TOKYO — A botched lane change led to a spectacular traffic pileup in Japan over the weekend that left a highway strewn with the smashed wreckage of eight Ferraris, a Lamborghini and three Mercedes sports cars.
The crash drew international attention not only for its stunning price — the vehicles collectively cost more than $1 million — but also for the rare glimpse of Japan’s superrich, who tend to avoid ostentatious public displays of wealth. Local police officials were quoted as saying that they had never seen so many expensive cars in one place, much less involved in a single accident.
News reports gave no names and few details about the cars’ drivers, beyond quoting police officials as saying their ages ranged from 37 to 60. But they clearly form a select group in Japan, where fewer than 500 Ferraris were sold last year.
The cars appeared to be part of an outing of luxury automobile enthusiasts, traveling north together from the island of Kyushu to a festival in the city of Hiroshima, on the southern end of the main island of Honshu. As the convoy sped through rain in the western prefecture of Yamaguchi, one of the Ferrari drivers, trying to change lanes, struck the median and spun out of control. Evasive maneuvers by other cars, which also included two Toyotas, sent them smashing into each other.
According to The Associated Press, 10 of the people involved in the wreck received treatment for minor injuries.
News reports quoted eyewitnesses as saying that at the time of the accident, the procession appeared to be traveling at 85 to 100 miles per hour, well over the speed limit of 60.
Bloomberg News quoted a traffic official, Mitsuyoshi Isejima, as saying that the driver suspected of causing the pileup, a 60-year-old self-employed man, could face up to three months in prison or a fine of 100,000 yen, about $1,300.
The police closed the highway for six hours as they cleared away the ruined vehicles. Television footage showed several red Ferraris with bumpers or engine hoods torn off, bodies crumpled. One had plowed nose-first into a guardrail.
Mr. Isejima, for one, had little sympathy.
“It was a gathering of narcissists,” Bloomberg quoted him as saying.
Read & See Picture