Fiat Chrysler promises to deliver some models here – likely rebadged – that have enjoyed success in Europe.
French Open winner Maria Sharapova was driven to the glamorous Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Pre-Wimbledon Party in the Porsche 918 Spyder – the Stuttgart marque’s fastest, most powerful production car to date, and one of the lowest-emitters of CO2 of any class of car.
Fresh from his drive in the Le Mans 24 Hours race, Sharapova’s chauffeur for the night was Porsche factory ‘works’ driver, Mark Webber, complete in smart chauffeur attire.
Sharapova, a Porsche Ambassador, was collected from The Goring Hotel in Belgravia and driven by Webber to the prestigious event at Kensington Roof Gardens in West London.
Being driven in the most powerful Porsche road car to date, by arguably the world’s fastest chauffeur, was an experience savoured by Sharapova. Speaking about the drive, she commented: “What a fantastic way to arrive at the party. To be in the fastest Porsche with a racing driver like Mark is amazing. And it’s great also to be driving in a city like London running only on electric power – it’s an unbelievable car!”
Webber was equally impressed by the car. The Porsche World Endurance Championship driver said: “Having just driven the Porsche 919 Hybrid race car at Le Mans last weekend, I already know that this technology can produce incredible results. The 918 Spyder is the closest thing to a road-going version, and it’s just as amazing – especially as it can be driven into London for free. And of course it’s great fun to drive Maria around in it!”
The 918 Spyder has a mid-mounted 4.6-litre V8 race engine coupled to two electric motors with lithium-ion batteries. It is a remarkable plug-in hybrid super sports car that can reach a top speed of 344 km/h, sprint from zero to 100km/h in 2.5 seconds, and yet at 72 g/km (70 g/km with the lightweight Weissach Package) produces so little CO2 that it is exempt from the London Congestion Charge.
It has a total power output of 887 hp and holds the current lap record for a production car at the famous Nürburgring race circuit of just 6 minutes 57 seconds. Despite all that performance, its plug-in hybrid technology means a low fuel consumption of 3.0 L/100kms is possible.
Recently retired late night show host, Jaguar collector and classic car enthusiast, Jay Leno, and Jaguar Design Director, co-driver Ian Callum, are legends of the automotive industry…
The famous Mille Miglia rally in Italy was packed full of famous cars and equally famous drivers this past week.
But when it comes to prodigious competition histories paired with A-list names, the combination of Jaguar Heritage Racing’s 1951 Ecurie Ecosse XK 120 roadster with Jay Leno and Ian Callum was hard to beat.
Well, maybe. Regular Driveway readers will recall that yours truly and my friend George Holt did the recent Hagerty Spring Thaw rally around BC in a 1954 XK 120 roadster.
But I digress.
Recently retired late night show host, Jaguar collector and classic car enthusiast, Leno, and Jaguar Design Director, co-driver Callum, are legends of the automotive industry – and at the famous road endurance rally, the rare roadster complemented their presence.
Prior to the event, Callum said: “As a Scotsman, Ecurie Ecosse is incredibly close to my heart – so the chance to drive this incredible XK 120 through Italy is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Factor in a co-driver who’s almost as much of a Jaguar man as me – and there’s no doubt I’m going to love every minute!”
Leno commented: “I’m fortunate to have an XK 120 in my garage – not to mention a few other incredible cars from Coventry – but this Ecurie Ecosse XK 120 is one of the most beautiful Jaguars ever built. I absolutely adore it. It’s a real honour to be asked to drive it on the Mille Miglia and to be able to revel in its history with someone like Ian is a true privilege.”
One of the most valuable and important XK 120s in the world, ‘LXO 126’ is the only surviving example of three original cars built to launch the Scottish racing team in 1952. A race winner in its period, it is most famously associated with raffish Anglo-Scottish aristocrat Sir James Scott-Douglas.
Scott-Douglas competed in a number of endurance races across Europe with Ecurie Ecosse and even went on to keep ‘LXO 126’ as a road car in 1953. In the same year, the car returned to the race track at the infamous Nurburgring; Ecurie Ecosse mechanics hastily converting it back into a competition car when one of the team’s C-type’s met with an accident.
Since then the car has been the subject of a meticulous restoration. Resplendent in the classic Flag Metallic Blue of the Ecurie Ecosse racing team, it was recently sold by Bonhams Auctions for more than $1-million at the end of 2013 and has been loaned to Jaguar Heritage Racing for the event.
It wasn’t the only Ecurie Ecosse car in Italy for the event – the Ecurie Ecosse C-type and D-type the original Ecurie Ecosse racing transporter were also present at the start in Brescia.
At press time, Jaguar Heritage Racing planned to tackle the legendary endurance event with a line-up of top-name drivers. The route includes more than 1,000 gruelling miles (1,600 kilometres), hence the name, from Brescia-Rome-Brescia in ten of the most revered and sought-after historic Jaguar cars ever produced.
While there is a greater acceptance of smaller vehicles in our cities, people outside urban areas have more ground to cover and so are tempted by larger vehicles… (more…)