The greatest show on earth

It might just be the Greatest Motor Show of All Time. Press day at the Geneva Show, when the world's media are assailed by more unveilings than a barman in a strip club sees in a year, went off with a bang in Switzerland today.

In fact it wasn't so much a bang as a series of pyrotechnic explosions, all viewed from an uncomfortably unsafe distance.

The madly muscular Corvette Stingray Convertible was one of the first world firsts of the day - there were to be 130 in all - and such was the quality on display that by lunch time it had been almost swamped from memory by all the other super cars, and concept stars.

McLaren unveiled the fastest car in the history of the world, up to 200km/h at least, a drag race it will win against even the 400km/h capable Bugatti Veyron. The P1, a swooping, swing-doored splash of bright yellow flaps and foils, can hit the double tonne in just seven seconds, faster than a Toyota 86 hits 100km/h. It looks even faster.

Not to be outdone, and just a few metres away, Lamborghini pulled the sheets off the most absurd looking, and absurdly fast, supercar it has ever created. The Veneno looks like it was designed in conjuction with Gillette, with a nose made up of what looks like dozens of blades, and a giant shark fin on its backside, just in case it didn't look menacing enough.

It's a design that splits opinion, with plenty of people calling it the ugliest Lambo ever, but what's not in doubt are its performance credentials. It is the most powerful car ever, from a company that has made some pretty powerful machinies, with its 6.5-litre, 552kW, V12 engine shoving it to 100km/h in just 2.8 seconds, and on to a top speed of 355km/h, at which point the downforce and all those wings mean it will shave the road closer than a blade.

Only three of these barely road legal mentalist machines will be made, and presumably Batman is on the waiting list, or at least someone similarly lacking in fear or self preservation.

Incredibly, the queues to see these two cars were dwarfed by the scrum created around yet another supercar world first, from Ferrari. Long rumoured to be called the F70, the new Maranello monster has been dubbed LaFerrari, which sounds just a tiny bit girly. Certainly it has plenty of curves, but there's nothing feminine about the styling. It is, simply, jaw dropping in the metal, with a blacked-out cabin that looks like it could have been stolen from a Jetsons spaceship. The whole thing is so fantastical it looks like it could only be a concept car, but it's actually real, street legal and for sale to anyone with a few oil wells or an IT company in the family. The asking price is 1 million euros, and the queue will be long because, after careful consideration, we think it's one of the most stunning machines we've ever seen. Even our stunning photos can't do it justice.

The more reserved millionaire may have been more interested in the unveiling of the new Rolls Royce Wraith, the first new Roller since 2009. Conducted on a stage swathed in smoke, with loud music and freaky voices whispering "WRAITH" very loudly, it felt like a Harry Potter convention, and there was plenty of hocus pocus, too. Several company spokesmen assured us that "the world will stand still" when the Wraith was unveiled. Seismologists contacted by Wheels magazine could not confirm that this actually happened, but there was a lot of cheering in Geneva at least for what looks, unsurprisingly, a lot like another big Rolls Royce, albeit the most powerful one ever produced, boasting a twin-turbo V12.

Laying it on even thicker, another spokesman described it as "a precious drop in the automotive ocean".

Back in the real world, Alfa Romeo finally showed the production version of its utterly gorgeous 4C. The bad news is that it seems to have developed some kind of styes in its eyes, with inexplicably restyled headlights that didn't feature on the concept car. The good news is that the rest of it still looks absolutely brilliant.

Much like the Audi TT of many moons yore, it's a case of a brilliant concept car being so popular that a car company has brought it to life, and to the street. We can't wait to drive it, and see if it can possibly be as good as it looks.

Speaking of concept cars becoming real, Toyota unveiled the Mazda MX-5's worst nightmare, the 86 Open Concept. And proceeded to drop so many hints that it's actually going to get built that you can pretty much put your house on it. Fortunately it will be much cheaper than your house, possibly even under $35,000.

There was a lot more at the show, of course, and you can see most of it here in our giant Geneva gallery, but we can't go on, we need to have a little lie down in a dark room. Sadly, even when we close our eyes we can still see that superlative Ferrari. What a dream machine.

Sign up here to receive the latest round-up of Wheels news, reviews and video highlights straight to your inbox each week.

Want free access to 5 years of Wheels archive content? Sign up now!