head copy.jpg
ROADSTER.DESERT.02.jpg
Bentley Bentayga Falconry by Mulliner (16).jpg
Running Profile CMYK 拷貝.jpg
Adam w subs copy.jpg
head.jpg
head.jpg
Metrojet exterior 04.jpg
The Sunseeker 40m yacht.jpg
Bloodhound SSC is set to shatter the land speed record.jpg
Victor New_York copy.jpg
head.jpg
Endeavour 23m_9.jpg
Azimut 50F_Flybridge (1).jpg

Car, Boat & Plane


SCROLL DOWN

Car, Boat & Plane


head copy.jpg

Wings of Desire


Once consigned to the realm of fantasy, flying cars are quickly making sci-fi dreams a reality

Wings of Desire


Once consigned to the realm of fantasy, flying cars are quickly making sci-fi dreams a reality

Lifestyle > Car, Boat & Plane


 

Wings of Desire

September 29, 2017 / by Simon Webster

Image above: By 2020, the AeroMobil aims to take to the road – and the skies

By 2020, the AeroMobil aims to take to the road – and the skies_2.jpg
By 2020, the AeroMobil aims to take to the road – and the skies

By 2020, the AeroMobil aims to take to the road – and the skies

You pull out of your driveway, drop the kids off at school – then hit the take-off button and soar to your first business
meeting of the day 400 miles away. It might sound like the stuff of science fiction, but the race is on to produce the first commercially available flying car, with Slovak manufacturer AeroMobil taking orders for delivery in 2020. 

American automotive tycoon Henry Ford predicted in 1940 that “a combination of airplane and motorcar is coming”, but until now his vision has failed to become reality. As Harry tells Ron when they’re flying Arthur Weasley’s Ford Anglia to Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: “Most Muggles aren’t exactly accustomed to seeing a flying car.”

But it might soon be time for Harry to rethink that stance. Tech start-ups and established giants, including Uber and Toyota, are getting involved in the business, despite the daunting challenges of regulatory red tape and safety concerns. Uber outlined its plans for flying electric-powered taxis when it held its first Elevation Summit in Dallas in April, with chief product officer Jeff Holden saying: “Flying cars have been promised for decades, but are arriving now.” He remarked that electric-powered versions would be much quieter and safer than helicopters for flights across urban areas. Uber hopes to launch demo models of its vertical take-off electric flying taxis in Dubai and Dallas in 2020. The vehicles would take off from a network of “vertiports”.

Toyota has invested in the Japanese start-up Cartivator, which is developing a flying car it hopes will be used to light the Olympic flame in Tokyo in 2020. The Zhejiang Geely-owned, Massachusetts-based Terrafugia (meaning “escape the earth”) says its Transition VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) car has received FAA approval, with aims to start deliveries in the next three years. And Munich-based Lilium has successfully tested its two-seater electric-powered Eagle prototype, and is now developing a five-seater version designed for air taxi and ridesharing services. It envisages a future where travellers can call up a flying taxi on an Uber-style app. “A flight from Manhattan to New York’s JFK Airport will take around five minutes, compared to the 55 minutes it would take you by car,” according to the company.

Read More

The Flying Ford Anglia in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has quickly become the stuff of reality

The Flying Ford Anglia in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has quickly become the stuff of reality

Having a flying car may sound cool and all, but why would anybody actually buy one? They provide the “convenience and speed of air travel with the door-to-door flexibility and comfort of a private car,” explains Juraj Vaculik, co-founder and CEO of AeroMobil. “There are several scenarios for using this type of vehicle: super-commuting, weekend travel, business or just recreational flying.”

In road mode, the AeroMobil can reach 100mph. It’s powered by a two-litre, four-cylinder turbo-charged engine that on the ground generates electrical power that drives the front wheels. In the air, it can reach 225mph and has a range of 470 miles. Vaculik says that the AeroMobil has a perfectly aerodynamic teardrop shape, with the appearance of “petals opening” as the wings gradually extend.

The two-seater AeroMobil can convert from road to flying mode (and vice versa) in just three minutes, with the wings tucking away so it can fit into a regular parking space. Vaculik says AeroMobil’s potential customers come from a range of backgrounds and markets, including supercar buyers and aviation enthusiasts.

The Terrafugia TF-X is by the Zhejiang Geely-owned company, based in Massachusetts_3.jpg
The Terrafugia TF-X is by the Zhejiang Geely-owned company, based in Massachusetts.jpg
The Terrafugia TF-X is by the Zhejiang Geely-owned company, based in Massachusetts

The Terrafugia TF-X is by the Zhejiang Geely-owned company, based in Massachusetts

“The newest AeroMobil is purposefully designed as a breathtaking, highly desirable, truly niche high-technology luxury vehicle,” says Vaculik. Beyond the convenience and novelty factor, he believes that flying cars could be the answer to relieving the worsening congestion in transport systems. “They will be a natural extension to the set of cars, airplanes and helicopters we use today.” 

It’s a view shared by Uber and other major players aiming to enter the market. The main technologies available – carbon fibre and lightweight materials – and the power output of the new generation of engines are allowing designers to develop an entirely new type of vehicle. 

Vaculik, a self-confessed technology buff, says he became involved with AeroMobil in 2010 and funded the project out of his own pocket until 2015, when the company began to receive money from private investors and the Slovak government. He’s confident that regulatory and other potential obstacles won’t stop the development of flying cars, despite the current debates over the use of drones and driverless cars. “In Asia, markets such as China are undertaking significant investment in airport infrastructure, creating opportunities for transport innovation,” he says. 

AeroMobil’s goal is to build a flying car that’s ready for customers to use without requiring a “significant reworking of existing infrastructure and regulatory environments all over the world”. The AeroMobil team reflects the innovation’s hybrid nature – the 40 members of staff come from both the aviation and automobile industries. They’ve applied their expertise in employing the latest composite, weight-saving technology drawn from both motorsport and advanced aircraft design to make the AeroMobil as light and strong as possible.

With the first production scheduled for 2020, the initial AeroMobil run is planned as a limited series of 500 units, with the first 25 labelled a Founders Edition with an “expanded benefits package”, says Vaculik. If you can afford the price tag of 1.2 million euros, and hold both a driver’s and a pilot’s licence, then the dream of being able to drive and fly may soon no longer be pie in the sky.

Images: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets); AeroMobil; Terrafugia

Back to top

ROADSTER.DESERT.02.jpg

Blowin’ in the Wind


Italian exotic car builder Pagani’s stunning new Huayra Roadster is named after the Andean god of wind – a fitting name for the latest in high-performance, open-topped sports cars

Blowin’ in the Wind


Italian exotic car builder Pagani’s stunning new Huayra Roadster is named after the Andean god of wind – a fitting name for the latest in high-performance, open-topped sports cars

Lifestyle > Car, Boat & Plane


 

Blowin’ in the Wind

June 30, 2017 / by Simon Webster

Image above: Pagani Huayra Roadster

For car lovers, there’s always been something special about hitting the highway in a two-seater, drop-head sports car, the wind blowing in your hair as the roar of the engine fills your ears. Of course, the very first cars were all open – it was only later, as the industry developed, that having a convertible became a lifestyle choice.

The golden age of the roadster began after the Second World War, when mass production brought the open-topped sports car experience into the price range of the normal working person. The American roadsters were distinctive with their sweeping curves, lavish use of chrome and massive engines, while in Europe, there were the elegant designs of Ferrari, Jaguar and Porsche. In fact, screen icon James Dean’s life ended in 1955 at age 24 behind the wheel of a Porsche 550 Spyder, not an American muscle car, as he became an eternal symbol of rebellious youth.

Roadsters – two-seater convertible sports cars – have always brought out the best in designers. The simple perfection of the Jaguar E-Type led Enzo Ferrari to comment that it was the most beautiful car ever made, while vintage advertisements for roadsters always focused on youth and romance.

1959 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster

1959 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster

Read More

Actor Steve McQueen with his iconic 1956 Jaguar XK-SS

Actor Steve McQueen with his iconic 1956 Jaguar XK-SS

So what is it about the roadsters that so captures the imagination? Kim Wolfkill, a sports car racer and editor-in-chief of the oldest American car magazine, Road & Track, explains that much of the appeal of driving is the intimate relationship between human and machine. “In a roadster, a third element is nature – so the world outside the car’s cockpit is added to the experience, making it richer and more engaging,” he says in an interview from Road & Track’s offices in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “There’s something special about driving a roadster down a winding road in the autumn, smelling the leaves and feeling the air swirl around you, while also hearing the tyres claw at the road and the exhaust bellow under hard acceleration.”

