Archive for the ‘Bentley’ Category

It is easy to get carried away with numbers. Life seems to be measured in millions or billions these days and when Barclays Bank announced a recent drop in quarterly profits from £1.15 billion to £793 million the media led us to believe that bankers were were about to throw themselves off the top of the company’s HQ in Canary Wharf. Time to get a grip we think.

Numbers have got a little out of hand in the car world too now and we have seen deals closed at 1 million pounds plus at a rate never seen before in our time as ‘supercar’ brokers. That is fine and dandy of course but in reality the vast majority of petrolheads have now found themselves following the pursuits of car-spotters and dream-chasers on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram in search of car-pornography to satisfy their lust for automotive nirvana.

We thought, therefore it was time to challenge ourselves to find out which cars can provide the necessary ‘supercar’ fix for car-lovers who don’t happen to have access to the cash reserves of a Russian oligarch but also want a car they can drive without being ‘papped’ on the way to the supermarket.

The initial criteria for creating the ‘affordable’ short-list was as follows:

  • A purchase budget of no more than £50,000
  • Ideally at least 300 bhp power output (or power to weight ratio)
  • a zero to 60 mph time of less than around 5 seconds
  • Modern-ish without being called a ‘modern classic’
  • The car should be a crowd-puller (that was the hardest part)
  • A car that people will give way to at junctions with pleasure (actually that was the hardest part and unlikely to be the case with a few of these cars)

Of course £50k is still an awful lot of money for the vast majority of British citizens but we are assuming that a car-fanatic will be prepared to sell his grandmother in order to acquire the car of his dreams (sorry Nan!). That figure is also roughly a third of what you might expect to pay to become a junior member of the ‘supercar club’ if you were buying a brand new car.

So not in order of preference but in order of the alphabet here we go, including a link to one we have found for sale in order to prove the point:

alfa-romeo-4c-1-75-tbi-2dr-tct-158137613-1Alfa Romeo 4c – the company appears to have found its mojo again with the 4c and hopefully Alfa will start producing great cars again. The 4c has the looks, the noise and the pulling power to compete with its Ferrari cousins without the need for the driver to wear his shirt open to the navel. Drives like a dream and looks cool in any colour. For sale: http://bit.ly/21fCM7e

ariel-atom-all-models-S2188351-1

Ariel Atom 3 300 – a left-field choice but certainly one that would get you noticed parked next to an alien spaceship from Mars. For those drivers who have a masochistic tendency and enjoy being exposed to the elements of nature. This car will try to tear the skin off your face and an Aventador would do well to keep up with an Atom in any drag race. Dare to be different! For sale: http://bit.ly/1UhRZE1

aston-martin-vantage-v8-2dr-n400-limited-edition-33-240-141948863-1Aston Martin Vantage V8 N400 – actually for £50k we could have opted for a DB9 (Coupe or Volante) or a Vanquish. Anything with an ‘Aston Martin’ badge is super-cool anyway so our choice is academic. The V8 Vantage N400 is fast, has a manual gearbox, just enough toys, made in limited numbers and ticks all of the right boxes for us. For sale: http://bit.ly/1rAohPA

audi-r8-4-2-fsi-quattro-2dr-157881774-1Audi R8 – really didn’t think it would be possible but in fact there is a surprising number of R8’s available on the market for less than our target buy-price. It is nearly ten years since the R8 was first launched and yet it still looks fresh today. There probably isn’t another car in our top twenty that can emulate the R8 and look like it is worth twice the price. The family-man choice, however, would be the RS6. For sale: http://bit.ly/1VVSbKd

bmw-m6-S2324909-1 (1)BMW M6 – More of a Grand Tourer than a street-racer but none the worse for that. A stonking 560 bhp on tap means that progress will be rapid and a trip to Monaco can be done in the blink of an eye. The roomy cabin means you can take three mates on the trip with you too! If, on the other hand, you really do need four doors then an understated F10 M5 can be bought for similar money. For sale: http://bit.ly/1VWgCY7

bentley-continental-gt-gt-speed-08my-S2326448-1Bentley Continental GT Speed – Formerly the chariot of choice for Premier League footballers the Conti GT has matured very nicely and fitted with the 600 bhp W12 engine you won’t find another car in this list with a badge that can rub shoulders with the best company out there. The shape still looks current too because thankfully Bentley has kept the cosmetic updates to a mild make-over level over the years. For Sale: http://bit.ly/1XWP0jt

ferrari-360-S2315344-1Ferrari 360 Modena – Trying to buy a fairly modern Ferrari for less than £50k was always going to be tricky but we were determined to get one on our list of favourites. However we did cheat slightly because that budget will get you a left hand drive 360 and nothing else right hand drive will come close. Get one in Rosso Corsa with Crema interior and your mates will think you have just won the lottery. For sale: http://bit.ly/1YVhomc

