John Paul Gregory, head of exterior design, Bentley Motors

Bentley’s new head of car design is a Brit

John Paul Gregory, head of exterior design, Bentley MotorsBentley has appointed John Paul Gregory to lead its exterior design division, three months after previous incumbent SangYup Lee left for his native South Korea to become vice president of styling at Hyundai.

Gregory, a Brit, starts immediately in the vacant role as Bentley prepares to roll out its next new car following the launch of the bold Bentayga.

The first production car under Gregory’s watch is likely to be the new Bentley Continental GT, due in 2017 – and this is still set to be partly be ‘his’ car despite only now taking on the lead role: previously, Gregory was advanced exterior design leader.

He will have helped create the initial concepts for the new Continental GT; similarly, Gregory will have shaped the pretty Speed 6 concept, which many are willing to follow the new Continental (possibly as Bentley’s first EV sports car).

Prior to joining Bentley in 2008, Gregory spent four years as exterior designer at Volkswagen, following completion of a masters degree in automotive design.

He studied in the UK before then, gaining an honours degree in transportation design at the University of Northumbria.

Stefan Sielaff, Bentley director of design, said: “John Paul’s experience at Bentley is invaluable. He brings a passion for the brand and a deep understanding of the direction we wish to go in.

“This is an important time for the company as we look ahead to new models with John Paul, alongside our highly-skilled design team, bringing many insights and ideas to inspire the next great Bentley.”

For his part, Gregory said: “I look forward to helping shape the next chapter and maintaining Bentley’s iconic status as a creator of luxurious, desirable, high performance cars.”

DVLA: £412m lost tax disc revenue 'completely wrong'

DVLA: £412m lost tax disc revenue ‘completely wrong’

DVLA: £412m lost tax disc revenue 'completely wrong'

The DVLA has hit back at reports that the scrapping of the paper tax disc has led to a £412m loss in revenue caused by drivers dodging vehicle excise duty (VED).

A freedom of information investigation by the Financial Times found that the DVLA collected £5.71 billion in road tax between October 2014 and September 2015 – the 12 months following the abolition of tax discs.

That’s a drop of £412 million compared to the same period a year before – something the FT has put down to tax dodgers getting away with not paying VED.

But the DVLA has disputed this – saying that the shortfall is actually because the new system allows drivers to pay monthly rather than for a year upfront.

The DVLA’s chief executive, Oliver Morley, said: “It is completely wrong to say there has been a £412m loss in revenue from vehicle tax. It is not correct to compare the 2015-16 revenue with the previous year.

“This is because from 1 November 2014, customers could choose to spread their payments over 12 months with direct debits. Previously, all vehicle tax would have been paid upfront, which is why there is a difference in the monthly cash receipts year on year.”

Using the new system, officials can check digitally if a car has been taxed rather than relying on a paper disc in the window.

It can also automatically issue fines if the owner of a vehicle hasn’t taxed it or declared it as SORN (off the road).

Despite this, the Department for Transport warned last year that the number of untaxed vehicles on UK roads was ‘much higher’ than two years previous. It said that this increase in tax evasion could be costing the DVLA £80m a year in lost revenue.

Volvo's partnered with Uber to create a driverless car

Volvo’s partnered with Uber to create a driverless car

Volvo's partnered with Uber to create a driverless car

Swedish car manufacturer Volvo has announced that it will work with ride-sharing company Uber as part of a $300 million project to bring driverless cars to the roads.

Volvo will produce a ‘base vehicle’ which it will sell to Uber. The tech transportation firm will then use it to trial its own autonomous technology – and Volvo will, at the same time, work on its own driverless systems.

Volvo Cars president and chief executive, Håkan Samuelsson, said: “Volvo is one of the most progressive and contemporary car makers in the world. It is a world leader in the development of active safety and autonomous drive technology, and possesses an unrivalled safety credibility.

“We are very proud to be the partner of choice for Uber, one of the world’s leading technology companies. This alliance places Volvo at the heart of the current technological revolution in the automotive industry.”

The new base vehicle is expected to be a modified version of the premium XC90 SUV.

Volvo has previously revealed plans to test its autonomous cars on London’s roads in 2017 – while Uber is already trialling the technology in the States.