Why did roadsters become such a part of American folklore? “Americans have a long history with the automobile and as a result, many people see their cars as reflections of themselves and America as a whole,” says Wolfkill. “They represent the freedom to explore and to travel around the vastness of the country.” Another important factor, he says, is the social side of riding in an open-topped car, where you can interact with people outside of your car: “Roadsters are highly social as well as functional.” This led to the enormous popularity of roadsters in the ’50s and ’60s, when they were seen as ideal cars for drive-in movies and restaurants, car shows and motorsports events.

Pagani Huayra Roadster

Pagani Huayra Roadster

The drawbacks of roadsters were plain to see as well – the retractable canvas roofs could be tricky to attach, draughty and liable to leak in the rain, while the absence of a fixed roof meant a lack of structural rigidity. But Wolfkill says that roadsters have greatly evolved over the years. Chassis rigidity is as good or nearly as good as that of their coupé counterparts, and the tops are much improved – quieter, warmer, more durable and better looking, and they raise and lower much faster.

Pagani Huayra Roadster

Pagani Huayra Roadster

And what about the Huayra Roadster, which was unveiled at this year’s Geneva Motor Show? “Like all Pagani automobiles, the Huayra Roadster is a work of art,” says Wolfkill. “The attention to detail of everything you see and touch is simply staggering. The Huayra Roadster stands alone for its stunning combination of style, elegance, quality, exclusivity and breathtaking performance – all in a handcrafted roadster, not a coupé.”

The brand was founded in 1992 by Horacio Pagani, a baker’s son born in Argentina who had a boyhood obsession with designing cars. In 1983, he moved to Italy, where he joined Lamborghini. In 1985, Pagani and his team built the Lamborghini Countach Evoluzione, which established him as a pioneer in the use of carbon fibre and other composite materials. The Pagani Zonda, his first car under his own name, was produced in 1999.

He professes that his latest creation, the Huayra Roadster, was “the most complicated project we have ever undertaken.” The project began in 2010, with the initially simple idea of producing a Huayra coupé with a removable roof and conventional doors. But in 2013, the design was scrapped and work on the project started from scratch. 

The priority became saving weight. With its use of exotic materials such as carbon fibre-titanium and a new composite material called Carbo-Triax HP52, the Roadster is 80 kilos lighter than the Huayra coupé – and more rigid. It’s powered by a V12, twin-turbo, six litre Mercedes-AMG M158 engine that produces 764 HP, and uses a seven-speed gearbox. “Everything had to come together as if it was a car carved out of a block of Carrara marble,” says Pagani, adding that the design was based on “the pursuit of beauty as a fundamental concept – an unbridled work of art, intelligence and open-air passion.” 

Pagani was inspired as a young boy by the works of Leonardo da Vinci, and the Huayra Roadster may well be his masterpiece. But those who dream of taking their Saturday night date to a drive-in movie might be in for a disappointment. The price tag is an eye-watering €2,280,000 (US$2,558,000) before tax – and even if you could afford it, the limited production run of 100 cars is already sold out.

Images: Pagani Automobili; Motor74 via Foter.com/Creative Commons (Steve McQueen)

Back to top

Bentley Bentayga Falconry by Mulliner (16).jpg

Flights of Fantasy


Who said falconry’s for the birds? Hit the road with the sport of kings in Bentley’s Bentayga Falconry by Mulliner

Flights of Fantasy


Who said falconry’s for the birds? Hit the road with the sport of kings in Bentley’s Bentayga Falconry by Mulliner

Lifestyle > Car, Boat & Plane


 

Flights of Fantasy

June 30, 2017 / by Michael Spence

The ancient sport of falconry meets the latest in automotive technology with the launch of a special edition of Bentley’s luxury Bentayga sport-utility vehicle. Made by Bentley’s commissioning division, Mulliner, the Bentayga Falconry comes with a bespoke “master flight station” in the rear to hold all the gear needed for a desert hunting expedition.

The kit includes GPS for tracking your birds in flight, binoculars, a set of handcrafted leather bird hoods and gauntlets, and other equipment – all optional extras. The Bentayga also comes with a perch between the front seats so that your prized birds can travel in style.

The passenger-side dashboard features a marquetry desert scene made from 430 pieces of wood. Each scene is handcrafted and takes nine days to produce. The design features the saker falcon – a breed used for hunting for thousands of years and whose most exceptional specimens can fetch prices of up to US$1 million. 

Read More

Falconry (hunting using a trained bird of prey) is one of the earliest known sports, and traces its origins back to the Mongols and Mesopotamia. It remains an important part of Middle Eastern culture. Geoff Dowding, the director of Mulliner, says of the new Bentayga: “Falconry is regarded as the sport of kings in the Middle East, so it was vital that it was as luxurious as it was practical and durable.”

The Bentayga Falconry is Bentley’s second foray into the world of outdoor sports. The Bentayga Fly Fishing, launched last year, comes kitted out with a master tackle station, a waterproof compartment for waders and other wet gear, and a refreshment case – where you can stash your consolation whisky for the one that got away.

Images: Bentley Motors

Back to top

Running Profile CMYK 拷貝.jpg

Super twins


Supercar manufacturer Bugatti recently partnered with superyacht builder Palmer Johnson to produce the Bugatti Niniette 66, a seagoing twin of Bugatti’s Chiron, the world’s fastest car. The 66-foot Niniette can speed through the waves at 44 knots (50mph), while the Chiron (with its 16-cylinder, quadruple-turbocharged engine that produces 1,500HP) can reach a staggering 261mph. In this exclusive interview with China Daily Lifestyle Premium, Timur Mohamed, the CEO of the Monaco-based yacht builder, discusses how this unique meeting of styles came to be

Super twins


Supercar manufacturer Bugatti recently partnered with superyacht builder Palmer Johnson to produce the Bugatti Niniette 66, a seagoing twin of Bugatti’s Chiron, the world’s fastest car. The 66-foot Niniette can speed through the waves at 44 knots (50mph), while the Chiron (with its 16-cylinder, quadruple-turbocharged engine that produces 1,500HP) can reach a staggering 261mph. In this exclusive interview with China Daily Lifestyle Premium, Timur Mohamed, the CEO of the Monaco-based yacht builder, discusses how this unique meeting of styles came to be

Lifestyle > Car, Boat & Plane


 

Super twins

May 26, 2017 / by Michael Spence

image above: The Bugatti Niniette 66 hits the water

The Bugatti Chiron and the Niniette 66 make a lovely pair

The Bugatti Chiron and the Niniette 66 make a lovely pair

How did this partnership between Palmer Johnson and Bugatti come about? 

Bugatti approached Palmer Johnson for this collaboration; it was because they saw a kindred spirit in a pedigree brand, with a brave vision for the future of yachting – for pushing the limits of design, performance and luxury.

What was the design process? 

The Bugatti Niniette 66 is inspired by the Bugatti Chiron. These similarities can be seen in the sweeping signature curve on the profile, the duo-tone visible carbon and the horseshoe in the interior. The aim was to create a yacht that was a fusion of design, performance and luxury unlike any other. 

Read More

The bedroom, living room and firepit aboard the Niniette 66

The bedroom, living room and firepit aboard the Niniette 66

What characteristics of Bugatti cars would you say were incorporated into the Niniette?

Bugatti design traits, such as the signature sweeping curve and the horseshoe are important aspects of its heritage, which blend seamlessly together with Palmer Johnson traits such as the use of advanced materials like carbon fibre and a revolutionary hull. These have been incorporated into this yacht design, which is quite simply like no other.

Deliveries start in March 2018. What market are you aiming for? Who do you expect to buy it? 

We are getting equally strong interest from the US, Europe and Asia – and around 60% of this is from Bugatti car owners. The Bugatti Niniette 66 starts from US$4 million.

What are the unique features of the Niniette 66?

The living room aboard the Niniette 66

The living room aboard the Niniette 66

The Niniette 66 offers the widest beam in her class – 6.5 metres, which allows for on deck features only normally seen in 100-foot-plus yachts. Never seen before on a yacht this size, the Niniette 66 features a Jacuzzi, fire pit, champagne bar and deep lounge seating with organic flowing shapes. Further, the advanced stabilised hull offers higher speeds, with lower input power and fuel burn, in pure comfort. 

