Auto Tour 2008
Sat around the fire of the Montagu Arms in Beaulieu back in January 2008, Justin, Mark, Tony and Toby were talking about the year ahead. It quickly became apparent that the year was going to be extremely busy with the launch of Amnesia and a healthy portfolio of projects, all requiring constant attention and involvement. To be in this position was a huge privilege which was due to a number people who had trusted RWD to help with their projects, from owners to yard principles, from associates to friends. It was time to give something back to say thank you and to go beyond what was expected.
The idea of “enjoying the journey” was something that was often discussed in terms of the design process. With the constant hustle and bustle of airports, taxis and hire cars there was a thought that the enjoyment of travel was ironically lost in the creation of what must be the ultimate in journeying, a custom super yacht.
The idea eventually hatched that the excitement, adventure and pioneering spirit should be reignited and the RWD AUTO TOUR was born. That September the inaugural tour was waved off by Lord Montagu from Beaulieu Palace House.
August had seen an amusing frenzy as the RWD Directors started overhauling their cars in preparation for anything that might possibly go wrong. New sets of tyres, rebuilding the engine and choosing the sound track were all important components of getting ready.
The 2008 tour took a westerly route through France which was attempted in two days. Dropping in at the legendary 24hr Le Mans Circuit, all the cars seemed to be doing well. Howard our roving mechanic did a quick check over the cars and declared them all well and ready for the next leg. Arriving late at what must be the Hardest-to-find-Chateaux in France for our first night stop, the drivers and co-pilots dined handsomely on a beautifully prepared, cooked and presented feast, washed down with magnums of fine Bordeaux.
Leaving early the following morning in thick fog, the fabled “beauty of France” was a mystery, when suddenly as we descended our first major climb out of the clouds, Lyon and Provence beyond lay before us in a breathtaking vista.
Cutting across from Orange, the tour called into Crillon le Brave, which immediately sold its self as the definite must stay destination for the next tour. Its beautiful setting, relaxed ambiance and attention to detail were absolutely perfect. After an extended lunch looking across Provence and Mont Ventoux the tour pushed on to Monaco. Re-grouping at the Monaco exit of the motorway, the end was almost in sight with only an enormously fun drive down into Monte Carlo to go. With smoke pouring from the Sunbeams brakes the tour rolled into Casino Square at 22.00 – the first tour completed. All cars had done incredibly well, the Dino had been perfect, the Porsches’ engine sounded great, the Alpine had gone top down the entire route and hadn’t missed a beat. The 430 and new 911 felt perfectly at home, doing what they do best in their natural habitat.
There was definitely room for improvement and many opportunities to build on, however the concept and the RWD AUTO TOUR was a real living journey with enormous potential to evolve and be enjoyed by others in years to come.