April 2017Going our way?

Spring is in the air, and with it petrolheads' thoughts turn to getting behind the wheel, road trips and convertibles. Where are you heading?

Tomorrow we leave for the German city of Essen, better known in our world as the sausage factory of shiny 300SLs and 'speculator special' 911s, to judge what's on offer and see who's buying. We'll report back from the front line but these days the best 'finds' seldom make it to trade fairs. It's always good though to meet industry colleagues and exchange views, news and plans. See you there!

March 2017High Speed Winter's Tale

We do get to have some fun in this business. Uncovering little known motoring stories is one of the most rewarding spin-offs of handling cars which have often belonged to famous, eccentric or notorious characters, and the human interest element brings metal, wood and rubber to life. When a client acquired a Miura with a very special first owner and gave us carte blanche to do what we thought appropriate with it, what do you think was the first thing that crossed our mind? Making a film, of course.

And the fact that no Miura had ever been driven up a snow-covered mountain to 2,400 metres in the middle of winter was a challenge too good to resist. Stay tuned for our high speed Winter’s Tale…

January 2017The Future Has Landed

So I took the plunge and ordered a BMW i8. Was it the right decision?

Stepping from a full fat, twin turbo, 600bhp V8 (the M6) into a three cylinder, 1500cc iPhone on wheels isn't the obvious move for a petrolhead fond of speed and power. Sure, it looks like a prop from Blade Runner but can you really get excited about something which whooshes when you'd normally expect a roar, hasn't required the felling of a rare breed of forest to decorate the interior, and that you have to remember to put on charge when you get home? (good luck)

It's early days yet but the surprising answer appears to be yes. The eureka moment came this weekend when for my first proper drive I visited a client in a ski resort which until the day before hadn't seen a flake of snow all winter, but overnight had become a slippery white piste. Usually in these situations you call to explain to a fellow car guy that your rear-wheel drive sports car can't get any further, and would he mind collecting you? When the i8 arrived up his Land Rover access-only driveway he couldn't believe his eyes. What's that? A McLaren? A Huracan? Oh, really? Mind if I take a closer look? 

One day I'll find the resolve to read the owner's manual but in the meantime I'm loving it. Next test: the gladiatorial arena known as the Italian Autostrada. Let's see how battery boy fares against the take-no-prisoners local heroes.

November 2016And now for something completely different...

From the heat scorched Spanish hills reverberating to the sound of an armada of Italian V12s, this week has been all about grace, space and Old World luxury. Not much beats the automotive equivalent of a gentlemen's club to navigate the historic streets of London, even in 21st century traffic. There's something inherently soothing about the whiff of Connolly leather, the distant burble of a nonchalant V8 and the poise of the Flying Lady mascot leading the way ahead. At almost 5.4 metres from bow to stern, she gets there some time before you. Just don't ask about parking.

Business? Hectic. McLaren F1s and Miura SVs seem to be much in demand, but we've also taken time to supervise Bugatti Type 35 and 57C restoration work, editing our next film and scheduling shooting of the 'Christmas Special', due to begin next week in the Alps. Gregor Fisken's dramatically-lit Kensington showroom re-opening party resembled an old school reunion, and his 'behind the scenes' tales over dinner afterwards reminded me that none of our challenges are unique. He had a full head of hair when we first met. Now he's talking about buying a Swinging Sixties Rolls-Royce to get around town...

October 2016Miura Meets Miura!

It's a wrap! This comes to you live from Andalusia in Spain where we've just celebrated the conclusion of an epic three-day tour to honour the Lamborghini Miura's 50th birthday. A record 23 Miuras and their owners arrived from the four corners of the globe – crews from Mexico City (8,999km away), Tokyo (11,123km) and Singapore (11,642km) travelled the furthest – to sample some of Europe's most picturesque roads, finest cooking and most historic landmarks, making new friendships and cementing old ones along the way.

A highlight was meeting the Miura brothers Don Antonio and Don Eduardo at the famous ranch where their family has bred Spain's most formidable fighting bulls for seven generations, from which Ferruccio Lamborghini took the name for his landmark supercar back in 1966. Neither brother had ever sat in a Miura, much less ridden in one. We remedied that.

Thanks to everyone who took part, and it's with some pride that there was only one non-finisher despite a punishing pace on and off the road. No proper car tour will now be complete without an 11am champagne and caviar stop...

See you in 2021 for the 55th!

September 2016Monterey Marathon: The Classic Car Olympics

There’s no less preparation and the stakes are equally high for the challengers. It just takes place every year rather than every four, and the only performance enhancing substances involved are octane booster and polish. Lots of it.