Why a limited edition of 66? Can you give an idea of sales and availability?

With its iconic design and distinctive presence, we see that the Niniette is destined to be a collector’s piece. We have to keep this exclusivity and not oversaturate the market, hence the limited number. 

Are there plans for a bigger version, or further collaborations with Bugatti or other luxury car brands?

Yes, we plan on expanding the range to offer smaller and larger versions of the Niniette 66 with Bugatti. 

firepit aboard the Niniette 66

firepit aboard the Niniette 66

Can you tell us a bit about the history of Palmer Johnson? 

In the 1960s, Palmer Johnson pioneered the use of aluminium in our sailing yachts, which went on to win every major race around the world. In 1979, we built a yacht, the Fortuna, that was the fastest in the world for over a decade. Our highly successful SportYacht series became synonymous with sport yachts around the world, followed by our cutting-edge carbon-fibre SuperSport series. Palmer Johnson has always been ahead of the curve.

How do you see the Asian market in general, and Hong Kong and China in particular, for your range of luxury yachts? Have you sold any Niniettes in the region yet?

We have been pleasantly surprised at the level of serious interest in the Niniette from Asia, mainly from Bugatti owners. In fact, the first Niniette was sold to a Japanese owner.


Bugatti – A Timeline of Automobile Excellence

1881: The founder of the company, Ettore Bugatti, is born in Milan, Italy.

1909: He establishes Automobiles E Bugatti in the then-German town of Molsheim in the Alsace region (which
becomes part of France after the First World War).

1910: The Type 10 – the first “Pur Sang” (or thoroughbred Bugatti) – is produced. In subsequent years, Bugatti
comes to be associated with beautiful, innovative car designs adored by the rich and famous and is renowned
for its racing successes.

1924-33: Over a 10-year period, the Bugatti Type 35 is credited with more than 2,000 wins, making it the most
successful racing car ever.

1929: A Type 35B driven by Englishman William Grover-Williams wins the first Monaco Grand Prix.

1932: The first Bugatti Royale is delivered without mounted headlamps. The owner, textile tycoon Armand Esders,
says he does not intend to drive at night.

1937: Bugatti wins its first 24 Hours of Le Mans race, setting a record average speed of 137kph.

1939: The company suffers a major blow when Jean Bugatti, Ettore’s designated heir, is killed while test driving
a Type 57C that had won Le Mans just a few weeks earlier.

1947: Ettore Bugatti dies at age 66. Despite its reputation for excellence, the company faces increased financial
difficulties and never fully recovers.

1956: The company goes out of business, having produced 7,900 cars in the 47 years since it was founded.

1987: Italian entrepreneur Romano Artioli buys the rights to the Bugatti trademark and revives the marque with
the EB110, a 12-cylinder, quadruple-turbocharged supercar. 

1995: The revived company, based near Modena in northern Italy, goes bankrupt.

1998: Volkswagen acquires the Bugatti brand, leading to the marque’s current revival. 

2005: The Veyron series is launched and production is moved back to Molsheim.

2016: The latest Bugatti model – the Chiron – is unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show. Powered by a 1,500HP V16
engine with four turbochargers, its top speed is in excess of 260 mph, making it the world’s fastest car.


Images: Palmer Johnson/Bugatti

Back to top

Adam w subs copy.jpg

Come Fly with Me – Under the Sea


Adventure tourism company DeepFlight Adventures is set to launch a unique travel experience in the Maldives – with trips aboard a specially designed submarine that “flies” underwater. Adam Wright, the company’s CEO, explains how it works

Come Fly with Me – Under the Sea


Adventure tourism company DeepFlight Adventures is set to launch a unique travel experience in the Maldives – with trips aboard a specially designed submarine that “flies” underwater. Adam Wright, the company’s CEO, explains how it works

Lifestyle > Car, Boat & Plane


 

Come Fly with Me – Under the Sea

May 26, 2017 / by Simon Webster

image above: Adam Wright stands in front of a couple of his submersible toys

The DeepFlight Super Falcon 3S

The DeepFlight Super Falcon 3S

Imagine you’ve chartered a private plane for a sightseeing trip across a vast, unexplored wilderness. However, instead of heading skywards, your pilot looks down and takes you on a dazzling adventure beneath the waves, sweeping and soaring alongside manta rays and sharks. 

This is the experience awaiting passengers on an innovative new three-person submarine, the DeepFlight Super Falcon 3S, that will make its tourism debut later this year in the pristine waters around the Maldives.

Submarines have been used to take holidaymakers into the deep before. But that experience was more akin to an underwater bus ride, with passengers peering out through small portholes, says Adam Wright, CEO of DeepFlight, a company that designs and manufactures high-performance personal submarines.

Read More

“In the Super Falcon 3S, you’re able to fly underwater like an aeroplane and your head is right in the middle of a hemispherical dome – it’s a completely immersive experience, but you’re not getting wet,” says Wright, in an interview from the company’s San Francisco headquarters. “You’re seeing shipwrecks and kelp, flying with whales and interacting with the environment in a totally different way.” 

The Super Falcon 3S has three cockpits, suitable for a pilot and two passengers. These are kept at one atmosphere of pressure (similar to the pressure of an aircraft cabin) so there’s no fear of suffering the “bends” on returning to the surface. Each cockpit has an acrylic dome, giving passengers a crystal-clear, 360-degree view of the surrounding sea life. And the sub is environmentally friendly. Powered by electricity – the company has dubbed it the “Tesla of the oceans” – it never lands on reefs or touches the sea bed. 

The inimitable Richard Branson dives deep in his customised DeepFlight submarine

The inimitable Richard Branson dives deep in his customised DeepFlight submarine

Wright explains that DeepFlight had “started from scratch” when designing the sub, which has “positive buoyancy”. This means it naturally floats, so it uses its engine to drive it down below the surface, unlike traditional submarines that use water as ballast to dive and rise. The design is also ideal from a safety viewpoint; should the Super Falcon 3S break down, it will simply pop back up to the surface.

The designers also wanted to make a strong lifestyle statement. “One of the features that we’re designing into the Super Falcon 3S is this idea of cool. We want to be able to tap into people’s sense of exploration and their inner James Bond, so to speak,” says Wright. “You’re getting into an underwater aeroplane – it looks cool, it feels cool and like you’re doing something very adventurous, whereas you’re actually doing something that’s very, very safe.”

To develop the travel business, the company’s tourism arm, DeepFlight Adventures, has partnered with Shanghai-based Rainbowfish Ocean Technology, a leader in deep-sea research technology. Wright says that the Rainbowfish connection was developed in part thanks to his Putonghua language skills. He studied mechanical engineering at the University of California at Berkeley, where he made many friends in the Chinese student community and developed a keen interest in the language. Wishing to learn more, he studied Chinese for two years at Yunnan Normal University in Kunming.

After returning to the US, he joined DeepFlight to live out his passion for submarines. “You can think of the ocean as the last remaining frontier,” he says. “More people have set foot on the moon than have gone to the deepest part of the ocean.”

DeepFlight has two main markets: tourism and the super-wealthy, who want submarines as playthings on their luxury yachts. Prices for private two- and three-seater subs are in the range of US$1.5 million to $2 million, and the company has sold seven so far.

Among DeepFlight’s customers is business magnate Richard Branson, who bought a customised three-seat submarine to use off his private Necker Island. “Submarines are a growing trend amongst wealthy people, but still very much a niche business,” says Wright. “One of our main priorities was to develop the technology to make a smaller and lighter submarine, the Dragon. This opened the door to a wider variety of clientele – you can now own a sub without having to own a 100- to 200-million-dollar yacht.” 

Can private owners drive their own submarines or do they need trained pilots? “Our private submersibles are very easy to operate,” says Wright. “You have a throttle on one side to control the speed and a joystick on the other side to control the heading. It’s just like a flying an aeroplane. And to ‘land’ the sub, all you do is turn it off and it floats back to the surface.”

DeepFlight Adventures has chosen the Maldives – a popular destination with Chinese holidaymakers – to develop its submarine tourism business. The country’s reefs and wildlife make it one of the top dive destinations, and DeepFlight Adventures wanted to send a strong conservation message by exposing people to the waters around the archipelago. 

