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The Caterham sports car that could have been brilliant

Caterham Cars visit

You’re looking at a tragic missed opportunity. This is the stillborn Caterham coupe codenamed ‘C120’ – the joint-venture with Alpine that became the A110. Sadly, Caterham was unable to match Renault’s investment and withdrew from the project in 2014. With hints of Jaguar F-Type and Ford Puma, this curvaceous full-size clay model shows what could have been.

Clay pride

Caterham Cars visit

Alpine and Caterham began working together in 2012. The French wanted to re-launch their defunct sports car brand and the Brits hoped for a more mainstream model to complement the back-to-basics Seven. The plan was to build 6,000 cars a year, split evenly between the two brands. These were the heady days when Caterham had its own Formula One team, remember. Anything seemed possible.

Gatwick express

Caterham Cars visit

A manual gearbox was mooted, something the production Alpine doesn’t have. And the C120 would likely have spawned a GT4 race car. Given the rapturous acclaim the A110 has received, the prospect of a Caterham version is a poignant one for petrolheads. This model is now displayed at Caterham Cars’ showroom near Gatwick – alongside other highlights from the marque’s history. Read on for a guided tour.

A British car to beat the world

Seventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

Today, Caterham is back to being a one-model marque. Nonetheless, with a car as unique and iconic as the Seven, there’s still plenty to get excited about. Launched in 1957 as the Lotus Seven, Caterham has manufactured the retro-look roadster since 1973. A six-month waiting list suggests it has plenty of life in it yet.

Read our first drive of the Caterham Seven Sprint

Top Gear track starSeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

This Seven Superlight R500 takes pride of place in the Caterham Cars’ foyer. It’s the very same Seven that blitzed the Top Gear test track in 1min 17.9sec in 2008 – earning the team’s Car of the Year accolade in the process.

Endorsed by Hammond – and the StigSeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

With a 267hp 2.0-litre Ford Duratec engine, the R500 explodes to 60mph in just 2.88sec. Richard Hammond remarked: “The Caterham is faster than the £1m Veyron. What an amazing little car!” The Stig, meanwhile, declined to comment. But we suspect he approved…

The bare essentialsSeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

Inside, the Superlight lives up to its name, with nothing but the essentials for fast driving. Note the racing-style Stack instruments, gearshift indicator lights above the steering wheel and six-speed sequential manual gearbox. Serious stuff.

Caterham Seven SprintSeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

At the opposite end of the Seven spectrum is the limited-edition Sprint. Only 60 examples of this retro-look roadster were made, to celebrate 60 years of the Seven. Launched at the Goodwood Revival in 2016, it was sold-out within a week.

Old-school coolSeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

The Sprint resembles the original Lotus Seven, with flared front wings, a powder-coated grey chassis, cream steel wheels, a polished exhaust and classic-style badges. Underneath, however, it has a modern three-cylinder Suzuki engine.

Into the redSeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

Inside, the Sprint boasts sumptuous scarlet leather, retro Smiths gauges and a wood-rimmed Moto-Lita steering wheel. The only options are armrests, a tonneau cover, stainless steel rear wing guards and a lower floor for extra cabin space. Squint and you could be in a Jaguar E-Type – or any other 1960s British sports car.

Plaque in blackSeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

There’s also a numbered plaque in front of the passenger showing which of the 60 cars is yours. The Sprint is a surefire future classic, so little details like this matter. Note that Caterhams are now built in Dartford, Kent – rather than their original home of Caterham in Surrey.

Sprint and SuperSprint

Caterham Cars visit

The success of the Sprint led Caterham to launch the Seven Supersprint (left) a year later. Another evocative retro remake, it was again limited to 60 units, but this time the production run sold out in seven hours. Very apt.

Wet and wild

Caterham Cars visit

With tiny aero screens and no doors, weather protection on the SuperSprint is best described as ‘rudimentary’ (you could also opt for a conventional windscreen and roof). Delicious details include an aluminium cut-off switch, chrome mirrors and a Sebring-style fuel filler cap, plus a range of period paint colours and decals.

Chairman of the broad

Caterham Cars visit

One of the (many) unusual things about the Seven is that its wheels stand proud of the chassis. That makes the cabin surprisingly narrow – and a tight squeeze for tall drivers. The £2,500 wide chassis option seen here helps counter this, increasing the overall width of the car from 1,575mm to 1,685mm.

