Events

Motoring related events that I’ve attended.

Event: A Wet August Peak Drive

Supercars in the rain

Supercars in the rain

When it rains, it pours. And pour it did. As a hallmark to the final Sheffield Supercar Sunday drive the weather could no longer hold out and it bolted it down. Expecting a poor turnout, there was a pleasant surprise waiting at Sheffield on this early Sunday morning. Many of the regulars had made it with a few new members turning up too! Even a Ferrari Testarossa came to the party – a car that many believe could disintegrate in anything other than California summer conditions. Well, I am pleased to report that it didn’t, although it did need a few push-starts every now and again. Italian electrics, you see.

A magnificent car though – classic 80’s Ferrari and with those wide square hips it looked positively huge as we trudged through pelting rain and puddles. Steve had also made the event in his Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder. That car looked good. No, actually, it looked bloomin’ awesome. Steve has had the car just under a year, after swapping his previous Audi R8. He reveals the Gallardo is the better car of the two. To date nothing has gone wrong with the car, save a minor issue with the washer jets which was promptly fixed with a little poking about and the odd prod-and-spanner.

Supercar Lineup

Supercar Lineup

After coffee and conversation we shortly depart on what was undoubtedly the best-planned driving route that we have ever had on the Sheffield Supercar Sunday. Carefully detailed, mapped, post-coded for Sat Nav and a designated lead car (a red RS4 no less) ensured that the group was kept together for the duration – and crucially no-one got lost. The roads were truly fantastic, cutting through some of the quieter areas of the peak district and climbing the high hills revealing spectacular views – all whilst travelling in a convoy of some of the worlds most superb and varied motorcars.We stopped at a pub somewhere on the lofty heights of the district and went inside for a warm and a coffee.

James has come along from Manchester in his Maserati Gransport. Based on the 4200 but with improved handling and  performance it’s a rare and special car. James confirms that the Gransport takes the 4200 away from the GT and more towards the sports-car arena. With 400bhp, focused handling and 0-60 in 4.7 seconds, the stats certainly back up this claim! The Gransport rear lights were up for debate – with preference shown for the boomerang style from the previous model, which were ultimately dropped for the 4200 in order to meet US legislation. “I heard about someone doing a conversion”, James tells me. “It cost around £6,000 to put the boomerangs onto the 4200!” I imagine that’s a pretty exclusive conversation!

As we departed the rain had lightened but the wind was still in abundance. Back inside my car, with the warmth of the car heaters and we are on our way, heading through some smaller villages with surprised smiles beaming from residents as the convoy respectfully passed through their town. Our next destination – the bookstore.

After some more fun on the winding roads, and an almost sideways moment for one of the Skylines, we arive at the bookstore. Not just any old bookstore – but the bookstore. Settled in the middle of seemingly nowhere is a large paper repository-cum-café. With sandwiches and drinks on tap for our convoy it was a great chance to mingle with the group and get to know all of the owners.

A Line of Nissan GTRs

A Line of Nissan GTRs

John comes over to say hello. A fellow Cayman owner – or at least he was – he has just traded for a 911. Today though, he has come in his mental blue Skyline – it needed an outing. The Skyline is currently kicking out around 700bhp. It’s a track focused weapon but time restrictions means that it spends less time on the track than John would like. The Skyline forms part of a photo lineup, ranging from the original R33 GTS-T model, up to the latest GTR – today we are fortunate to have both a black and a white versions in our midst. A few more photos and chat ensued before the morning run was drawn to a close.

We had the roads. We had the views, the cars, the noise and the right kind of people. There was fun, drinks, food, chatter and – most of all – driving. The only thing we didn’t have was the weather, but to be honest that just made the drama of the scenic, quiet peak hills even more spectacular.

Images courtesy of www.supercardriver.com

August 2010

Event: Chatsworth Picnic

I am now the feature writer for supercardriver.com . This report can be viewed in a magazine format, by clicking here.

Chatworth House Visit - Photos by Dom Fisher

Chatworth House Visit - Photos by Dom Fisher

The meet today started life at 7.45am in Sheffield. It’s already in full swing by the time I arrive, several of the club members being ably propped up by Costa Coffee’s finest morning mocha-choca-wotta-lotta-brew. I think I’ll join them.

Chatworth House Visit - Photos by Dom Fisher

Cars Parked and ready to go!