Wright says submarine adventures are slated to commence in the fourth quarter of 2017, with expeditions lasting from 45 minutes to an hour and a half, at prices starting from US$549 per person. The company has a partnership with Ocean Group, which offers water-sport activities at resorts on the islands. 

With its striking looks and nimble undersea performance, what car would Wright compare the Super Falcon 3S to? “It’s a bit difficult to compare it to a car – we try to compare it more to an aircraft,” he says. “But if you did have to compare it to a car, I would say… the Batmobile.” Designed for the underwater superhero market, presumably. 

With its striking looks and nimble undersea performance, what car would Wright compare the Super Falcon 3S to? “It’s a bit difficult to compare it to a car – we try to compare it more to an aircraft,” he says. “But if you did have to compare it to a car, I would say… the Batmobile.” Designed for the underwater superhero market, presumably. 

Images: DeepFlight; Amos Nachoum; Freepik (graphics/icons, from flaticon.com)

Back to top

head.jpg

Why I Love My Car:
David SK Lee


Leading Ferrari collector David SK Lee celebrates his passion for the enduring appeal of the renowned Italian marque, which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. Chairman and CEO of the Los Angeles-based Hing Wa Lee jewellery group, he also reveals how he shares his lifestyle and philosophy with his 720,000 Instagram followers

Why I Love My Car:
David SK Lee


Leading Ferrari collector David SK Lee celebrates his passion for the enduring appeal of the renowned Italian marque, which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. Chairman and CEO of the Los Angeles-based Hing Wa Lee jewellery group, he also reveals how he shares his lifestyle and philosophy with his 720,000 Instagram followers

Lifestyle > Car, Boat & Plane


 

Why I Love My Car: David SK Lee

April 28, 2017 / by Michael Spence

Right: Ferrari 250 Lusso Competizione(1964); Left: One-off Ferrari F12tdfDSKL

Right: Ferrari 250 Lusso Competizione(1964); Left: One-off Ferrari F12tdfDSKL

Let’s start at the beginning. When did you learn to drive? 

I’ve driven ever since I was 16 – getting your driver’s licence was a sign of freedom for my generation in the US.

And your first car?

When I was 16, the cheapest new car was a Toyota pickup truck. I saved enough with some entrepreneurial things that I had done to pay for it. I was really proud that I used my own money and didn’t need to ask my parents for help.

How did your love of cars begin?

In third grade, one of my teachers said, “Go to the library, pick up any book you want and read it.” A lot of kids were picking up dinosaur books, but I came across an Italian sports car book. It was very alluring. I enjoyed reading it and copying it – I was good at drawing. Fast forward to 16 and I had a six-foot Lamborghini Countach poster in my bedroom – alongside the Farah Fawcett poster, of course. And I said to myself, “When I get older, my goal is to buy that car.”

Read More

TED_8301-X3.jpg

What was your first supercar?

I bought a Lamborghini Diablo at the age of 29. I got a good deal, but it wasn’t in the best condition and was always in the shop. So one day I’d had enough, and I drove into a Ferrari dealer in Orange County and traded it in for a F355 Spyder – that was my first Ferrari. At that point, it wasn’t a collector thing; it was just a cool car to have.

When did the collection start?

TED_3119.jpg

I had supercars of different brands, but it still wasn’t a collecting mentality until I went to a friend’s house and he showed me a Jaguar E-Type convertible he had found; I thought it was cool. So I researched the Ferrari heritage, all the models and the appreciation values. And because I’m a business guy, I quickly came up with this idea: what better thing to invest in than something that you can enjoy looking at, that you can enjoy driving, that you can enjoy as a lifestyle and that is appreciating in value? I thought I had struck gold.

My first classic Ferrari was the 275 GTS. I developed two strategies. One was buying all the classic convertible Ferraris– like the 330 GTS, the 250, the 365 Daytona Spyder – and the other was the supercars, because I already had the Enzo.

You’re among the few people who get first option on limited edition Ferraris. How did you achieve that status?

You need to get the attention of Maranello. I decided I would be a client who only buys Ferraris, who only collects Ferraris, who only drives Ferraris and who drives them seven days a week – something really crazy to catch their attention. And it worked! I quickly moved up their client list.

You have a big following on Instagram.

The publisher of a magazine I advertise in said to me, “David, you need to get on social media – that’s the future.” I’m a marketing guy, so I could understand the concept very easily and I created the account @ferraricollector_davidlee. I was posting stuff about my interests: cars, wine, food and travel. My following ramped up very quickly and two years on, I’m at 330,000. Now that I’ve reached this state, I feel a responsibility to teach my followers about ethics and core values, and how to be a decent person – how you can enjoy the good things, but also be responsible. 

How many cars are in your collection? 

I have about 30 cars. There are other people who have a lot more cars than I do, but what’s special about my situation is that I have themes, a strategy – every car I have is blue-chip. Every one is a winner; every one is a multimillion-dollar car.

Ferrari 275 GTB4

Ferrari 275 GTB4

You own the “Big Five” – can you explain what they are?

The 1985 288 GTO is considered by Ferrari to be their first supercar. Then they produced the F40 – their first 200mph-plus car – for the 40th anniversary, the F50 for the 50th, the Enzo for the 60th and LaFerrari for the 70th. These cars were futuristic and looked cool; it’s a special category. I’m one of only a handful of people who have all five, so people appreciate that I take them to events and show them. 

What makes Ferrari so special?

Ferrari does have allure – the red, the racing history, the difficulty of getting a product that’s really sought after. Money can buy the other makes, but at some point with Ferrari it doesn’t matter how much money you have. They made only 499 of the LaFerrari, but 1,500 people could afford it and wanted to buy one. 

What are your favourites?

My favourite, due to sentimental value, is my 1985 288 GTO. My 1964 Lusso Competizione, with its race and rally history, is very special, as there are only four in existence. My 1967 330 GTS is just the coolest convertible ride. My 1987 288 GTO Evoluzione prototype, with only five made, is as rare as it gets. And my 1967 275 GTB/4 is considered by Ferrari collectors as the ultimate classic Ferrari.

Unlike some collectors, you drive all of your cars. What’s that like?

When you drive a classic car, you have to be in the mindset to be really relaxed – no appointments, no hurry, no rush. A 50-year-old car can be running great in your garage, but then the alternator breaks or the master cylinder for the brakes tightens up, or there’s a water leak and the radiator just blows – all that has happened to me. I was stuck in the middle of the road with a US$3.5 million 330 GTS – a bright red convertible – on a hot day, right on a busy street, because the alternator went out. I had to wait for all the others cars to move on, and then I pushed it to the side of the road and waited for the flatbed to come pick it up. It was embarrassing – you have this classic Ferrari, and everybody is driving by and you’re stuck. 

What’s your regular car?

My Ferrari FF is my daily driver. It’s easy – four seats, four-wheel drive.

What are you driving today?

I plan to drive the Lusso Competizione – it’s 40 minutes from my office to home, so it’s a nice drive for me.

Ferrari 250 Lusso Competizione

Ferrari 250 Lusso Competizione

How do you look after them?

I hire people to make sure they’re taken care of and to remind me which one needs driving. It’s a constant care-and-maintenance situation; it’s a lot of work. For maintenance and spare parts, I have good connections in LA and all over the world. There’s no one garage that fixes all the cars – different guys are good with different cars.

How are you marking Ferrari’s 70th anniversary?

Interior of Ferrari 250 Lusso Competizione

Interior of Ferrari 250 Lusso Competizione

This is an important year. Ferrari has a lot of events programmed and I’m very involved. I’m going to their Cavalcade in Puglia in June, when their 100 top customers from all over the world get together for an organised run and activity week. In August, I’ll be going to the Monterey car week at Pebble Beach. I also have special cars coming – I was picked to have one of the 350 70th-anniversary specials, so my car is an F12 inspired by Steve McQueen’s chocolate-brown Lusso. I’m also receiving a tailor-made F12 Tour de France that has a plaque saying it was inspired by David Lee’s Lusso Competizione. That’s very cool – it’s to celebrate the anniversary and my relationship with them. I’ll take it to the Puglia and Monterey events.

How much is your collection worth?

A lot of people give a ballpark value of around US$50 million.

So your father started the Hing Wa Lee business in Hong Kong?

