On your Top Marques

It would be easy not to like a guy who turns up late and spends most of the interview speaking into at least two telephones, but Steven Saltzman is not that guy.

After all, this charming but busy man has a lot on at the moment, being a key part of the team running Top Marques Monaco as it celebrates its tenth anniversary.

The show’s slogan “See it, drive it, buy it” is not addressed at me or most ordinary mortals. It is at Top Marques in April that the privileged enthusiast of the fastest and flashiest things on four wheels will be treated to an incredible experience.

“We are delighted that six major brands have snubbed Geneva [the Geneva Motor Show, a highlight of the motoring year] to launch their new models – it’s a real vote of confidence,” says Steven in between batting off another call.

“One of the major changes for this year’s show is that we will be extending the ‘drive it, buy it’ theme to ‘fly it, buy it’ – for the first time helicopters, a useful form of transport in a country without an airport, will be available to buy.”

Steven SaltzmanDirector, Steven Saltzman

Naturally, this being Top Marques, we’re not talking run-of-the-mill choppers here. “AgustaWestland will be having the ma- chines seen in Skyfall at the show.”

The mention of the latest James Bond movie brings together a number of strands in the story of the staging of Top Marques 2013. The theme of the show is James Bond, the monster movies concession now celebrating a different birthday: 50 years of high-class action. Steven’s father, Harry Saltzman, was there at the beginning, the producer brave enough to take an enormous gamble on turning the Ian Fleming spy novels into movies that were exceedingly expensive to make.

Mind you, the original budget for Dr No might not reach to the pie-in-the sky that is an AgustaWestland 007 whirlybird. “You’d need €3 million – and that’s just for the small one.

“The interiors are designed by Karl Lagerfeld,” he adds, in a tone that implies you’re getting a bargain.

Top Marques does seem to have become a magnet for the mega-rich and the people who want to sell to them. Alongside the supercars, the superboats and the supercopters are vintage Rolex Submariner watches, handcrafted books and other ritzy gewgaws – bringing together 200 exhibitors in all.

Agera S HundraAt the top of the list of attractions has to be the chance for a serious buyer to jump into the latest creation by Koenigsegg, like the Agera S Hundra (pictured), and blast it round part of the iconic Monaco Grand Prix circuit. If there is enough room in your cheque book for all the noughts – Koenigsegg of Sweden make the world’s best and most hairy sports cars, but getting your hands on 1000 horse-power of hand-crafted megacar will cost way over a million euro.

“The show has a unique pulling power – it is a ‘live’ exhibition like no other where you can try the world’s finest for yourself,” says Steven.

“I’m delighted by the way that Top Marques has established itself; nowadays negotiations with the State over such matters as road closures run smoothly.

“It wouldn’t happen without a dedicated, highly professional team that swells from seven to 100 by the time of the show’s launch.

“Now, Nick, it’s been a pleasure. Let me show you out.”

An abrupt way to end an interview? Maybe, but in Steven Saltzman’s hands it turns into an elegant gesture of farewell.

Top Marques Monaco 2013 is at the Grimaldi Forum from April 18-21. Tickets €50 from www.topmarquesmonaco.com

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