Sunday, July 29, 2018


I never thought I would write a headline like that, but the baby Microlino concept makes maximum sense - especially in cities, and even where I live, on the Queensland Gold Coast.

Yes, it's definately minimalist, but lacking nothing that makes it an effective EV for two. It doesn't have anything it doesn't need. It doesn't need a special plug for re-charging - an ordinary household plug and power circuit does the job.

For example, it doesn't have a radio, so take along a Bluetooth speaker, like the JBL Flip 3, which will play music and allow phone calls.

If you think you've seen the design before, look back as far as 1955, when Italian company Iso, created a similar car for BMW, called the Isetta.

I was pointed to this new concept by my good friend Hans Tholstrup, the originator of Solar Car Racing, my companion in the 1977 London-to-Sydney Car Rally, and a man who clearly understands the much-needed integrity of 'designed for purpose'.

Introducing the Microlina, from Micro Mobility Systems. Here's some photos which give you an idea about the concept.

The Microlino is probably accepted under Euro regulations for a Quadricycle (see Driving & Life, October 9, 2017 - "A Car Called - A").

However, the YouTube video is what will convince you that this is a real, and practical solution - and BTW, makes the whole Tesla hoax look exactly what it is!

Just hit the play button and be intrigued - simple and amazing:


The Force India F1 team is officially in administration, and the administrators have announced it will be 'business as usual' whilst the financial problems are worked out.

The situation, financial holdings, and cross-holdings are complex, and so are the current list of solutions. The judge hearing the case has a firm grip on the issues, and is likely to ensure there is a successful outcome, which will save team jobs and keep the team in the F1 world championship.

There is a long list of 'possible saviours' - some with real money, and others, many with dodgy balance sheets, however the strongest hand in all this is Mercedes-Benz which not only supplies engines, but also a huge list of sophisticated components. Whatever decisions are made during the period of administration will have to satisfy Mercedes-Benz, before anything proceeds.

In the meantime 'team owner' Vijay Mallya and his jailed partner, Subrata Roy (Sahara) are no longer on the Board of Directors. Mallya has burned through piles of cash not only supporting the team, but also his lavish lifestyle, yacht, parties and staying out of India, where he is wanted on fraud charges.

Vijay Mallya's next appearance in court will be this coming week as Indian authorities apply for his extradition. If that application is successful, I suggest that's the last we will see of the flamboyant Indian around the Formula One paddock.

Back in May 2010 I was commissioned by the Dubai-based business magazine 'TRENDS' to write a feature story about two Indian corporate titans - Ratan Tata and Vijay Mallya.

Both men inherited fortunes, and the heavy responsibilities for maintaining the companies, which had originally been created by their families. 

In Vijay's case he took over running his father's massive holdings when he was just 27. Mallya, Snr, had built an empire off the back of beer brewing, acquisition of the Scottish spirits company, Mackay & Whyte, and several other Indian companies involved in chemicals, agriculture and technology.

I referred to both Tata and Mallya as 'Commercial Princes of India' - sadly, only one has survived with his dignity intact, and of course that is Sir Ratan Tata.

In 2010, Mallya was making a good fist of managing and running his various enterprises under the mantle of the parent company, UB Group, which his father started in the late 1940s.

Sadly, just a couple of years later the whole UB Group conglomerate started to run off the rails. Vijay, started a new beer, and an airline, both named Kingfisher. At first they appeared well-capitalised, but after Vijay got the Formula One bug, which is known for swallowing huge amounts cash, it all got very nasty.

In order to survive, Mallya was forced to sell off big chunks of the beer/spirits division; then the airline went bust; then he teamed up with Subrata Roy of Sahara group, who was apparently intended to be the man who would keep Force India 'alive' and 'Indian'.

Roy was later successfuly charged and jailed over massive corporate fraud.

Mallya no longer owns a controlling interest in UB Group, that has been taken over by Diageo, and Mallya's various chemical, agriculture and technology divisions have all been 'leveraged' to borrow funds to run the F1 team, and keep the party going. I don't think he captains' the 'Indian Empress' any longer either.

When I was writing the original story, a number of my Indian contributors said it would all come tumbling down, because within India, Vijay was considered an irresponsible playboy with expensive tastes.

Vijay and partner, Bollywood starlet Pinky Lalwani
It appears the leopard was able to have several new race team outfits, but couldn't change his spots.

Friday, July 27, 2018


This week I lost another good friend, Warren Brown, who wrote about autos for The Washington Post, which he joined in 1978.

