Ta­ble talk

VANTAGE - - Cover Story Greatest Drivers’ Astons - Stephen Archer

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.

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