David Brown Automotive brings Speedback GT to the UAE
On his visit down to the UAE for the Dubai Motor Show, British serial-entrepreneur David Brown told us during a private dinner that he once went on a classic car road rally using a borrowed 1960s Ferrari Daytona. While that car was stunning to look at, he came to realise how uncomfortable and unreliable cars that old can be, and actually enjoyed driving a new Peugeot rental car more because of its modern conveniences. We tend to agree with his line of thinking. Classic-car ownership is not as glamourous as the media makes it out to be, although what David came up with as an alternative is much more agreeable in all but one aspect — a coach-built car with classic looks and modern features, which is great, but it’s priced almost at the level of a hypercar.
The Speedback GT is David Brown Automotive’s first and only product. David’s family used to build construction equipment and trucks in the past, so this is quite a different project, to take the Jaguar XKR convertible and convert it into a bespoke GT coupe, with styling inside and out inspired by 1960s GT cars such as the Aston Martin DB5.
As owners of an actual Jaguar XK, we could not find a single hint of the Jag in the Speedback’s custom exterior bodywork, hewn from aluminium by hand but using computer-aided technology, leading to some extraordinary work. There are no cut-lines between the two front fenders and the front-end for example, so it all looks like one seamless body panel even though several panels were welded together underneath the paint.
Other completely custom bits include the headlights, the more-upright windshield and windows, the chrome bumpers and tail lamps, the tailgate, and a bench that pops up from under the boot floor to act as a rear-facing chair. There are also a couple of choices for the wheels, either classic or modern, depending on the customer’s preference.
Inside, the car retains some of the Jaguar XK’s bits, such as the touchscreen, some of the switches, the steering wheel and the general shape of the dash, but it’s been all heavily modified, with custom leather, wood panels, a/c vents and even the seat-control switches. Apparently even the touchscreen software is modified.
While the car isn’t meant to be an all-out sports car, it still retains the XKR’s 500 hp 5.0-litre supercharged V8 as well as the suspension, so we already have an idea of how it drives even though we weren’t allowed to drive it. Needless to say, it can be hustled if so desired — not that any actual owner is going to push it, considering what they paid for it.
Which brings us back to the price. Each car costs the equivalent of Dhs 2.8 million, which is basically hypercar money, or about the same as two Rolls-Royce Wraiths. But only 100 are slated for the production run, of which only 4 have been built so far. With those kinds of numbers, it is unlikely that a Speedback GT owner will ever come across another one in front of the Burj Khalifa, although the car can apparently be serviced at any regular Jaguar dealership, alongside plebeians like us.
Photos by David Brown Automotive.