Caterham AeroSeven conceptSeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

Fast-forwarding into the future, here’s the fabulous AeroSeven concept car. It was unveiled at the Singapore Grand Prix and could have been the replacement for the ageing Seven. However, budgets were tight and customers weren’t convinced, so the Seven lives on.

Packed with F1 techSeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

The AeroSeven featured plenty of tech from Caterham’s F1 exploits, including inboard pushrod suspension, launch control and advanced aerodynamics. It’s powered by a 240hp Ford Duratec engine and reaches 60mph in ‘less than four seconds’.

Naked launchSeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

We love all the naked carbonfibre inside the AeroSeven, although it doesn’t exactly look cosseting. Still, who cares about fripperies like a windscreen when you’re driving something this cool? We want one.

Caterham 21Seventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

The stillborn 21 is another Caterham that could have replaced the Seven: indeed, most used the same Rover K-Series engines. It was launched in 1994 and remained in production for five years, yet only 48 cars were made.

A softer SevenSeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

The 21’s interior is certainly more accommodating than a Seven (not hard, admittedly) – and it’s more practical, too. However, the shape of the doors means the windows don’t wind down. If you want a side-draught, you need to remove them altogether.

It’s the Mondeo, manSeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

An extra point if you spotted that the 21’s tail lights come from the Ford Mondeo. It also used front indicators from the Suzuki Cappuccino and wing mirrors from the Rover 200. Such parts were simply too expensive for Caterham to make in-house.

The Lotus positionSeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

The main reason for the 21’s failure was the launch of the Lotus Elise soon afterwards. The car from Norfolk was better resolved and more fun to drive: the Caterham didn’t stand a chance. Ironically, Caterham Cars had this lovely S1 Elise for sale in its showroom. A trade-in against a new Seven, perhaps?

Caterham SP/300.RSeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

Hardcore, you know the score… This is the track-only Caterham SP/300.R, a joint project with British racing car constructor, Lola. With a supercharged 300hp engine (355hp on overboost), this four-wheeled weapon will reach 170mph. If you’re brave enough.

The ultimate track-day toySeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

Caterham says of the SP/300.R: “The feeling of the car beneath you, inspiring you to push boundaries. The aggression of the forces acting on your body. The satisfaction of placing the car with absolute precision. The way the car communicates with you, constantly feeding a stream of data to every sense, synapse and nerve ending. Only a true driver knows these feelings. This is driving.” Well, quite.

The wheel dealSeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

The SP/300.R’s steering wheel is pure racing car, with gearshift indicator lights and a button for calling the pits. Spot the yellow ‘Pass’ button the right – used to give an extra power boost for overtaking. The sequential gearlever is also to the right of the wheel.

Prisoner of phwoarSeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

A classic Seven in for a service. It’s painted green and yellow – the same colours as the Lotus Seven that famously featured in 1960s TV drama series, The Prisoner. Interestingly, the ‘KAR 120C’ registration plate of the Prisoner Seven is still owned by Caterham Cars.

Caterham Seven ClassicSeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

This lovely 2006 Classic would make a great starter Seven, with a 120hp 1.4-litre K-Series engine and just 7,441 miles on the clock. It’s advertised at £14,995 – further proof that Sevens simply don’t depreciate.

Kamui Kobayashi EditionSeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

Just 10 examples of this lightweight, single-seat Seven were made. Designed by Caterham F1 Team’s Japanese driver, Kamui Kobayashi, it boasts a limited-slip differential, plenty of carbon fibre and a dashboard signed by Kamui himself. Yours for £34,995.

Mini Me Seven 620R

Caterham Cars visit

A first glance, this cut-down, single-seat Seven 620R looks terrifying. However, it’s powered by batteries rather than a 306hp supercharged Ford Duratec. Probably for the best.

Cutaway CaterhamSeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

Want to make your Seven even lighter? Why not remove the bodywork altogether? In truth, this stripped-down 160 is a show car – designed to reveal the inner workings of the Seven. A lot has changed since 1957…

Powered by SuzukiSeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

That 660cc Suzuki engine might be small, but it still looks a snug fit beneath the Seven’s low-slung bonnet. No wonder all those louvres are needed to keep it cool. Imagine how hot the 306hp 620R parked next to it must get.