ford-mustang-S2221654-1Ford Mustang GT500 Shelby – In the 60’s Steve McQueen made us all fall in love with his Highland Green GT 390 Fastback in the film Bullitt and the name Mustang still conjures up the stirring car-chase footage from the film. The car you can buy today will definitely be quicker with anything from 600 upwards available depending on which version you buy. The American V8 soundtrack is worth every penny! For sale: http://bit.ly/1XWSdPU

honda-nsx-honda-nsx-3-0-v6-non-pas-earliest-in-uk-149072729-1Honda NSX – Massively under-rated initially but the NSX turned out to be a giant-killer with Ferrari very much in its sights. The fabulous engine, superb handling and sensible list price meant that in spite of its mass-market origins Honda had managed to produce a proper supercar of its own. Technically because of its age now it is technically a ‘modern classic’ and shouldn’t be in this list – but it is, so there. For sale: http://bit.ly/1UiXL8u

jaguar-f-type-5-0-v8-s-quickshift-2dr-meridian--sport-exhaust-154073136-3Jaguar F-Type V8 Supercharged – We could have equally gone for the Supercharged V6 but the V8 F-Type just tips the balance on the mental scale. Over-the-top explosive exhaust note will have pedestrians running for cover and a rear-wheel-drive set-up that makes for some of the easiest rubber-burning wheel-spins on the planet. Smile factor is huge and with the roof down the search for tunnels will be high on the agenda. For sale: http://bit.ly/1qXh4s1

lamborghini-gallardo-5-0-v10-coupe-2d-494-bhp-148500251-1Lamborghini Gallardo – Disappointingly we couldn’t find anything to fit below our budget in the classifieds but there are some that come close. Lambo’s are holding their values well these days and a Gallardo can still pull a few glances when it is out and about. We think that if you were determined enough to haggle with a dealer and not too fussy about the mileage of the car then there is a Gallardo out there for you. For sale: http://bit.ly/21gPmDg

lotus-exige-s3-s-race-and-premium-S2319035-1Lotus Exige S 3.5 V6 – Lotus has come a long way since the Elise of the late 90’s and in spite of the turbulent history of the company over recent years there have been some interesting developments in product development and big improvements in build quality. Lotus has produced some of the best chassis designs ever since the beginning of time and the Exige will embarrass almost anything on the track. For sale: http://bit.ly/1qXkj2L

mercedes-benz-c-class-saloon-mercedes-amg-c63-156232639-1Mercedes Benz C63 AMG – Like many of the other cars in this list the 6.3 litre V8 C63 AMG makes a delicious sound. Start one up from cold and and the ferocious bark sounds like an angry demon stirring from its sleep. At first sight the C63 looks a little like a C250 with an AMG kit but that is half the attraction really because you can poodle around and blend in with the traffic knowing you have 500 bhp on hand. For sale: http://bit.ly/1XX9NDr

morgan-aero-8-aero-8-S2330125-1Morgan Aero 8 – It doesn’t get any more old-school than Morgan but the company knows how to produce a fast car when it wants to and they are a familiar sight on many race tracks around the world. The BMW V8-powered Aero 8 packs a punch in standard form for the road and is another soft-top in our selection that produces a glorious sound. Its quirky shape means you will get lots of friendly waves too. For sale: http://bit.ly/1rlgdBU

nissan-gt-r-black-edition-159531207-1Nissan GT-R – Another Jap that has spoilt the party for many of the premium brands amongst the high-performance pack. The GT-R has been developed to within an inch of its life and the result is that it shows you don’t need to spend a six-figure sum to buy a car to scare the life out of you whilst losing your driving licence. The GT-R takes on all-comers – just check out the YouTube drag-race videos! For sale: http://bit.ly/1TyR7IY

noble-m400-S2322831-1Noble M400 – If speed is high on your list of priorities then a rare, low-volume production Noble could be right up your street. Zero to 60 mph will be in the 3 second category and if you are brave enough you could push the car to 200 mph. The car is built by the same people who build the Superperformance GT40 and they know a thing or two about fast race cars. Your individuality will be applauded with a Noble. For sale: http://bit.ly/24n03WY

porsche-cayman-24v-s-pdk-148377119-1Porsche Cayman 3.4S – We couldn’t have an Exige in our list without including it’s nemesis the Porsche Cayman. Everything the Lotus can do , the Cayman will try to better it. Not always successfully but in a way that appeals to the more conservative buyer who has build-quality and longevity as their main priorities. The Cayman also threatens its big brother, the 911, in terms of value for money these days. For sale: http://bit.ly/1UjM4hO

porsche-911-turbo-997-turbo-tiptronic-s-S2240456-1Porsche 911 (997) Turbo – Porsche has produced so many variants of the 911 that the choice at £50k is mind-blowing. However, putting aside the GT3 and RS offerings, a 911 Turbo is a wet-dream for any car enthusiast. The performance figures are academic because most people will never have the chance to test the car to its limits and too many will not want to even use it to protect its residual value which is a shame. For sale: http://bit.ly/1WtnP0L

