Judging Porsches at Salon Privé
Breakneck week begins. To Blenheim Palace to help judge the Pirelli-sponsored supercar concours that brings the four-day Salon Privé to a close. Naturally, there’s a Bugatti Chiron on hand – the first I’ve seen away from a motor show. The weather’s iffy but luckily I’m judging with Paul Keeling, a Porsche Club expert I know and admire, and our main job is assessing Porsches, so we swing through it before the rain arrives. We eventually give the gong to a 993-generation 911 GT2, but Paul reckons three or four of this year’s entrants could have won; the standard is rising. Concours sometimes get a hard time from carsare-for-driving types, but we’re happy this year’s winner gets driven hard too.
Low-key launch for the electric Jaguar E-type you’ve since seen in all the tabloids. It’s built partly for rich people in polluted cities, and partly as the precursor of a series of important electriccar announcements Jaguar will make later in the week (see stories elsewhere). A few years ago, I’d have felt a good deal of synthetic outrage about the idea of replacing the famous old XK six with an ‘electric machine’ of similar power, but having driven lots of electric cars now, I’m fine with it. Especially since Jag Classic Works chief Tim Hannig says the original bits are being faithfully retained so the car can be ‘restored’ if desired. Interestingly, the view under the bonnet is nearly as inspirational as the original, with the battery enthroned where the XK engine sat. This is prophetic, given what I’ll learn on Wednesday.
To Millbrook for this year’s Cenex LCV show, an event established after 10 years as this country’s premier gathering of experts and tech companies chasing efficiency and cutting pollution in all its forms. First, to huge acclamation the wraps came off the new Ariel Hipercar – but given that last week we published a 36-page supplement on the project, you probably don’t need more on that. Instead, one sentence in a speech by Ford’s Graham Hoare, currently chief of that accomplished industry-government body, the Automotive Council, catches my attention above all else. “In future cars, the battery will become a massive differentiator”, he told a rapt audience, “just as engines have done until now.” Examine that, knowing what we’re learning about how battery efficiency affects performance, range, capability and packaging, and you see the truth. Let’s hope they find a way of making the damn things look better.
I can’t help wondering how the future will treat V8 cars like the new TVR
Time for JLR’S Tech Fest, a public exhibition of its newest and most interesting ideas, reported elsewhere. Note of optimism in the virtual 2040 prototype, proposed to aggregate all the tech currently on the rise. The car does most of the work but chooses roads it thinks you’ll enjoy driving. That’s more like it…
Now a return to the old school. I’m in a Ford Mustang V8 convertible, bound for Goodwood to see the unveiling of TVR’S first running prototype. There’s a certain symmetry in sitting behind a 412bhp 5.0-litre V8 on my way to see another. The TVR turns out to be glorious in its simplicity, and there’s a general air of elation among the project’s backers now that the first part of the job is done. Given the week I’ve had, I can’t help wondering how the future will treat cars like this. In theory, they have 20-odd years, but it might not be so simple.
Supercar concours was a fitting climax to this year’s Salon Privé event
It’s been a big week for Jaguar’s vision of an electrified future