Beverage in hand, I meet Adam for a morning hello and scan today’s splendidness. We’ve got many of the regulars here today and a few new faces, including a lovely Audi R8 Spyder in a fantastic electric blue colour. Also in the blue corner is a modified Nissan 350z. A new 997.2 GT3 contrasts in radiant red. Happy days indeed.

An unusual car is catching a lot of attention today is Ryan’s wacky GTM Libra. These cars, largely self-build and for the motoring enthusiast handy with spanners is a real spectacle and generates a lot of interest.

As several more cars arrive, we are just waiting for Chris – he’s coming along in his Noble M12. As a daily driver clocking up more than 80,000 miles, stone chips had taken their toll turning the front splitter almost white from its original dark green colour. The M12 completed a full respray only a few days ago and we are keen to see the result. This model has the M400 ECU upgrade and is now pushing out 355 galloping stallions with a frightfully quick 0-60 of 3.6 seconds. This power is ably demonstrated later in the day, showing the Nissan GTR a clean pair of heels! 😮

He arrives momentarily, turbos spooling and wiz-bang-popping, formally announcing the Noble’s attendance. The new paint job looks great and brings the car curb-appeal back to as-new fresh. There can’t be many Nobles that have seen such high mileage – a testament to the build quality of these fiery race-like cars. Chris is very happy with the finish and as a newbie of the SUPERCARdriver club is looking forward to the drive out this morning.

Chatworth House Visit - Photos by Dom Fisher

Chatworth House Visit - Photos by Dom Fisher

SUPERCARdriver has a professional photographer today called Dominic Fisher (DFishPix) and throughout the day could be seen laid in the undergrowth and hanging from trees to get the best possible shot of the cars as we drive from point to point.

Onward to the Fox pub where we are treated to bacon sarnies, more coffee and a little light conversation. Adam is buzzing around, fleeting in one direction and another organising the day, taking photos, greeting all the owners, sorting out others who are lost and generally doing a good job of keeping the wheels greased for today’s outing.

Its here I catch up with Paul – a network engineer from Nottingham. Paul is part of the furniture at these meets and one of our regular enthusiastic members. He has attended previous meets with his BMW M5, but has recently traded for a silver Ferrari 360 Spyder. After an initial battery problem the car is now running lovely.

I asked him about power. “The M5 feels faster” he recalls “but the power delivery is different – and the Ferrari is lighter. You drive them both differently”. Paul is no junior to the fast car world, having previously owned an RS4. “I loved that car, you could throw so much in the boot and use it every day for work!”.

The silver Ferrari looks great, he chose the colour having heard too many bad things about the traditional red convertible getting abuse from passers by. “This is more understated” he says.

The exhaust makes up for the 360’s subtle paint job. With 400bhp mated to a Tubi exhaust the car tunefully sings its soundtrack on top volume wherever it goes, burbling along on the over-run. As the lead car for the drive today, it announced our convoy was coming to town from miles around.

Cayman on the country lanes - Photo by Dom Fisher

Cayman on the country lanes - Photo by Dom Fisher

As we set off on the run through the Peak District I hand over my printed directions to the lead car as the navigator isn’t sure of the way. I’m assured that I’ll be able to keep track with the rest of the group as we’ll be in convoy. We embark on the next part of the journey and 5 minutes later, I’m lost.

Within a few minutes my view has gone from being BMW 645 and red Ferrari 550 to now being twixed a grey Vauxhall Mariva and a Vectra. Not the most exciting automotive visual stimulation it has to be said. After a redirect from Adam, I find my way to the back of the convoy and we depart along the country roads, heading to Chatsworth house for our next meeting point.

I’m back behind the Ferrari 550. The group now divided, its just me and the Fez. As we pass a pub on a sharp bend, the customers outside stop dead in their tracks to view as we cost round the camber and press on through the straights. The 550 isn’t really pushing it though, just cruising along. There is something hypnotically serene when staring at the prancing horse in front. If Ferrari is happy cruising, then I’m happy cruising.

Up ahead, we are met with road works and catch up to the rest of the team. The council once again using their budget road surfacing methods; apply industrial glue, sprinkle with crushed stones and a dash of tarmac; allow traffic to bed the stones to the glue. As the loose stones fly everywhere, even at walking pace, splashes of the black stuff flew up the side of the brand new red GT3 as we all crawled past the tarmac pressing machine. Hopefully Autogylm’s finest tar remover will sort this out.

The convoy arrives at Chatsworth house in the early afternoon and we are directed to a car park just outside of the main venue. With a few cars missing from the convoy the remainder pull up for more chat about the days outing and an ice cream or two. The weather is turning out lovely and Dan has arrived in his Aston Martin.