My father came from China, swam to Hong Kong, became an apprentice gemstone carver and then started his own factory at age 18, in 1965. He came to the US because the Smithsonian had a lot of broken antiques and needed somebody to fix them. I was born in Hong Kong. He brought me, my mom and my sister over. We lived in Washington DC for five years – but it was too cold, so we moved to California.

How did the business develop?

In the 1970s, he was doing gemstone carving wholesale for galleries throughout the US; in the 1980s he added fine jewellery that he was selling wholesale to jewellers. I joined the company in 1990 after graduating from USC, changed the model to retail and brought in watches. Today, our company is 52 years old and is best known for retail – although it also has a division doing real estate and investment.

What’s your philosophy for success in business?

Work hard, work with perseverance, work with integrity – these are what you can control. The external elements are timing and opportunity. When they’re all aligned – like the planets – that’s when success happens.

Images: David SK Lee/Ted7 Photography

Back to top

head.jpg

Fast Ferrari Facts


Fast Ferrari Facts


Lifestyle > Car, Boat & Plane


 

Fast Ferrari Facts

April 28, 2017

  • The marque was created by Enzo Ferrari, who began as a racing driver and worked for Alfa Romeo before building his own cars.

  • Enzo Ferrari, known as il Commendatore, was born in Modena in 1898 and ran the company until his death in 1988.

  • The first Ferrari – the 125 S – emerged from the factory gates in Maranello, Italy in March 1947. It was powered by a 1.5-litre V12 engine.

  • Ferrari’s “prancing horse” symbol was the emblem of First World War fighter pilot Count Francesco Baracca, who painted it on the side of his planes.

  • Enzo Ferrari sold a 50% stake in the company to Fiat in 1969. By 1988, Ferrari was 90% owned by Fiat and in 2015, it was floated on the New York Stock Exchange.

  • Ferraris are traditionally red because it was the colour assigned to Italian racing cars by the sport’s governing body.

  • Enzo Ferrari was quoted as saying that the Jaguar E-Type was the most beautiful car ever made upon its release in 1961.

  • Ferrari has competed every year since the Formula One World Championship began in 1950, making it the only team to do so.

  • Ferrari has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans nine times, though its last win was in 1965.

  • Ferrari has won the most Formula One races of any team, scoring its 225th victory at the 2017 Australian Grand Prix and winning an unrivalled 16 Constructors’ Championships. 

  • Scuderia Ferrari’s most successful driver was Michael Schumacher, who won five of his seven World Championships and 72 of his 91 Grand Prix victories at the wheel of a Ferrari.

  • Ferrari has steadily increased production over the years; in 2016, it shipped more than 8,000 cars, marking a new record for the brand.

Images: David SK Lee/Ted7 Photography

Back to top

Metrojet exterior 04.jpg

Stratospheric Luxury


Metrojet CEO Björn Näf gives an inside look at owning and operating your own private jet

Stratospheric Luxury


Metrojet CEO Björn Näf gives an inside look at owning and operating your own private jet

Lifestyle > Car, Boat & Plane


 

Stratospheric Luxury

April 28, 2017 / by Simon Webster

It’s the frazzled air traveller’s ultimate dream – you pull up to a private VIP terminal in your limo, speed through passport control and customs, and within minutes sink into the comfort of your leather armchair, glass of champagne in hand, as your bespoke private jet prepares to take off. For the super-rich and top executives, it’s a reality; owning and flying on a luxurious private plane has become the method of choice for escaping the increasingly madding crowds of modern airports. 

Why buy a plane when it’s simpler and cheaper just to charter one? The first advantage is being able to choose a plane that’s the right fit for your travel needs. You can customise it to become an extension of your home – or office – in the sky. Next, you get to pick your own flight crew, so you’ll have familiar faces on board welcoming you each time you fly. And of course, your plane is there waiting for you anytime you want to use it.

The job of ensuring you can maximise your enjoyment and the use of your aircraft is one for the professionals. That’s where private plane management companies come in, with their expertise in maintaining aircraft, hiring flight crews and dealing with the pesky paperwork that needs to be filled out before you can take to the sky. Even then, you remain in the pilot’s seat, as it’s up to you to choose an operator with a proven management and safety record.

Read More

One of these plane management companies is Hong Kong-based Metrojet, part of the Kadoorie Group, which employs 220 staff (including 60 full-time pilots) and manages a fleet of 26 aircraft. Metrojet CEO Björn Näf explains that the high-net-worth individuals who own their own jets have international networks. “They have property around the world, children at school overseas, businesses, friends, yachts, vineyards and luxury assets overseas.”

If private jets are a lifestyle choice for wealthy individuals, they’re a business tool for companies whose executives have to travel the world. “It has a luxurious touch because it costs a lot of money, but it’s used as a convenient, private vehicle for hassle-free travel that saves time and increases productivity,” says Näf. “You can do work, relax or sleep and, when you land, you don’t need to go to a hotel – you can just go straight to meetings.”

So how does it work? Buying a private plane is similar to choosing and fitting out your luxury yacht or customising your car, although a bit more complex. If your chequebook can run to the multimillion-dollar price tag, there’s no shortage of choice, with Gulfstream, Dassault, Bombardier, Cessna and several other manufacturers vying for customers seeking the ultimate high-flying experience. The key element (apart from budget) is deciding what distances you’ll be flying and how many people will be travelling, which will determine the plane’s size and range.

Once the purchase agreement is signed, you decide on the interior – the colour, woodwork, carpets, leather, in-flight entertainment features and more – and choose the external livery. “Often it’s a very passionate topic, because then the wife wants to say something, the kids want their say – it’s a combination of opinions,” says Näf. Some clients work with the designer for a year or even more. Delivery can take 24 months or longer, so you also have to be patient.

Once the plane is ready, a suitable management company such as Metrojet will step in and take over operation of the aircraft for you. And then comes the fun part – flying. The management company takes care of the crew and flight plans, but how quickly you can actually take off and land depends on the country, with the US and Europe much more private-jet friendly than some countries in Asia.

Apart from the convenience, private jets can reach their destinations faster than commercial aircraft. Light and powerful, they can fly high above passenger jets that are weighed down by people and cargo, soaring to more than 50,000 feet, where there is less drag. With fewer flight restrictions than scheduled aircraft, they can also take more direct routes, which can slice an hour off a flight from Hong Kong to New York. 

Owners looking for a good deal can take advantage of the very competitive private-plane management market, but Näf, who joined Metrojet in 2010, says that safety is a concern. Unlike commercial plane operators, there are few rules and regulations for private plane management. “People do what they want to do,” says Näf. “We have clear rules, clear regulations and high standards. We provide safety, security and reliability. We make sure your pilot flies safe, within the guidelines.” 

And do the owners put their planes to any unusual uses? “Sometimes people don’t fly, but the aircraft flies to load stuff they’ve ordered in Australia, for example,” says Näf. “All the handbags, the shoes, the jewellery comes from Australia into Hong Kong – and then the chauffeur picks it up. The pilot flies alone, six hours down, eight hours back, to pick up bags. Maybe it’s an exclusive painting. Maybe it’s a present from a friend. Maybe it’s diamonds, whatever – we do it. It’s your aircraft!”

Images: Metrojet

Back to top

The Sunseeker 40m yacht.jpg

License to Thrill


Sunseeker is the ultimate yacht for a fun-seeker

License to Thrill


Sunseeker is the ultimate yacht for a fun-seeker

Lifestyle > Car, Boat & Plane


 

License to Thrill

March 31, 2017 / by Simon Webster

Image above: The Sunseeker 40m yacht

A variety of Sunseekers at the 2016 Hong Kong International Boat Show

A variety of Sunseekers at the 2016 Hong Kong International Boat Show

Oozing sex appeal with its super-sleek design and cutting-edge British engineering, Sunseeker is the luxury yacht of choice for the rich and famous. And thanks to a drop in the pound post-Brexit, it’s become a little bit more affordable. 

With their aggressive good looks and superb handling at speed, Sunseekers have long been a favourite of Formula One drivers and movie stars – and the James Bond film franchise, which has featured them in The World is Not Enough, Die Another Day, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.

Sunseeker’s Asian operations are run from Hong Kong by Gordon Hui, a native of the city who studied architecture in London before starting his own property investment company. He fell in love with the brand in 1992 when he bought his Sunseeker Tomahawk 37; when Hui returned to Hong Kong in 2003, he seized the opportunity to take over as chairman of its Asian operations.

