comes with a special Zenvo edition Aspen watch worth $49,000, so the world will always know you are one of the lucky few, regardless of where you parked the ST1.

When you consider that Bugatti has sold more than 300 Veyrons of various sorts, the Zenvo has the potential to be something of a five leaf clover for the type of person who wakes up each morning to a cup of kopi luwak served on a tray made from black rhino hide.

Jensen is so confident that there are enough of those folks out there that he’s already working on the third and fourth Zenvo models. What they are, he won’t say, but a little bird on hand for this encounter told me that things will trickle down from the ST1-50S and end up at something in the range of $300,000-$400,000.

Maybe then the good people of Denmark will be able to start buying domestic.

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