ED SPEAK

Evo - - NEWS - the record. on evon­ick­trott NICK TROTT

IN THIS GAME, DESIGNERS don’t talk about other designers, engi­neers won’t dis­cuss engi­neers, and se­nior ex­ecs will not com­ment on any other car or brand at all, Some barely ac­knowl­edge their ex­is­tence, and worse, you very, very rarely hear any praise of another car, brand or per­son. How­ever, if they reach over, pause your dic­ta­phone and ask, ‘Off the record?’ then you know you’re go­ing to be hit with some­thing ridicu­lously juicy, some­thing laden with opin­ion (and quite pos­si­bly lies), some­thing po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated, or some­thing down­right im­proper. Stuff you don’t, or can’t, print, in other words. Stuff like: ‘xxx doesn’t know their xxx from their xxx, and that they only got their job be­cause they are xxxing xxx in the xxxing xxx. Off the record, of course.’

I’mex­ag­ger­at­ing, ob­vi­ously, but it’s fair to say you rarely hear the key movers and shak­ers in the auto in­dus­try com­ment about ri­val brands, cars or peo­ple. And when you do, it’s dif­fi­cult to be­lieve what you’re hear­ing. And then there’s Gor­don Mur­ray. While chat­ting on the phone the other day about his new Shell part­ner­ship (see evo.co.uk for more), I won­dered, you know, whether maybe Gor­don would like to com­ment on Adrian Newey’s As­ton Mar­tin/red Bull hy­per­car? ‘No prob­lem,’ he said. I nearly fell off my chair.

‘Ac­tu­ally, Adrian and I had a lunch to­gether 18 months ago,’ be­gan Mur­ray, ‘ where we talked about su­per­cars – I don’t know how much that had to do with it! No, I think he’s al­ways wanted to do a su­per­car – and so did I when I was in rac­ing.’

Mur­ray was on a roll now, and then pon­dered whether Newey’s car would be less about the num­bers and more about the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

‘The driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and per­for­mance can be on dif­fer­ent plan­ets. Take the Bugatti Vey­ron. It’s a very quick lo­co­mo­tive, in a straight line. It’s quite star­tling. But as a driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence it’s one of the worst I’ve ever had. It just doesn’t do any­thing that pleases me. ‘It will be in­ter­est­ing to see whether in the pur­suit of speed, [As­ton Mar­tin] loses a lot of that stuff. That’s what I thought long and hard about with the F1. The driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence – a lot of that stuff is out in the ether some­where.’ ‘You mean how some­one re­sponds emo­tion­ally to a car?’ I asked. ‘ Yes,’ replied Mur­ray. ‘For in­stance, what makes some­one feel good about get­ting in a car, or start­ing up a car, or see­ing the com­po­nents, the en­gine. It’s all that lovely petrol­head stuff that’s very hard to put your fin­ger on and there­fore dif­fi­cult to de­sign into a car. ‘From a per­for­mance point of view, we’re cer­tainly go­ing to get some of that – it will be in­ter­est­ing to see how he does from the road car point of view. ‘The other thing is that they’ve got Marek Re­ich­man. I love the stuff he does – it’s all very well pro­por­tioned and I don’t think there’s any­thing he’s done in the last few years that I don’t like. I think that will be re­ally in­ter­est­ing, those two mix­ing the style and the aero­dy­nam­ics. ‘When I worked with Peter Stevens with the Mclaren F1, I knew what pro­por­tions I wanted, the size, the clas­sic shape, so it was pre­de­ter­mined a bit and Peter did a great job of mak­ing that real.’ So there you have it. Rather than tell me to switch off a dic­ta­phone, spin me a load of crap, in­sult his peers and gen­er­ally mock ev­ery­one who isn’t him, Gor­don Mur­ray is open, hon­est, en­cour­ag­ing, crit­i­cal ( but bal­anced), com­pli­men­tary, con­ver­sa­tional and, best of all, gets it. Or, in other words, Gor­don Mur­ray is a le­gend. As if you didn’t al­ready know it.

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