 

Read More

A variety of Sunseekers at the 2012 Hainan Boat Show in Sanya

A variety of Sunseekers at the 2012 Hainan Boat Show in Sanya

Luxury yachts have long been seen as the ultimate playthings for the super-rich, but in Asia they are put to practical use, says Hui, whose company distributes the boats in 11 countries around the region. Chatting over lunch on the deck of Hong Kong’s Aberdeen Boat Club, Hui says that Hongkongers in particular have a long tradition of weekend trips out to sea with family and friends, and is dismissive of the show-off culture of boating on the glitzy Côte d’Azur.

“A private yacht is a good way to get out to sea and spend some time with the family, learn water sports – it’s a good family pastime,” explains Hui, as he looks out on the sun-drenched Aberdeen marina, where several distinctive Sunseekers are berthed. “People here just use them. It’s like a floating villa – an extension of a holiday home that you can go to different places in and can spend the night on.”

Shaken Not Stirred, the Sunseeker Superhawk 34, featured in the opening sequence of The World is Not Enough

Shaken Not Stirred, the Sunseeker Superhawk 34, featured in the opening sequence of The World is Not Enough

Hui contrasts that with the way luxury yachts are used in resorts such as Monte Carlo and Saint-Tropez, where people often charter boats “just to throw dinner parties” and to flaunt their wealth without ever leaving port. “It’s a waste of money,” he says. “I’d rather go somewhere quiet and enjoy a remote island or a white sandy beach. That’s why I love boating.”

A fun way to spend a weekend with friends and family, then – but with a hefty price tag. The entry-level Sunseeker Manhattan 52, which launched last September, costs £780,000 (prices are fixed in pounds sterling worldwide) while at the top end, a 40 meter floating palace sells for £16.68 million. 

The good news for those who can afford it is that buying a Sunseeker just became less expensive, thanks to the pound’s spectacular fall since Brexit. The depreciation of the British currency has boosted sales amongst wealthy customers looking for a relative bargain, Hui reveals. Combine the plunge in the pound with the absence of import duty in Hong Kong and the city has become “the cheapest boating area in the world.” 

Sunseeker Asia has sold more than 190 yachts since Hui took over – 120 of them in Hong Kong – and revenues last year were £30 million. Parent company Sunseeker International was taken over by Wang Jianlin’s Dalian Wanda Group in 2013 for £320 million.

So what’s involved in fulfilling your dreams and buying one of these super-luxury yachts? “First, I need to ask about the usage – the size, your budget, and whether you’re buying for family, entertainment or corporate,” says Hui. That will help decide if you go for the Predator cruiser – he compares it to a two-door sports car like an Aston Martin – or a bigger yacht with a flybridge, which is an upper deck for navigation and relaxing that offers a panoramic view. The latter falls into the Rolls-Royce category, says Hui, also a self-professed car buff.

Halle Berry aboard the Sunseeker Superhawk 48 in Die Another Day

Halle Berry aboard the Sunseeker Superhawk 48 in Die Another Day

With Hong Kong being one of the most crowded places on the planet for boats as well as people, the second issue is a bit more mundane – can you find a parking space for your new toy? Berths are limited in the city’s marinas, both in numbers and size, and Hui says it’s essential to find a spot before ordering your yacht. There’s no point in shelling out several million pounds for your dream yacht if there’s nowhere to put it. 

After picking out your model comes the fun bit – selecting the luxury fixtures and fittings. Sunseekers are built at the factory in Poole, Dorset, England, which has a workforce of 2,300. Delivery for most models takes around a year. Once built, your new Sunseeker is transported to Hong Kong on a container ship, dropped into the sea on arrival and then towed to a berth in the marina. Once it’s licensed, you’re ready to go.

In his position at Sunseeker, Hui has rubbed shoulders with many rich and famous personalities over the years. For one, he hosted lunch for Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond at the Aberdeen Boat Club when they staged Top Gear Live in Hong Kong in 2009. The show opened with a spectacular video of two Sunseekers racing through Hong Kong waters and actor Michael Wong leaping into an Aston Martin as he continued the chase through the city’s streets. 

Hui has developed a close relationship with Aston Martin in Hong Kong; the quintessentially British sports cars have featured alongside Sunseeker yachts at various events around the city. Why are Sunseekers such a good fit for the James Bond movies? “First of all, it’s a cool, pioneering British brand – the Sunseeker is a sexy, sleek machine that’s the equivalent of the Aston Martin,” says Hui. “Its Deep V hull design lends itself to the kind of high-performance manoeuvring and sharp turns that the Bond people need – and that other boats can’t do.”

For most people, owning a luxury yacht or being James Bond for a day are the stuff of dreams. But if dreaming is not enough, there’s one way to get a slight taste of that glamorous world. Shaken Not Stirred, the Sunseeker Superhawk 34 that featured in the opening sequence of The World is Not Enough, didn’t actually explode in front of the O2 Arena as seen in the film. It’s available for hire on the river Thames for a relatively modest £3,800 a day – with champagne on the menu, if you desire that extra 007 touch.  

Images: Sunseeker International; Gordon Hui Sunseeker Asia

Back to top

The Sunseeker Predator 108 in Casino Royale

The Sunseeker Predator 108 in Casino Royale

Bloodhound SSC is set to shatter the land speed record.jpg

Speed Demon


The Bloodhound SSC is set to become the world’s first supersonic car – breaking 1,000 miles per hour in the process

Speed Demon


The Bloodhound SSC is set to become the world’s first supersonic car – breaking 1,000 miles per hour in the process

Lifestyle > Car, Boat & Plane


 

Speed Demon

March 31, 2017 / by Ben Berg

Image above: Bloodhound SSC is set to shatter the land speed record

Okay, now ready to put it all back together?

Okay, now ready to put it all back together?

With its Uber-style app for booking flights, the aircraft charter company Victor is bringing digital disruption to the world of luxury private jet travel – and making it more accessible and affordable in the process. 

It all started on a very routine day at London’s Science Museum in October 2008, when Richard Noble, Andy Green and a team of carefully assembled specialists announced their latest plan to smash the world land speed record with an iconic project.

Bloodhound SSC, the most complex racing car ever designed, was born. Built in the United Kingdom by a team of Formula One and aerospace experts, it aims to inspire a generation about science and technology – and bring the world to a standstill later this year in reaching 1,000 miles per hour, blazing past the current land speed record, on the Hakskeen Pan in South Africa’s Northern Cape.

Bloodhound is above all, a battle with physics, a journey into the unknown. It contains a jet from a typhoon fighter, a rocket hotter than a volcano, huge metal wheels spinning at 170 times per second and the equivalent of 135,000 horsepower. Blink and you’ll miss it. The Bloodhound will cover a mile in just 3.6 seconds – literally faster than a bullet. And at that speed, there’s no margin for error. Already, more than 300 people have moved more than 16,000 tonnes of rocks by hand to create the 12-mile racecourse on a dry riverbed. 

Read More

Richard Noble, Bloodhound’s project director

Richard Noble, Bloodhound’s project director

The first target for driver and wing commander Green – who is also a British Royal Air Force fighter pilot, a mathematician, a former Oxford University scholar and the first person to break the sound barrier on land – will be a new record of 800 miles per hour in this stunning hybrid weighing eight tonnes. 

But he and Noble, Bloodhound’s project director, start with a distinct advantage. They are part of the team that raced ThrustSSC, a British jet-propelled car which became the first land vehicle to officially break the sound barrier in October 1997, travelling at 763mph across Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. (Noble himself has broken the world land speed record with his earlier car, Thrust2, which reached 633mph in 1983).

Bloodhound essentially has the same construction as a Formula One car, with carbon fibre, a honeycomb that’s twice as thick, and parts of the car reinforced with ballistic protection. It feels like an extraordinary mix of old-school engineering and high-tech sci-fi slick. 

Indeed, it’s all so new and groundbreaking that no matter how rigorous Bloodhound’s construction, there will always be an unknown quotient, according to chief designer Mark Chapman. “When the Bloodhound goes for the record, we don’t really know what it will be like,” he professes. “We’re not [even] sure what a safe observation distance from a vehicle travelling at Mach 1.4 will be – or how far the shock wave will spread out sideways from the car.”

By all accounts, Bloodhound can reach a top speed of 1,050mph. But to claim the record, the car must turn around and make a second run within an hour. Physical space is an issue, too. “You can just run out of desert,” says Chapman. All of which begs another engineering question: how do you stop a car moving at 1,000mph? 