Uber’s chief executive, Travis Kalanick, said: “Over one million people die in car accidents every year. These are tragedies that self-driving technology can help solve, but we can’t do this alone. That’s why our partnership with a great manufacturer like Volvo is so important.

“Volvo is a leader in vehicle development and best-in-class when it comes to safety. By combining the capabilities of Uber and Volvo we will get to the future faster, together.”

The technology could lead to Uber users being able to summon driverless cars for lifts, without having to rely on drivers.

It comes after Ford announced it would launch a high-volume autonomous car by 2021.

This Mercedes-Benz Unimog handles like it's on rails

This Mercedes-Benz Unimog handles like it’s on rails

This Mercedes-Benz Unimog handles like it's on rails

Not familiar with the Mercedes Unimog? It’s a beast of a vehicle. Seriously. The off road workhorse-cum-plaything has been taking humans to places where vehicles shouldn’t go since the 1940s – and it even does a good impression of a train.

Yup, the Unimog U 423 proves that the Mercedes 4×4 truck thing is the most versatile vehicle ever – with the latest version about to be revealed at next month’s Innotrans exhibition in Berlin.

Packing 231 hp, the long-wheelbase Unimog U 423 can tow an incredible 1,000 tonnes of train – thanks to its four-wheel-drive system and torque-converter clutch.

This Mercedes-Benz Unimog handles like it's on rails

Likely to be bought by rail companies for carrying out essential tasks like overhead cable maintenance, the U 423 features a elevating work platform – and it can even be driven remotely.

It also complies with strict fire regulations, available with a fire alarm and fire extinguishing system in the engine compartment so it can be used to carry out work in tunnels.

When it’s not pretending to be a train, it can also be driven on the road like a regular Unimog. OK, you might not want to use it for the school run, but its regular road tyres are up to the job of carrying out any tarmac-related duties you may have for it.

The new Unimog U 423 will be shown at the Innotrans exhibition in Berlin on 20-25th September.

From Diana's Metro to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: 10 classics sold at auction

From Diana’s Metro to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: 10 classics sold at auction

From Diana's Metro to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: 10 classics sold at auction

Although many of us wouldn’t dream of buying a car from auction, millions of cars a year are sold this way in the UK. An incredible 3.5 million pass through the halls of British Car Auctions each year, with the firm celebrating its 70th year of business in 2016.

To celebrate the occasion, long-standing employee Simon Henstock, chief operating officer, UK remarketing, has selected 10 of his favourite auctions during his near 40 years with the firm.

1: Bugatti Veyron

1: Bugatti Veyron

Top Gear named the Bugatti Veyron the ‘car of the decade’ following its launch in 2005 – and it’s hard to dispute that the mid-engined supercar is a technical tour de force. With a top speed of 253mph and 0-62mph time of 2.5 seconds (and that’s the entry-level model…), the 8.0-litre W16 Bugatti commanded a price tag of more than £1 million when it was new.

It’s not the kind of car you expect to see going through auction, then – but in 2010, a 2006 model appeared at BCA’s Blackbushe site. It attracted a bidding frenzy, resulting in a sale price of £625,000. That was a UK record value for a modern production car at auction and the highest value ever achieved by BCA on one vehicle.

2: Royal Mail Morris 1000 Post Van

2: Royal Mail Morris 1000 Post Van

BCA doesn’t often dabble in sales of classic cars, but this Morris 1000 Post Van was a special case – donated by Royal Mail and sold with all the proceeds going direct to children’s charity Barnardo’s.

The van had seen service in Poole and Bournemouth in the 1970s and had been fully restored by four dedicated Royal Mail employees at the Isle of Wight workshop, before being sent to auction.

It attracted bids from classic car fans and Royal Mail enthusiasts, before selling for £8,000.

3: Bentley in bits

3: Bentley in bits

Classic Bentleys are always going to make strong money at auction – but no one expected this box of Bentley bits to fetch £80,400.

We’re not sure how a disassembled Bentley 3 Litre Open Tourer came to go under the hammer, but it happened at the peak of the classic car boom on 11 September 1989.

4: MG F

4: MG F

In 1996, when Rover had to flog 30 or so early examples of the MG F, it took over British Car Auctions with a special sale. At a time when MGs were still desirable, many were selling for more than new examples – with a waiting list encouraging wannabe buyers to shop at auction.

