Mr Brown’s toys: name game could stall new British sports car firm

Also: US clampdown on Google Glass drivers; PSA’s China deal


A new British-based sports car firm has sprung up, claiming to offer Ferrari levels of desire and performance for a six-figure price tag. So far, so typical of the many small sports-car makers which have sprung up and fallen back over the decades. For every Morgan and Ariel, there is a Lister or a Jensen.

This new company has, though, both some interesting pedigree and a potentially interesting problem. David Brown Automotive, says the eponymous businessman backing the company, will offer “a car that is iconic in its styling from the ’60s. It will take inspiration from a lot of cars, not just British. It will be a mix of Ferrari, Maserati, Aston Martin and Jaguar. They will all be brought together into what I think is a beautiful and cohesive style.”

The firm will not, at first, build its own car but will instead re-skin an existing model. That model is most likely to be a Jaguar, as David Brown has hired a company called the Envisage Group – a firm which already has strong Jaguar ties – to develop the car . The fact that the engine has already been confirmed as a supercharged 5.0-litre 567hp V8 only strengthens the likelihood of a Jag connection.

David Brown may well be the name of the founder of this new company but it is also famously the name of the multi-millionaire who made his fortune in tractors before buying Aston Martin in the 1950s and guiding that company through its most heady days of Bond-fueled fame. The DB initials in Aston’s model-naming system (DB5, DB6, DB9 etc) are taken from David Brown’s name and it is his portrait that sits alongside that of 1990s Aston boss Walter Hayes in the company boardroom.

Aston was officially unavailable for comment when we made contact, but it’s doubtful that it will be entirely sanguine about the use of the David Brown name by a rival car maker.

Ironically, this new David Brown also made his fortune in heavy-duty equipment: bulldozers and diggers rather than tractors, a concern he later sold to Caterpillar.

Google Glass drivers are breaking the law, say US police forces

A woman who was prosecuted by US authorities for wearing her high-tech Google Glasses while driving has had her case thrown out due to lack of evidence. Cecilia Abadie was stopped and ticketed by the California Highway Patrol for wearing the device while driving, but when the case came to court in San Diego, the judge decided that there was not enough evidence that the projector glasses had been actually switched on at the time.

Google Glass uses projection technology to create a postage stamp-sized image that appears to hover in front of your eyes and is currently at the cutting edge of “augmented reality” technology which allows you to access data over the internet and have it projected onto the object you’re looking at (for instance, pulling the best offers on a hotel as you stand in front of it). Obviously, such an item could potentially be deeply distracting behind the wheel, and police forces across America have been quick to say that they will clamp down on its usage.

Other Google Glass users have been warned that Abadie’s case being thrown out does not mean that they will get off scot-free. “Whether they get a warning or a ticket will be up to the individual officer,” said CNN in a report. “ Getting a charge dismissed will then be up to individual traffic court judges.”

PSA approves deals with China and France

PSA Peugeot Citroen has apparently approved a plan to sell a major stake in the firm to both Chinese car maker Dongfeng and the French government. According to a report in French newspaper Les Echos, both Dongfeng and the Élysée Palace would invest around €750 million for a 14 per cent stake each, while PSA would raise another €1.5 billion in capital with a rights issue. The Peugeot family will apparently also inject funds to maintain its holding at 14 per cent

Outgoing PSA chairman Phillipe Varin hopes to have the deal finalised by early February, at around the same time as he leaves the firm, and a €3 billion war chest would give incoming CEO Carlos Tavares a decent start as he seeks to turn both Peugeot and Citroen around from their recent disastrous sales slumps.