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In Search of the Best: 2011 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

"Great people...and the best cars in the world."

by on Aug.22, 2011

Peter Mullins' Voisin Aerodyn takes Best-in-Show.

Parked on the lawn, the motor of his 1934 Avian Voisin C-25 Aerodyne idling, Peter Mullin had no idea what to expect.  The next couple minutes might bring the biggest surprise of his life or the biggest disappointment.

There was no question he’d delivered a showstopper with the French sedan he’d entered into the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.  It took a full three years to restore the Voisin – “And I had already been planning it for seven years,” he recalled.  But there were two other striking examples of pre-war automotive elegance sitting alongside, anyone of which might grab the most coveted trophy in the world of classic cars.

Suddenly, like angels calling, the trumpets began their fanfare, fireworks bursting into the air as Mullin got the signal he was hoping for.  Yet it wasn’t until he had the Aerodyne parked on the center stage that the long-time collector finally allowed the reality to set in. After 30 years of trying, he had just won the Concours’ Best-in-Show.

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“I just can’t believe it,” Mullins repeated, still in shock, confetti now covering the dark grey and black Voisin, which was one of only six C-25s built by French aeronautical pioneer Gabriel Voisin after he decided to switch to automotive manufacturing in the wake of World War I.  “I thought I’d finished third.  This is the most rewarding thing that ever happened to me in the car world,” said Mullin.


First Drive: Jaguar XJ Supersport and XK175

New Jags get 510-horsepower supercharged V8s introduced last year.

by on Aug.18, 2010

Jaguar's limited-edition XKR175 is powered by the supercharged 510-horsepower 5.0-liter V8.

Celebrating its diamond jubilee during the car-crazy weekend wrapped around the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, in central California, Jaguar Cars introduced not one but two special editions, the XJ Supersport sedan and the XKR175 coupe, both powered by the most powerful V8 engines the company has ever produced, with chassis modifications and décor to match.

The heart of the XJ Supersport is a supercharged V8 that Jaguar introduced for 2010. It generates 510 horsepower and 461 foot-pounds of torque. Significantly, the new model marks a shift away from previous Jaguar nomenclature, where top-performance models were marked with the –R designation, as with the XF-R and XK-R models.

The Supersport’s 4-cam 32-valve engine is mated to a fully electronically controlled ZF 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters on the steering wheel. The console-mounted shifter knob includes a Sport setting, and the console has a checkered-flag button that, when pushed, changes engine, transmission, traction control, and suspension settings for maximum performance. It also changes the entire gauge cluster from white to red.

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The Supersport comes loaded to the gills with leather, wood, luxury items and special appearance items, including red center caps on its alloy wheels and a Supersport fender badge. The Supersport package includes 20-inch Mataiva wheels and high-performance tires, automatic cruise control with forward alert, adaptive dynamics, continuously variable shock absorbers, and a different emergency brake assist calibration. The Supersport, with its aluminum-intensive body construction, weighs only 4281 pounds, and the slick body measures a drag coefficient of only 0.29 in the wind tunnel.