The Bloodhound has three means of deceleration. At 800mph, perforated air brakes swing out from the fuselage; two parachutes can deploy at 600mph if extra slowing is needed; and at 200mph, driver Green will apply the steel friction brakes. 

Slowing down is just one concern. The idling jet engine will continue to produce heat at the end of the run, which Green must dissipate by steering in a huge arc while slowing to a stop. Whether that’s all possible, no one knows yet. “We can’t really test that until we get to South Africa,” says Chapman. “For a lot of things, the car is the test bed.”

As such, Bloodhound SSC has been the catalyst for a raft of cutting-edge research in fields such as aerodynamics, computational fluid dynamics, materials technology, composite manufacturing and sustainable high-tech engineering. In short, it’s a game-changer. 

The Bloodhound doesn’t have tyres; it runs on precisely fabricated aluminium discs. A forging process breaks down the crystalline structure of cast aluminium, making it denser and stronger. This requires heating the aluminium to more than 700°F, moulding the metal into discs with a 3,668-tonne press and then milling the blanks to the finished specs: 198 pounds, 36 inches in diameter. 

Thus, the wheels not only have to bear the car’s 17,000 pounds of weight, but also to hold together while experiencing 50,000 pounds of radial G-forces at 10,200rpm. That means their shape is as crucial as their strength. Recent testing at the Hakskeen Pan revealed that twin-keel-shaped rims like those on the Thrust SSC would break through the site’s soft surface, so the Bloodhound will use a rounded wheel profile.

To accomplish this project, investment has been key to its completion and a plethora of A-list sponsors have rallied behind the Bloodhound: Rolls-Royce, Jaguar, Castrol, Rolex (which has made all the instrumentation and dials for Bloodhound’s cockpit) and – since last year – Chinese car manufacturer Geely, which also owns Volvo as well as British firm Manganese Bronze, the maker of London’s iconic black cabs. Through the partnership, Geely will offer automotive technology used in Bloodhound, will allow use of Geely Group vehicles in South Africa throughout the record campaigns, will provide design and engineering support, and will help promote Bloodhound across Asia.

“We could not have a better partner than Geely,” enthuses Noble. “Not only are they an international technology company with tremendous vision and capability, they also share our passion for innovation and education. Their support, both technical and financial, means we can plan our record-breaking challenge with confidence. It also means we can take our STEM [science, technology, engineering and maths] inspiration message to a vast new audience, which is great for science and engineering, but also for promoting Great Britain.”

Noble’s enthusiasm is shared equally by Li Shufu, chairman of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group. “We are proud and excited to be part of this extraordinary team,” says Li. “Geely shares the same challenging spirit and passion for pushing technological barriers as the Bloodhound project. Since day one, we have been committed to breaking technology barriers at Geely – and working with Project Bloodhound will help further our mutual technology breakthrough to an international audience. It also means we can tell millions of young people, in China and around the world about the opportunities presented by studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics. That is what makes this ‘engineering adventure’ so special – and why we wanted to be part of it.”

Green, the heroic 54-year-old driver, says the goodwill and inspiration that Bloodhound represents is a major motivating factor. “I’ve met graduate engineers who are adamant that our previous record was what inspired their career choice as youngsters; that sort of thing makes all the effort worthwhile,” he says. “Bloodhound SSC will be so much faster and, we hope, will fire up every school kid about science and technology. We’re going to invite everyone to follow our adventure in this, the most exciting and extreme form of motorsport – the world land speed record. Both as a mathematician and as a Royal Air Force fighter pilot, I can’t think of anything better.” Can you? 

Images: Bloodhound SSC; Stefan Marjoram; Flock and Siemens (originators)

Back to top

Victor New_York copy.jpg

Spoils to the Victor


An Uber-style service for high-fliers on private jets is really taking off

Spoils to the Victor


An Uber-style service for high-fliers on private jets is really taking off

Lifestyle > Car, Boat & Plane


 

Spoils to the Victor

February 24, 2017 / by Simon Webster

Image above: Victor “lands” in New York

Clive Jackson in his office

Clive Jackson in his office

With its Uber-style app for booking flights, the aircraft charter company Victor is bringing digital disruption to the world of luxury private jet travel – and making it more accessible and affordable in the process. 

Victor is the brainchild of Hong Kong-born CEO Clive Jackson, a tech entrepreneur who got the idea of entering the private plane business after British airline BMI cancelled its scheduled flights from London to the Mediterranean island of Mallorca, where he has a second home. With his sunshine getaway suddenly only accessible by private plane, Jackson discovered “the very antiquated, archaic and opaque business vertical that is on-demand private jet charter”, where “cash-rich and time-poor” fliers were being charged commissions of up to 40% by middlemen. 

Jackson saw an opportunity to bring “digital and disruption together” – the way iTunes and Spotify have upended the music business – and set up Victor, investing US$2 million of his own money when it was launched in 2011. “There’s nothing quite like putting your money where your mouth is,” he says. “In the start-up phase, I built up a minimum viable product to prove that consumers would engage. Since then, I have raised more than US$25 million for the company with external funding.”

Read More

Ready for that weekend getaway yet?

Ready for that weekend getaway yet?

The key to Victor’s success has been its app, which can be downloaded from the iTunes store and offers a simple Uber-style experience for booking a private plane. Fill out the “from” and “to” boxes, the date and the preferred time. Then hit “request quote” and your private jet can be ready in as little as 90 minutes. 

Some 60% of Victor’s bookings come through the app. Jackson says that its ease of use, its competitive pricing (commissions are pegged at 10%) and its transparency are attracting a new clientele to luxury private plane travel that goes beyond the rich and famous. “In the past 18 months, when I look at all the first-time fliers that have come to Victor, 15% have never flown private in their life, which is really interesting,” he says. “There’s no question we are broadening the market.”

Victor works with a global network of 200 aviation partners with an inventory of thousands of planes. “There’s an awful lot of capacity in the market,” he says. “The issue isn’t really around supply; the issue is about how the consumer accesses the supply.”

The company now employs 75 staff and is projected to have generated £30 million in revenue in 2016, growing 946% since its creation. Based in London, with offices in Munich and New York, Victor aims to establish footprints in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions this year. Jackson says Hong Kong is currently his preferred choice for an Asian hub. “We would want to go into a business-friendly environment where we can target a large grouping of ultra-high-net-worth travellers,” he says.

The Victor app in action

The Victor app in action

Jackson, who was born in Hong Kong but has lived in England since his schooldays, admits that Asia offers a fresh challenge to his business model. “In China, and Hong Kong specifically, there has always been a sense that if you can afford it, you own it – and if you can’t own it, you don’t use it. So take Rolls-Royce or Bentley. Nobody wants to buy a second-hand premium luxury car; they want to buy it brand new.” But he says he sees “a shift in attitude; you don’t have to own a hotel to stay in it – and you don’t have to own a private jet to fly in it.”

Jackson says that the established private plane brokers predicted Victor’s rapid demise because of its transparency in displaying the plane supplier’s details in the quote – something that had traditionally been kept hidden to avoid the risk of being cut out of the deal. But he says in just four years Victor has become the world’s number-one digital provider of private-hire jets; its ambition is to be the “single largest buyer of private jet charter in the world” within the next two years.

For the privileged few who can afford to fly private, what’s the big draw? “You’re never going to get a Cathay Pacific or an Emirates holding up an A380 for two hours while you finish a business meeting,” he says. “But if it’s your plane, or at least the plane you chartered, that happens. The ability to create your own schedule, the privacy, the personal security of travelling in your own plane and being able to avoid major commercial hubs is a massive, massive draw.”

And who flies on private jets? Jackson says clients range from entertainment stars to politicians, business leaders and people who simply have to get somewhere fast. “We were recently contacted via the app by a single flier whose scheduled flight to Antigua from Heathrow had been cancelled, and who needed to leave immediately.” Victor picked him up at Heathrow’s Terminal 5, drove him to Luton Airport’s private terminal where, after only a 45-minute wait, he was airborne. The price tag for the 6,500km flight was US$65,000.

Jackson is the first to admit that he had no background in the aviation industry, but explains: “I have had 20-plus years building e-commerce systems, platforms and technology that focus on how a brand would go to market and how a brand would engage the high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth customer. I’m a seasoned entrepreneur – Victor was my 14th company. I built and ran one of the most successful digital agencies in the world, Global Beach, before selling it.”