tesla-roadster-S2265010-1Tesla Roadster – Yes there is an electric car in our list and because we wanted a Tesla our choice was limited to the Roadster. You simply can’t buy a Model S (our preferred choice) for anywhere near £50k, at the moment at least. The Roadster is, however, related to the Lotus Elise, has set several world records for electric-powered cars and can get to 60 mph in less than four seconds. That’s why we chose it. For sale: http://bit.ly/1NXEEKx

ultima-all-models-S2050340-1Ultima GTR – it is a coincidence that the ultimate car on our list should be an Ultima. However, it might also be literally the ultimate of our car choices for £50k because it is the fastest car here. Designed originally by Lee Noble (yes, the very same of Noble Cars) the Ultima GTR can blow most ‘hypercars’ into the weeds for acceleration, including the Veyron. Need we say more? For sale: http://bit.ly/1UjTiSU

So there you have it, these are our, albeit subjective, choices for an alternative supercar for around £50k or less. You might disagree and if so, feel free to tell us which cars either shouldn’t be in our top twenty or point out some we may well have over-looked.

The links to the cars for sale have all been taken from the Pistonheads classified listings and you may indeed find better buys from other sources. Some of the cars we have found may also have been sold by the time you have read this article.

Let us know if you need any help looking for your ideal supercar for £50k by giving The Car Spy a call on 01892 506970 – we will be happy to assist you.

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It is hard to believe that the shape of the Continental has been with us for more than 12 years now and with the odd cosmetic tweak and engine upgrade it has managed to establish itself as the best selling Bentley by far. In fact, it is the main reason the company is now considered to be an instantly recognisable global brand which is no mean feat for a single model. Who knows, the Conti might do for Bentley what the 911 has done for Porsche over the decades.

In these times, it is the marketing man who sits at the top table with the company bosses and they look to him to mix his magic potions to eke out every drop of dream-inspiring imagery to help maintain market share of their brand and individual models. The Continental is a good example.

Think of a jolly jaunt down to Monaco in the blink of an eye, wafting along in a near-silent W12 to arrive refreshed at the Casino in time for a game or two of Black Jack.

How about a raucous blast in the Scottish Glens with a glorious V8 under the bonnet while the sports suspension lets you attack corners like Lewis Hamilton?

Fancy a cruise along the Pacific Highway from LA to San Diego? You can just picture yourself in a Continental GTC with the roof down soaking up the sun and the miles listening to Pink Floyd on the Naim audio system.

Get the point? Along with breaking ice speed records it seems there is a Continental for every occasion and for almost every year of production Bentley has tinkered with the ingredients to keep the model fresh in the public’s eye.

So far we have seen…..Mulliner Driving Specs, a Diamond Series, a GTZ, Series 51, Supersports, Speed 80-11 Editions, Design Series China, ISR Edition, GT Speed, GT Le Mans, GT3, GT V8S and GT3-R. Creative or what?

Most Continentals you will find on the road today will be the staple W12 or V8 Coupe but every now and then a ‘special edition’ will appear on our radar and this time it is a 2010 GT Speed W12.

The ‘Speed’ part of the moniker means that (for the 2010 year model) you could expect a not insignificant 602hp instead of the ‘standard’ car’s 552hp whilst sitting on slightly lowered suspension. In other words, it will give you an almighty shove in the back when you want it and is a genuine 200+ mph GT.

Finished in Moonbeam Silver with Beluga hide interior we have been asked to find a buyer for a particularly nice example of a GT Speed which was registered in May 2010 and has completed only 14000 miles since new. A recent service complements the already comprehensive history for the car and the MOT expires in May 2017.

This GT Speed car comes with the following optional extras:-

20″ Speed Dark Tint finish alloy wheels fitted with very good Pirelli PZero tyres, Convenience Specification, Front Massage Seats, Linen Contrast Stitching, Piano Black Trim, Alloy Fuel Filler Cap, CD Changer, Bluetooth, Rear View Camera, TV Tuner, Power Boot Function, Rear View Camera, Space-saving Spare Wheel, Drilled Alloy Sports Pedals, Multi-function Heated Steering Wheel in Single-tone Hide Trim with Brushed Switch Surround, Clear Protection Film to Front and Rear, Mirrors and Side Sills, Bright Chromed Matrix Grille plus Bright Chromed Lower Bumper Matrix Grille, Valet Key.

The following are standard features on the GT Speed:-

Auto-dimming Rear View Mirror, Bi-Xenon Headlamps, Automatic Headlights, Cruise Control, Diamond-quilted Seats, Diamond-quilted Leather Inserts, Electric Steering Column with Easy Exit, Key-less Entry, Heated Electric Seats, Power-fold Heated Mirrors with Memory, Telephone Voice Control, Infotainment System including Satellite Navigation, Multi-zone Climate Control, Rain-sensor Wipers, Tyre Pressure Monitoring, Ultrasonic Park Distance Control Front and Rear.

