September 29, 2005

Gas prices high? Try an eco-friendly, $3.5 mln Skycar

CHICAGO (Reuters) - If that Hummer is draining your cash at
the gas pump, Neiman Marcus Group Inc. has the perfect holiday
gift: A fuel-efficient, $3.5 million "Skycar" that flies 350
miles per hour and burns environmentally friendly alcohol.

The luxury retailer's annual Christmas Book of gifts for
the rich and richer shows no signs of scaling back in times of
economic strain -- although there are a few stocking stuffers
such as a $15 paperweight for those on a tighter budget.

The M400 Skycar prototype is a vertical takeoff and landing
aircraft that gets 21 miles per gallon and is designed to be
"as safe, affordable and easy to use as an automobile.

"A limited number of M400s is expected to be available
within the next three years, but you can purchase the actual
prototype for yourself or your favorite commuter now," Neiman
Marcus said in the catalog.

Delivery is not included.

Buyers must clear regulatory requirements, including
International Traffic in Arms Regulations and Federal Aviation
Administration authorization.

For those who can't get clearance, there is always the
private Elton John concert. For $1.5 million, you and 500 close
friends can enjoy an intimate piano concert while helping a
good cause -- the money goes to John's AIDS foundation.

Sports fans can opt for the $65,000 IndyCar race simulator.
For an extra $10,000, they will throw in a "race hospitality
package" for the famed Indianapolis 500, including pit access,
four nights' hotel and autographed merchandise. Act fast --
only five hospitality packages are available.

There is also a jewelry collection for $1.2 million, and a
"levitating sculpture" that uses an invisible magnetic wave to
suspend an oval-shaped aluminum sculpture with no visible means
of support. The sculpture comes in a 6-foot limited edition for
$90,000, or a 16-inch version for just $18,000.

For the environmentalist who can't afford a Skycar, Neiman
Marcus offers a special-edition 2007 Lexus GS 450h luxury
hybrid sedan for $65,000. Only 75 will be made, with exclusive
Crystalline Ice exterior paint.

Don't procrastinate. The retailer said the limited-edition
cars -- as well as many other items featured in its Christmas
catalog -- have sold out every year since 1995. Cars tend to
sell quickly, often in the first 24 hours.

The Christmas Book, first published in 1926, will be mailed
to some 2 million households worldwide this week.