If you’ve read our first drive of the Vauxhall VXR8 GTS, you’ll already know that it’s a great sports saloon. You’ll also know that it’s an expensive sports saloon. £49,950 is a lot to ask for any Vauxhall, after all – even one with 425bhp.
There was plenty of forum debate after our review went live recently as to whether you’d have to be mad to spend BMW M3 money on a rebadged Holden. But there was at least one expectant owner who thought the new VXR8 would be worth the price, presumably even before he drove one. And he wasn’t mad: just a proper car enthusiast with a particular penchant for V8 engines and Aussie touring cars.
Tom Walkinshaw would have become the very first individual to take ownership of a new VXR8 GTS. The car in our photos - driven by yours truly, as well as a procession of other UK car hacks, a week ago in southern France – was meant for him.
Ordered by him in late 2010, complete with custard yellow paintwork and an automatic ‘box. Tom liked an auto’ box, apparently. According to our own Steve Cropley, who knew him well enough to afford the joke, “he would have been too busy jabbering away on his mobile phone to have time to change gear properly.”
Somewhat weirdly, Tom also specced the optional lane departure warning system on his VXR8. In that colour, and making that much noise, surely the last thing he would have had to worry about was people in his blindspot. Traffic tends to run for cover from a car like this. Still, Tom was clearly keen not to get in anyone’s way.
So I wondered, last week, what the man would have made of the idea that an army of leaden-footed journalists might be running his car in, somewhat unsympathetically, on the rising and twisting Route Napoleon. Do you think he would have objected? Not as long as they were enjoying it, you’d hope.
That’s how I justfied it, at any rate, when switching the traction control off.