Tag Archives: Geneva Motor Show

Geneva Reflections

The month of June has been its usual struggle, Le Mans consumes all time and energy from those who are involved, so some pieces have stacked up here at DDC Towers but fear not we are still rumbling away. The Special Correspondent sent me a few reflections from the Geneva Salon a while back, time to share them with the wider world.

2016 DB General

Designers of supercars give scant attention to the need of their occupants to carry some luggage – try squeezing even a holdall into a Bugatti Veyron! It seems that they have come full circle with the early vintage cars which had no normal facilities for accommodating luggage – suitcases had to be strapped to a grid at the rear of the car’s body.

2016 DB General
McLaren has made a reasonable attempt with its new 570GT to correct this omission as can be seen above.
2016 DB General
Porsche introduced their new version of the Boxster which was given the additional title of 718.
The original 718 dates from mid-1957 when Porsche produced a successor to the 550 and this was 20kg lighter and fitted with coil spring rear suspension dispensing with the low pivot swing axles. Low drag was a priority, even enclosing the headlamps behind Plexiglass.
Among successes in 1958 was a superb 3rd place overall at Le Mans courtesy of Behra and Herrmann. The 1960 regulations demanded a full windscreen as seen here and that year’s highlight was an outright win at the Sebring 12 Hours by Herrmann and Gendebien.
2016 DB General
This is the Morgan 4/4 80th Anniversary edition.
The first 4/4 prototype (called then the 4-4) appeared back in 1936, making the type now a world record for a production car. That prototype used a Ford engine and then the early production cars switched to the Coventry-Climax unit but the basic car is still the same with hand-rolled aluminium bonnet, ash frame and sliding pillar independent front suspension. Currently a Ford Sigma 1.6 engine is used with a Mazda 5-speed gearbox.
This special version is characterised by among other changes the disc wheels with brass centre locks, a quad bonnet strap, a brass mesh behind the grille and a brushed walnut dashboard.
2016 DB General
This beauty describes itself as a Touring Superleggera Disco Volante Spyder. It is based on the Alfa Romeo 8C Spyder and once one such donor car is received, Touring will build you one of these within six months.
It is inspired by the Alfa Romeo C52 Disco Volante of 1952 which can just be seen in the left background. The stunning original never made production – it produced too much front end lift!
2016 DB General
Recalling past successes, Abarth has come up with this impressive Rally Coupé version of Fiat’s new two-seater 124.
2016 DB General
Spyker is back! This company, one of the oldest and a pioneer of four-wheel drive, has a chequered history. More recently the cars were being made by CPP in Coventry but they closed down in November 2011.

2016 DB General

ADV replaced them and the association with Spyker was re-formed in November 2015 – they will make a few Ailerons and then this new Preliator.
2016 DB General
Surely the prettiest of all the Grand Prix Hondas? This, the RA 272, is also the first to win a Grand Prix, Mexico in 1965 with that gutsy little Richie Ginther at the wheel.

David Blumlein, July 2016


The launch of a new Bugatti is a very rare event, like the alignment of the planets, it may come but once or twice in our life spans. So the opportunity the witness the latest model from this most exclusive of brands in the flesh was not to be missed by our Special Correspondent. So he set course for Geneva and here are some of his reflections.


For this scribe the chief excitement of the 2016 Geneva Motor show was the début of the Bugatti Chiron. Based on the Veyron, the Chiron pushes all the limits of its predecessor further ahead.


It’s taller and wider and the 8.0-litre quad turbo W16 has been re-developed to give a staggering 1,479 b.h.p., almost 300 b.h.p. more than the Veyron, by dint of stronger titanium connecting rods, enlarged (by 30%) turbos while 1.4 kg have been machined off the crankshaft. There is an up-graded 7-speed Ricardo DCT with a bigger crown wheel, stronger universal joints and stouter driveshafts. Carbon silicon brakes with eight pistons and an air-brake help to arrest the unbelievable performance. The car sits on a new lighter carbon-fibre monocoque to which is attached the adaptive suspension and specially developed tyres. The carbon-fibre bodywork is a bold mix of curves and straight lines and a cutaway rear end is used to get rid of the enormous heat.

Some 300,000 miles of testing has proved that these improvements are up to the job and customers (existing Veyron owners are given first refusal) are invited to part with a mere £1.9 million as from the autumn. To reassure them the road car is limited to a top speed of 261 m.p.h. Bugatti expects to make up to 500 Chirons, taking production up to 2024.