Phew – not many boxes were left unticked with this car it seems!

This splendid car is on sale at £67,250 so to find out more give The Car Spy a call on 01892 506970 or email sales@thecarspy.net

Please note that part exchanges may be considered.

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You know those ’scam’ emails you get, the ones where a man from (insert dodgy unspecified country) offers you either a large amount of money from a recently deceased, previously unknown family member, or they offer you a LaFerrari for 50 grand? Well of course they are always too good to be true. This was almost one of those situations. The email had come via Dawn at Rain PR, it came through to Richard and he forwarded to me along with the words ‘Wow…that is some invite!’

It was a private invitation to Le Mans for one of us, plus 39 other guests. Aston Martin pit access, your own private Le Mans ‘Fixer’ private ‘glamping-style facilities’ on site, there would also be booze and food also offered as part of the hospitality…

After speaking to the lady in question on the phone and confirming that everything was kosher, the short straws were drawn and fortunately I (Mark) drew the longest one, so would be the representative for TheCarSpy.Net over the duration of the weekend.

Dawn at Rain PR (Pistonheads PR partner) e-mailed me to say everything was confirmed and I would be receiving a special package via UPS the day before I would be due to leave (Friday the 12th). Katie Blake from Rain called me to check that I had received my parcel and that I had everything I needed for the trip, she would be our guide and personal assistant with us for the duration of our stay. It contained tickets, instructions and a PHLMS 2015 T-Shirt and Hoodie.

Thanks Pistonheads! #PHLM2015

Thanks Pistonheads! #PHLM2015

Friday 12th – Le Mans arrival day

It was confirmed that I would be travelling to Le Mans by train, there was an option to travel by Bentley – (more on that to follow) but I decided that with the likely high intake of alcohol about to be consumed the train would be the better option for me. My Rain PR Le Mans prep pack informed me that I would be travelling with Stuart Masson from The Car Expert, I hadn’t met Stuart before but had heard about and read his blog. We exchanged a few messages before leaving and agreed it was easier to meet at the Eurostar Terminal at St Pancras.

After doing some last minute emails I left our offices just after 9 am and headed up to St Pancras to meet Stuart, he had told me to keep an eye out for his ‘Olympic Sized’ Australian flag (I thought he was joking!) that he had bought with him in support of fellow Aussie and Porsche LMP1 driver – Mark Webber…so as you can imagine it wasn’t particularly hard to spot Stuart when I did arrive at the terminal!

Meet and greet, Euros withdrawn and check-in sorted, we grabbed a quick snack and boarded the Eurostar to head to Paris.

We decided not to drink until we arrived at LeMans, the journey was spent mainly discussing current cars, general car chat and just about anything car-related. One thing that became obvious to me pretty quickly was the fact Stuart is hugely into motorsport – with a particular passion for the 24 hour race. I’d like to think I know quite a substantial amount about cars but to be fair, other than F1 I really don’t know a great deal about motorsport. The Car Expert then set about educating me on the different classes within Le Mans, what they meant, the drivers, which manufacturer was likely to win etc, etc.

The journey passed relatively quickly, we were booked on a train from Paris Montparnasse to Le Mans so would have to use our limited knowledge of GCSE French to navigate the Metro system (which is massive, slow and very hot) but we survived and resurfaced from the catacombs of Paris to board our train to LeMans. I must admit I was impressed with the TGV, its arguably quicker, cleaner and more efficient than the Eurostar. 

We were receiving constant updates on WhatsApp from the PH crew travelling by Bentley convoy of their arrival times and status. Bentley Cambridge had kindly provided Pistonheads with four brand-new Bentleys – a Continental Flying Spur (CFS – as it’s known in the trade), GT Continental (GTC), GT Speed and a stunning flagship Mulsanne.

CFS, GTC and Mulliner

CFS, GTC and Mulliner

GT Speed W12

GT Speed W12

@Bentley_Cambs ...you know you want to...

@Bentley_Cambs …you know you want to…

Upon our arrival, Catherine had texted us to say that Katie’s phone had died so we had some time to kill. Stuart suggested we head to the town square to watch the drivers parade. It was absolutely jam-packed so we headed to a bar with some outdoor seating to take in the sights, sounds and have our first pint (or two) together. If we could see the actual parade then apparently it looked something like this: (WOW. – thanks McLaren!)

CHUsmE_WEAATSLn.jpg-large

The text from Katie came, so we headed to the tram stop that would take us all the way to LeMans. It was a short and relatively easy journey and the stop was a 5 minute walk from our private PH camp. After some faffing around and general confusion about which direction we were supposed to be heading, we managed to find Katie and she led us to the camp.

