Currently reading: Cropley on Cars - ex-Lotus boss Dany Bahar's new project is genius
TVR's rebirth grabs the headlines; Andy Palmer's hectic schedule; building a Bloodhound rocket racer

MONDAY - Our revelations last week that an all-new TVR sports car is under development for 2017 stopped the traffic in a way that few stories manage to do.

Anyone who thought that the nine-year lapse since TVR last built a car had reduced the marque’s popularity was proved wrong at a stroke.

Given that the meat of the news story and images were exclusive to Autocar, it was fun clocking how they spread across the world. We posted our story on the website early last Wednesday and by mid-morning it had been viewed 21,000 times and linked to a hundred different websites in India, China, Japan, the United States and Australia.

When you think how many more audiences then viewed those postings, the figure for the total number of people informed must have been little short of astronomical.

It’s amazing how news spreads today in comparison with the old days.

Not long ago I was looking at a photo of the doyen of 1950s/60s grand prix reporters, Denis Jenkinson, leaning comfortably against a wheel of his Porsche 356, parked on a grassy verge somewhere in Europe while he completed – in longhand – one of his ginormous grand prix reports.

Next, he would have popped the manuscript – the solitary copy – into a convenient mailbox, addressed to London.

If that report had hit the news stands inside four weeks, it would have been considered timely.

TUESDAY - Good fun meeting in London with ex-Lotus boss Dany Bahar, whom I always liked. He’s 18 months into a new project, Ares Design, which takes rich people’s cars and rebuilds them as the clients want.

The cleverness of the proposition is that the client, although assisted by professionals, is the author of the design. Thus Ares isn’t a producer of products, so it needs no brand development, just a good reputation.

Work is of high value but doesn’t disturb a car’s structure, so the project need concern neither original manufacturer nor legislative authorities. Genius.

Bahar will soon have a presence in the UK again; Ares is doing so well it needs a Piccadilly showroom, he says.

WEDNESDAY - Interesting afternoon as a passenger in Aston Martin boss Andy Palmer’s Rapide en route to Heathrow, from where Palmer was catching a flight to China.

After an absorbing chat about the importance (and strong prospects) of Aston generating “free cashflow” to fund its next-gen models, we arrived at about 7pm. It was informative to compare our schedules. 

Mine involved an evening in London; Palmer’s had him flying through the night, arriving in Shanghai at lunch, meeting British and EU ambassadors at 3pm to plan a request to China’s authorities to consider making tax regimes easier on low-volume imported cars, then attacking important company issues with his dealer bodies.

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Friday and Saturday he’d be in Beijing, bringing company people and dealers up to speed with corporate plans. On Sunday afternoon he’d be home again – just in time for the new working week.

FRIDAY - Onto my desk dropped a box about big enough to hold a wine bottle with ‘Sender: Richard Noble’ on its label. Inside was a block of polystyrene, some plans, four wooden wheels and a couple of axles.

This was one of the thousands of Bloodhound rocket racer kits the land speed project’s principals have been sending to kids all over the country.

Like theirs, my parcel included an invitation to carve the block into a Bloodhound model, stick it all together and bring it to a race meeting near my home, where I’d be given a rocket motor and allowed to race against others – hoping to beat the best scale speed so far of 533.1mph.

Given how this stirred me, I can only imagine how fired up the kids must feel.

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