Some interesting new iron (aluminium, carbon fibre …) at the FoS this year. Highlights below.

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The new Ford Mustang – finally available in right hand drive. Aggressive retro styling looks good – shame about the awful colour

 

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More “motor show” colours on the McLaren stand. Am I the only one who prefers the simple look of the MP4-12c nose to that on the new 650S nose? Must be as apparently there was so little continuing demand for the old car once the 650S was launched that they have now stopped making it.

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The Jaguar F Type Project 7 is an important car for Jaguar. Based on the slightly more extreme concept shown at last year’s FoS , the Project 7 is actually a production car – indeed the fastest production Jaguar ever. Its V8 is tuned up to 575 bhp – 25 more than the R Coupe. It also has bespoke aero, and trick suspension and diff with standard carbon ceramic brakes. The screen has a greater rake than the standard convertible and it has an D Type imitating faring behind the drivers role hoop. Inside it looks fairly standard and weather protection consists of a rather impractical clip on hood like the recent Boxster speedster. Its a striking car and they hope to sell 250, and only 60 in right hand drive. But what’s it for? Too comfortable and therefore heavy for a racer (and the rollover protection looks too scant) yet too uncomfortable for every day use. Is it therefore just for collectors and occasional track days?

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This stunning Jaguar SUV concept is far more likely to make JLR lots of money. Aimed at rivalling the Audi Q4, BMW X3 and especially the Porsche Macan it should perform well and in a different segment to current Land Rover products. I would certainly buy one. The bad news is that we are unlikely to see one for sale until 2018, with a hot version not to follow until 2019.

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VW ran their diminutive XL electric car up the hill. It looks like the future for urban transport but is very very small and very very expensive.

 

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The new Renault Twingo Sport looks like great fun. Based on the same platform as the new Smart 4-2 it has a rear mounted 1L turbocharged engine. Hot versions later this year should have 140 bhp making the car a mini 911!

There is always a fine selection of Le Mans sports cars at Goodwood ranging from those from the earliest days of racing to the very latest winning machines.

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Andy Wallace is reunited with his 1988 Le mans winning Jaguar XJR – 9

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This year’s Le man winning Audi e-Tron. Havings stumbled in the early rounds of this year’s World Sports Car championship they managed to win the race that really mattered. Sound familiar Peugeot?

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1970 Ferrari 512, just like in the film Le Mans..

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Mercedes high speed transporter carrying the fabulous Uhlenhaut Coupe (see previous posts from Stuttgart)

 

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This year’s Le Mans Toyota hybrid

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Gorgeous Jaguar D Type Le Mans winners – 55, 56, 57. This Ecurie Ecosse car won in 1957 and provided the design inspiration for the Project 7 Jaguar

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Vast V12 Sunbeam racer from 1920 and even bigger 1911 Fiat

Due to restrictions on testing (!) there were no contemporary Formula One cars tackling the hill at Goodwood this year. That did not stop some of the teams bringing cars for static display or bringing cars from previous seasons for their drivers and test drivers to run up the hill. Even then runs were restricted to demonstration performances with plenty of doughnuts and burnouts and very little speed. We had to look to the historic guys for real pace.

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Jenson Button in the McLaren MP4-26 he drove in 2012.

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Max Smith Hilliard in his 1972 Surtees TS9B. Seconds later he stuffed it into the bales at Molecombe corner. He was unhurt and at least he was trying!

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Legendary Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi driving the McLaren M23 with which he won McLaren’s first world title in 1974.

One of the best things about the Festival of speed is the close access to the drivers available for fans.

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British GP winner Johhny Herbert sharing a laugh at the Williams pit

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John Surtees was celebrating the 50th anniversary of his world championship with a class of cars and bikes associated with his career in action on the hill all weekend.

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An immaculately turned out Paddy Hopkirk reunited with his Monte winning Mini Cooper

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Twelve time World Motor Bike Trials champion Dougie Lampkin in action

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Felipe Massa reflecting on his good fortune to no longer be at Ferrari

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I had a good chat with Andy Wallace about Le Mans in 1988. The XJR made 250 mph down the pre chicane Mulsanne Straight. At night he could see so little as the lights were mounted so low that he had to pick out his braking points by calculating distances from land marks as they flashed by. To this day the XJR is the fastest car to have driven at Le mans. Andy has no desire to ever drive that fast again – he said it was something you could only do when young, fearless and lacking in imagination.