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Upon arrival at the camp, we were shown the facilities and our tents for the trips, and introduced to the rest of the guests. The PH team made themselves known to us and the rest of the guests and within 20 minutes we were sat having a drink and a superbly cooked meal with Lee Williams (Executive Director of Pistonheads). After talking about cars, business and general PH-type chat for a long time, we decided it would be best to head to the ‘Pie and Piston’ – a Pistonheads-themed English Pub to mix it with other PH’ers and members. It was a quaint little set up that enough space for a beer garden and general pub-rowdiness. We met some interesting people including a great chap called Mike that had just taken delivery of his brand new Bentley GT3 R. He had been invited down by Bentley Cambridge to drive the car on the Mulsanne circuit as part of the celebrations. After chatting and drinking for quite some time (I even bumped into some old school friends – Si, Sean, Rob etc!) we decided it was probably best to head back (at 3am!) to be fresh for the big day.

Mike's GT3 R - Supplied by Bentley Cambridge

Mike’s GT3 R – Supplied by Bentley Cambridge

Does exactly what it says on the tin...

Does exactly what it says on the tin…

Saturday 13th – Le Mans Race Day 

The day I lost my Le Mans virginity.

Full-English was the best start to the day in such circumstances. Waking up at Le Mans is a bit like waking up in some kind of war zone, all you can hear is helicopters, screaming tyres and people shouting. Feeling slightly groggy, and the temperature at 26 degrees C (at 9am) some of us decided it may be an idea to go for a wander and see what we could find.

Stuart and I walked down to the car park not far from our camp site to be greeted by the PH VIP cars and also the McLaren VIP’s next door. It was a compound full of P1’s, F1’s, 575’s and just about every McLaren imaginable…BUT it was cordoned off and I couldn’t see anybody from McLaren that I recognised. We really wanted to get in so we started to charm the lady at the gate in our best/worst English ‘with a French sounding accent’ whist pulling sad faces and somehow it worked…we were in! We managed to have a quick chat with a few people that we knew (between the photos) one being Tim Burton, AKA Shmee150 who’s fresh back from his Gumball 3000 trip across Northern Europe and the USA.

Can you guess what it is yet?

Can you guess what it is yet?

McLaren were making quite a large song and dance about their involvement over the weekend – This was because it was the 20th anniversary of the F1 GTR winning the Le Mans 24 Hour. As you can see from the photos below, they really wheeled out the big guns….

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We decided it best to walk up the race village, this is a purpose-built area full of bars, display cars, show cars, sponsor items, and interesting things (there was a 911 GT3 RS Cup built from LEGO!)…It was also a good time to catch up with some more of the VIP crew and chat about cars and life in general. Katie introduced me to Nihal, a lovely Land Rover enthusiast from op’ north who’s big into cars and shooting (that’s clay/game shooting not drive-by shooting). After grabbing some supplies (and a lot of water) we decided to find a good vantage point to see the start of the race. Sadly there was no way of getting near the start finish line so we found a space on a banked corner instead….by this time it was absolutely boiling! Anticipation was rapidly building amongst the crowd with the clock ticking closer to 3PM. Fortunately a bunch of really, REALLY shouty French guys positioned themselves right next to us to keep us entertained (We had no idea what they were shouting). Anyway, with ‘La Marsellaise’ blasting out of the PA system and the huge partisan crowd belting out ‘Marchons..Marchons…Qu’un sang impur…’ etc, it was LIGHTS OUT and the race was on!

Wouldn't fancy your chances in a crash...

Wouldn’t fancy your chances in a crash…

Decent vantage point for the first few laps

Decent vantage point for the first few laps

Katie had kindly arranged with David Adams at Aston Martin Racing for us to go backstage during the race, we weren’t quite sure what to expect, or what we were going to see even, but all I can say is that it was far beyond expectation. David led us through security, reminded us to be super careful – this was very much a live area and literally anything could happen at any given point. On a couple of occasions we had to watch our backs as mechanics raced past us with tyres etc for the pit stop teams at the side of the track. David showed us various parts and tyre sets for the cars, he explained that one of the Astons (#97) was an ‘Art car’ designed by German Abstract artist Tobias Rehberger. As we navigated through to the front of the garage we were placed in a pen of sorts and told to wait there as two cars would be coming in for pit stops, it was fascinating to experience this just a few feet from the drivers and mechanics, you gain incredible awareness of the gravity of the situation, almost like you can feel the tension in the air, but the most awe-inspiring part was the noise! THAT NOISE! It’s like nothing I’ve ever heard…like a really angry loud dog mixed with thunder? Fortunately I grabbed a recording of car #99 pitting to show you all.

Yes...that's how close we were!

Yes…that’s how close we were!