He was originally hired for the main news desk, but just a couple of years later he asked to be given an exclusive column which he dedicated to cars, the car industry and car industry workers - he called it 'On Wheels'.

I first met Warren in 1994 becoming firm friends, and we communicated regularly, even after I retired from Bentley Motors North America in 2006.

The next time we sat down together for a lunch was at an event called 'The Quail - A Motorsports Gathering' in the Carmel Valley in 2003, when he told me he would be calling time on his permanent role at 'The Post', but he continued writing for the paper under contract.

He endured two kidney transplants, both from donors. The first was from his wife in 1999; and the second from a Post colleague in 2001. However, neither one solved his underlying health issues, and he continued on dialysis until his death on July 26 - he was just 70 years old.

Warren was not only an astute observer and journalist, but his writing revealed a very high quality of thought, insight, and integrity. I admired him greatly, and he will be remembered for his honesty, openess and intellect.

In 2005 in his column, the New Orleans-born Brown thanked both his kidney donors, but dismissed the thought that they 'saved his life'. He said: "You can't 'fix' anything permanently, stuff wears out. Old cars rust away, houses crumble, people die."

Thursday, July 26, 2018


Sergio Marchionne has died aged 66, from complications following surgery last month. He was surrounded by his two sons, Alessio and Tyler, and his longtime companion Manuela Battezatto.

Many tributes have poured in from automobile executives, politicians, Italy's President and the Formula One community.

He was always considered a risk-taker, and in 2004 when he took over FIAT at the the request of the Agnelli family few gave him any hope of success. In 2009 FIAT took over an equally-ailing Chrysler. Marchionne took on a huge pile of debt, but miraculously, had managed to pay it down to mangeable levels by last June.

He successfully spun off Ferrari into a separate entity and had made a major effort reviving Alfa Romeo and Maserati.

FIAT-CHRYSLER AUTOMOBILES, according to the New York Times is now worth 10 times more than it was when Mr. Marchionne began his recovery effort.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018


The circumstances surrounding FCA's blunt and emphatic announcement that Sergio Marchionne will not return to work and has been immediately replaced by Mike Manley are now becoming clearer.

Apparently Sergio's shoulder surgery was not as simple as fixing his rotator cuff. Reports have emerged saying that Marchionne was diagnosed with cancer in his shoulder, and during the operation to remove the tumour, complications arose and an embolism affected blood flow to his brain, causing him to be placed in a deep coma.

Fiat Chairman, and Agnelli family member, John Elkann (right) has written to FCA employees to outline the serious nature of current circimstances surrounding the sweeping changes the Group will undergo.

Also, the rumours that FCA would be taken over by Hyundai have apparently been scotched.

FCA already sources a significant number of parts from Hyundai, as a supplier, but there is apparently no suggestion that the Korean carmaker would take over FCA.

However, Marchionne has been very keen to either merge with a bigger partner, or see FCA sold off, to ease its debt problems, and lack of funds (and plans) for future development in the areas of electric vehicles and autonomous cars.

POSTSCRIPT (July 25, 2018): Sergio Marchione's long time companion, and his two sons have arrived at the University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland and are by his side. Italian newspaper reports say his current condition is irreversible.

Monday, July 23, 2018


Personally, and as a friend of Bernie's, I liked his strong and resolute management.

Is it better without Bernie; and, can Liberty Media really improve the sport, for all concerned?

Hard to say at this point because F1 is in a state of almost constant flux, with rule changes coming thick and fast (what’s new about that); new technical management of the sport; proposed engine changes and the fact that the business structure inherited by Liberty Media was essentially a ‘private club’ of team owners.

My good friend and noted F1 expert, Peter Windsor (left), in his latest column in the July edition of the magazine F1 Racing, proposes that Liberty Media could introduce some real change in the sport, by once again focusing on the drivers as the major change agent.

After all, they are the 'real' heroes.

He suggests Liberty Media should step into the area of driver development, and that the owners of the sport should forge better links with all the various streams which feed new, up-and-coming drivers into the top Formula. 

This would completely change the way newcomers enter the sport, and bring in drivers from countries which never previously were able to participate.

At this stage, they come from all motor sport backgrounds, with varying degrees of competence, but usually accompanied by a huge stash of cash from a combination of indulgent fathers; millionaire patrons, national fuel companies, disparate sponsors and governments. It’s a pretty haphazard way of bringing in new faces.

Peter suggests an ‘International Driver Program’ would be good for the sport because of the ‘international’ element in the mix. It might be possible to bring in new talent from countries that previously not have been able to field a driver, due to lack of financial support. That would mean diverting some of cash going to the teams.

Peter Windsor says the names we hold so dear in the history of the sport, like Fangio, Clark, Senna, Schumacher and all the stars from that vast galaxy of driving talent, past and present, is the very thing that attracts fans to the sport.

He proposes Chase Carey (centre below) and his merry band of businessmen give some thought to a Driver Academy as a way of really boosting the scale of human interest, as opposed to what next year’s cars will look like, whether it’s wearing a ‘Halo’ or the size of the front and rear wings.

I think Peter Windsor has come up with a great idea, let’s hope Liberty Media loves it too.


The German GP was as big an upset as you're likely to see in today's Formula One race scripts. Vettel leading in front of his home crowd slithered off the track in the late rain, whilst Danny Ricciardo suffered an engine problem for the second time in three races.

I have to hand it to Lewis Hamilton who persisently powered on after starting from the back row of the grid; grabbing super soft tyres when heavy rain began, and finally taking the chequered flag just seconds ahead of Valteri Bottas to give the Silver Arrows a 1-2 victory on home soil at the Hockenheimring.

Lewis regains the lead in the drivers' championship after cool-headed driving decisions, and a rare mistake by Sebatsian Vettel.

Sunday, July 22, 2018


Sergio Marchionne, the Italian-born, Canadian-raised Chairman and CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has resigned, due to complications from surgery this week.

Marchionne's shoulder surgery was a scheduled event, but complications in his recovery mean he will be unable to return to work.

He was due to retire as head of FCA in November 2019.

I have been responsible for dumping huge critiscm on Marchionne for running up almost USD$6 billion in debt, trying to restore FCA as a credible member of the American 'Big Three'. However, his bold gambles and risky business moves appear to have paid off.

He will be replaced by the man currently running Jeep and RAM, Mike Manley.

Manley is well known as a tough, workaholic Brit who has essentially been responsible for building Jeep-Ram into a money-making machine which helped FCA pay down its huge industrial debt in June last year.
European auto writers are insinuating that the 'complications from surgery' may just be a convenient excuse for the Agnelli family (which controls FIAT) to move Marchionne from his post early, as FIAT brand sales take a dive in all of the company's markets.

The American brands (Chrysler, Dodge) are fast disappearing off the map, leaving just Jeep and Ram, to survive in a global market that has mostly dumped passenger cars in favour of SUVs/Crossovers and Trucks.

The only bright spots for FCA are steadily-improving sales for Alfa Romeo and Maserati, because Ferrari was spun off a couple of years ago as a separate brand.

The new CEO of Ferrari has stated that the management changes will not affect the Ferrari F1 team's plans.

Friday, July 20, 2018


So, here’s the sad fate of just a few of the Supercars that get trashed every year. You may be able to afford to buy it, but what happens when it ends like this.

My friends in Dubai tell me that if the owners are able to walk away, they are usually too embarrassed to admit to the crash – so many smashed supercars just get left by the roadside!

The green Lambo shows that Chinese supercar owners occasionally get in trouble too.

Then there’s the Sunday outing for the Tokyo Ferrari owners club, which ended in tears on the Hakone Motorway.

However, perhaps the most expensive totalling, was this used McLaren 720S, which the new owner bought on Friday for USD$862,000 (AUD$1.172 million), and smashed against a tree in Great Falls, Virginia on Saturday.

In Dubai, the Police are getting serious about speeding supercar owners, and have invested a chunk of change in new pursuit cars – a Bugatti, and a couple of Lamborghinis. 

As far as I know, only one of the Lambos ended up as a cube of metal after an argument with an Armco barrier!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018


Change is the only constant these days at Holden, and that change continues from the top down. Not only that it’s dramatic change!

When a lifelong Toyota man is appointed as the new head of Holden you know big things are happening at Fishermans Bend.

The announcement that Mark Bernhard is leaving General Motors at the end of this month is far less of a surprise than the naming of his replacement on July 18.

He is Dave Buttner (right), who is coming out retirement to take up the new post. Mr Buttner is the former President of Toyota Australia, and a 30-year veteran of the Japanese auto-making colussus.

He has clearly been brought in to stop any revolt by dealers over Holden’s currently pathetic performance and piddling market share, and the difficulties dealers are facing because of Holden’s clumsy transition from manufacturer to importer.

Although Mr Bernhard has only been at Holden’s helm for three years, he has had a 32-year career with General Motors. However, Holden has clearly been floundering since manufacturing ceased and some very silly decisions came out of the top floor office.

Holden Insignia would have been a much smarter choice
Naming the Opel-based Insignia as the ‘new Holden Commodore’ heads the list of dumb decisions, and as a result of the Commodore consumer confusion; plus the fact that the Equinox SUV was late to market; and the Colorado had to be re-engineered to become competitive, has resulted in traffic through dealerships crashing down a cliff.

Kristian Aquilina

Holden dealers complained long and hard to Bernhard about the low traffic numbers, so the new marketing whizz, Kristian Aquilina, came up with the brainwave of offering buyers $500 if they tested a Holden, but then purchased a competitor’s car.

That sounded like a really desperate move, however it instantly got people into dealerships around the country, and so what if Holden had to write a few $500 cheques – at least dealers saw that Holden was doing something about increasing showroom traffic.

According to my good friend and highly experienced auto writer, Paul Gover, David Buttner is nicknamed ‘Consensus Dave’ because of his ability to bring doubters on board, and his time was highly valued by both Toyota's Japanese and Australian management. He will bring a steady hand, and in company with Mr. Aquilina, the dealers are likely to be more confident about their future with the brand.

The change in management was announced in Detroit by Barry Engle (right), Executive VP and President of GM International, whose announcement also contained further words of comfort for Holden dealers.

He said: “GM’s most senior leadership strongly believe that we have a rare jewel in Holden, an iconic Australian brand that understands the needs of Australian drivers.”

This certainly means Holden's 72 year history will continue in Australia, and once it gets its act together in the SUV/Crossover space with new products, it’s likely that it will continue to enjoy complete support from Detroit.

With the reduction in the importance of passenger cars, versus Crossovers and SUVs, this also means that when the PSA/Holden supply deal for Insignia and Astra ends in six years, Australia will see the next Holden based on platforms emanating in Detroit.

I have been told quite firmly that there will be no new Holdens built on PSA platforms, and also the future potential of the Epsilon II platform, which currently underpins the Insignia, and Holden/Chevrolet Malibu, amongst others, would continue to provide a sound foundation for any future ‘Commodore’, designed in Detroit or Down Under.

Holden Malibu - built on GM's Epsilon II platform - originally developed by Opel

However, as GM is also finding out like every other car-maker, that passenger cars are ‘on the nose’, I think that any decisions on any future passenger cars will sit behind the importance of both new SUV/Crossovers, and electric and autonomous cars.

It’s my opinion that in six years time, there will be less and less importance placed on the value of ‘what is a Commodore’ – by then it will be distant history.

Monday, July 16, 2018


So, we now have the sales and market share datum for the Australian market for the 2018 half year, and if you thought GM Holden was sinking like a stone with an overall market share of just 4.7%, then you won’t be surprised that its performance in the passenger car sector is the main drag on maintaining a credible presence in the Australian market.

Holden total passenger car sales year-on-year (2017-2018) are down by 40%, with Commodore sales down 34%. This in itself is no surprise because the new ZB FWD Commodore is still competing against the locally-built RWD Commodore which was on sale last year.

For the Year-to-Date (June 2018) total sales numbers, Holden’s market share rose slightly to 5.4%.

That life was breathed into the company’s performance via the Holden Equinox SUV (which has sold 2685 units this year), and the Colorado 4x2 and 4x4 light trucks, which rose 8.7% and 2% respectively.
Holden Trax (top) and Captiva

In the light SUV sector Trax crashed 22% and the Captiva by 42%.

Holden’s overall sales for the half-year are down by 23%, but how could that possibly justify the most recent ‘marketing campaign’.

Holden says it will give you $500 if you test drive a Holden vehicle, and then go and buy a competitor vehicle!

Is that the depths of desperation, or what?

Holden’s response to media questions is: “We are so confident in our vehicles, we do not think we’re in danger of having to pay out too much.” Good luck with that then.
Well, having just stepped out of a petrol and diesel Mazda 6 sedan, I can tell you that the Mazda is more than a match for the new ZB Commodore, in every respect.

Having said that I still think the local Holden product engineers have done an outstanding job ‘localizing’ the ZB, but there are many fine competitors out there.

I am a great Holden supporter, believe it or not. When I was Editor of MODERN MOTOR magazine (1972-1977) I enjoyed a terrific rapport with all the senior directors plus the Chairman and CEO.

I worked on research programs with the Commodore in 1976-7, and fronted a promo film for Holden dealers for the Isuzu-built Holden Gemini, when I was Editor of MODERN MOTOR.

I think it is so sad to see a brand with 72 years of history in the market place, when it once had a market share of 56%, reduced to 5%, or less, a couple of months ago.

What’s especially saddening to me is when I see the video produced by GM Holden, showing Holden Commodore ZB Chief Engineer, Rob Trubiani, talking with joy and passion about how much he enjoyed working on the ZB program.

That level of passion and enthusiasm is alive and well at Holden, even today.

Buick/GMC Acadia
Holden is finding out the hard way that SUVs rule the market. The Equinox was late to market, and work on ‘localizing’ the GMC/Buick Acadia is too slow – mostly because of strong demand for the SUV in the USA.

Despite the crappy on-road performance of the Korean-built Holden Trax, it was doing reasonably well, but a sales drop of 18% so far this year doesn’t help Holden.

The Trax sits in a market segment that is bristling with brilliant competitors (Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona, Mazda CX-3, Renault Captur, Subaru XV and the Suzuki Vitara).

This dramatic drop in the appeal of passenger cars is well and truly dominating media stories in the USA, since Ford announced it will kill off all its passenger cars in 2019 – with the exception of Focus and Mustang.

Alan Batey - Head of GM North America
General Motors is currently putting on a brave face, with GM North American CEO, Alan Batey, saying this week that GM will continue to invest in revitalizing its passenger cars – this is despite GM passenger car sales being down 18% this year, while light trucks (SUV/Crossover/Trucks) have jumped by 12%.

As at June 2016, passenger cars in the USA represented 21% of sales, but in 2009 that number was 55%.

Even though GM says its passenger cars are alive and well, industry sources say the Chevrolet Sonic, Volt and Impala are facing the axe by 2020. The Volt may be dressed up as a crossover, which would extend its life.

Okay, so the markets in USA, Europe, Britain and Australia are changing. Consumers are out of love with passenger cars, and totally smitten by SUVs and Crossovers. However, the car-makers are not that upset about this paradigm shift in the market preferences.

Most light SUVs and Crossovers are built on passenger car platforms, and this offers car-makers considerable flexibility and savings in manufacturing costs, but a close look at purchase prices reveals that car-makers are charging vastly more for SUVs and Crossovers than for comparable cars, and quite frankly with this shift in buying choices, they are making a fortune!

That’s why everybody, even the big boys like Bentley are jumping into SUVs.

In Australia Bentley car sales dropped big time this year, but the Bentayga has come along at just the right time to save Bentley’s British Bacon.

Jaguar too is making heavy bets on the E-Pace, F-Pace and i-Pace to boost its sales, because the XE and XF have dropped down the ‘favourites list’.

In each of Jaguar's major markets, like the USA, Britain and Australia, the SUVs are dominating the sales graph. So, I find it surprising that Design Director Ian Callum and other senior JLR execs recently talking enthusiastically to the media about investment in new passenger cars.

We have a very long way to go before traditional car-making gives itself over to fully autonomous, self-driving cars and fewer purchases, thanks to low cost car-sharing; and ride-sharing services further distorting the market.

The next shift will be the death of diesel vehicles for personal use, and a rise in electric vehicles, whether powered by batteries, or plug-in recharging.

This is why I found working in and around the car industry so exciting for 40 years, and probably even more so since I retired and started publishing Driving & Life in 2010 – there’s ALWAYS something to write about.

Sunday, July 15, 2018


Back in 1974 my friend John Goss teamed up with one of Australia's greatest-ever racing drivers, Kevin Bartlett, to take on the 1000km race around the Mount Panorama circuit at Bathurst, west of Sydney.

It was one of the wettest races ever held at Bathurst, and Gossy and KB splashed their way to victory in a V8-powered XA Ford Falcon hardtop.

It was a glorious victory, for John Goss, who you might have described at the time as a 'real Aussie battler'; and Kevin Bartlett, who enjoyed a fabulous racing career in everything from sports sedans to open wheelers, eventually winning Australia's greatest trophy for open wheelers - the Gold Star, in 1968.

Now, Gossy's 1975 XB Falcon hardtop has been fully-restored, and in my opinion looks better than it did when it debuted on the grid 43 years ago. It goes up for auction in Melbourne tomorrow (July 16).

Saturday, July 14, 2018


A few years ago when my dear friend Ulrich Bez was Chairman and CEO of Aston Martin, he hatched a plot to use the Toyota iQ (below) as the basis of an Aston Martin which city-living customers could use in busy cities, without getting their GT car out in the traffic.

It was a pretty cheeky idea, but quite consistent with Ulrich's unconventional approach to life. Yes, he is a rare breed, an eccentric German.

He also figured the plan would help the company’s CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) fuel economy targets for the USA.

I’m not sure how many Aston Martin owners bought the car, named the Cygnet, but my good mate Sir Stirling Moss certainly did. He and Lady Susan used the little car to buzz around London doing errands, and checking on their property investments.

I even had a steer on one occasion when I was staying with the Mosses in Mayfair. Over breakfast one morning I consumed the last of the orange juice, and SM coerced me to take the Cygnet, and go to Marks and Spencer, in Oxford Street, to replenish the OJ.

Now, Aston Martin has clearly gone bonkers! One of its customers approached the company’s new ‘Q division’ (intended to build bespoke Astons) to build him a Cygnet, powered by a Vantage V8 engine.

Unsurprisingly, because not only are English engineers slightly eccentric, and a pound’s a pound in any economy, the company got right down to engineering and producing the world’s smallest, road-rocket.

So, here it is, the Cygnet V8. I will reproduce the PR blurb to provide the details, but what a great project! I’ll bet the engineers at ‘Q’ loved every minute of it.

Developed in-house by Aston Martin’s engineers, the starting point for the project was a right-hand drive Cygnet steel body shell and panels. A roll cage was welded to this, becoming an integral part of the chassis in the process, while a new front bulkhead and transmission tunnel were fabricated from sheet metal to accommodate the characterful 4.7-litre naturally aspirated V8 Vantage S powertrain.

Subframes and suspension are also derived from the previous generation Vantage, and a steel fuel tank housing has been mounted in the boot area, utilizing every inch of space.

Despite all this work, the car remains very recognisably a Cygnet from the outside. The face of the little Aston Martin remains largely untouched, with no extra bulges in the bonnet and just a subtle black mesh for the famous grille. 

However, there is no disguising the extra width of the wheel arches. In order to accommodate the significantly wider front and rear tracks, beautiful carbon composite flared extensions were made. These also house the new forged, five-spoke, diamond-turned wheels, which have grown from 16 to 19 in diameter.

At the rear of the car the distinguishing new feature of the V8 Cygnet are the central twin exhaust pipes. The exhaust is a bespoke system with twin underfloor mufflers and catalytic converters. With relatively short distances involved from manifold to tail pipe the V8 Cygnet has a voice that belies its compact size.
The engine itself is the 4.7-litre, naturally-aspirated V8 that is more usually found beneath the bonnet of the previous-generation Vantage S.

Bespoke intake trunking had to be designed and there are twin conical air filters. There is no sense in which the engine has been neutered for the Cygnet, however, with power and torque figures remaining at 430bhp and 490NM (361lb ft) respectively.

The gearbox is also taken from the V8 Vantage S with a seven-speed Sportshift II transmission taking care of the shifting. Power is transferred via a miniature torque tube to the 9.5 rear wheels, which are complemented by 275/35 Bridgestone tyres.

Weighing just 1375kg when full of fluids, the V8 Cygnet has a power-to-weight ratio of 313bhp/tonne. As a result, the V8 Cygnet is capable of accelerating faster than the V8 Vantage S with 0-60mph taking just 4.2 seconds. With a top speed of 170mph it is over 60mph faster than the regular Cygnet.

Braking is taken care of by 380mm discs clamped by six-piston monoblock calipers at the front, and 330mm discs gripped by four-piston mono block calipers at the rear.

The calipers are painted yellow to contrast with the Buckinghamshire green of the bodywork. Most of the remaining parts of the braking system are taken from the V8 Vantage S with ABS and a fixed brake bias valve. Inside, there is a bespoke brake pedal housed in the V8 Vantage-derived pedal box.

The rest of the interior is largely indicative of the fact that this V8 Cygnet could easily be used for competition. In addition to the roll cage there is a fully FIA compliant fire extinguisher system and seating is taken care of by composite, fixed back Recaro bucket seats with four-point harnesses.

The alcantara covered steering wheel is removable and behind this sits a bespoke carbon dash with the familiar Vantage instrument cluster. There are, of course, little touches of luxury inside as well, with leather pull straps on the unique carbon door cards and two USB ports alongside the bespoke controls for the air conditioning.

Is this crazy, or what? It’s fabulous. Long live British eccentricity!