Let us not forget that there was an earlier Bugatti Chiron, a concept car which appeared at the Frankfurt Show in 1999. It was a 2-seater mid-engined coupé, labelled “EB 18/3 Chiron”, the 18 indicating the number of cylinders and the 3 representing Volkswagen’s project.
So why Chiron, and who was he? Like Pierre Veyron he was a successful Bugatti driver but he drove other marques as well.

T 51 Chiron 1932
He was born in Monaco in 1899, the son of the Maître d’Hôtel in the Hôtel de Paris. Having joined the French Army as an artilleryman, he became the chauffeur to Marshal Pétain. He was then able to obtain a Bugatti T22 which was prepared and supported by Ernest Friderich who was the Bugatti agent in Nice. In 1923 Chiron started taking part in local sprints and hill climbs, registering an initial success with a 3rd place in the Mont Agel hill climb.

By 1926 a Bugatti T35 was bought for him by Alfred Hoffman, heir to the Hoffman-La Roche pharmaceutical empire, and Chiron finished 4th in the Grand Prix de Province, his first circuit race; a win at the Grand Prix de Comminges followed. For 1927 Hoffman obliged with a T35T which was converted to T35B specification. A first at Miramas was scored and then a second in the supporting race to the French Grand Prix. Chiron took 7th at Indianapolis in a Delage 15S 8 before going on to Brooklands where he finished 4th in the British Grand Prix.

All this brought Chiron to the attention of Ettore Bugatti who invited him to drive for the works team. So for 1928 a T35C was used to win at Rome, Reims, San Sebastian and the Grand Prix d’Europe at Monza. In 1929 he won again at San Sebastian and took victory in the sports car Grand Prix von Deutschland. By now the T35 was becoming outclassed but he still managed to win at Spa.

The twin-cam T51 restored his fortunes and in 1931 he won his home race, the Monaco Grand Prix, as well as taking a shared victory (with Varzi) in the French Grand Prix; he also won at Brno. 1932 began with a 9th place in the Monte Carlo Rally, Chiron driving a big Type 50 Bugatti, but back on the circuits the T51 was in turn being outpaced by the P3 Alfa Romeo; nevertheless, he managed victories at Nice, Dieppe and Brno again.

So in 1933 it was all change to Alfa Romeos, initially teaming up with Caracciola to form Scuderia CC but this fell apart when the German ace crashed badly at Monaco. Chiron joined Scuderia Ferrari and threw away a certain win at Monaco with two laps to go in 1934. He made up for it with a splendid victory over the full might of the German teams in the French Grand Prix at Montlhéry. A season with Mercedes-Benz in 1936 did not work out well and this prompted his (premature) retirement. He was tempted back to drive sports T150C Talbots in 1937 and won the French Grand Prix, whereupon he retired once again.

Chiron returned to Talbot after the war and won the first post-war French Grand Prix at Lyon, repeating the victory at Reims in 1949. His best performance in 1950 was a 3rd place at Monaco in a Maserati 4CLT/48. In the 1951 Monte Carlo Rally he brought his Delahaye 175S up to 5th overall by being the fastest in the Test around the Monaco Grand Prix circuit. His last Grand Prix was at Monaco in 1955 when he finished 6th in one of the Lancia D50s at the age of almost 56 years; he had won the Monte Carlo Rally the year before in a Lancia Aurelia. Non-qualification at Monaco 1958 in a Maserati 250F saw his last Grand Prix appearance, and a class win that year in a Porsche Carrera at the Vuillafans-Echevannes hill climb brought his impressive career to a close. He then devoted himself to organisation with the Monaco Club and died in 1979, appropriately, in Monaco.
The new car has much to live up to!
David Blumlein, May 2016

Swiss Franks

It has been all go here at DDC Towers, Sebring last week and the Geneva Motor Show the week before. So catching our breath before press censorship is introduced here in the UK, we have the reflections of our Special Correspondent on the Swiss Show.