Aston Martin Art Car detail, pic courtesy of Aston Martin Racing

Aston Martin Art Car detail – ©Aston Martin Racing

After our Aston visit, we headed back to the camp for our evening meal, most of the talk was about our experience so far, particularly the noise and tension in the pits! As soon as the sun had set we decided to head back out and do pretty much the same as the night before. This time we had the fascinating prospect of seeing the cars race at night, somehow it all looks much faster and seems more visually dramatic. With the clock heading into the early hours of the morning we were starting to feel really drained, I ended up rambling to Luke from PH about our skiing experiences and favourite jaunts in Austria (mainly about how rubbish I am) the Pro Plus tablets just weren’t working and there definitely wasn’t a can of Red Bull in sight…I had boldly predicted that I would ‘easily’ stay up the whole night, I was in bed by 3.30.

Sunday 14th – Le Mans Final Day

Awoken at 8.30 by some serious noise! It’s at that point you actually realise the race genuinely lasts 24 hours. We were positioned probably less than 100 meters from the race track so you really could hear every gear change and every dab of the throttle. Its strange because you almost ’tune out’ the noise during the day and night, it becomes normal – like a constant. (It also definitely proves that I have selective hearing!)

Whilst filling up on breakfast, Stuart was informing me about latest state of play, Porsche had a 1-2 in the LMP1 Class and in the GT Class Aston Martin were winning, he was happy with Webber’s performance and so was happy with Aston’s, but he did advise me that anything could happen. The drivers become extremely tired and the focus drops off allowing for elementary mistakes that would usually never happen in other disciplines of motorsport. Later that day at 2.15 pm, almost twenty-three and a half hours into the race, the leader of the GT class in Aston Martin number 98 momentarily lost his concentration and wrecked his car, sadly his and his teams race over with nothing to show for it but it proved exactly what Stuart had told me earlier.

Le Mans fact: Did you know that each team is supposed to have at least three drivers to share the endurance? Years ago however some drivers would actually do the whole event solo – can you imagine 24 hours behind the wheel without sleep while racing a 1000hp behemoth?

I had decided my personal itinerary for the day was: firstly, visit and scale the ferris wheel, the view from up there is incredible. My only regret is that I didn’t go up at night – I highly recommend you to do this if you have the chance!

Dove from above!

The dove from above!

Secondly to check out the new Aston Martin GT12 and Corvette C7 ‘R Edition’ for a customer – Objective achieved. (I’ve even managed to place an order for one)

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Then to check out the new Renault Alpine concept, a sub £50k lightweight affordable sports car for 2016 – Sadly I only managed to get a shot of the rear…

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To visit the Ford v Ferrari showcase. Some seriously valuable cars here…a few that you may even have diffic!ultly placing a value on. For example – the first car we stumbled across was a 250 GTO!

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To witness the winner of Le Mans and the end of the 24 hours. This time it was Ex F1 star – Nico Hulkenberg’s turn in Porsche (LMP 919) number 19 completing a massive 395 laps in total with his team.

Porsche #19 Hulkenburg and Co...Winners 2015!

Porsche #19 Hulkenburg and Co…Winners 2015! ©Autocar

Finally, it was time to say our goodbyes to the rest of the camp and dash back to Paris in time to catch our Eurostar home…it was almost emotional! Stuart and I had Ben Travis from the Evening Standard and his long serving friend Jack in tow to keep us company, a really top couple of guys.

That’s all from me…I must say it was fantastic meeting everybody and I would love to head back next year.

I had a couple of Le Mans ‘Car Spy’ T-shirts printed for the weekend but I guess they aren’t of any use now other than to wear whilst I’m running or gym-ing…still, no publicity is bad publicity they say, right?

M (The Car Spy)

Thanks to:

Pistonheads (and the PH crew) http://www.Pistonheads.com

Rain PR – http://www.RainCommunications.co.uk

Bentley Cambridge – http://www.vindis.bentleymotors.com

Aston Martin RacingIn particular David Adams – http://www.astonmartin.com/racing

Haymarket Media Group – http://www.haymarket.com

All of the welcoming accommodating people I had the pleasure of meeting.

Special thanks to:

Lee Williams and Ruben Burton (Pistonheads) – Fantastic pair of guys – the future of Pistonheads is in safe hands.

Stuart Masson (The Car Expert) – Race informant/Le Mans Knowledge Specialist – 5 times Le Mans Veteran.

Katie Blake (Rain PR) – Thanks for organising everything – and looking after me – the Queen of PR!

Full Album here (Photos taken on iPhone 6)

12 months is not a long time. Only yesterday, it seems, we were waltzing through the airport terminal in Geneva and turning left into the Palexpo to ogle the latest automotive eye-candy. And now it is 2015.

Last year was okay and kind of worth the trip but this year we were gagging to get there. Over 70  new models on display plus the inevitable bunch of interesting concept cars that never see the light of day. So on with the show.

With so much to see we’ll just focus on the cars that were of particular interest to us which means you can exclude most of the mass market offerings.