Sporty suspensionSeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

Here’s a closer look at the Seven’s double wishbone suspension, which delivers taut handling and keeps weight to a minimum. A variety of set-ups are available, for road or track use. The cheaper Seven 160 and Sprint models use a live rear axle.

Do it yourselfSeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

If you’re handy with a spanner, you can save around £3,400 by building a Seven yourself. Caterham supplies a painted chassis with wiring loom, dashboard, fuel tank, fuel lines, brake pipes and pedal box already fitted. Reckon on 80-100 hours to complete the job, after which your car will have to pass an Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) test.

Lotus Cosworth T127Seventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

Like the Seven itself, the short-lived Caterham F1 Team began life under the Lotus banner. This Lotus T127 has a Cosworth V8 engine and was raced by Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen in the 2010 season. Sadly, it never managed a podium finish.

The car that became a CaterhamSeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

Team Lotus was rebranded as Caterham F1 Team at the end of 2011, at the behest of Caterham’s charismatic owner, Tony Fernandes. The decision followed a legal battle between Team Lotus and the rival Group Lotus over the use of the name in F1.

Caterham CT01Seventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

Caterham F1 Team made its debut in 2012 with the CT01, powered by a 2.4-litre Renault V8 and piloted by Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov. Its best result was an 11th-place finish at the final grand prix of the year in Brazil.

Going with the flowSeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

Just look at the design of the Caterham CT01’s carbonfibre front wing. It ain’t pretty, but it sure is effective. The car hits 100mph in 2.5 seconds, with a top speed of 225mph. No Seven even comes close.

Caterham kartSeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

If all that sounds a bit intense, we also discovered this rather cool Caterham-branded kart in the corner of the showroom. Cue cliché about ‘go-kart handling’, etc…

Grass-roots motorsportSeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

Speaking of racing, Caterham runs no less than six Seven-based series, depending on your talent and budget. The Caterham Academy is the first rung on the ladder, with road-legal cars and seven points-scoring events throughout the year. This 2011 Academy racer was for sale at £17,995.

Caterham Tracksport racerSeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

Tracksport is Caterham’s mid-range racing championship. The number of rounds increases to 14, with each race lasting 30 minutes. The cars are no longer road-legal, so you’ll need a trailer as well.

One careful ownerSeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

For serious Seven racers, there’s the Superlight R300-S Championship. A car alone will cost you £38,000 – and you’ll spend plenty more on consumables and travel. This particular R300-S was driven by Dan Prosser, a motoring journalist for EVO magazine.

Simplify, then add lightnessSeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

The ghost of Colin Chapman looms large at Caterham Cars. Indeed, his famous mantra: “Simplify, then add lightness” is writ large on the wall. Ironically, this is actually a heavier Seven SV: the wide-bodied version for drivers with, well, wider bodies.

Out of the blocksSeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

This year, the Seven has been replicated in Lego as part of a new 770-piece kit. It includes fully-detailed engine, removable nosecose, opening boot and axle stands that allow the wheels to be removed. One for the Christmas list.

A simple formula for successSeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

The Caterham Seven might look old-fashioned, but don’t be deceived. A process of continuous evolution has kept this much-loved icon at the top of its game – putting smiles on faces and embarrassing Bugatti Veyrons along the way. Let’s hope it’s still going strong in another 60 years.

Caterham in CrawleySeventh heaven: inside Caterham Cars

Caterham Cars’ showroom in Crawley is open to the public if you’d like to see these cars, and many others. They can also arrange test-drives if you are looking to buy. Just don’t expect to drive a Seven and go home without wanting one…

Plug and pay: UK’s largest EV rapid-charge network goes contactless

BP Chargemaster charging

The UK’s largest public charging network for electric vehicles will offer contactless card payment on all 50kW rapid and 150kW ultra-fast chargers it installs going forward. Existing rapid charge points will also get the upgrade, with retro-fitting happening over the course of the next year.

Polar, the charging network operated by BP Chargemaster, has 450 rapid chargers across its 7,000-point network, a number due to rapidly expand over the coming months and years.

Contactless payment adds on-the-go and occasional-use convenience to complement the Polar Plus subscription service debuted in 2015. In addition, contactless payment – a first for a UK-based rapid-charging device – joins pay-as-you-go smartphone access at BP Chargemaster Polar points.

Electric car

This news comes shortly after BP Chargemaster’s announcement last week that up to 200 50kW rapid-charge points are to be installed at Mitchells and Butlers bars and restaurants.