Dan has a V12 DB9, in unmarked light blue it’s his weekend only pride and joy. Covering only a few thousand miles it looks – and sounds – like an Aston Martin should do. Dan is one of the young ‘uns at SUPERCARdriver and like Paul with the 360, he is a network engineer. Sheer determination and hard graft allowed him to purchase this splendid car several years ago. Cars are his hobby and to prove it he’s just bought a Volvo T5-R! “I saw it, and couldn’t help myself” he laughs. We’ll look forward to seeing that at a future meet!

Chatworth House Visit - Photos by Dom Fisher

Chatworth House Visit - Photos by Dom Fisher

The final stage of the day is a private picnic set in the gorgeous forests of the peak district. The roads are long and meander through the peaks, allowing a little fun in our cars on the bends. The traffic is light. With spectacular views on all sides, Wales is just peeking into view from across the horizon. We approach our meeting point – farmland settled intricately in the forest of the Peaks. We cruise along a narrow country lane and shortly arrive at our host’s residency – a beautiful farmhouse with several outbuildings and a garage full of automotive memorabilia.

Parked up next to one of the paddocks is the silver Ultima and looking as striking as ever. We park our cars on the main field next to numerous other clubs who have been invited to the picnic. Porsche Club GB is here, as are Morgan and the classic car & bike club. The older cars are fascinating. One car owner is offering passenger demonstrations in his three-wheeler Bugatti race car. The engine is entirely exposed and mounted at the very front of the car. Inside the cabin there is… well, pretty much nothing. Not even a seat! You even sit on the centre beam which travels through the car. The owner has plushed his model with finest blanket in an attempt to keep his passengers a little more comfortable.

As the demonstrations continue, the noise is classic, old-school motoring. Loud, brash and always entertaining.  Picnic and conversation ensues for a few hours and shortly before we head home, prizes are awarded by the farm owner for the best turned out car and the ‘car we’d most like to own’.

With an extended invite to next year’s picnic we’ll be sure to make this the main event of the day so that everyone can attend and experience the wide variety of cars and generous hospitality of our hosts.

Hope to see you there!

July 2010

Event: Ecurie25 Visit

I am now the feature writer for supercardriver.com . This report can be viewed in a magazine format, by clicking here.

Supercar Sunday – Ecurie25

Today will be a special day. We’ve had an invite to the delivery/unveiling of the new Ferrari 458 at the Supercar Club E25 and I’m all giddy again.  The meeting point is in Sheffield and although E25 is close to where I live, I want to be part of the convoy. With a meeting time is scheduled for 9am I’m fire up the Cayman an hour earlier, my red steed sitting proudly in the garage – hastily washed the evening before. I give the accelerator a little push to separate the disks from now sealed break pads and wake the car from its lazy slumber.

Clearly not happy with this unexpected early morning rise, mighty Cayman shouts at me with Exhibit A.

Failure on dashboard

Failure on dashboard

Oh dear. Lots more redness appears on the dashboard advising me that Cayman was non-too-happy about being woken up.

But we’ve got a meeting to go to and the Cayman is a fundamental requirement of my getting there. A previous phone call to my specialist reveals that this is likely a fault with the temperature sensor. Thankfully the meeting is at Millbrook, so I’m in the right place if something goes bang. So we press on with today’s adventure, red lights guiltily flashing at me from under the cowl.

Ferrari F355 and 360

Ferrari F355 and 360

Heading down the M1 to J34, my visual sensors are heightened to every car on the road. In the opposite direction a Porsche Panamera, then a Cayenne GTS. Not part of my clan today. As my temperature sensor finds an auto-fix and springs back to horizontal like a morning rise, I keep checking the rear view mirror for any supercars that might be joining today’s venture. Nothing there. A few minutes pass and I spot something white and sporting in my mirror. Maybe that’s ‘one of us’?  Now the dilemma – do I slow down and let it pass to see what it is, or do I press on and see if I’m catching something up in front? Decisions, decisions.

Then in my rear view mirror – a bright yellow blob in the distance. That can only mean one thing – Ferrari. As I approach the Meadowhall turn off he’s pulled up behind me. It’s a yellow F355 Spyder and it looks stunning. He pulls up in the lane next to me and coasts around the roundabout onto the viaduct before giving it some beans. The Tubi exhaust note just bounces off the underpass, reminiscent of an F1 car. I’m chasing behind and spot the flames shoot from the exhaust as he changes gear. Awesome!! As we get to the end of the road, I pull up beside him. “Millbrooke?” says I. “Yep! Know where you going?” is the reply. I do, and we set off on green after the driver of a van offers the F355 a race to the next lights.

