Apologies for the long absence but commitments to FORZA, hours and hours spent in a recording studio to finish the CD of my book, lectures, road tests –it has been crazy. Hopefully things will settle down a little bit.
Before moving on to the LA Show I have to mention the Verstappen craze sweeping F1 enthusiasts all over the World. He was mentioned on just about all the stands as most people steered clear of politics and talked shop. Or Max. There is a growing campaign , not just in Holland by enthusiasts everywhere to reinstate Zandvoort and maybe other great circuits such as Watkins Glen.
With F1’s new American owners we are all guessing but if they were to go where the true enthusiasts are instead of just chasing the funny money we-including Liberty -would all be better off.
I had an unforgettable lunch at a restaurant near the Show with British colleagues. The Editor in Chief of Top Gear magazine, the Editor of Ferrari’s own very lavish magazine produced in house at Maranello and Ken McConomy, an old friend from Jaguar UK. Absolutely loved it. Jaguar of course were one of the stars of the show with the Jaguar XKSS at the Petersen museum and the stunning I-Pace on the stand. Should be on sale within a couple of years. Astonishing how well they are doing having been saved by Tata Automobiles of India. Thank you Mr Ratan.
Talking of foreign ownership it was interesting to spend some time on the Volvo stand. Not many people know that they are owned by a Chinese company-Geely. Some of the cars are made there. I’ve had a Volvo S70 for over 12 years in the UK, never missed a beat. It did of course come from Gothenburg in Sweden. I was wondering about the build quality of the Chinese made Volvos but was assured that it was impossible to see any difference at all.
The new V90 cross country certainly looked stunning. As did the young lady on the Maserati stand. The cars looked good too!
As did the new Huracan Spider which was launched at a villa near the polo fields not far from LA. It was wonderful to see old friend Stefano Domenicali unveil it. He has been a friend for some 20 years and we were all sad to see him leave Ferrari. Still, getting a job just down the road at Lamborghini as CEO cannot be too bad a gig! He is trying to move Lambo away from its medallion image and if anyone can do it’s Stefano.
It broke my heart that Ford- who gave me my very first job all those years ago- had a parking lot instead of a show.
Lots of tired looking little cars in truly sad colors. No way to shift the metal. Thank God for the trucks.
It was fascinating to see a fiber-carbon chassis made by Divergent which uses 3-D printing in automobile construction. They work with Peugeot in France, I found it very exciting indeed although it will take a while before it goes into production.
It will also a while for VR-or virtual reality to reach the auto industry I hope. I’ve had a chance to try it on the VW stand and left feeling very dizzy indeed. Talking of VW many people thought that they would go bust over the diesel gate scandal but I don’t think they will. Before you say so what, who cares, let me give you some details. They have factories literally all over the World employing hundreds of thousands of people. Yes, they are just letting 30 thousand of them go-some Christmas present..but they carrying on and therefore Audi, Seat, Skoda, Bentley, Lamborghini will continue to make cars.
As for Ferrari-and I am writing this before the last race of the season- hoping for one of the boys to finish on the podium. It was Her Majesty the Queen who in 1992 described her year as Annus Horribilis. This I am afraid is what the Scuderia had in 2016. I hope and pray for a better season in 2017, as do all long-suffering fans of is great marque.