BACON SANDWICH. When did this delight become the staple diet of the driver? The moment Adrian Newey arrived at our Goodwood muster point and stepped out of his DB4 GT came the first request for bacon sustenance. There would be some different perspectives on the day’s experiences, but from the outset we bonded on the subject of bacon.
While Meaden went to find some, the team got properly stuck in to the driving. On the first run, I was tail-end Charlie in the GT8, shadowing Adrian in the One-77. After ten minutes, he pulled over. Not happy. Some questions about the gearbox – and the power steering. Maybe his empty stomach was also talking. We drove on to the next muster point and the first driver-change. And so it went on.
The blend of cars worked very well, which surprised a few. A back-to-back test of a 55-year-old DB4 GT against a GT8? Pointless, you might think, and yet it served to heighten awareness of the strengths of each, and what bound the best together.
Matt Becker is one of the modern breed of technologically savvy test drivers and had never driven an ‘old Aston’ but he emerged from the DB4 GT beaming with pleasure. ‘An amazing car given the resources they had back then,’ he declared. I suggested that perhaps genius was more important than computers, then and now. Happily, Matt is also a driver’s driver and he immediately grasped the talents and character of the DB4 GT, which was fast emerging as the darling of the posse.
With child-like glee we enjoyed the GT8 and One-77 rasping and roaring at a great distance, but the V8 Zagato also made its presence discreetly felt with a wonderful low rumble. I enjoyed re-acquainting myself with the Zagato, marveling at the classy cabin and stunning all-round visibility. I particularly enjoyed the view of Meaden on his way back from the food emporium. Over bacon and coffee, the first discussions took place. We soon learnt that Newey did not waste words; he could be pithy or incisively analytical but always balanced. His take on aerodynamics was fascinating and yes, the GT8 rear wing would have an effect above 80mph. Meaden and Mee, meanwhile, were very hot on seeing cars from the owner’s perspective, which is a subtly different and vital viewpoint.
Over lunch we wrestled with the fact that modern tech can mean some divorce from the true driving experience. But it does not have to be so, a conundrum with which Adrian and Matt are all too familiar.
Getting to a consensus meant a lively discussion, but it was reached. Group think or the right blend of people? Whatever, the common thread was pure driving pleasure, oh, and the vital ingredient of the day: bacon. Thanks Mr Meaden.