x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Heritage of motoring brands important in 2013

A look at notable anniversaries in the motoring world this year.

On Thursday, January 17, a fairly pointless stunt was performed when Aston Martin airlifted a new Vanquish, flew it underneath a helicopter across Dubai and plonked it onto the helipad on the Burj Al Arab hotel. Anyone expecting a stunt driver to then climb in and perform a few smoking donuts and handbrake turns would have been sorely disappointed. The car was landed, it stayed there for a bit, and then it was taken away.

But was it actually a pointless exercise? Think about it: one of the world's most iconic and instantly recognisable buildings is always going to grab the headlines whenever something unusual happens on the premises, and never before had a car been seen on the Burj's helipad. So the world's cameras were, once again, pointed at the Dubai landmark, and the resulting footage leaked to the world within seconds. Aston Martin, if you hadn't already realised, had just turned 100 years old, and this was its way of congratulating itself.

It seems unthinkable in these days of increased enlightenment, but not all that long ago, most car companies didn't seem to care about their heritage. With an unwavering dedication to doing nothing but selling new cars, most manufacturers ignored their histories, almost pretending their past glories had never happened. Porsche, for instance, had an archive that fell into complete disarray and stayed that way for decades, with countless precious and irreplaceable blueprints and documents disappearing into the mists of time.

In stark contrast, Ferrari has kept absolutely everything. Always self-aware, always in tune with its legions of fans, if Ferrari wanted to build a brand new example of any of its cars, from the very earliest to the rarest, it could, thanks to keeping every design and documenting every process it ever came up with. And it could build it without using anybody else's involvement - it's things like this that make the company so treasured.

Porsche and the others, however, have come around to the idea that their pasts are of paramount importance to their futures. And, while Aston Martin is celebrating its centenary with a year packed with special events for fans and customers, two other significant half centuries will be celebrated this year: the birth of the Porsche 911 and of Lamborghini as a carmaker.

It's impossible to think of the current motoring landscape without either Porsche's venerable sports car or Lamborghini's bad-boy approach to supercar design. They make the world a more interesting place, and their fans all around the world will be reminiscing about the good old days, long before the advent of computer design or catalytic converters. And the companies themselves will be spearheading the celebrations.

From May 7-11, Lamborghini will be throwing the mother of all parties. More than 300 Lambos, a great many of which predate the 1990s, will descend on Italy from all over the planet, where their fortunate owners will be taking part in a driving tour event that starts in Milan and takes in 1,200 kilometres of Italy's finest roads, before culminating in a huge celebration at the factory near Bologna.

Aston's celebrations didn't end with that Burj stunt, either. Throughout the summer there will be a number of factory-sanctioned drive events, parties and other celebrations, while for Porsche the activities will mainly be centred on special exhibitions at the company's Stuttgart museum, as well as sending a vintage 911 on a world tour, taking in five continents as a sort of brand ambassador. A bit more subtle and restrained than the rest, but isn't that the Porsche way?

I'm sure you'll join me in wishing these marques and their fans every success - they deserve it.