On average each car made 7% above its new list price. Today, you can buy one for less than a monkey (that’s £500 to you and me).

5: Winston Churchill’s hearse

5: Winston Churchill’s hearse

This 1964 Austin Princess hearse was used to carry Winston Churchill during his funeral in January 1965. It was shown on television carrying Churchill’s coffin past crowds of mourners from Festival Pier to Waterloo Station.

The hearse has been sold a number of times since it passed through BCA’s hands in the 1990s – and it currently resides in the US with a collector who paid a staggering £3 million for it.

6: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

6: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Chris Evans famously bought his Chitty Chitty Bang Bang replica for £500,000 in 2012 – but failed to sell it at auction three years later.

GEN 11 was a genuine Chitty, however – one of six examples used in the original 1968 film. It was auctioned twice by British Car Auctions during the 1970s. Powered by a Ford V6, GEN 11 was fully road legal.

7: Bruce Reynolds’ Lotus Cortina

7: Bruce Reynolds’ Lotus Cortina

Bruce Richard Reynolds was the mastermind criminal behind the 1963 Great Train Robbery. A number of the gang’s possessions, including Reynolds’ Lotus Cortina (used as a getaway car) was auctioned as part of a special auction in 1969.

The Lotus Cortina, developed by Ford in collaboration with Lotus Cars, was based on the first-generation Cortina. This example was seized by police under the Proceeds of Crime Act and attracted a lot of attention in the press when it was sold.

8: Jonesy’s Van

8: Jonesy’s Van

How much does an old butcher’s van fetch at auction? The 1935 Ford box van used by Lance Corporal Jones in Dad’s Army was bought by the Dad’s Army Museum in Norfolk for £63,100 in 2012 – more than double its predicted hammer price.

Locals loaned the museum the funds to buy the van, which previously sold for £10,400 at BCA in 1991.

9: Rod Stewart’s Lamborghini Countach

9: Rod Stewart’s Lamborghini Countach

Pop star Rod Stewart famously loves his cars – he’s been papped in a number of Italian supercars in recent years. British Car Auctions has handled numerous cars from his collection over the years, but it’s one in particular that Henstock has fond memories of.

The white Lamborghini Countach pictured here sold for £100,000 and even made an appearance on breakfast TV.

10: Princess Diana’s Metro

10: Princess Diana’s Metro

Ordinarily, an ageing Austin Metro going through the auction hall in the early 90s would have struggled to attract many bids – especially such a basic as example as this.

But the 1980 Austin Mini Metro L had a story to sell – it was actually Princess Diana’s first car. Driven by a 19-year-old Lady Diana Spencer, the Metro was regularly snapped by paparazzi at the time when she was first linked with Prince Charles.

This fame meant it sold for around £6,000 – five times the amount a Metro would normally sell for at BCA. It now resides at the Coventry Transport Museum where it shows a modest 30,000 miles on the clock.

Elvis Preley's BMW 507

Elvis Presley’s BMW 507 stars at Pebble Beach

 

Elvis Preley's BMW 507 Following a painstaking two-year restoration, Elvis Presley’s BMW 507 will be one of the star attractions at this year’s Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach, California – the first time it has been shown in a public arena since its restoration. So if you…ahem… can’t help falling in love with the roadster, California is the place to be. Join us as we take a look at The King of Rock and Roll’s coolest car.

The wonder of youElvis Preley's BMW 507

This BMW 507 may not have been Elvis Presley’s first car, but it’s arguably his most beautiful. The 507 was delivered new to racing driver Hans Stuck in Germany, before Elvis chanced upon it at a dealer in Frankfurt. A Little Less Conversation took place, with ‘The King’ simply saying: I Want You, I Need You, I Love You. OK, we promise there’ll be no more half-baked references to Elvis’ back catalogue. Well, not many.

Lipstick loveElvis Preley's BMW 507

Elvis was stationed in Germany on military service and used the BMW 507 to drive between his home in Bad Nauheim and the US Army Base in Friedberg. Having such an eye-catching and rare car — only 252 were built — meant it was easy for his female fans to keep tabs on him. The roadster was frequently daubed with messages of love painted in lipstick, causing some degree of embarrassment for the young soldier.