By October 2019, 50 points will already have been installed. As of today’s announcement, it looks like they will feature contactless payment, too.

BP Chargemaster 150kW rapid charger

BP acquired Chargemaster last year in a move it described as an ‘important step to scaling up and deploying fast and ultra-fast charging on BP’s UK forecourts’.

“At BP we believe that fast and convenient charging is critical to support the successful adoption of electric vehicles,” said BP’s Tufan Erginbilgic.

“Combining BP’s and Chargemaster’s complementary expertise, experience and assets is an important step towards offering fast and ultra-fast charging at BP sites across the UK, and to BP becoming the leading provider of energy to low carbon vehicles, on the road or at home.”

Murray Walker Television Room opened in top London club

Murray Walker room RAC

Murray Walker OBE has opened the new Television Room at the RAC Club, which is named in his honour as ‘the voice of F1’.

The room was commissioned in recognition of Walker’s lengthy career as Formula 1 commentator, which spanned 23 years.

Murray Walker room RAC

“This is, as you can imagine, an enormously emotional occasion for me,” said Murray Walker, after cutting the ribbon to open the room.

“The Royal Automobile Club is the finest club in Britain and one of the finest clubs in the world. It is a linchpin of motorsport and to be associated with it in the way I am being associated with it is beyond my wildest hopes and dreams.”

Murray Walker room RAC

The room features awards and memorabilia collected by Murray over the years, which have been donated to the club. Displayed items include a brick from the Indianapolis motor speedway – the famous brickyard – and a Royal Television Society Lifetime Achievement Award. Needless to say, there are a fair few parts one might once have found bolted to a Formula 1 car, too.

Murray Walker is a beloved figure in the F1 motor racing scene, instantly recognisable and known for his infectious enthusiasm for the sport.

Murray Walker room RAC

The retired commentator, who is now 95, first spoke over races on the BBC in 1976, continuing until 1996. From then until his retirement in 2001, he became a part of the ITV Formula 1 commentary team.

“The Club is all about celebrating motoring icons, and Murray has been exactly that for motorsport fans across the globe,” said Ben Cussons, chairman of the Royal Automobile Club.

Murray Walker room RAC

“His passion, enthusiasm and commitment to motorsport has already earned him his place in history, and we’re delighted to play a part in this with our new themed Television Room. I’m looking forward to watching members and guests enjoying his room on their visits to the club.”

Aston Martin Valkyrie Silverstone public debut

Aston Martin Valkyrie hypercar makes public debut at Silverstone Grand Prix

Aston Martin Valkyrie Silverstone public debutThose attending the British Grand Prix on Saturday got an extra slice of on-track excitement, as the Aston Martin Valkyrie made an appearance. 

The 1,160 hp hypercar took to the Silverstone circuit for a special demonstration run, showing off how quick the 6.5-litre Cosworth V12-powered car could potentially be. 

With all 150 examples of the Valkyrie already sold, for many this may be the only chance to see one used in anger before they disappear into the hands of eager collectors. 

Aston Martin Valkyrie Silverstone public debutUsing the British Grand Prix for the Valkyrie’s debut was no coincidence. Aston Martin has worked extensively with the Red Bull Racing F1 team, using their knowledge and skills to develop it.

Adrian Newey, Red Bull Racing’s Chief Technical Officer, has been instrumental in the design of the Valkyrie. F1-influenced aerodynamics abound throughout, with Newey aiming to endow the Valkyrie with huge amounts of downforce. 

On witnessing the debut, Newey commented: “To finally see Aston Martin Valkyrie running five years from when I first sat down and started sketching what this car could look like is quite an emotional day.

“With the change in vision angle as it comes past, and the noise, it is now doing what it is supposed to be doing, which is to move and be dynamic.”

Aston Martin Valkyrie Silverstone public debutAston Martin test driver Chris Goodwin was responsible for driving the Valkyrie. Although not running at full speed, the debut was still important for Goodwin, who commented that driving it at Silverstone was “exceptionally special.”

The single lap demonstration has come after months of simulator work and digital modelling. Although the public debut marks a significant milestone, Aston Martin and Red Bull still have plenty of work to do. 

Deliveries to customers are due to start in late 2019, giving only limited time to ensure the Valkyrie lives up to the expected price tag of more than £2 million.

