Top 10 high-tech vehicles for the filthy rich

For the average American, travelling in style is probably defined by that one time you rented a limousine on your way to the high school prom. For that other, more fickle überclass of America, the notion of luxury travel delves far deeper into our collective imagination. We all dream of the day when we could arrive at the office through the window in a blizzard of flying paper and jet exhaust, and just imagine how cool your kids would think you are when you pick them up at the park-n-ride in a personal blimp? Whether you want to expand your taste for opulence beyond your gadget repertoire — or just dream of a garage filled with high-tech vehicles — this list is for you.


10. Unnamed Balloon Car from Belarus
Hurtling through a wetland of intrigue and speculation, this unnamed all-terrain vehicle was last spotted in February 2005 speeding around Belarus. With six balloon wheels and what looks like a mighty drive train, this amphibious creature could give you another way to coast from your island home. Although the manufacturer promised to have them on the market by summer 2005, we're still waiting here in the states. If I were you (and extremely rich), I'd call that brother-in-law in the CIA and see what information you can buy.


9. MDI Compressed-Air Car
Who would of thought you could use compressed air to power a car? Apparently, Moteur Development International have devised a lightweight, fiberglass vehicle that can use compressed air to travel up to 136 mph. A computer screen replaces normal speed gauges to show speed and engine revolutions and makes it possible to integrate cell-phone and GPS tracking systems into the control panel. The future is now! With a price tag of $8,818 for the MiniCat model and $12,109 for the CityCat model, you millionaires can burn your money the old-fashioned way — with a flame!


8. Chimera All-Terrain Vehicle
Designed for military ops, the Chimera all-terrain vehicle from Atair Aerospace would be a perfect gift for that lifetime National Guard member/ex-general who commutes to work over the badlands of Montana. With a 100-foot wingspan, a 100-horespower hybrid electric motor, this baby is sure to get you across sea, land, and air in speed and style. Unfortunately, there are no retail outlets for this dynamo, but maybe your friend's cousin in Special Forces can help you out.


7. Badokadonk Personal Tank
With national security becoming an ever-increasing concern, the Bodakondank personal tank from jl421 is a perfect way to feel safe crossing those interstate and interstellar deserts alike. Drivers can choose to harness all six of the horsepower from within the machine, or you could just stand and grin through the hatch. Starting at the base price of $20,000 from NAO design, Badonkadonk users can customize their rides with such luxuries as a 400-watt sound system or neon ground lights. Shipping for the 1,100-pound behemoth isn't included.


6. Personalized Jet Pack
Who hasn't watched The Rocketeer and dreamed sweetly of self-propulsion? Rick Herron from Skywalker Jets has taken this inspiration seriously. He's designed a prototype for a sustainable personal flying contraption that will someday lift a pilot with a weight of over 200 pounds for about 5 minutes, equal to a 4-mile range of travel. The pack also possesses a built-in GPS unit to make tracking/recovery very easy. While a prototype recently garnered bids over $10,000 on eBay, Rick expects the final model to cost around $200,000. Good bidding.


5. Sky Yacht
Now you can finally prove wrong those nay-sayers who said it wasn't possible to travel the world in less than 80 days! Skyacht Aircraft has come up with the first personal blimp run by hot air and silent, electrical propulsion. Still in testing, the blimp has overall dimensions of 105 x 70 feet and weighs around 4,100 pounds when inflated — mostly due to its nylon covering and welded steel framework. Although there's no definite pricing or availability yet, the project leader, Dan Nachbar, speculates that the Skyacht will "cost a fraction of other helium-based balloons." Sounds like a steal to me.


4. Tesla Roadster
What do you get when you combine Steve McQueen with sustainable environmentalism? The Tesla Roadster! This 21st century hot rod from Tesla Motors can go from 0 to 60 in 4 seconds and is completely electric. Solving the common complaint about electrics cars, their short power life, the Tesla's battery needs only recharge every 250 miles and earns the equivalent of about 135 miles per gallon. Retail models are due for release in 2007 and are expected to cost around $100,000. Trustafarians and liberals everywhere are already salivating.


3. Sebeo Aquarius: Underwater Sports Car
Are you tired of sitting in clogged and dimly lit tunnels on your way to the downtown office? Well, a specialist engineering company called Subeo is here to ease your daily commute with the Aquarius, the world's first underwater sports car. With all the components of a large submarine, including buoyancy tanks, front/rear hydroplanes, and an integrated control system, you can hearken back to your days of chasing U-boats and mermaids. Traveling at a speed of about 7 knots, The Aquarius will take you to a maximum depth range of 328 feet and carries the requisite life support for about 74 hours. For the modest price of $1.5 million, you can take this baby home today.


2. Gold-Plated Porsche
Straight from the gold city itself, Pforzheim, Germany, comes the limited-edition gold-plated Porsche. Every major interior and exterior component of this car, from rims to door handles, has been meticulously surfaced with 22-karat gold. This choice is good for all those who aren't ashamed to admit that even their souls are made of money. No price info yet, but with only nine models available, I'm pretty sure this roadster out of range for most weekend warriors.


1. Rinspeed Splash
After his recent entry into the Guinness Book of World Records for crossing the English Channel in 3 hours 14 minutes with the amphibious Rinspeed Splash, CEO Frank Rinderknecht said, "We Swiss are not just good at making chocolate; we can also build the fastest hydrofoil vehicle in the world!" Frank wasn't lying. With a 140-horespower two-cylinder engine, the Rinspeed Splash can go from 0 to 60 in 5.9 seconds and cruise on water at about 45 knots — a pinnacle of land/water travel. Although the good folks at Rinspeed have vowed the vehicle is not for sale, we know what they say here in America, "everyone has a price."