PHOTOGRAPHY & WORDS: Tom Horna
Powerful and elegant, a discrete statement of success and wealth, undeniably beautiful – what’s not to like about the David Brown Speedback Silverstone Edition, a hybrid between a classic and modern car which up until now no one else dared to create.
Let’s be honest here. The David Brown Speedback is not everyone’s cup of tea and certainly not many will ever afford to buy one at an eye-watering price tag of over £600k and even more for the Silverstone Edition priced at £744k. It’s not the latest hypercar or even a supercar; it’s not a Bentley or a Rolls Royce, but to me, it is so much more.
Buying a bespoke stunning 1950s Premium GT lookalike with all the modern technology, reliability and performance for significantly less than a Bugatti Chiron, McLaren P1 or La Ferrari simply wasn’t an option until now. Anyway, the likelihood is for the Speedback buyer, it will be an ‘as-well-as’ purchase.
My car for the day was the limited Speedback Silverstone Edition. I collected the car from the new and impressive David Brown Automotive headquarters based just across the road from the Silverstone circuits main entrance – more on that later.
My plan was simple, an afternoon tea at the beautiful Fawsley Hall Hotel just 30 minutes drive from the DBA HQ. Driving the car down the country lanes was a dream come true. Effortless and responsive handling, acceleration of a sports GT, comfort and silence of the best luxury limousine all packaged in a classic-car looking modern Grand Tourer. I’ve worked internationally in the car industry for over 20 years and this experience wasn’t possible even if one had all the money in the world purely because nobody built a car of this type before.
A simply stunning and captivating drive, a true GT. The car was swallowing up all the road imperfections with none of the sports car discomforts yet when the accelerator was pressed harder, the beast of over 600bhp would wake up delivering a thrilling experience of a high-performance car without unnecessarily scaring me to death. The sound coming out of the custom exhaust is comparable to an American muscle car that’s been trained to gently deliver the symphonic experience and not causing your eardrums to bleed.
After several stops at some very picturesque British countryside locations, I have arrived at the destination. Within seconds I was approached by inquisitive people with dozens of questions about the car… What is it? How much is it? How fast is it? How long does it take to build? Can I take a photo? The questions didn’t really matter because not one person really listened to the response. They all wanted to just stand there and look at this captivating piece of British automotive art.
As much as I love the car and the drive, my favourite bit was the split tailgate with a flip-out boot seat and its customisable backrest storage. The example I was driving was specifically built to hold a camera gear which strangely was perfectly suitable for my camera setup – I really want this car now.
An enjoyable afternoon would be an understatement. The DBA Speedback Silverstone Edition is the modern-day answer to the one that wants to own a hand built and bespoke classic lookalike GT car yet not wanting to experience the ownership problems and unreliability of a classic.
Returning the car wasn’t what I wanted to do but there was a little treat waiting for me so it wasn’t too bad. I was invited to the DBA workshops and the sales suite to hear more about the car and the manufacturing processes. Naturally, I learnt a bit more about the car and the brand itself.
The DBA Speedback has no direct competitors nor there are comparable cars unless you’re after a modern GTs customised by the likes of Zagato – but that’s not at all the same. There will only be 100 Speedbacks ever made and only 10 Silverstone Edition examples which makes each car a collectable item. Yes, it is based on the Jaguar XKR convertible underpinnings but every single panel, bonnet, tailgate and the roof has been built with traditional coachbuilding methods and hand-rolled on an English wheel and meticulously seamed together. It’s the same method as building super Grand tourers and supercars of the 50s or 60s, no off-the-shelf bolt-on panels here but the best of British luxury craftsmanship. This, as you can imagine, is a highly specialised, time-consuming and complicated process.
Bodywork aside, you’ll find many components on the car which are milled from solid billets of aluminium like the fuel cap or electric seat controls and many interior parts. There is no limitation on colour choices and you can even create your own colour and its name as long as it is a name of 50s rock song of your choice. The interior choices are also unlimited, you can choose from all sorts of top British sourced fabrics, wood and leather options as well as vegan-friendly vinyls and fabrics. The badges alone are handmade enamel-filled pieces of car jewellery. It takes months to make each car and they are all truly bespoke vehicles made to order with ‘nothing’s impossible’ approach.
I can only hope that before all of the 100 Speedback are sold, David Brown Automotive will come up with some other beautiful design resembling of the 50s super or GT car.
It is worth adding that DBA is also restoring the classic Mini’s while adding all the modern-day necessities in the process like improved drive train with 5-speed gearbox as well as the suspension, electric windows, AirCon, audio with built-in Apple play and more importantly David Brown Automotive design.
Mini REMASTERED – I look forward to driving it and sharing my experience with you all.