2 Audi R8's

2 Audi R8's

On arrival we are greeted to the now familiar rainbow spec of automotive manufacturers’ best work in the sporting arena. Classic and modern TVRs, Audi R8’s, Ferrari 430 Scuderia and many more besides. Our yellow friend pulls up next to a silver 360 Spyder – the owner is having teething troubles with his new purchase. “What’s the problem – battery?” asks Jonty (the 355 owner). “Yeah” is the reply as the charging kit comes out of the boot. “Its ok, you’ll get used to it. At least you know one thing, it’s always electrics on these cars. The Italians just can’t do electrics”. “Didn’t know I’d be needing to carry all these bits around with me” said the 360 owner, charging kit in hand.

Jonty knew. “If it breaks every three months, then that’s about right, you’ll have a good car if it’s only going wrong every 3 months”. Aaah, the joys of Ferrari ownership.

After a quick hello to the guys at Millbrooke we set off, back down to the Viaduct before hitting the M1. The aural delights from that underpass are just wonderful! As each of these supercars fly past, my grin just gets bigger and bigger. Then comes the F430 Scuderia, shooting past with a sound so deafeningly loud it literally rumbles through my chest cavity. Not even Bose or JBL can manage the decibels that Ferrari has achieved with this top spec motor. The 360 Capristo behind it – ordinarily a thunderous sound by its on merits is practically silenced by the raw noise coming from the Scud. It’s hard to imagine without actually hearing it – even video can’t capture the deafening “I’m going for it” sound that car can make!

Cayman mirror onto a Ferrari F430

Cayman mirror onto a Ferrari F430

On to the motorway now, so many lovely cars but the 360 and the F430 are light Genies in a magic lamp. One minute they are there, the next – gone. The other cars follow suit and my cop-radar fear gets the better of me and I’m left behind with the hum-drum of Saturday motoring traffic. Only a few miles before a re-group at the services. Time for more chat and get to know the owners a little better. In a full on no-shame request I cheekily ask Tim, the Scud owner, if he could take me for a spin later. “No problem” is the reply!

F430 Scuderia and Ferrari Testarossa

F430 Scuderia and Ferrari Testarossa

Ferrari 458

Ferrari 360 CS

Ferrari 360 CS

Onward now to E25, where the unveiling of the Ferrari 458 will commence shortly. As we are greeted at reception and taken through into a large warehouse. Its dimly lit, with floodlights highlighting just two cars. A 360 Scuderia in the corner and taking centre stage is the new 458, under cover with a large video screen playing in the background footage from E25’s fleet of cars.

The music is distinctly operatic, symbolising everything Italian. A limited number of people at the event highlight its exclusivity with canapé’s and Champaign been offered to guests. The quality of the vocals on the music is crystal clear – as I’m scanning around the building I find the reason: a live Opera singer at the top of the staircase! Impressive stuff.

Not long afterwards we are greeted by Paul, the MD of E25 in Wakefield who gives us a brief insight as to what E25 is about and how proud they are to now have the 458 on the fleet. Two of the female staff then remove the covers from the car, revealing the revolutionary design of this new Supercar.

Ferrari F430 undercover

Ferrari F430 undercover

The 458 is a real step away from the 360/430 design and the angles highlight Ferrari’s new, distinctive lines. From the back it could be on a race track, and the front it could be in Batman’s garage. The interior is mad and the whole thing together looks positively stunning. A road presence like no car I’ve seen since the F40 – and a price tag and performance to match. In my mind marking this as a hybrid of super and hyper car.

Ferrari 458

Ferrari 458

Tim’s buying one.

Ferrari F430 Scuderia

Tim currently owns the F430 Scuderia and a classic Mondial. It’s clear he has a huge passion for Ferrari, having tried other brands (Mclaren, Lamborghini) in a bid to find something different but always coming back to famous Italian breed. “It just feels like others are trying to be like Ferrari” he says.

Tim, the softly spoken, quiet mannered fellow is really into his cars. When I ask about his Ferrari’s he smiles like a child holding his favourite toys at Christmas. “So which do you drive most often?” I ask. “A Golf!” he laughs. He has to leave shortly, saying his goodbyes he says “you want a go don’t you?”. Yes please!