Aston Martin has also committed the Valkyrie to competing at Le Mans in 2021, upping the workload even more. 

Roush F-150 Nitemare is quickest pickup

Roush F-150 Nitemare claims to be the quickest pickup in the world

Roush F-150 Nitemare is quickest pickup

Ford tuning specialist Roush has laid claim to the title of building the quickest production pickup truck the world has ever seen. 

Its new 650 horsepower Ford F-150 Nitemare has been timed achieving the 0-60 mph sprint in under 4 seconds, when tested by a team of automotive industry experts. 

The best time of 3.9 seconds is quick enough to embarrass sports cars like the Porsche 718 Cayman, or even a Lamborghini Gallardo, in a drag race. 

Roush F-150 Nitemare is quickest pickupTwo versions of the Roush F-150 Nitemare were tested on a drag strip, both in four-wheel drive configuration and with Sport mode engaged. 

It was the Regular Cab version of the Nitemare which managed to dip below 4 seconds, with the SuperCrew version clocking a time of 4.1 seconds instead.

Helping get the most from the modified trucks were racing driver Robb Holland, Discovery Channel star and mechanic Aaron Kaufman, and Jack Roush Jr.

Roush F-150 Nitemare is quickest pickupUsing the 5.0 V-8 F-150 as a base, the Nitemare package uses a Roush supercharger and performance exhaust system to boost output to 650 horsepower and 610 lb-ft of torque. 

Also included in the $19,150 conversion is a set of 22-inch wheels, lowered suspension, new front grille, plus Roush decals for the exterior. 

Whether the F-150 Nitemare will hold onto its record is another question. Texas tuning firm Hennessey has created a 1,000 horsepower version of the Jeep Gladiator, which could fight for the crown. 

In addition, Roush is also said to be working on a new performance package for the Ford F-150 Raptor. It means truck buyers certainly don’t need to worry about choosing between both speed and practicality in the near future.

Fiat wants to build 80,000 electric 500s per year

Electric Fiat 500 2020 production

Fiat has marked 80 years since the opening of its famous Mirafiori factory by readying it for the future. New robots have been installed to help build an electric version of the 500 city car.

Due for introduction in 2020, the battery-electric Fiat 500 will keep 1,200 people in jobs once in production. The line will have an estimated 80,000 per-year production capacity. For context, there are around 70,000 electric cars on UK roads, in total, at present. We suspect the electric 500 won’t be built in those numbers just yet…

The total investment for the project, and production of the car, is just under £630million. 

Electric Fiat 500 2020 production

The updates are also with general production of EVs in mind, not just the Fiat 500. This is a provision for a range of battery-powered FCA products to come, with the cutesy 500 being the poster child.

“This car was entirely conceived, designed and engineered here,” said Pietro Gorlier, FCA COO for the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region.

“It is a genuine product of ‘Made at Fiat’ and ‘Made in Turin’ ingenuity. It is another excellent example of the ability to create and innovate, which abounds in our company and in this city. In Turin, we are developing a new electric mobility centre of excellence that currently employs 260 people.

Electric Fiat 500 2020 production

“The new Fiat 500 electric represents just the first phase of our investment plan for Mirafiori.”

In Italy, FCA Group has plans to install over 900 charging stations at production sites and in parking areas. It will also add 1,200 charge points at Leasys Mobility stores and more than 1,100 at dealerships. The group is investing nearly £30 million on infrastructure.

Overall, it’s putting £4.5billion into refreshing a significant amount of product across the group, with 12 electrified versions of new or existing models on the way.

BP to install 200 rapid EV chargers at pubs and restaurants

200 new BP Chargemaster rapid chargers

BP Chargemaster has announced it will install up to 200 rapid chargers at pubs and restaurants across the UK. Around 50 will be added by October 2019 at venues run by the Mitchells and Butlers chain.

“After a successful trial at a number of our businesses we’re very excited to roll out BP Chargemaster electric vehicle rapid charging points across wide areas of our estate,” said Richard Turner of Mitchells & Butlers.

“We recognise the importance of providing somewhere for EV users to charge their cars, whilst also giving them the opportunity to stop off for a coffee, or even a bite to eat, which is how our pubs and restaurants will play a vital part.”

Dinner, a drink and fast car charging

The Ultracharge 50kW rapid chargers are backed by the Polar network, which uses 100 percent renewable electricity.