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A few miles west of the Spa circuit is the picturesque village of La Gleize. In the tiny village square, by the church high up on a hill sits a striking piece of Porsche engineering. The 70 ton King Tiger tank rests in the village where it ground to a halt nearly 70 years ago. When Hitler launched his final offensive in the West, known to the Americans as the Battle of the Bulge, the Tiger formed part of an SS battle group under the command of Nazi poster boy Joachim Pieper. The offensive was a failure and La Gleize was as far West as Pieper got. His battle group ran out of petrol and had to abandon all their vehicles. After the war scrap men cleared them all away but the Tiger was saved by the village inn keeper in exchange for a case of wine.

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Two big cats in the Ardennes

The flotsam of war in a small Belgian village.

The flotsam of war in a small Belgian village. One of Porsche’s earlier products..

The same tank in December 1944?

The same tank in December 1944?

When I visited the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart it was astonishing that no where was the War, or indeed Nazi Germany,  mentioned. Whilst Ferdinand Porsche’s role in developing the Volkswagen Beetle and the Silver Arrows racing cars was highlighted nothing was said of the driving force behind those projects, Adolf Hitler himself. Similarly no mention was made of Porsche’s significant design work for the Nazi war machine. The King Tiger at La Gleize is as much a Porsche as the Beetle.

In addition to his design work for the military Ferdinand Porsche also managed the Wolfsburg Volkswagen plant that by then was producing military vehicles. Forced and slave labour were widely used, something that led to Porsche’s imprisonment as a war criminal by the French at the end of the War. Again there was no mention of this at the Porsche Museum.

Ferdinand Porsche, gifted engineer and war criminal?

Ferdinand Porsche, gifted engineer and war criminal?

Even after the War Porsche as a company made some questionable decisions. One was to employ Joachim Pieper in a sales capacity in 1957. This was particularly questionable given Pieper had just been released from prison having served 11 years of a life sentence (which itself was a commuted death sentence) for the murder by his men of 86 US prisoners of war at Malmedy during the Battle of the Bulge. This was not an isolated incident. He and his men had previously established a brutal reputation for taking no prisoners and massacring civilians in Russia and in Italy. In the Ardennes they were responsible for killing at least 100 POWs (including 17 African Americans tortured to death) and several hundred civilians in towns such as Stavelot.

At the time they chose to employ him Pieper was not an obscure low level Nazi, he was an infamous war criminal. Furthermore he was widely known in Germany as Himmler’s former adjutant, a Knights Cross holder and the youngest Colonel in the SS. This was a man who by his own admission had visited concentration camps and witnessed the execution of Jews and the disabled without any moral qualms. What were Porsche thinking?

Pieper’s time with Porsche was brief. Unbelievably they had put him in charge of sales to America. When veterans organisations found out there was a public outcry and sales in the US suffered. Pieper was quietly sacked, but with compensation, in 1960.

It is inevitable that companies such as Porsche would have become involved in the dark side of German life under the Nazis. What is unforgivable is the denial demonstrated by Porsche at its Museum and generally. By contrast Mercedes Benz at their Museum (also in Stuttgart) pull no punches when describing their role under the Nazis. Their shame and embarrassment when talking about their use of slave labour and their role in equipping Hitler’s war machine, seem genuine. Porsche could learn something from them.

Nestled amongst pine clad hills, Spa is one of the oldest and most legendary of the Formula 1 circuits. They started racing here 100 years ago as a novel alternative to the then popular city to city races. The current circuit is often mentioned by Formula 1 drivers as their favourite and the plunge downhill to Eau Rouge before the climb up to Les Combes is regarded as one of the most perfect racing corners in the world. I have never driven the current circuit but doing so is certainly on my bucket list.

I was last at Spa for the Belgian GP in 1998. The weather was unusually fine but the race was dull. Schumacher and Ferrari were in their pomp and pretty soon the race began to resemble the sort of dull processions that did so much to turn off fans in the Schumacher era. Even sitting at the bottom of Eau Rouge could not make things more interesting and that race was the last F1 race I went to for 12 years.

The Spa circuit we see today is only a fraction of the Spa circuit that was in use from 1902 until 1978. That circuit was much much longer at 15km in length and had a reputation for appalling weather and danger as notorious as that of its near neighbour across the German border, the Nurburgring.

The typically wet weather, the lack of run off and the brooding trees claimed many lives, even before the War. Dick Seaman was killed here in his works Mercedes on 1939. Throughout the fifties and sixties lap times shortened as cars got quicker. Inevitably the danger increased. For example the 1960 GP claimed two British drivers, Chris Bristow and Alan Stacey. Stirling Moss was also injured.