He pulls the car out of the parking space and gestures to sit in the drivers’ seat, I bottle it and jump in as a passenger. I’ve never been intimidated by such a prospect before, but this car is something else. It’s got racing harnesses, paddleshifts, “race” dials and a number of other things which make me think.. “Maybe next time!”. As I get in the car and fiddle about with the harness “What do I do with this then?” I ask. “Put it on” is the reply. And we’re off!

The noise is something else. Its so raw, loud, aggressive – and such fun! Adam later informs me that they could hear us all around the city as the car set off from each set of lights. Inside the car there are acres of carbon fibre – and not much else! It appears that Ferrari have taken an F1 car, shoved a body resembling a road car on the top, then put it up for sale.

The acceleration on this car is like nothing I’ve ever experienced, its rams you in your seat so furiously my head was back and forward like a floppy doll whenever Tim pressed the loud pedal. A pure driving machine that takes it all the way up to 11. Astonishing!

As we wait at a set of lights, I ask Tim “What’s your favourite, Mondial or this?”. He beams a wide smile and thinks about it for a moment. “That’s really difficult. The Mondial is fantastic, I love it – really love it. But this, well – this is just silly. I leave it at work so that if I’ve ever had a bad day this will always cheer me up on the way home”.

Tim is one of the most relaxed characters I’ve ever met.  A very down-to-earth, approachable guy and as with so many people at these events keeps us all inspired to work that bit harder.

Porsche, Lamborghini, Ferrari and Maserati

Porsche, Lamborghini, Ferrari and Maserati near Millbrooke

E25 Club

Juliette is the membership manager at E25. She is very enthusiastic the company and kindly spared Supercardriver some time to talk a little more about the E25 Supercar members club.

How did the company start?
Paul Brown [the MD] has always loved cars. He has a huge passion for Lamborghini and bought a Gallardo himself a few years ago. Friends and family were regularly asking if they could hire his car for weekends, weddings etc. He got thinking about this as a business venture and decided to set up his own Supercar club with the E25 franchise. The business has grown since then and we now have Audi R8’s, Porsches and Ferrari’s on our fleet.

E25 has been running for 4 years with our Wakefield branch celebrating its first birthday this September! We are the only supercar club north of Birmingham, so our location is closer and more convenient for anyone living in the north. To date are the only club with a Ferrari 458 on its fleet.

We currently have around 230 members throughout E25, with 32 of those being in Wakefield. We keep a close eye on the member-to-car ratio to ensure that cars are available for our members when they want them.

Whats the age demographic of the members?
There isn’t a set age for our members, and they range from aged 30 up to late 50’s. We also have corporate customers who give their staff the opportunity to drive our cars.

How do you choose your cars? Do members have a say in what is purchased?
Yes, very much so. We listen to our members to understand what cars they have an interest in. We rotate the fleet regularly to keep the cars fresh and ensure that members have something new to try. We attend lots of events and keep in touch with manufacturers to see what’s up and coming. We have been to see the new McLaren and have expressed an interest in their new car already.

How does the club work?
You pay your subscription and are given a number of credits. There are different levels of membership which and this allows you access to our cars and events. Our standard membership would get you on average 50-110 days worth of use per year, depending on the type of car you choose and the events you attend. We provide high-performance driving tuition at the start of your membership and we meet all our prospective members to make sure that the club is right for them.

Once you have joined, you trade your credits for time with our cars and events. There are no specific restrictions – as long as you have the credits and the car you want is available, you can have it.

We like to have transparency with our club. Our members are free to come here when they like. We are available all the time and have exclusive open days.

As well as the cars, members get access to our organised events. In addition to the more high profile events, such as F1 and track days we also arrange mini road rallies. These are often mid-week and our members can choose one of our cars and come with us for days out. We have recently done a trip to Whitby and are planning others such as the Peak and Lake District. This offers our members to get involved and meet each other. Its offering something more, particularly for those whose schedules don’t allow them to attend weekend events.

What is your favourite car in the fleet?
Ooooh (ponders for a moment..), personally I’ve got a thing for the Astons but I love our little white Gallardo. The R8 is great to drive though!

Do you get to drive them?
[laughs]. We have to take a super-car training course before we are allowed to drive the fleet. This is to ensure we are confident with controls of some of the cars, such as the paddle shift and to understand how they behave in different weather conditions. This means that if we need to take them anywhere we are confident with the controls and can drive them correctly. But we don’t get to take them home unfortunately – they are out most of the time with members although Paul does take the odd one home sometimes!

