OCT 01st 2014

GRR Read Test: Three greats from Aston, Ferrari and de Tomaso make this a classic Octane

Octane Magazine

One of them is ‘as friendly as a Labrador’, another provides ‘an addictive high’, the third is ‘much better to look at than to drive’. Three stonking cars from Ferrari, Aston Martin and de Tomaso – and three very good reasons for not missing the latest cracking issue of Octane.


It’s the Aston – the addictive high – that gets the cover, with just one simple, and simply beautiful, photograph along with 15 words. It all that’s needed to get the juices flowing.

It helps of course when the car is as stupendous looking as this DB4 GT. That’s the DB4 GT, then, and not the DB4 GT Zagato that some automatically think of as the classic DB4 racer. The proposition here is that the GT is actually a greater car than the Zagato…

There are some gorgeous shots of it, taken on some lovely Peak District roads, and a story, by Andrew English, that wastes not one word in describing what it’s like, right down to the bunch of Wilmot Breeden keys that come with it. His story is not just what he thinks of the car, but what others have said about it, too. Proper reporting. Proper feature writing. Marvellous all round really.

The two other cars that we went straight to were Nick Mason’s Ferrari 512 Berlinetta Boxer Le Mans, and the de Tomaso Mangusta. Both are fresh in the GRR mind, the BB from our recent visit to Ten Tenths and the Mangusta from its starring role at the Earls Court Motor Show at Revival last month (though this was a different car; makes you wonder how many Mangustas there are on the roads).

The Labrador? That’s the Ferrari. Somewhat surprising, perhaps, given the roadgoing BB’s reputation for tricky handling. Mark Hales, another who knows what he’s talking about and doesn’t waste words doing so, is completely sold on the friendly nature of the LM version – a car with more than 600bhp that was clocked at 223mph down the Mulsanne Straight in 1980.

His story is centred around the Le Mans Classic this year where Mark, along with 1980s team leader Bob Houghton, drove the car for an otherwise engaged Mr Mason (‘Like Enzo, I sit and wait for news of my cars…’). It’s a wonderful yarn that makes you feel part of the team.

That leaves the Mangusta as the car that’s better to look at than to drive. But what looks! The mid-engined V8 machine with the signature ‘ladybird wings’engine covers is a sheer artwork, says the writer. ‘What happens when the artwork goes kinetic?’ asks John Simister. ‘The brain box door is wide open with fear spilling forth.’ Yes, apparently the mongoose’s scary reputation is thoroughly deserved…

Doug Nye turns the clock back 50 years for a piece on the 1964 Belgian Grand Prix, when Brabham took its first GP win  – but which is arguably just as famous for drivers, including Dan Gurney and Graham Hill, running out of gas on the last lap, leaving Jim Clark to take the chequered.

‘That leaves the Mangusta as the car that’s better to look at than to drive. But what looks!’

Doug’s words are always wonderful – of course – but here it’s the most wonderful series of black and white images of Jimmy and Dan, taken just as the race ends by Geoffrey Goddard, the snapper definitely in the right place at the right time, that best sum up one of the most surprising of grands prix.

There’s nothing quite like hearing things from the horse’s mouth and Octane November trots out some impressive nags. Jay Leno tells us how sore classic car owners can be when their million dollar restorations miss out on best in show at big concours competitions like Pebble Beach. Sore is putting it mildly if one story he relates is true. The ones to watch, he says, are those ‘with the huge ego, you know, the ones with the trophy wife half their age with the fake boobs’.

Derek Bell takes up the concours theme in his column by saying that, as a racer, he used to think all concours competitions were a waste of space. But he’s changed his mind now. Something to do with his being chief judge at Salon Privé this year perhaps…

A former Pebble Beach judge, Winston Goodfellow, is the amply qualified horse’s mouth to pronounce on the Pebble Beach star car this year. The Ferrari 375MM, first postwar car to win since 1968, is a car you just yearn to know more about (why does it look a bit like the Merc SLR?) and Winston duly obliges with an in-depth look at not just the machine but also its provenance.

No issue of Octane is complete without Goodwood and as well as a Revival report with stunning pic of all the D-types on the grid there’s a good piece recounting a special 70th anniversary D-Day flight from the former RAF Westhampnett.


It was a Piper Chieftain rather than a Dakota that took the intrepid reporter, accompanied by a retired colonel on commentary duty, over to Caen for a bird’s eye view of the beaches. You and a small group can do the same flight thanks to this new charter service from Goodwood (find out more here). It doesn’t have to be a battleground, either – GRR is saving the pennies to fly in style to the next Le Mans Classic…


Plenty of style is on offer too in the supplement with Octane November – a classy 76-page affair with a terrific black and white shot of John Surtees at full tilt aboard his MV Agusta on the cover. A bike supplement? Nope, watches.

By heaven it’s interesting. There are features on the special Scalfaro watch made to commemorate Surtees’ 80th birthday, as well as on the Bremont that’s only available to the six owners of the continuation run of Lightweight E-types, and…well, loads more besides, including the latest Aryton Senna tribute watch from Hublot (entry model: £94,000). And have you heard of Shinola? Very cool, from Detroit. And a chap called Eric Loth, car-mad CEO of watch company Graham?

Lots to read here. All you need is the time….


GRR Read Test verdict

Octane November 2014

08082014Four-half stars Four and a half stars


Nothing not to like here. Treat yourself to it

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