As a successful business executive who has exploited the power of cutting-edge technology, what advice would he give to budding entrepreneurs? “One thing I have learned as an entrepreneurial chief exec is how to keep focused on the core deliverables of your business. Be willing to adapt, learn at the drop of a hat, but fundamentally stay focused on your core value proposition, which for us is private jet charter for the consumer.” Based on Jackson’s experience, if you follow his rules, the sky’s the limit.

Images: www.flyvictor.com

Back to top

head.jpg

Switching Gears


The Peninsula is well-known for its fleet of Rolls-Royces – but it’s steered towards some other unique vehicles in recent years thanks to one man: Martin Oxley

Switching Gears


The Peninsula is well-known for its fleet of Rolls-Royces – but it’s steered towards some other unique vehicles in recent years thanks to one man: Martin Oxley

Lifestyle > Car, Boat & Plane


 

Switching Gears

December 9, 2016 / by Michael Spence

“Although we are one of the oldest hotel companies in the world, we don’t feel old. We wanted to do something fun and show the heritage of the countries where we’re based”

Indelibly associated with its fleet of trademark green Rolls-Royces, Hong Kong’s highly venerated The Peninsula Hotels group has been breaking with tradition of late – by offering guests rides in everything from a bespoke tuk-tuk to its very first Tesla. The man responsible for the change of gear is a genial Londoner, Martin Oxley, who has been in charge of The Peninsula’s car fleet for more than 20 years.

In the fast-moving and competitive hotel business, The Peninsula, with its 15 Rolls-Royces, still stands alone as the “grand old lady” of Hong Kong hotels. But the group has steadily expanded into new markets and its car fleet is reflecting the changing times – all while injecting an element of fun.

Oxley’s office in the quiet elegance of The Peninsula is a world (and a lifetime) away from his humble beginnings as an apprentice mechanic with Rolls-Royce in the 1970s, when he quickly decided that spending his life “covered in oil” underneath cars was not for him. 

Read More

In his subsequent 22-year career with the world’s most prestigious carmaker, Oxley created a unit that specialised in finding the slightest pre-delivery defects, developing an eye for detail that made him the ideal choice to manage The Peninsula’s car fleet when he joined the company in 1995.

He works closely with group chairman Michael Kadoorie, who Oxley says has shown an uncanny knack over the years for identifying the small details that can make a big difference. Oxley likes to tell the story of a visit they made to the Rolls-Royce factory, when Kadoorie asked if they could sit in a car in the pitch dark. “He said he wanted to read a newspaper and had spotted that the map light switch wasn’t illuminated. I thought, ‘He doesn’t miss a trick!’”

Car manufacturers have learned that Oxley will not take no for an answer when he makes a special request – whether that’s Rolls-Royce moving its A/C controls in the Phantom limousine from between the front seats to the rear armrests where guests can reach them, or BMW relocating the fridge system in its luxury 7-Series to double the boot space.

The Peninsula’s worldwide fleet now comprises 29 Rolls-Royces – including four 1934 Phantoms – and almost 40 BMW 7-Series. But it also includes Mini Coopers, a Citroën 2CV in Paris, a custom-made tuk-tuk with leather seats in Bangkok and a super-luxury jeepney in Manila. “Although we are one of the oldest hotel companies in the world, we don’t feel old,” says Oxley. “We wanted to do something fun and show the heritage of the countries where we’re based.” 

Oxley’s pet project was the bespoke jeepney, which is based on the original 1955 six-seater version but is wider, taller and air-conditioned. It also features leatherette seats and seatbelts, Perspex windows, a rear door with a child lock to prevent guests from falling out, an intercom, a cool box and a Euro 5 diesel engine – the most fuel-efficient and eco-friendly you can buy. “And for the outside, we blinged it up,” says Oxley.

Looking to the future, Oxley reckons the days of running a full electricity-powered fleet at The Peninsula are still far off. “We have a Tesla and a hybrid BMW 1A, but until we have an electric car with a 480km range and sufficient boot space, I won’t consider them for a hotel limousine fleet.”

And what does he tell new drivers joining The Peninsula’s team? “Imagine there is a young lady in a long white dress sitting in the rear seat, holding a glass of red wine. Don’t spill it!”

Images: The Peninsula Hotels

Back to top

Endeavour 23m_9.jpg

Powering Ahead


The 23m super-tender Endeavour is set to bring a dash of class and extreme performance to the high seas

Powering Ahead


The 23m super-tender Endeavour is set to bring a dash of class and extreme performance to the high seas

Lifestyle > Car, Boat & Plane


 

Powering Ahead

September 30, 2016

Just seeing its light bronze and gold livery with mahogany accents and stainless steel, it’s easy to tell that this 23m tender is the epitome of luxury. Revel in Endeavour, a new collaboration concept between renowned Italian superyacht designer Federico Fiorentino and Serbian-born designer-architect Marijana Radovic.

Conceived as a private jet of the sea, the super-tender is capable of speeding across the water at up to 50 knots, depending on the engine configuration. Its designers proclaim it will be the fastest and most luxurious tender on the planet. Endeavour can even be equipped with twin jet turbines and surface drives in order to achieve extreme performance.

Accommodating up to six guests, the interior decor is elegant and sophisticated. A large window grants a panoramic view during the journey, while glass partitions are used to divide the cockpit area from the guest lounge. The lounge can also be converted into a conference room by reclining and rotating the armchairs. The tender also features a separate crew area with a luggage compartment and crew head, as well as a day head and bar.

As Endeavour is still in the concept phase, no builder has yet been attached to the project.

Images: Marijana Radovic of m2atelier (interior); Federico Fiorentino (exterior)

Back to top

Azimut 50F_Flybridge (1).jpg

Marine Dream: The Azimut 50


The Azimut 50 yacht leaves the competition trailing in its wake on the high seas

Marine Dream: The Azimut 50


The Azimut 50 yacht leaves the competition trailing in its wake on the high seas

Lifestyle > Car, Boat & Plane


Azimut 50 Flybridge starboard view

Azimut 50 Flybridge starboard view


Marine Dream

above image: Azimut 50 Flybridge Upper deck

May 29, 2015 by James Oliver

Agility, power, elegance, and choice: the Azimut Flybridge Collection is the world’s most extensive, with models from 45 to 100 feet; each distinct, each with a versatility that enables the owner to personalise the interior with their choice of fabrics, leathers, and wood finishes. Different models but the same refined elegance of Italian design. 

Now the collection has been expanded to include the brand new Azimut 50. This 16-metre yacht brims with the Azimut appeal and quality courtesy of designer Stefano Righini and contains everything which sets apart the Avigliana-based brand.  The wide bow area deserves special attention. It is unique in its class to be equipped with a bench for six people, in addition to the sunpad. The tenderlift, fitted as standard, has a net capacity of 380kg. 

Carlo Galeazzi designed the interiors, creating a boat whose secret weapons include its surprising interior spaces. Notable is the large saloon window which further adds to the unique sensation of being completely immersed in the marine landscape. Customisation is king, and the designer being Italian, a client can opt for the refined fabrics and sophisticated weaves of Loro Piana, Missoni and other Italian fashion icons.  High fashion meets the high seas. 

Read More

Saloon

Saloon

Azimut is a brand of the Azimut|Benetti Group and together with Atlantis, Magellano, Flybridge, S, and Grande collections its global reach extends to 68 countries offering an extensive range of yachts. The prestigious yachtmaker also won the title of Luxury Yacht Star Performer within the Hurun Report Best of the Best Awards 2015.  This ranks the most popular brands according to Chinese consumers of luxury goods.  Already established in Dalian, Shandong, Shanghai, Fujian, Shenzhen and Hong Kong, to provide superlative pre- and post-sales assistance the brand has developed new partnerships in Hunan and Hebei provinces. 

So look out for Azimut’s appearance and its 50F, at two high-end marine and luxury lifestyle events in China this year: So! Dalian (June 18-21) and So! Hainan (Dec 3-6).

Among the events programmed for the second So! Dalian iteration will be China’s premier Beach Polo World Cup being organized in association with The Polo Life from Florida and the second Annual Golf Tournament in partnership with the Legacy Club, sailing courses, match racing, sea trials and top-end riding lessons provided by Dalian Liangyun Equestrian Club.

Back to top

VIP cabin

VIP cabin