Shipped to AmericaElvis Preley's BMW 507

The solution: respray the BMW 507 in red paint. In March 1960, when Elvis completed his military service, he returned to the US and later traded in the now red roadster at a Chrysler dealer in New York. A Chevrolet engine transplant soon followed, with the 507 enjoying a new life on the race tracks of America. Cutting a long story short: the car was put into storage, where it remained for many years to come.

Two-year restorationElvis Preley's BMW 507

In the spring of 2014, the BMW 507 was shipped to Germany in a container, where it went on display at the BMW Museum in Munich under the banner of ‘Elvis’s BMW 507 – lost and found’. A painstaking two-year restoration followed, with BMW Group Classic dismantling the vehicle, effectively starting from scratch.

As good as newElvis Preley's BMW 507

The results are nothing short of stunning. BMW used a mixture of old and new techniques to create what must surely be the best 507 in the world – certainly the one with the most provenance. Window winders and door handles were re-manufactured using 3D printing, while the 3.2-litre V8 engine was reconditioned using the original specifications. It really has got us all shook up.

Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic 2017

2017 Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic ‘most powerful ever’

Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic 2017Land Rover has created the most powerful production Range Rover ever for the 2017 model year – by dropping in the 550hp 5.0-litre supercharged V8 from the Nürburgring-battering Range Rover Sport SVR.

The new Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic adds a sporty new twist at the top of the Range Rover tree, catering those who want something with top potency bragging rights but still with the space, regality and wafting presence of the Range Rover.

Built by the exclusive JLR Special Vehicle Operations division in Oxford Road, Coventry, the new Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic gets a finish befitting its name, with 21-inch or 22-inch alloys, Range Rover-first Brembo brakes with red calipers plus graphite grey grille, side vents, detailing and RANGE ROVER lettering.

Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic 2017

There are diamond quilted seats within the moody-colourscheme’d interior, plus red detailing, black veneer and polished, knurled controls.

The 550hp V8 accelerates from 0-60mph (note, not 0-62mph, Euro-fans) in 5.1 seconds and will reach 140mph all-out. And just in case the message doesn’t quite get through, quad chrome exhaust tailpipes feature at the rear.

But heady performance comes with a heady price: the Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic costs a hopping £132,800. Deliveries begin this winter.

2017 Range Rover range

Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic 2017

Land Rover has also introduced some 2017 model year changes for the Range Rover line-up. They’re minor upgrades, with no visual changes, but bring the JLR pinnacle model into line with some of its underlings from the Jaguar and Land Rover ranges.

Key feature is the introduction of the fancy new InControl Touch Pro infotainment system, complete with full-size 10-inch touchscreen (complete with Dual View). This is better-looking, better quality, more feature-packed and brings features such as live apps so, say, chauffeurs can live-track the incoming flight of their boss.

There’s more tech, such as torque-limiting Low Traction Launch control, a smart Advanced Tow Assist that uses the 360-degree cameras to help you reverse-park a trailer like a pro, plus even more Advanced Driver Assist Systems.

All Range Rovers also now come with standard rear parking sensors, cruise control, speed limiter, lane departure warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking.

The JLR SVO department has introduced 19 extra colour options for the Range Rover line and those worried about NOx emissions now have an entry-level petrol engine to consider: the 340hp 3.0-litre supercharged V6 does 0-60mph in 7.1 seconds and emits 248/km, equating to around 27mpg.

Again open for order with deliveries starting in Q4 2016, prices for the 2017 Range Rover line-up start from £76,350.

Grab a bargain: Prince William's Range Rover struggles to sell at auction

Royal bargain: Prince William’s Range Rover struggles to sell at auction

Grab a bargain: Prince William's Range Rover struggles to sell at auction

It’s a rare opportunity to buy the Range Rover personally owned by Kate Middleton and Prince William – and famously used to transport baby George home from hospital when he was born in 2013.

But, despite a host of media publicity and all proceeds going to charity, the Range Rover is struggling to reach market value – with just three days left at auction.

The top-of-the-range Range Rover Vogue SE was gifted to the royal couple by Land Rover’s VIP department in 2013. It features the usual Range Rover luxuries, including a dual-view infotainment screen, a panoramic sunroof and even a fridge in the centre console.

With 31,000 miles on the clock, a Range Rover like this would usually retail for around £60,000. After just eight bids the price, however, currently sits at £49,970 – below the auctioneer’s undisclosed reserve price of around £75,000.

