The grandiose courtyards of Blenheim Palace echoed to the sounds of supercars as Winston Churchill’s former home played host to Cars at the Palace 2017. More than 100 Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porsches, Aston Martins and other exotics gathered in the summer sunshine, their owners chatting with enthusiasts and camera-toting tourists. The event is a forerunner to Blenheim Palace Classic & Supercar on Sunday 3rd September – and we’ll be there, too.
More supercars on Motoring Research:
- 20 years of Italian supercars
- Want to drive a McLaren on-track? Here’s how
- 2017 Ferrari GTC4Lusso T review: don’t hate the V8
Jaguar F-Type Project 7
First on our list of highlights is a Jaguar F-Type Project 7 – one of just 250 made. This skunkworks special was the first car from JLR’s fledgling Special Vehicle Operations, since responsible for hardcore, SVR-branded versions of the F-Type and Range Rover Sport. Its hump-backed bodywork evokes the classic D-Type, while its 5.0-litre supercharged V8 is tuned to 575hp. At launch, the car commanded a hefty £43,000 premium over the regular V8 R roadster.
Porsche Carrera GT
Cars don’t come much more ‘super’ than this. The 2003 Carrera GT was Porsche’s long-awaited follow-up to the 959, and boasts a carbon fibre chassis and racing-style inboard suspension. Let’s not forget that mid-mounted, F1-derived V10 either. It develops 612hp at a screaming 8,000rpm – good for 60mph in 3.5 seconds and a 205mph top speed. The 887hp 918 Spyder that followed would go even faster, but the Carrera GT is a purer driving machine.
Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0
Speaking of driving machines, those in ‘the know’ rate Porsche’s 911 GT3 RS 4.0 as one of the finest ever created. This was the last hurrah for the 997 GT3 and its race-derived ‘Mezger’ engine, and Porsche celebrated with 600 of these sought-after specials – offered to existing customers only. We’re not fans of the stickers, but we’d gladly look past those for 500 horses and a tacho that doesn’t call time until 8,500rpm. The ultimate 911?
Ferrari F12 TDF
Go-faster special editions? Ferrari does those, too. The F12 Tour de France – named after the sports car race, not the cycling event – is a track-focused take on Ferrari’s outgoing V12 flagship (just replaced by the aptly-named 812 Superfast). Its 6.3-litre V12 sends a mildly terrifying 780hp to the rear tyres – sufficient for 62mph in 2.9 seconds. On a dry road, obviously. Supercar spotters can identify a TDF by the three vents on its rear haunches.
Ferrari 458 Speciale
The even-faster 458 arrived in 2013, badged ‘Speciale’ and with power increased to 605hp at 9,000rpm. Active aerodynamics and a re-calibrated E-Diff mean it laps Ferrari’s Fiorano test-track 1.5 seconds quicker than a standard 458 Italia – and make it more rewarding on the road. This Rosso Corsa example, parked at the entrance to Cars at the Palace, belongs to one of the event organisers: Andrew Bagley.
Lamborghini Huracan Spyder
This was the first Huracan Spyder we’ve seen and, in the name of actionable consumer journalism, we can confirm that it looks knee-tremblingly gorgeous in the metal. The lack of a roof also means your eardrums get unfettered access to Lamborghini’s feral 610hp V10, in all its snarling, exhaust-popping glory. That’s almost worth the £200k price of entry alone.
Aston Martin DB11
Nestled among the Aston Martins was this new DB11. Its evolutionary styling traces its roots back to the 1994 DB7, but nobody can deny the inherent ‘rightness’ of Marek Reichman’s design. It’s a subtle supercar, and none the worse for that. There’s nothing subtle about the DB11’s performance, however: a 608hp 5.2-litre V12 means 60mph in 3.9 seconds and 200mph flat-out.
MG XPower SV-R
Here’s a rather different take on the British supercar. And subtle it ain’t. The X-Power SV started life in Italy as the Qvale Mangusta, then MG bought the company and Peter Stevens (he of McLaren F1 fame) provided an aggressive new look. Only around 82 cars were made. This is uprated SV-R version, with a 390hp 5.0-litre Ford V8. Spot the Fiat Punto headlights, too.
KTM is best known for making motorcycles: the X-Bow (say it ‘Crossbow’) is the Austrian company’s first full-size four-wheeler. As you expect from its function-over-form styling, this is very much a road-legal track machine, with pushrod suspension, carbon fibre bodywork and a lap timer atop the steering wheel. It’s powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged Audi engine – enough to keep pace with most of the supercars here.
There was one solitary McLaren at Cars at the Palace this year – a sign, perhaps, that it’s still early days for this fast-evolving British brand. The 650S is a development of McLaren’s original 2011 MP4-12C, and has just been replaced by the 720S. With 650hp (hence the name), it’ll reach 62mph in 3.0 seconds, plus a VMax of 207mph.
Porsche 911 GT3 RS
Any Porsche with a Rennsport badge gets enthusiasts salivating, even when it lacks a manual gearbox. Use the Launch Control and you can blast to 62mph in 3.3 seconds, accompanied by the ferocious howl of that 4.0-litre flat-six behind the rear wheels. More commonly seen in its trademark Lava Orange, the 991 GT3 RS looks equally eye-catching in Ultra Violet – or ‘purple’ to you and me.
Lamborghini Aventador SV
We were lucky enough to drive this very Aventador SV, which also belongs to Andrew Bagley, earlier this year. At the time, we described it as “awe-inspiring and magnificent; it’s the supercar turned up to 11 – a double Sambuca washed down with a Red Bull”. However, even this 750hp V12 missile looks relatively low-key compared to the modified SV alongside it…
Porsche 911 SC 3.0
This Martini-liveried 1977 911 is a project car for Private Motor Club magazine. Owner Tim Hutton drives it to numerous events. “One of the most exciting prospects is taking the time to learn how to drive the car well. Unlike a modern car the clutch is tricky, the gearbox requires firm confident changes and there is very little adjustment in the driving position, “ he explained.
Alfa Romeo GT 1600 Junior
One of our favourite cars at Blenheim was actually in the car park outside. This delightful Alfa 1600 Junior is much rarer than the 1300 version – particularly so today, as most have rusted away. Period modifications include spotlamps, bullet mirrors and a chrome luggage rack on the boot.