Supercardriver.com is partnered with E25. If you would like to know more about the club, please contract Juliette on 01924 207812 or email juliette@ecurie25.co.uk

As I leave E25, my car is the only one remaining in the car park, just as another batch of Supercars arrive to see the 458 in the afternoon. They are in for a real treat!

July 2010

Event: Lambo & Ferrari Driving Day

I thought I had been good in 2009. My missus must have agreed and lodged an appeal with Santa to give me a drive in on of my all time favourite supercars. The man in the red suit obliged and to my extremely excitable surprise I had a Supercar driving day for Christmas!

The day is run by Vision Motorsport, a red-letter day company offering the ultimate driving experience in a multitude of wonderful poster supercars. I had chosen the Lamborghini Gallardo – a dream car of mine.

I decided to wait until June before booking my slot – hedging my bets that the weather might work in my favour. I wasn’t disappointed and June 25th was a beautiful day. I arrived an hour early (eager, you see), didn’t want to risk being late as traffic around York can be bedlam. On display was a lovely selection of supercars. A couple of Aston Martin’s, Audi R8, a Porsche GT, Ferrari 360 and of course, my Lamborghini Gallardo. In bright yellow!

Lots of supercars

Lots of supercars

Off to the side was an Ariel Atom which, for a small fee, could be taken out as a passenger demonstration to show you just how quick and precise these crazy little cars can be.

Supercar driving day

Supercar driving day

Following a safety briefing and the option of additional insurance should you take a few too many liberties, we were ready to begin.

The driver took us out initially in a Subaru Impreza, describing the course and the angles to take each of the corners. The event was relatively quiet, so only a couple of supercars were out on the track at once – the other being the Ferrari 360, its red bodywork positively radiating the sun’s reflection on this beautiful day.

As the two cars started up – the Ferrari starter motor turning with the rapid squeal bereft only of supercars before barking to life with positive gusto, shortly followed by the Gallardo – which rather wheezed and whirred to life like a sleeping lion with all the intention of staying in slumber for just as long as it pleases. After a few moments only, the lethargic engine gave a reluctant bark indicating it was now fired up and ready to go – and alluding to the age old adage ‘its not just the buying, its the running that costs’.

There were 4 people in our group to play with the Lambo, I was 3rd on the list (alphabet and all that) and watched as the other drivers went out in the Gallardo.

Yellow Lamborghini Gallardo

Yellow Lamborghini Gallardo

Once the guy before me came back, I took a few photos and jumped in. Tight squeeze for tall Paul I tell you. But once in, other than my hair shaving the car roof it was a pretty comfortable place to be. Everything is just a minor reach away. The pedals were close together though, the giant plates at the end of my ankles requiring careful placement to avoid slamming both the accelerator and brake pedal all at once. The fit and finish of the Lamborghini indicates this new breed of Audi build quality is a solid, well made car.

RL instruct you to be out of 1st and 2nd gear almost immediately and the course is driven in 3rd and 4th. This allows you to get up to around 120mph on the straights but you loose out on the immediacy of the speed generated through the key gears, which normally allow for rapid pace out of the corners. Presumably this is to reduce the chance of powering into a hedge as you get a little too excitable with the unexpected power surge allowed by the lower cogs. I also suspect that finance plays a strong part here – regular use of 2nd gear would lead to much redline and a likely premature death of some expensive automotive parts.

Either way, it was an exhilarating experience, throwing this £100k car around the bends and giving it the boot all the way up the long straights it’s a day I won’t be forgetting in a hurry. The Gallardo, like its appearance felt very stable, precise and sure footed. It was a clean drive where you point and squirt and the car takes you in your chosen direction without any question, just adding more and more ingredients to the massive grin on my face. The gear change was slick and the whole car felt very poised and with its clean external lines, a rather neat if somewhat aggressive looking beast to behold.

Ferrari and Aston Martin

Ferrari and Aston Martin

Contrast to the Ferrari which, after my 6 laps in the Gallardo and adrenaline in full swing I was itching to try. Deposit down, strap in and off we go. By comparison the appearance of the Ferrari is something more brutal and raw. Its design is fit for purpose and that purpose is to go as fast as it can in an undiluted quest for engineering perfection. You take it by the scruff of the neck and it rewards as your throw it around the bends. It’s like an angry bull, chomping at the bit and making a thoroughly good job of audio drama. Performance was brisk – not quite as fast as the Lambo, but this might have been the gear ratio setup on the straights. I only managed 105mph compared to 115mph in the Lambo. The gearbox took some getting used to, being the gated variety which was more mechanical than the traditional shift that you’d find in a regular car. The clutch on the Gallardo was very modern and light for a supercar, unlike the Ferrari which felt nearly as heavy as a 348 that I sat in a few years ago. A well oiled left knee and pumped leg muscles are still a pre requisite of Ferrari ownership it would seem.

This flip on my expectations on these two cars was somewhat surprising, as the Ferrari has always been the one which historically mated beauty with engineering perfection whilst Lamborghini preferred a slightly more unhinged, bonkers approach. How times have changed.

The driving day was fantastic fun and allows us mere mortals the chance to experience cars which, without these red-letter companies could well stay on a dream to-do list for many years to come. Both cars offer an exclusive driving feel but their distinction is also their affinity – both offer a wonderful, lasting memory for any car nut.

Time to get writing to Santa….

Yellow Lamborghini Gallardo on the track

Yellow Lamborghini Gallardo on the track

June / July 2010

Event: Manchester Peak District Drive

I am now the feature writer for supercardriver.com . This report can be viewed in a magazine format, by clicking here.

10 hours, 187 miles, £400 for charity and 1 very memorable day.

It was an early start, but this meet promised to be a good one, unlike the weather which was indecisive between showers and sunshine at 6am. I set off from West Yorkshire and headed to Sheffield, collecting a friend on the way and stopping for some fatty badness breakfast at the local fast food restaurant.

Sheffield Supercar Sunday is organised by Adam and Richard from Supercardriver.com and feedback from previous meets promised a great day out with a variety of wild and wonderful cars. Adam had sent me an invite and I’ve been thoroughly looking forward to it. For this drive we started out from Sheffield, through Glossop and arriving at Manchester and stopping at various points for photo opportunities or to collect another bunch of car enthusiasts on the way.

We arrived at the Sheffield meet point at 7.30am and a nice selection of cars had already arrived including an Aston Martin, BMW M5, M3, Corvette, Lotus Elise, Merc SLK, Caterham and 997 Turbo to name a few. Then a Ferrari F355 Spyder turned up and not one, but two 2010 Nissan Skyline GTRs. A Lotus Elise pulled up next to one of them initially, a visual scene reminiscent of the story ‘David and Golliath’. One by one more cars arrived until we departed at 8am, heading over ‘Snake Pass’ into Glossop.

And they're off....

And they're off....

The drive along Snake Pass is lovely. Beautiful countryside with a long winding road through the centre of the dales, taking you into Glossop via a few small villages, random ambling sheep and some great twists and straights. All drivers enjoyed the experience, some of the more powerful machines ducking and diving traffic when the opportunity arose.

2At one point, there was a slowdown caused by a Land Rover who was leisurely driving along. He must have seen the long line of brightly coloured livery in his mirror as he pulled over at one point to let us all past. Thank you to that man. 🙂

5We pulled up at Lady Bower lake along the way for a photo opportunity and a Ferrari 550 joined our convoy of around 20 cars. Back on the road at the next straight each car slowed before accelerating hard along the road for a short time. My little Cayman tried its best and I was pleased with the performance, until I noticed the SLK glued to my bumper. “That Merc is a bit quick” says I to my passenger. “It wants to be, its a 5 litre AMG”. Ah. Jestful comments will surely be made of my performance at the next meet point and I wasn’t disappointed. 😆

Next stop, Tesco’s in Glossop and here we meet a whole new bunch of cars. Noble M12s, F355s, 360s and F430s (including Challenge Stradale models), a Lamborghini Gallardo, Audi RS4’s and many others. All cars of varying combinations of loud, mad, rare and colourful surely made for a great sight for passers by.

As we departed for Manchester, an impromptu automotive form of willy waving ensued as the engines were started. From the Corvette positively barking its authority like claps of thunder, to the Tubi F355 whaling like a screaming banshee and everything in between, it was a piston head’s audible delight!

Supercars

Supercars

Onward now to Manchester via a few more twisties and a short motorway dash to meet the rest of the team, before a drive through the town centre. As the convoy exits the motorway we are caught by some traffic lights. A van man pulls up next to us. With a big grin he asks “What’s all this then, ‘2 Fast, 2 Furious’ or something?!”. We laugh in agreement and he added “Your car looks lovely!” as the lights turn green.

