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
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