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An embarrassment of richness?

November 6, 2008 | 10:30 am

autos cars Los Angeles Times Ed Hardy Christian Audigier French designer customized Cadillac Escalade street tattoos Smart car gold VIF 1 Isn’t it nice to know that someone is avoiding the depression-era mentality the rest of the automotive industry is adopting; that they are, indeed, partying like it’s still 1999? This piece of mobile hedonism comes from French designer Christian Audigier, the man behind the Ed Hardy fashion line. We’ve already seen Audigier’s interpretation of the Smart car.

This is the first customized effort from what Audigier sees as a range inspired by first-class travel and jet-set life. He has started his own company — CA Motoring — and plans to "reinvent traditional driven and chauffeur-driven vehicles" with "one-of-a-kind works of art on wheels" (CA Motoring’s words).

The plan is to have two distinct lines, each based on Audigier’s hand-sketched designs, although customers will be able to stipulate their own tastes. One is the Signature Series, the upscale version. The other will bear the moniker of Ed Hardy Custom Iron, which will have an "edgier" theme, with matte exterior paint and tattoo art. It’s more street, more rock ’n’ roll, y’know?

Pictured here is Audigier’s own set of wheels, called the VIF 1. Apparently, VIF in French means high-energy and lively, with V derived from the word vivre. It’s a lengthened (by 14 inches) and heightened (by about six inches) Cadillac Escalade, upholstered with leathers that have been custom-tanned and took weeks to produce. Certain parts of the cabin, such as the seatbelt clips, touch-screen controls and instrument bezels, are fashioned from 24-karat gold to "reflect a certain rock ’n’ roll street culture." From which we can only surmise that Audigier must live on a very nice street.Latvif12

There also are some more sensible additions to go with the extra leg- and headroom: WiFi capability, beverage dispenser and plenty of storage space. There are additional batteries and a beefed-up electrical system to make sure all the LED lighting and toys get enough power. One such toy is a video system with a front-mounted camera so passengers can tell if they’ve reached their red-carpet destination without suffering the indignity of having to ask the driver.

Something like the VIF 1 would cost around $300,000, with a wait of 12 weeks or so. Naturally, such figures would be subject to variation, depending on what kind of customization a client might require. Lucky there isn’t a financial crisis or any kind of global warming going on right now; imagine how inappropriate this could look.

—Colin Ryan

Photos: CA Motoring