Both subscription or pay-per-use services are available. The charging speed for a car such as a Tesla Model 3 will add around 200 miles of range in an hour.

200 new BP Chargemaster rapid chargers

The installations will be join a network of more than 450 rapid chargers and 7,000 charging points BP Chargemaster runs across the UK. It’s the largest public charging network in the country.

“We are very proud to be working with Mitchells & Butlers, which has many of the best-loved restaurant and pub brands in the UK,” said David Newton of BP Chargemaster.

“These new 50kW rapid chargers will making driving an EV across the country even easier, providing a great opportunity for drivers to enjoy a break on a long journey. At this stage in the market, we are seeing electric vehicle drivers actively seek out locations that offer convenient charging, so we also expect to deliver additional footfall to sites that host our rapid chargers.”

Rafa Nadal has been driving a Kia for 15 years

Kia and Rafa Nadal 15 years

Spanish tennis star Rafa Nadal has been a brand ambassador with Kia for 15 years, having taken up the position in 2004 at just 17 years old.

Two years later, Nadal was appointed global brand ambassador for the Korean marque.

Nadal is the most successful Spanish tennis player in history, and one of the world’s all-time greats. Just this year he won his 12th French open, as well as his 18th Grand Slam trophy. He’s won more matches off-grass than any other player.

Kia and Rafa Nadal 15 years

Over his 15 years with Kia, Rafa has been instrumental in spreading awareness of the brand in its battle for the acclaim it enjoys today.

Given how volatile and temporary some ambassadorial relationships have been between brands and sportspeople, the longevity of Kia and Nadal is quite an achievement.

“Throughout the last 15 years, Kia and Rafa Nadal have developed a winning partnership based on passion, hard work, and overcoming the odds,” said Emilio Herrera of Kia Motors Europe.

Kia and Rafa Nadal 15 years

“Rafa has played an important role in raising awareness of the Kia brand, not just across Europe, but in many of Kia’s markets worldwide. As his career has flourished, so too has Kia developed into a major player in the automotive sector.”

Game, Set and Match: tennis stars and supercars

Wimbledon 2019 Tennis and Cars

Ah, Wimbledon: two weeks of dodging the showers, eating seriously expensive strawberries and cream, Sue Barker making smalltalk when the covers on and the entire nation pinning its hopes on one Scottish British tennis player.

But enough of all that – show us the cars…

Jaguar Ace Pace

Wimbledon 2019 Tennis and Cars

In readiness for Wimbledon 2019, Jaguar developed a new app for your phone that lets you measure how fast your tennis serve is. Winners get prizes, including the opportunity to compete at Wimbledon for real, along with tickets for matches. The Ace Pace app uses accelerometers, which means you have to swing your phone like a racket. That’d be an interesting call to your insurance company…

Andy Murray ‘goes electric’

Wimbledon 2019 Tennis and Cars

In June 2018, Andy Murray delivered on his promise to ‘go electric’ by taking delivery of a Jaguar I-Pace. It no doubt serves to keep the tennis star’s conscience clear, and Jaguar’s PR team happy.

Jaguar XF Sportbrake

Wimbledon 2019 Tennis and Cars

There’s no need to adjust your set, this Jaguar XF Sportbrake is indeed covered in a tennis ball camo wrap. It was part of a campaign culminating in the estate being unveiled by Andy Murray, before being sent on a nationwide tour with the Wimbledon trophy inside. “Letting go of the trophy will be difficult, but there’s no better vehicle than the Jaguar XF Sportbrake to take it on this UK tour,” said Murray (via the Jaguar press office).

Murray makes a mint

For 2016, Jaguar UK signed up Andy Murray as a brand ambassador to promote its #FeelWimbledon campaign, which involves a 360-degree virtual reality tour of Centre Court through the eyes of the British number one. Jaguar is also keen to point out that Murray owned an F-Type Coupe and had a new F-Pace  on order.

Andy Murray smashes Jaguar F-Type SVR

Keen to maximise the return on its investment, Jaguar sent Andy Murray to Thruxton and asked him to serve at a target mounted to the back of a Jaguar F-Type SVR (here, he’s getting his eye in with an XE). The Jaguar just happened to be driven by John McEnroe and Murray served an ace as the car sped past at 130mph. This must have been as strange for Murray as it was for us to write.