Auctions. Racing. Displaying. Dealmaking. These are the major sports in Monterey, and all the top players come to compete. 

The market spoke, and it made sense. The big show prize was awarded, and as usual the winner was much debated. Someone won the racing, but what was once the main event is now a (big) sideshow so well done whoever you are.

Top tips to take home from the peninsula? Where there’s a real seller there’s a real buyer. Silver haired owners judged by silver haired experts still rule the concours, which remains a pre-war club. And lastly, don’t try to escape using Monterey airport. “We’re in an overbooking situation" is a wonderful euphemism for “we’ve sold the same seat twice” if they haven’t already cancelled your flight. Option B is a taxi, and I now know the answer to the question: “Do you know the way to San Jose?”.

Monterey is a marathon on many levels, but if you want to stay ahead you can’t afford not to be there.

August 2016No Rest For The Wicked

The Le Mans 24 Hours? Monte Carlo Rally? No, this overnighter was the culmination of an even longer marathon: the three year restoration of a unique racing Ferrari in its homeland near Modena, where the air is warm and the Lambrusco chilled.
Our team have just finished returning the car to how it first looked when delivered to a gentleman driver in Geneva 46 years ago, and you’ll be able to judge whether the effort was worthwhile at the Pebble Beach concours in less than three weeks’ time. The coachbuilders applied the finishing touches late last night and the photographers then took over to record the result before a truck arrived at 7am to deliver the gold Ferrari to a cargo ‘plane headed for California. It’s a far cry from the snowy Swiss rallies where the car earned its spurs early in its life.
Colours are a very personal statement, but we’ve always believed that they’re also an important part of a car’s history. Not everyone agrees: one famous collector friend and client  insists that his cars can be any colour, as long as they were period options. I disagree: a car’s original colour is much more memorable than, say, its engine number, and original colours should be preserved. Ask a first owner or driver which they remember best: it won’t be the engine number…

July 2016Clash of the Titans

This comes to you live from the hangar of a Cold War air base in Germany's Black Forest, waiting for a rain storm to pass. Just a few yards away, being tended to by a team of mechanics and camera crew, sit two of the greatest supercars ever built. We're shooting our next video and asking if Bugatti's now out-of-production, 1,001bhp Veyron can follow the revered McLaren F1 to cult classic status. Outside, the runway is 3.5km long. Inside, a Le Mans winning driver is eyeing the sky.

We aim to find out...

July 2016Could this just be the best German car ever?

I’ve just dropped off my ’73 Porsche Carrera RS at Heathrow valet parking on a wet English day, having driven almost 1,000 miles in it over a long weekend. London traffic, rain, motorway driving, Goodwood mud, twisty Welsh roads getting past slow moving caravans – it devoured them all and not for a moment did I think “I’d rather be driving a…” Somehow everything comes together on this car, from the tactile, thin-rimmed steering wheel that dances in your fingers, to the satisfying clunk of the doors, the smooth swish of the electric windows and sunroof (very cool in ’73), to the great seats and visibility, luggage space, parkability… and that’s before I bore you with a glorious engine which revs happily to over 7,000rpm and sounds epic from the moment you fire it up. Oh, and the colour. Love it!

June 2016I've seen the future, and it's silent.

Those nice people at BMW – the same ones who provide me with a new M6 Gran Coupé every few months – just dropped off something I’d been curious to try for ages: the i8 coupé. Wow! Have you seen it up close? My colleague Emanuele summed it up as “the love child of a Prius and a DeLorean.” Someone else in the office commented “An iPhone on wheels”. Personally – being romantic – I thought early ‘70s M-Turbo show car meets Tron the sci-fi movie. First impressions? Try getting in with a car parked close to you – good luck. Once seated snugly inside, it’s pretty intuitive if you’re used to BMWs. ‘Engine start’ is familiar, but nothing happens. Try again – what little noise there was disappears. Try a third time – it’s like the first. Are we running? Yes, but not as we know it. Slipping the gear lever into ‘D’ and the car slides effortlessly and silently out of your parking spot. We’re off – and it’s surreal.

I need some space to try this thing properly, but it looks sinister, has a Jekyll and Hyde personality, goes almost as fast as the M6 and is huge fun on twisty roads. The luggage space is almost non-existent, charging looks daunting (but so did an iPhone to me) and there are lots of plasticky feeling surfaces inside for something which costs well into six figures. Do I want one? I’m still pondering, but I’m already looking forward to my next drive…


May 2016Here we go at last!

I’ll be sharing car stories, opinion, insider news and anything else which friends in the car world and I might talk about. ‘Simon Says’ is intended to be informal and more reactive than my monthly magazine columns or our company newsletters.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch, and I hope you enjoy it.