The weather for the 1966 race was awful and Jackie Stewart had a serious accident he was lucky to survive. Having crashed on a remote part of the track he had to rely on fellow competitor Graham Hill to pull him from his car. Jackie has often said that it was this accident that started his campaign for better safety in Formula 1.

Those running Spa made little effort to make the circuit safer and F1 ceased to race on the old circuit in 1970. Sports car racing continued, lap times got quicker still and the death toll mounted. Three drivers died in the 1973 Spa 1000km race. The lap record (that still stands) was set in that era by Pedro Rodriguez in a Porsche 917 at an incredible average speed of over 150 mph.

Finally, in 1978 the old circuit was closed and reconfigured. It was reopened in the shorter form we see today and GP racing returned in 1983. The public roads that bore the old circuit reverted to full time public highways and can be driven today.

You join the old circuit at Les Combes and meander slowly down hill through the village of Burneville. It’s pretty straight and an F1 car would be going very fast as you enter the long right hander at the bottom of the hill. Houses and junctions keep your speed down and it is hard to believe you are on such a notorious circuit.

The long straight between Malmedy and Stavelot is interrupted by the infamous Masta Kink. It’s been tightened in modern times but its old configuration can be seen in the lay – by that sits where the wicked left / right must have terrified drivers in the past. Motorsport’s famous correspondent Dennis Jenkinson used to sit above the Kink and watch and listen to the passing racers to see who could take the Kink flat out and who would lift off. To him it was the ultimate test of a driver.

Just before Stavelot a cambered right hander takes the old circuit back towards Blanchimont and the new circuit. The crumbling Tarmac and flaking Armco at the beginning of this stretch are from the original circuit. Finally, with little traffic and few houses, it is possible to open up the throttle a bit. The road is very straight and its easy to see why the old circuit was so fast. Pretty soon you arrive at some huge gates that mark the point the old circuit joins the new, but for at least a few seconds its possible to imagine how Fangio, Moss, Stewart and Rodriguez must have felt all those years ago.

Below: Masta Kink isn’t what it used to be; Blanchimont gates; Rodriguez’s Porsche 917

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Earlier this week I was invited to one of the London launches of the new Jaguar F Type sportscar. It’s hard to underestimate the importance of the F Type to Jaguar who have not produced a true sports car since they started sticking v12’s in the E type. The F Type is to be Jaguar’s Range Rover Evoque. A car intended to appeal to new audiences and sell well in the vital US market.

Ian Callum, Jaguar’s brilliant designer, was at the launch along with Jaguar’s marketing director. I remember speaking enthusiastically about my XKR to Callum at an RAC dinner a few years ago. He said he was glad I liked it but told me how disappointed he was that it did not sell so well. I suspect the problem is that the thirty and forty something men the car is aimed at prefer a sports car to a GT. And whilst they have had a lot of alternatives from which to chose, the sportscar market is dominated by Porsche. Last year they sold more 911’s alone than Jaguar sold of all models. For these typical customers a credible Jaguar sports car will need to compete with the 911 and also, crucially, the Boxster and Cayman. Is it, however, any coincidence that the press, busy testing the superb new Cayman, have not yet been allowed anything more than passenger rides in the F Type? Are Jaguar afraid of the comparisons that may be made with the F Type? A car that will cost more than the Boxster and Cayman equivalents?

At the launch the Jaguar staff circulating with the guests reiterated again and again the point that the F Type is a different proposition to the Boxster / Cayman. It’s a traditional British front engine rear wheel drive sports car. That may be so but will a buyer not steeped in Jaguar lore really want to buy a sports car that is dynamically leas accomplished and more expensive than the equivalent Porsche?

Much was made at the launch of the F type attracting new, younger customers to the brand. The evening started with clouds of dry ice, a hip female DJ playing cool contemporary club classics and a moody video of Lana Del Ray warbling through a lacklustre song “inspired” by the F Type. Despite this the majority of those attending were older than me, and I’m well into my forties. It seems Jaguar need to do a bit more to widen their demographic.

The three cars on show did look stunning though leaving each of their boots open to show they could take a bag of golf clubs perhaps demonstrated that they have not quite forgotten about their core customers!

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Lana Del Ray cooly warbles through the F type’s theme but that guy in front really is wearing a tank top

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Nice carbon fibre detail on alloy wheels

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Even the old boys like the car..

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…maybe because they can be sure they can get their golf clubs in