Cutting to the chase our show hero was the Koenigsegg Regera – ‘robotic’ body panels, 1500 hp, 0-60 mph in minus 2 seconds, brain-mashing top speed, everything about the car is mental. The car is from Sweden and is the antithesis of ABBA. It is Black Sabbath on acid. Everybody now go back to the drawing board.

Koenigsegg Regera

Next up is the Ford GT. Only 250 cars will be made and the launch date is some time in 2016. For a car that looks this good and performance will be up there with the best it is hard to believe that it will cost around £200k. Speculators and investors form an orderly queue now.

Ford GT

Aston Martin. They really are stuck between a rock and a hard place. The brand is bullet-proof, up there with Apple in terms of global recognition and Bond’s perennial favourite weapon of choice. The cars are drop-dead gorgeous and yet they struggle to persuade die-hard Porsche buyers to consider AM as a viable alternative. The GT3 (Aston Martin) is all sold-out – yep 100 cars gone in the blink of an eye without a single car being built so there are some real fans out there. The Vulcan, to be honest, does not look like an Aston Martin. It looks like it came from the planet Vulcan and driven by Mr Spock (RIP). Designed for those who have enough money to have a spare car for track days (at Paul Ricard not Donington) the detail of the car is truly impressive. The rear light assemblies are a work of art and deserve a place in the Louvre. Bravo Aston Martin for surprising all of us!

Aston Martin Vulcan

Yes the Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 is a concept but the car is real and very likely to be gunning for 911 customers in the very near future. The car on display was rotating gracefully while the crowds gawped and wiped the dribble from their mouths. The EXP is a truly lovely design and there is a little bit of Aston Martin in the profile. The interior is lovely too and you know they will sell zillions of them if they actually start making the car which we think they (VW) will. It is a no-brainer so all they have to do is come up with a sensible name for the car.

Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6

If we all accept that the internal combustion engine will one day no longer exist but at the same time pray that we will not be driven around by a car made by Google there is a ray of hope in the form of fuel cell technology from nanoFlowcell AG. The Quantino F is a concept right now and maybe a little too avant-garde for mass market tastes but it bodes well for the future of green motoring. With a range of 1000 kms and a top speed of 200 kph we can all put away the razor blades – cars can survive without petrol.

Quantino F

Other highlights for us were the Alfa Romeo 4c Spider (prettier than the Coupe), Ferrari 488 (even more desirable than a 458), McLaren 675LT (they seem to going from strength to strength), Lamborghini Aventador SV (how can you make an Aventador even more terrifying?), Sergio by Pininfarina (not a game-changer but such a perfect design and future classic), Audi R8 (looks the same but then again doesn’t – if that makes any sense), Lotus (shouldn’t they be dead by now? The Evora and Exige still look damn good), Porsche 911 GT3 RS in orange (they couldn’t have picked a better colour), Porsche Cayman GT4 in yellow (they couldn’t have picked a better colour) and Renault Sport RS 01 (the bastard child of the Caterham/Renault love affair? At the right price this car will sell well).

There are even more exhibits that are probably worth a mention and we did manage to take a few shots of nice cars during our visit to the show so please take a look at our slideshow when you have time.

For now then we have stocked up on Toblerone, Swiss cheese and cuckoo clocks albeit with less Swiss Francs left than last year but roll on 2016 – not sure if it will be as interesting as this year though!

Bentley GT3-R

Hard to believe that the shape of the Continental has been with us for nearly 12 years now and with the odd cosmetic tweak and engine upgrade it has managed to establish itself as the best selling Bentley by far. In fact, it is the main reason the company is now considered to be an instantly recognisable global brand which is no mean feat for a single model. Who knows, the Conti might do for Bentley what the 911 has done for Porsche over the decades.

In these times, it is the marketing man who sits at the top table with the company bosses and they look to him to mix his magic potions to eke out every drop of dream-inspiring imagery to help maintain market share of their brand and individual models. The Continental is a good example.

Think of a jolly jaunt down to Monaco in the blink of an eye, wafting along in a near-silent W12 to arrive refreshed at the Casino in time for a game or two of Black Jack.

How about a raucous blast in the Scottish Glens with a glorious V8 under the bonnet while the sports suspension lets you attack corners like Lewis Hamilton?

Fancy a cruise along the Pacific Highway from LA to San Diego? You can just picture yourself in a GT Speed Convertible with the roof down soaking up the sun and the miles listening to Pink Floyd on the Naim audio system.

Get the point? Along with breaking ice speed records it seems there is a Continental for every occasion. However until recently one part of Bentley’s history had been relatively unexploited – the legendary Bentley Blowers that won at Le Mans in 1930. Enter the GT3 and GT3-R.

The GT3 was developed to establish Bentley as a properly competitive racing team again and to bring the marque firmly back on to the stage of worldwide motorsport – the marketing men were at it again.