Despite this, its sellers are confident that it could make as much as £150,000 when the auction ends on Thursday.

The Range Rover, which would have been worth around £90,000 when it was new, was bought by a private buyer who spotted it on car classifieds site Auto Trader. He decided to buy it to then sell on in a high-profile auction to raise money for charity.

Powered by a 4.4-litre SDV8 turbodiesel engine, the Range Rover will hit 62mph in 6.9 seconds and can reach a top speed of 135mph. Despite being a diesel, the heavy SUV returns 33.6mpg – something which might have triggered William’s decision to sell it on.

The advert for the Range Rover states: “The Historic association of having served two future Kings and a future Queen is making this vehicle one of the most sought after in the history of Royal vehicles.

“It has attracted significant global interest from families expecting their first-born child, as new parents will not only be able to enjoy the luxury and prestige of the car itself, but in being a part of the Royal couple’s historic story, during their ‘once in a life-time opportunity’ to drive their baby home from Hospital.”

Proceeds from the sale will be divided between Sun Screen IT, which donates IT equipment to schools in Africa, and military mental healthy charity, Stand Down.

Colin McRae's Metro on eBay for £350,000

Colin McRae’s Metro on eBay for £350,000

Colin McRae's Metro on eBay for £350,000

A rare MG Metro 6R4 has been advertised on eBay with a whopping £350,000 price tag – and a certain Colin McRae named as a previous owned on the V5.

The legendary rally driver, who died in 2007 aged 39, was better known for driving Subaru Imprezas in the WRC, but he also drove a rally-spec Metro in his earlier days.

He bought this Metro 6R4 in 1998 and used it as a course car in that year’s Colin McRae Stages. Unfortunately it set on fire while he was working on it in his garage, leaving it neglected for many years until after his death.

The car was rescued by specialists 6R4.com, who set about giving it a ground-up, bare-metal restoration.

Created for the Group B category, the mid-engined Metro 6R4 was powered by a 3.0-litre V6 engine. Homologation versions produced around 250hp – but 20 examples were built to international spec with more than 400hp.

McRae’s Metro is one of the more powerful examples, meaning it’s one of the most desirable Metros ever sold.

The advert states: “We are inundated with requests to display the car at a wide range of shows and festivals.

“[It’s] a real crowd puller and we are now looking for the next custodian of this significant car.

“Very rarely does an opportunity come available to buy a celebrity car with real provenance and performance!”

If your budget won’t stretch to this ultra-desirable Metro 6R4, a homologation version is currently advertised on the auction site for £75,000. A 1.3-litre Austin Metro L from 1990 is also available for £995.

Young drivers in the UK most likely to be distracted by 'attractive pedestrians'

Young drivers in UK most likely to be distracted by ‘attractive pedestrians’

Young drivers in the UK most likely to be distracted by 'attractive pedestrians'

Drivers aged between 18 and 24 in the UK are more likely to be distracted by ‘attractive pedestrians’ than anywhere else in Europe.

That’s according to research by Ford, which questioned 6,500 young drivers across Europe about the risks they take behind the wheel.

The survey found that two thirds of young drivers admit to being more relaxed about their driving in summer – which explains why motorists in this age group account for 21% of road deaths during the summer months. This drops to 15% at other times of the year.

Ford is offering free training for young drivers through its Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) programme. By the end of the year, 20,000 drivers across 13 European countries will have benefited from the scheme.

DSFL manager Jim Graham said: “Summer is a great time to enjoy the freedom of driving, which is as much a part of being young today as it was for previous generations. But too many young adults are dying in car crashes caused by a combination of inexperience and poor decision making.”

The majority of young driver fatalities involve young men, and the Ford survey confirms they are more likely to engage in risky behaviour.

Young men are three times as likely as young women to be distracted by attractive pedestrians, while 25% have been stopped by the police compared to 16% of women.

They’re also more likely to speed, use mobile phones while driving and drive after consuming alcohol.

Graham added: “It is crucial that we find the right way to reach young people with these very important messages and to ensure that as many drivers as possible have the opportunity to benefit from DSFL training.”

Alarmingly, 57% of young drivers admit to driving more safely with parents or grandparents in the car, and 41% said they would take more risks with friends in the car.