The Geneva Motor Show 2013 – “Some thoughts”

The Geneva Motor Show has grown to become one of the most important international automotive exhibitions in the world. It started in 1905 at a time when Switzerland was very reluctant even to embrace the coming of the motor car, setting speed limits of just 3-7 m.p.h. and introducing a law which forbade the use of motor vehicles on Sundays! Yet the show achieved world status by 1934 and in 1952 had toppled Brussels as the most important European event of its kind.
We can identify two factors that contributed to this success. First, Switzerland is one of the wealthiest nations on the earth. Secondly, Switzerland has had no proper motor industry of its own; Piccard & Pictet (Pic-Pic) of Geneva had gone by 1920 and Martini by 1934. Like Belgium, Switzerland became mainly an assembler of foreign cars, General Motors having a factory in Biel/Bienne from 1934 to 1975 and Chrysler assembling some 14,000 Plymouth Valiants and 4,500 related Dodge Darts among others in the AMAG plant at Schinznach Bad between 1948-75. There was the odd small manufacturer such as Monteverdi, and Saurer and FBW were prominent commercial vehicle makers. A few coachbuilders, Graber, Beutler and Gangloff for example, became famous names but there was nothing acting as major competition to the world’s big manufacturers. (However, we should not forget that Switzerland furnished the motoring world with three of its greatest designers: Marc Birkigt, Louis Chevrolet and Georges Roesch.)
Switzerland was thus an open free market par excellence and we find the big players often opting to launch their new models at Geneva which traditionally takes place in the early Spring, the time when the new comes to life.

Such has been the case for this 83rd Geneva Show and 2013 has been a bumper year for new car launches at the Palexpo centre which has housed the show since 1982
Among the newcomers were:

LaFerrari is Maranello’s successor to the Enzo. It is a petrol-electric hybrid with a combined 950 b.h.p. available, using a 6.2-litre V12 and 7-speed transmission driving the rear wheels. One electric motor supplies 161 b.h.p. to the wheels ; the other is used to power the ancillaries.  They are charged by braking or from excess torque from the engine. Only 499 are to be made.


We saw the McLaren P1 first at the Paris Salon but this is the production version. It too is a petrol-electric hybrid, its twin-turbo 3.8-litre V8 contributing 727 b.h.p. to a combined output of 903 b.h.p. Just 375 cars are due to be constructed.

The new Rolls-Royce Wraith is the most powerful Rolls ever made. It has a 624 b.h.p. 6.6-litre V12 propelling it to a 0-60 m.p.h. time of 4.4 seconds, although Rolls-Royce do not see the car as a particularly sporting model.

The name recalls a car the company made before the war. The original Wraith was introduced in 1938 as a replacement for the entry-level 20/30 model and used a straight-6 o.h.v. engine but production was curtailed by the outbreak of hostilities. Its successor, the Silver Wraith, had the overhead inlet/side exhaust engine found in the early cars made in the newly adapted Crewe factory.
This new model has a shorter wheelbase and a wider rear track than its related Ghost and development work was carried out at the Nürburgring – notice the front opening doors!
Volkswagen’s amazing XL1 – 340 m.p.g. from an 803 c.c. turbo diesel and a 230-volt lithium-ion battery!
The story started when Ferdinand Piech ordered the development of a “one litre” car, implying 100 km from 1-litre of fuel. A carbon-bodied, tandem-seat single-cylinder prototype was created which Piech drove in 2003 from Wolfsburg to Hamburg at an average fuel consumption of 317.4 m.p.g. and a speed of 43.5 m.p.h. Further development, including replacing the impractical tandem-seating with a conventional side-by-side arrangement, has yielded this impressive result which boasts a drag co-efficient of only 0.189!
The car’s 2-cylinder engine which is effectively half of a Polo’s 1.6-litre turbo diesel.
The Austrian KTM X-Bow, introduced here five years ago, has finally acquired some doors, side-windows and a windscreen to become the X-Bow GT.
The wipers, screen-wash and heated glass are optional extras!
The Bentley Flying Spur may look similar to its predecessor but the aluminium and steel body is completely new. The car is powered by a 6.0-litre W12.
Two years after it appeared at Geneva in concept form, the Alfa Romeo 4C is now ready for production. It has a 1.8-litre 4-cylinder turbo, delivering 240 b.h.p. to the rear wheels via a paddle shift.
This is its carbon-fibre tub. The car will be built by Maserati in Modena.
Maserati has come up with a 4-seater version of its GranTurismo MC Stradale where the two rear seats replace the roll-cage. Carbon-fibre is used for some of the bodywork, for example the bonnet which now has an airscoop.
The Spyker name re-appeared at Geneva with this B6 Venator concept which has a mid-mounted V6 375 b.h.p. engine driving the rear wheels.
Lamborghini celebrated its 50th anniversary with this Veneno model based on the Aventador. The design focuses on aerodynamic efficiency and the chassis and outer skin are formed from carbon-fibre re-inforced composite materials. It also has four-wheel drive and racing style pushrod suspension. Only three are expected to be made.

David Blumlein, March 2013