Such was the positive reception to the arrival of Bentley to compete with the likes of McLaren, Ferrari and Porsche that it was not long before the company wheeled out a ‘normal’ road-going version for those petrol-heads with deep pockets. Hence we have the GT3-R.

Limited to a production run of only 300 the low-down is as follows:-

Engine power 580 PS 6000rpm and 700 N·m 1700rpm, torque vectoring for each of the rear wheels, shorter gearing, recalibrated control software, all-new titanium exhaust with 7 kg weight saving and retuned acoustics, forged 21-inch alloy wheels in gloss black, Pirelli tyres, sport-focused Electronic Stability Control programme, Carbon Silicon Carbide (CSiC) braking system (420 mm front and 356 mm rear brake discs, 8-piston front calipers in green), two-seat cabin with carbon fibre, Alcantara and leather interior upholstery; bespoke sporting seats with additional side support through deeper bolsters upholstered in Beluga black leather and diamond-quilted Alcantara, upholstered steering wheel and gear shifter, centre console and fascia panels in carbon fibre, carbon fibre door casings with diamond-quilted Alcantara inner panels, rear cabin with a carbon fibre surround and upholstered in leather and Alcantara, green hide colour on the seats, instrument panel, door panels, contrast stitching throughout the seats and diamond-quilted areas; GT3-R badging at centre console, passenger-side fascia panel, sill tread-plates; GT3-R stitching at seat headrests in with contrast-green stitching, carbon fibre fixed rear wing and boot lid, bonnet with two vents, Glacier White body colour with gloss carbon fibre contrasts, two-tone green graphics tracing two power lines to the side profile of the car (one leading backwards from the front wheel, the other tracing the shape of the Continental GT’s rear haunch), headlamp bezels, matrix grille, window surrounds and bumper strips in gloss black. Phew!

Want to buy one? Well, too late because they are all sold out. Top marks for the marketing bods again!

However, we know of a cancelled order GT3-R that is physical and can be purchased today so to find out more give The Car Spy a call on 01892 506970 or email sales@thecarspy.net

We are advertising on behalf of the owner this stunning 2005 Bentley Continental GT 6.0 Mulliner which is finished in Silver Tempest Metallic with Nautic Blue Hide Interior.

This March 2005 registered, right hand drive Continental GT W12 has recorded only 25,000 miles and comes with the following specification:-

* Walnut Veneer
* Mulliner Driving Spec
* Quilted Hide
* Deep Pile Overmats to Front and Rear
* Massage Seats (Front)
* Coming Home Control
* Keyless GO
* 20” Split Rim Bentley Mulliner alloys – all refurbished
* New Tyres
* Heated Memory Seats
* Front Heated Mirrors
* Rain and Light Sensor
* 6CD Changer
* Air Suspension
* Leather Interior Roof
* Trip Computer
* Bright Matrix Grill Upper
* Two Keys
* Driver’s Handbooks
* HPI Report

This Continental GT has a comprehensive service history (mainly Bentley) and has recently been issued with a new MOT certificate.

This Bentley Continental GT 6.0 Mulliner is now SOLD!

For further details or to arrange a viewing  please give The Car Spy a call on ++44(0)1892 506970 or email sales@thecarspy.net.

 

We are advertising on behalf of the owner this beautiful 2011 Bentley Continental GTC Speed. The car has one registered keeper from new and has recorded just 12800 miles. This GTC Speed is finished in Beluga Black Metallic and has a comprehensive Bentley service history.

Full specification listed as follows:-

Full Linen Hide
Black Contrast Stitching
Black Secondary Hide
Black Exterior Hood
Bentley Emblem Stitching to Head Restraints
Dark Stained Burr Walnut Trim
Diamond Quilted leather Seats
Diamond Quilted Door Inserts
Drilled Alloy Sports Foot Pedals
Hide Trimmed Sports gear lever
Comfort Seating Front and Rear
3 Spoke Dual Tone Hide trimmed Steering wheel with Brushed Aluminium Switch Surround
Front Massage Seats
Leather Sun-visors
Keyless Entry
12 Speaker Multi Channel Sound Pack
Adaptive Cruise
Bluetooth
CD Changer
Coming Home Controls
Heated Front Seats
IPod Interface
Navigation System
Power Boot
Rear View Camera
TV Tuner
Telephone Voice Control
Tyre Pressure Monitoring System
Bright Chromed Radiator Matrix Grille and Bright Chromed Lower Bumper Matrix Grille
Convenience Specification
20″ Speed Wheels

This GTC was last serviced in November 2013 and is taxed until May 2014. The Bentley Manufacturer’s warranty is valid until June 2014.

The car is located in Central London and viewing is strictly by appointment only.

This Bentley Continental GTC Speed is now SOLD!

For further details please give The Car Spy a call on ++44(0)1892 506970 or email sales@thecarspy.net.