A childhood habit of peering inside supercars in search of fantasy top-speed markings has never left Phil
When I was a kid, the sight of an Aston, Porsche or anything wedgeoid and Italian would invoke the same pattern of behavioiur. First the bewitched stare, projected from a respectful distance to take in the impact from the front, the sides and rear. Then moving in for the details – a vent here, an identifying badge there – before inevitably I’d find myself with nose against door glass and hand shielding reflections for a view inside. The thickness and diameter of steering wheel and the plumpness of the seats helped me imagine what it would be like to climb in and drive, but the ultimate fuel for my imagination could be found in the instrument cluster – 120, 130, 150, 170mph? Oblivious to the tenuous connection between top markings on the speedometer and reality, I used those big numbers as my guide to the excitement on tap.
The cars in our cover feature were still a decade or three away, but when they did arrive, a chance encounter on a city street or in a country pub car park created the same reaction in this overgrown kid. Only this time I knew that they were really capable of hurtling the lucky driver at 170mph, or 76 metres – the length of Dutch clipper Stad Amsterdam – in a second. In some of them even further.
Fast-forward a couple more decades and such hedonistic speeds have been democratised by the great god of depreciation. Overgrown kids everywhere have a realistic prospect of opening the drivers’ doors with their own keys – except in the case of the TVR anyway – taking feel of the wheels and seats for themselves and reaching for the promised numbers. For the Cerbera of course you need to play hunt-the-hidden-door-release-button first.
As Ross discovers in his high-speed day at the track, our five choices offer very different ways of getting there, from the raw lunge of the TVR to the effortless surge of the Aston. Early Sunday, empty autobahn – which would you choose?
Classic Cars maxes the Lotus Carlton, April 2000 – ‘One hundred and seventy miles per hour... it will always be remembered with respect for that alone’
Phil Bell, editor