With the Christmas decorations packed away and “cheese and crackers for breakfast” banished for another year, 2023 is here. For the motoring enthusiast, it promises to be another momentous year, judging by the sheer volume of car meetings already held celebrating the New Year.
Sadly, we have to begin the year with the news that Ken Block has passed away at the age of 55 following an accident whilst snowmobiling near his home in Utah. Block created the “Gymkhana” video series, featuring astonishing stunts and wildly modified vehicles. He also competed in rally and rallycross, both in America and the WRC series plus other motor and extreme sports.
He was a regular visitor to the UK, featuring at Goodwood events and challenges on Top Gear – and always wreathed in clouds of tyre smoke whilst demonstrating a level of car control that bordered on the surreal. This was ably demonstrated at the launch of his all-electric 1400hp Audi S1 “Hoonitron” last year and he'd also planned to return to Pikes Peak in 2023 with his similarly powerful Porsche hill climbing monster.
A couple of paragraphs simply don't do justice to someone who created so much motoring entertainment and ground-breaking content for millions – a genuine 'influencer' before the term was widely coined.
New cars – and not a bad start to 2023
The year begins with a plethora of exciting new models, a farewell to a Blue Oval supercar and an “almost” farewell to one of the most incredible engines to be fitted to a motor car.
- Alfa Romeo has revealed its Giulia SWB Zagato Concept. Based on a shortened Giulia chassis and with bespoke styling evoking the SZ coupe of the late eighties, the aggressive coupe shares the 553hp turbocharged V6 of the saloon, promising scintillating performance. Only one has been made and it's already been snapped up by an unnamed collector for an undisclosed price.
- Whilst its C63 model has downsized to four cylinders, Mercedes' big brother S63 has been relaunched boasting V8 hybrid power and 791hp, powering the 2½ ton car to 60mph in 3.3 seconds. The model also features bespoke styling touches and a host of driving modes, enabling one to select differing levels of battery assistance.
- Ford's GT supercar bows out after six years with a model designated for track use only. Named the Mk.IV in homage to the 1967 Le Mans winner, the car features an extended chassis and bespoke engine which is said to produce almost 800hp. Track-orientated suspension, a new gearbox and all-new bodywork designed with track aerodynamics in mind complete the picture.
- Maserati's plan to phase out ICE powered cars has stepped up with the news that the MC20 Folgore will launch next year. Using the well-received MC20 as its base, it will be the third EV following the launch of the GranTurismo and Grecale EVs later this year. Maserati has stated that maintaining the MC20's driving dynamics will be a priority versus the inevitable weight gain but the MC20 is designed from the outset to accept both ICE and EV powertrains.
- Bugatti's mighty W16 quad-turbocharged engine ranks as one of the greatest ever made (certainly in sheer statistics – power, torque, number of radiators etc.) and as production winds down the firm has announced the one-off Chiron Profilée, which brings elements of the more extreme Pur Sport, including gear ratios and firmer suspension. The car also features an exclusive paint shade, named Argent Atlantique and unique leather interior trim. The car will be sold by RM Sotheby's at their Paris auction in February during Retromobile week and is expected to fetch around £8million, with a proportion of the sale price being donated to charity.
- The latest version of one of the most recognisable cars ever made (and unchanged in over half a century) has been revealed. Adding a carbon body and extruded aluminium chassis to an AC Cobra simply modernises this iconic silhouette and AC's Cobra GT Roadster will even add luxuries including electric windows and a radio if desired. Not a hint of a battery either, with over 660hp from its V8 and manual or automatic transmission available. The car is set for a Spring launch although prices have yet to be released.
Formula One and American royalty
As F1 fans continue their countdown to the first weekend of March, two of the best-known and respected names in the US motoring world have announced their intention to enter the sport.
Andretti Global, the family owned and run motorsport firm, currently competes across numerous formulae and announced early in 2022 that it planned to field a F1 entry. Coincidentally, the last team to enter the sport was another American entry, Haas, in 2016.
This is now confirmed as a partnership with GM under the Cadillac brand, with a team based in the US but with a European base. The phrase “All American” has been quoted, indicating that at least one driver will be from the USA. Andretti already fields a FormulaE team and Cadillac has submitted an entry to the WEC under the new LMDh class.
The plan still needs the approval of both the FIA and other teams and at the time of writing only two have confirmed their support publicly. There's also the small matter of the US$200million fee that any new team is required to pay.
2022 – a rollercoaster year
Sales of new cars enjoyed a resurgent end to the year, but the total for 2022 remained the lowest since the early nineties. Supply chain shortages were the chief driver, resulting in a 2% drop compared with 2021 and more than 700,000 units down on 2019, the last pre-pandemic year.*
December showed growth of 18%, with 181,000 vehicles made, leading the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders to look ahead into 2023 positively, with a projection of around 1.8million units. The EV market share has continued to increase, with full and hybrid electric cars accounting for just under 33% of December's total.
- All statistics provided by the SMMT January 2023
Meanwhile, Rolls Royce reported a milestone. The luxury manufacturer reports that it has exceeded 6,000 cars sold for the first time in its almost 120-year history. The growth was not restricted to a single territory either, with strong results from Europe to the USA, Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions, boding well for both the year(s) ahead and the transition to an EV-only range, as sales of the Spectre begin during the final part of 2023.
New Year Teasers
Sales projections aside, 2023 looks like it'll be another year of exciting new cars. We've picked out a handful that we're really looking forward to seeing – and, of course, arranging cover for when our clients buy them!
- Lamborghini's V12 Aventador replacement. We know it will be a hybrid and, if the spy shots are accurate, wide and loud – and hopefully slightly mad, as a Lamborghini should be.
- Ferrari will reveal its 812 replacement, with V12 power again and mounted in the front using the engine already seen in the Purosangue SUV.
- Staying with the V12 theme, Aston Martin will be showing updated versions towards the end of the year, including a new DB11. Happily, we won't have to wait as long for the DBS770 launch – a 749hp version to celebrate the final months of production.
- Mercedes will give us the next generation AMG GT; we know it will have V8 hybrid power but little else at this point.
- Porsche will bring us a midlife update of the 992 (and an expectation that a hybrid version may be added), electric Macan, Cayenne and an updated Taycan.
- Alfa Romeo has teased us with glimpses of its 8C replacement. Called (for now) the 6C, it's hinted to be closely related to the Maserati MC20, enabling the use of both ICE and EV powertrains. The final look remains under wraps but is said to bring in elements of Alfa's 60s and 70s racing cars – we really can't wait for this one!
- Lotus's very well received Emira will get the AMG powertrain – with 4 cylinders and 360hp. We think that the Lotus was one of 2022's best looking cars and the reports we've read indicate that this is backed up by the driving dynamics one expects from Lotus.
Lockton on the road
Our diary is filling up nicely for the year. We'll be returning to Gtechniq with both SCC Private Members Club and Lamborghini Club UK (when the weather's a bit more friendly!) and we will be visiting both the concours lawns and circuits as the club social scene unfolds.
We're starting to plan for Salon Privé too. August may be some months away but we want to raise the bar again for anyone visiting. Watch this space!
Buy cheap, buy twice
We know that many people buy their insurance on price. We also know that this doesn't always mean that the cover is the best available. At Lockton, we don't claim to be the cheapest and, in the coming months, we'll be publishing a series of articles explaining why that is.
You can find the first one here.