Advantage, Jaguar

In 2015, Jaguar announced a five-year deal to become the official car partner to the All England Tennis Club for Wimbledon. As part of the agreement, Jaguar supplies 170 vehicles to the London venue throughout the two-week tournament. No wonder the traffic is so bad on the streets of Wimbledon.

Rolls-Royce and the Tennis Classic

Away from Wimbledon, the stars at this year’s Tennis Classic at Hurlingham will be chauffeured around in a selection of Rolls-Royce models. The likes of Marin Cilic, David Ferrer and Richard Gasquet will escape the showers courtesy of a Phantom and a Ghost. At least they’ll have access to an umbrella.

The MercedesCup

“The estate version of the new E-Class is all set to be served up at the MercedesCup tennis tournament in Stuttgart.” You serve up the tennis puns, Mercedes-Benz, we’ll volley them home.

Angelique Kerber nets a new Porsche 911

In 2015, Germany’s Angelique Kerber won the Porsche Grand Prix tennis tournament in Germany by beating Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki in the final. Her prize included a Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS. Nice.

Andy Murray and his BMW i8

Meanwhile, over in Munich, Britain’s Andy Murray collected the keys to his new i8 electric supercar after winning the BMW Open tennis tournament. Looks like he’s struggling to get comfy. Probably a good idea if Murray doesn’t mention this car to Jaguar…

Lindsay Davenport and her Porsche 911

Of course, scooping a new car by winning a tennis tournament is nothing new. Here’s American tennis star, Lindsay Davenport and her Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS at the German Porsche Grand Prix tennis tournament in 2004.

Tommy Haas and his BMW Z4

Meanwhile, in 2003, Tommy Haas drove home in a brand new BMW Z4 after beating Philipp Kohlschreiber in the final of the BMW Open tennis tournament in Munich. We won a few tennis tournaments at school, but we were never given a car as a prize. That’s probably because the tournaments were sponsored by the local double-glazing firm and not an international car company. Pictured is a later “Winner” Z4. 

Wimbledon and parking in 1923

But enough of these lavish prizes and on to something more civilised. Wimbledon is of course the oldest tennis tournament in the world. The first championships were held in 1870 and the Olympics arrived in Wimbledon in 1908. The tournament moved to Church Road in 1922 and No.1 Court opened in 1924. Here we see the tennis courts in 1923. You probably had to be someone very special to park this close to the court.

Where to see the latest Top Gear challenge cars

Six new cars join the Top Gear display at Beaulieu

Cars from the current series of Top Gear are now on display at the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu.

In a press release that describes Chris Harris as a ‘veteran’ – we’re sure @harrismonkey is chuffed with that – Beaulieu says that six cars have joined the World of Top Gear display.

So that’s the Triumph Spitfire, Subaru Brat and Nissan Leaf from the 24 Minutes of Le Mansfield, the Overtaker hearse, and the Austin Allegro and Matra Bagheera from the Borneo jungle.

The Allegro and Bagheera starred in the latest episode, with Freddie Flintoff and Paddy McGuinness tasked with buying rare but cheap classic cars. Upon their return to the UK, the cars were painted in rainbow colours, as a protest against Brunei’s stance on homosexuality.

Let the monkey see the nuts

The Overtaker on Top Gear

The bright blue Overtaker started life as a Daimer hearse before McGuinness set about creating the ultimate secondhand family car. The Overtaker took part in a series of events before Flintoff unceremoniously rolled it during an off-road challenge.

When it comes to crashing Top Gear cars, Flintoff has form. During the 24 Minutes of Le Mansfield, the former cricketer and king of the jungle crashed his Subaru Brat ‘hybrid’ into a market stall.

‘Veteran’ Chris Harris drove an electric Triumph Spitfire, while McGuiness took to the streets in a modified Nissan Leaf.

Let the crown see the jewels

New cars for World of Top Gear display

The World of Top Gear display has a number of former challenge vehicles, including the SsangYacht, Dampervan, Reliant Robin Space Shuttle and the indestructible Toyota Hilux.

Visitors to Beaulieu can view the Top Gear cars as part of their general admission ticket, with advance tickets costing £19.50 for adults and £9.50 for children. Under 5s go free. For more ticket information visit the Beaulieu website.

In 2017, we caught up with Chris Harris ahead of the relaunch of the World of Top Gear exhibition. You can watch the interview here: