Lam­borgh­ini Aven­ta­dor Road­ster, As­ton Martin DBS Volante, Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0, Ariel Atom & Mclaren 720S

Five dif­fer­ent cars, one owner’s mis­sion: to drive them like they were meant to be driven

Evo - - FAST FLEET - John Black (@john_ m_ black)

THERE IS SOME­THING VERY SPE­CIAL about new car day. Not nec­es­sar­ily brand new, just new to me, and it’s likely you’ve ex­pe­ri­enced this too since you’re read­ing this mag­a­zine. Those days are of­ten the cul­mi­na­tion of hours of re­search, por­ing over old copies of evo and read­ing again the ar­ti­cles that were first read with in­ter­est, but are now read in­tently with the eyes of an information-hun­gry prospec­tive owner.

I’ve been lucky enough to have quite a few of those days over the years, with the sub­se­quent re­al­ity of own­ing and run­ning su­per­cars on a day-to-day ba­sis. I’m look­ing for­ward to shar­ing some of those ex­pe­ri­ences with you in my Fast Fleet re­ports.

I’m John Black – car en­thu­si­ast, avid evo reader since the mag­a­zine’s launch and for­tu­nate owner of sev­eral won­der­ful cars. My cur­rent fleet in­cludes a Mclaren 720S Launch Edi­tion, a Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0, a Lam­borgh­ini LP700 Aven­ta­dor Road­ster, an As­ton Martin DBS Volante Car­bon Black, and a glo­ri­ously mad Ariel Atom.

I don’t like to use the word ‘col­lec­tion’ to de­scribe my cars, since that con­jures up the wrong idea of why I own them. Each one has been bought to drive and en­joy on road and oc­ca­sion­ally track, by me and also some friends, with whom I take the cars away on driv­ing trips each year. The cars are not mol­ly­cod­dled, wrapped in cot­ton wool or tucked away in de­hu­mid­i­fied tents. Own­ing these cars is lots of fun, and driv­ing them is a mas­sive part of the en­joy­ment for me.

I have tried to en­sure that the cars in my garage don’t have too much cross­over in pur­pose or the thrills that they can of­fer, so that each has its ideal day and mo­ment. Over my next few re­ports I’ll try to ex­plain why I have the cars I do, and what niche they each fill in the sta­bles.

The most re­cent ad­di­tion to the Black fleet is the Azores Or­ange Launch Edi­tion 720S. For me, it fills the role of the mod­ern­day turbo su­per­car. I wanted to ex­pe­ri­ence some­thing bang up to date, some­thing born of the sig­nif­i­cant de­vel­op­ments in ma­te­ri­als, tur­bocharg­ing and aero in the last few years. I like the way the Mclaren shape has evolved from the orig­i­nal MP4-12C through to the 675LT, so the 720S was on my short­list.

I rarely buy cars new, even more rarely cars I’ve never seen, so when a Mclaren-own­ing friend of­fered me his build slot on the car known then as the P14, it was a leap of faith. The de­posit was duly paid on a Launch Edi­tion model with full car­bon and the track cam­era pack. (I’ve more re­cently put down a de­posit on an Ariel Hiper­car, so I’ve clearly not been put off buying a car blind by my Mclaren ex­pe­ri­ence. The Ariel will fill the newly de­fined niche in the sta­bles of ‘elec­tric hy­per­car’.)

The launch pic­tures of the 720S from Geneva were a great re­lief and I love the way the car looks, even more so in the metal now that it’s fi­nally ar­rived. There’s a hint of Pa­gani from cer­tain an­gles and I love the un­con­ven­tional air­flow through head­lights and doors. On the move the way the car gath­ers pace is un­like any­thing else I own; it’s a prop­erly rapid tech­no­log­i­cal won­der.

On de­liv­ery day the Mclaren han­dover man ex­plained that the car would ‘re­de­fine fast’ com­pared with my Aven­ta­dor, my other

700bhp car. He was partly right. It’s more about the way the 720S cre­ates its speed, as even when short-shift­ing at 4000rpm it feels like it’s on a drag-strip record at­tempt. By com­par­i­son, the Aven­ta­dor saves its party tricks for the top end of the rev range, where the fire­works and as­so­ci­ated awe kick-in for driver and pas­sen­ger alike. The Lam­borgh­ini feels at times more ex­cit­ing as a re­sult, even if it’s not ‘re­defin­ing fast’ as clin­i­cally as the Mclaren. That said, the 720S is a won­der­ful ad­di­tion to the fleet and I’m look­ing for­ward to ex­plor­ing its un­doubted breadth of tal­ent.

In my fleet the Aven­ta­dor Road­ster plays the part of A-list celebrity, and oc­ca­sional high-main­te­nance diva, but it’s a won­der­ful car in which to tackle the sweep­ing tun­nels and viaducts along the Ital­ian Riviera. I’ve had the plea­sure of tak­ing the Aven­ta­dor and some Fer­raris I’ve pre­vi­ously owned on road trips with pals to Italy, where these cars are pos­i­tively revered and cel­e­brated. I love the noise of this Lam­borgh­ini, the drama, the pace and the smiles it at­tracts. Whilst def­i­nitely not an own­er­ship prospect for the shy and re­tir­ing, for me it’s worth all of its com­pro­mises and the oc­ca­sion­ally painful run­ning costs.

The 997 GT3 RS 4.0 is a car I’ve owned for two years now, the writ­ers on this mag­a­zine hav­ing fu­elled a huge ap­petite for it, not least with its evo Car of the Year win in 2011. It is the scalpel to the Aven­ta­dor’s sledge­ham­mer, and in spite of the power on of­fer it never feels like it’s try­ing to bite. The moun­tains near where I live are the per­fect habi­tat for this car and on the Route Napoléon it shines like I doubt few oth­ers could. I’m plan­ning to take it on track at Paul Ri­card soon, where it will do bat­tle for thrills with my Ariel Atom. I can’t wait.

By com­par­i­son, the As­ton Martin DBS is the con­sum­mate classy GT — roof up or down. It’s the car to take Mrs Black to din­ner in, and yet it still turns its hand so ca­pa­bly to a blast on the roads around Gorges du Ver­don. I had al­ways longed for a four-seat su­per­car and this was for some time the pin­na­cle of my car am­bi­tions. It has been all I’d hoped for, too. It hasn’t missed a beat and it makes sim­ply the most glo­ri­ous sound; an­other keeper for now.

I’ve sev­eral trips planned for 2018. The 911 and Atom will re­turn to the Route Napoléon; there’s a group trip to the Col de Turini in the 720S, 911, DBS and Aven­ta­dor; the Lam­borgh­ini and Mclaren are go­ing to Sant’agata in the sum­mer; and three cars are go­ing to the Best of Italy Race in Emilia Ro­magna.

I look for­ward to shar­ing these and var­i­ous other su­per­car-own­ing mo­ments with you in my fu­ture re­ports. Un­til next time…

‘ The Aven­ta­dor plays the part of A-list celebrity — a won­der­ful car in which to tackle the tun­nels and viaducts along the Ital­ian Riviera’

Far left: Lam­borgh­ini Aven­ta­dor Road­ster, As­ton Martin DBS Volante and Ariel Atom of­fer very dif­fer­ent open-top thrills. Left: Al­can­tara abounds in the Mclaren. Be­low: John Black loves the lines of his re­cently ac­quired Mclaren 720S

Above: Ariel Atom, soon to be joined on the Black fleet by the bat­tery-pow­ered Ariel Hiper­car

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