At this point, getting lost became a regular occurrence and confusingly we’d often see super cars heading in all directions at junctions trying to find their way onto the correct road. “Are they lost, or are we?” became the question of the day. At a set of lights, we pulled up next to one of the Nissan GTRs for a quick chat on directions. “Are we racing then?” jokes the driver. “Go on then, next green” says I, “Just to next lights” a few hundred yards ahead. The lights change (AMBER I might add!! 😉 ) and the GTR is off under a crescendo of noise. I feel rather stupid. My mate looks at me as we sheepishly set off “So… you weren’t ready then?”.

Finally we arrive at the War Museum in Manchester and meet the final herd of our precession. Around 60 super cars are now gathered together and its a real sight to behold with so many different models and colours, not a single car looked the same as another one. After coffee and conversation we head off around a predetermined route through the city centre. A route which was unexpectedly thwart with roadworks, making for even more comedy lostness.

More supercars

More supercars

As we all queued heading towards a roundabout, the roadworks brought us all to a standstill. Other motorists ambled past us in the outside lane, all occupants with huge smiles on their faces as they drove past some of the fastest most desirable cars in the world. A rare sight to see one Ferrari on the road, even rarer to see a Noble or a Lambo. To see 50 or so all lined up in a row was a great visual scene.

Silver Ferrari F430 and Grey F550

Silver Ferrari F430 and Grey F550

As we get through the roadworks, cars go off in all directions. Eventually, most cars gather together on the same road and the driver of the silver Ferrari F430 is in familiar territory so agrees to take the lead. With cars ditched in bus stops and filter lanes waiting for everyone else to catchup, amazingly the rest of the population don’t seem phased by this. Normally one would expect horns to be blaring and expletives to be shouted out of open windows. But not today, I suspect a collective respectful understanding was in the air and the people of Manchester allowed us a minor chaos whilst we sorted ourselves out.

By now I was 3rd from the front and the group frequently got divided by the traffic lights. A Challenge Stradale was somewhere near the rear of the group and you knew they were on their way again as the echo of the engine under acceleration filled the air from several streets away. We were parked in a lay by near a large pedestrian square and the Silver F430 commanded attention from absolutely everyone. Public smiles grew and grew as more exotica came around the corner. The red Ferrari’s, the yellow Corvette and the almost luminous green 911 GT bringing up the rear.

After traveling around the streets of Manchester we regrouped at the War Museum once again before heading of shortly afterwards.

For me, this is the pinnacle of motoring as a car enthusiast. Such a rare bunch of cars gathered together usually only occurs at car shows. Yet the inherent flaw at a ‘show’ is that all this fantastic automotive machinery is static. Having a convoy of like-minded, level headed enthusiasts driving together actively yet responsibly, enjoying the sights of new roads and towns is what it should be about.

Challenge Ferrari

Challenge Ferrari

As a youngster, and even now, to see several million pounds of the most desirable cars in the world all passing by in my town would bring an uncontrollable grin to my face, and would be a lengthy talking point in the pub that evening. I think that the collective achieved this in Manchester yesterday and I for one felt very privileged to be just a small part of such an amazing group.

BMW M3 and Lambo

BMW M3 and Lambo

And what of the owners of these great cars? Far from being elitist, everyone was approachable and relaxed – just ‘normal’. Friendly, regular guys and gals with a like-minded passion for cars, all expressed in various automotive shapes and sizes. From the sophistication of the blue Aston Martin to the hardcore of the orange Westfield, everyone expressed their hobby in a different way – and that’s what made this meet such a special one.

After a great day out, we headed home, once again over the snake pass – the group now disbanded. The swan song of the day was the AMG Merc – behind me on the first leg of the journey and arrived in my rear view mirror once again as we arrived into Sheffield, shortly before going our separate ways a few minutes later and signaling the close of what was a thoroughly enjoyable day.

£400 was raised for the Museum charity by the group as a thank you for allowing us to use their car park.

A huge thank you goes to Richard and Adam for arranging our motley crew in such an organised fashion.

A few name checks and thanks to a few of the many people who I spoke to during the day…

  • Merc AMG for being a good sport. Are you getting that F430 next then after your passengaer ride?! 😉
  • The guy in the 911 Turbo who used to have the Cayman – nice car dude!
  • The guy at Sheffield in the Aston Martin, just for having such a cool car.
  • ‘Brute’ for having by far the most awesome sounding car in the history of the world.
  • The Silver F430 for being such an uncontrollable head turning, traffic stopping car – and changing my previously held opinion that a Red Ferrari is the only Ferrari to have!

Here’s to the next meet. Personally, I can’t wait! 🙂

TVR

TVR

June 2010