John Surtees is almost the forgotten man of British F1. The only man to win the World Championship on two wheels and four, unlike Sir Jackie and Sir Stirling he still lacks a knighthood despite his achievements and his work for charity.

Surtees won his seven motor cycle world championships racing for Italian manufacturer MV Augusta at a time when the championship included the daunting Isle of Man TT, an event he won three times. When he was 26 he switched to racing cars making his debut with Lotus. But he is best remembered on four wheels for winning the 1964 World Championship with Ferrari. After he left Ferrari he briefly raced for Honda before founding his own team in 1970. His greatest success as a team owner was winning the F2 Championship in 1972, his winning car being driven by fellow ex Motor Cycle champion Mike Hailwood. He folded his team in 1978 to concentrate on other interests. His son Henry was also a promising racer tragically killed in a freak accident during a F2 race in 2009. Since then Surtees has concentrated his efforts on the Henry Surtees Foundation, that raises money for those afflicted with brain injuries, and also on encouraging young drivers to make the step up to professional motor sport.

Surtees was one of the principal guests at Autosport International and he and others assembled for display a fine collection of the cars he raced and built. His championship winning Ferrari in particular is a rare sight in the UK, usually residing in California. As this is the 50th anniversary of Surtees’ F1 World Championship the cars are touring the country. Catch them at Mercedes Benz World, Brooklands in June. And join the campaign to get John the knighthood he so richly deserves..

20140127-123233.jpg

Championship winning Ferrari 158 – rare UK visitor

20140127-123329.jpg

20140127-123415.jpg

immaculate Team Surtees cars – iconic 70’s racers

20140127-123522.jpg

One of my favourite liveries as a boy – a racing car with my preferred toy car manufacturer emblazoned on the nose. Certainly more attractive than the later Team Surtees Durex sponsored cars..

The British Motor Show may well have died a death but, as capital of Europe’s motor sport industry, Britain can still put on an excellent racing car show. The Autosport International Show at the NEC in Birmingham is the biggest and best motor sport show in Europe catering both to the industry and the general public. As a motor sport licence holder I am able to get a ticket to the trade day on Friday before the show opens to the public at the weekend. Whilst the Friday has a greater focus on engineering than entertainment, the lack of crowds more than compensates.

Even on the Friday there was much to see. At the Autocar Magazine display area there were some fantastic cars including a McLaren MP4 GT racer, a Ferrari F12, a rather bland looking Aston Martin Vanquish and the new Jaguar XKRS -GT. The latter looked striking albeit the paint job and wing looked more Halfords boy race than Le Mans legend.

20140111-190625.jpg

Jaguar XKRS-GT – lairy..

20140111-190655.jpg

Rather nice carbon ceramic discs. Not sure about the yellow callipers though. Low profile tyres and rock hard suspension will allow this GT to rearrange your spine on England’s terrible roads

20140111-190722.jpg

Carbon fibre splitter and fins a bit OTT for me.

20140111-190754.jpg

Rear wing apparently very effective but looks like it was purchased at Halfords. Don’t try and look in your rear view mirror either..

The aero mods apparently provide much more down force and the suspension set up has been tweaked to provide a much better handling car. The interior looks good and the car is only going into very limited production. But why would you buy one? At nearly £140,000 it is near the price of an Aston Martin Vantage V12, a no doubt less reliable but far more classy car. And the value of the Jag will drop faster than a rock dropped off a cliff. If speed and performance is what you are after you would no doubt be much better off with a 911 Turbo or (for considerably less) a Nissan GTR.

The Jaguar XKR is a wonderful (if increasingly venerable) GT car. It is fast and comfortable. You can use it every day and when you drive 1000 miles in it you reach your destination feeling like you have only done 10. So why ruin that experience by trying to make the car something it is no – a sports car? Well Jaguar say the XKRS – GT is something of a test bed for the tweaks and changes that they intend to make to their out and out sports car, the F Type. I can’t help feeling that such performance “enhancements” would be much better on that car. So if you crave an extreme Jaguar sports car avoid the XKRS – GT, be patient, and snap up the extra hot iteration of the F Type that is surely coming.