Tag Archives: Best of the Best

Report: 6 Hottest Collector Cars 2016

In recent years the classic car market outpaced all expectations to the point where a classic Ferrari built between 1955 and 1965 is literally worth roughly its weight in gold. For reference, a 1956 Ferrari 290 MM Spider (pictured above) weighs about 900kg and the price of gold per kg is roughly $34,000 (market rates December 29), which will become important to note in a moment. While you do the math on that one, just know that while vintage cars with the prancing horse on their hoods continue to command the highest premiums at public and private sales, trends and tastes are starting to change.

According to US-based classic car valuations and insurance company Hagerty, the market is starting to slow down, but that’s hardly surprising. In the US alone, a new record – $1.45 billion – for classic car spending was set over the course of 2015. And, $28,050,000 of that was spent on just one car, a 1956 Ferrari 290 MM Spider (Image credit: Ferrari – Flickr – Stradablog (3) by Tino Rossini from Toronto, Canada – Ferrari. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons). That made it the most expensive car to fall under the hammer this calendar year, and the entire top 10 for 2015 are also classic Ferraris, accounting for over 10% of all money paid for classics and collectibles over the period.

The world is running out of Ferraris to sell, and as a new generation of car collector comes of age, a noticeable change is starting to occur. “The market is still growing, but at a slower rate than we have witnessed in the past three years,” said McKeel Hagerty, CEO of Hagerty. “The notable exception is rapid growth among younger buyers who have entered the market and are exercising their buying power by spending on the poster cars of their youth.”

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A Porsche 911 S 2,7 from 1974. ©Porsche

As a result, prices paid for mid-1970s-era Porsche 911s has jumped 154% over the last year. There has been a 98% surge in value for that 1980s and early 90s supercar icon, the Ferrari Testarossa made famous by Miami Vice even though beyond its extravagant looks, it was considered a terrible car to drive.

The TV influence continues with the 1975-1985 Ferrari 308 GTS, the car made famous by Tom Selleck in his role as Magnum PI, with prices up 69%. Even the Lamborghini Diablo (built right up until 2001) has seen a price increase of 65%.

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The actual 1986 Ferrari Testarossa used in TV show ‘Miami Vice’ ©William Stern, Courtesy of Mecum Auctions

“A new era of later model performance cars from instantly recognizable brands have irrefutably proven that the term ‘collector car’ is not synonymous with ‘old car’,” continues Hagerty.

Nowhere is this more evident than with the first edition Aston Martin DB9. Despite still being in production as recently as 2009, prices have jumped 141% since the start of 2015, meaning that only the Porsche 911 has surged more in value in recent months.

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A 1985 Ferrari 308 GTS Quattrovalve. ©Silverston Auctions

Hagerty’s data, which is based on auctions, private sales as well as its own insurance policies, also shows that there has been a 17% increase in clients adding classics from the 1980s onwards to their existing policies while fewer than 3% have added additional cars built before 1980.

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A 1994 Lamborghini Diablo VT. ©Lamborghini

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A late 2003 edition Aston Martin DB9. ©Aston Martin Lagonda

Top 10 Destinations to Visit in 2016

The editors at travel magazine Afar have released their top picks for the destinations to visit in 2016, whether it be for the buzz they’re generating, for milestone anniversaries, or for being uncharted territory. We scoured a few other sources for a more complete picture but we will take Afar at its word on its selection.

Thanks to the AFP, here’s the top 10 list of where to go in 2016, in photos.

American Southwest

Topping their list is the American southwest (pictured above), home to Arches, Bryce, Zion, the Grand Canyon and Capitol Reef National Parks, many of which will host special events to help the US National Park Service fete their milestone centennial August 25. Want to understand the age of our planet? Nothing illustrates that quite like a hike all the way to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. There are of course too many resort options here to list but you will be able to max out on that loyalty program because all the big names are here.

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Nepal

Visits to Nepal stopped after a devastating earthquake flattened whole villages and killed 9,000 people back in April, also resulting in a 50 percent dip in tourism. Local experts say the area is secure and ready to accept visitors, whose dollars can likewise help fund relief efforts. Just flying in to Katmandu is exhilarating…and meeting the people who tough it out here is even more amazing than the view. Nepali luxury institution Dwarika’s has a number of options throughout these highlands.

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Tasmania

Say hello to the Iceland of 2016! Look out for this isolated island located south of Australia to generate some travel buzz next year with the new Three Capes Track, a 46-km, cliff-hugging hike across the remote, raw island that takes four days to complete. Likewise, look for new cruise lines to make Tasmania a new port of call, including Coral Expeditions. New luxury living options have been popping up in recent years anyway, of which Saffire Freycinet is probably the best known.

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Cuba

Since a diplomatic rapprochement between the US and Cuba helped ease travel restrictions to the island country, Cuba has been top of mind as a destination and 2016 will be no exception. Before mass tourism changes the face of the country, travelers may want to consider booking a trip to the Caribbean island over the next year. The usual suspects have yet to invest in a big way here but Royalton Resorts has a much-trumpeted Cuba option.

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Portugal

Editors point to Portugal’s dynamic food culture, river cruising, idyllic villages, beaches and thriving art scene as reasons to sidestep France and Spain for the country on the Iberian peninsula instead. Unlike Cuba, the Four Seasons, Ritz and such are all here, plus the lovely Corinthia in charming Lisbon. There are more interesting options highlighted by Mr & Mrs Smith, including the Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel and the Palacio Ramalhete in Lisbon, an old school grand affair.

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Granada, Nicaragua

Afar editors call Granada the “Portland” of Nicaragua for its burgeoning food scene with coffee tourism, and rise of new cafes. We assume this is a reference to Portland, Oregon, not Maine because it is the former city that is much in vogue today. Tiny Granada offers easy half-day trips to Las Islets in Lake Nicaragua or the Mombacho Volcano but like Cuba, it too lacks a plethora of upmarket choices. Then again, this is part of the appeal. For low-density appeal the Tribal Hotel earns top marks, recommended by Conde Naste Traveller.

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Mongolia

No doubt about it, Mongolia in 2016 is the Mongolia of 2014 and 2015… Ok so the arrival of luxury hotel brand Shangri-La appears to have sparked high-end interest but a simple google search reveals so many options already available. We don’t know what sparked things off here but this formerly remote location is now being eyed by affluent adventure seekers looking to explore (relatively) uncharted territory expedition-style.

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East Africa

The recent opening of the Victoria Falls International Airport is expected to provide a major boost to tourism in Zimbabwe, where political stability and the opening of a slew of new resorts help give the country a leading edge as a safari and travel destination. The grand old Victoria Falls Hotel is still one of the best spots in the country though, for those familiar with iconic African hotels. Similarly, more and more luxury safari camps are setting up tent in Tanzania.

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Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

This was truly a surprise pick as Cabo’s charms – or lack thereof – are well known. The tourist hotspot famous for its college frat parties is apparently trying to recast itself as a luxury destination. Affluent holidaymakers may want to check out the Baja Peninsula which has seen the opening of top resorts and luxury brands, such as Villa Las Palmas and Grand Solmar land’s End Resort & Spa (both endorsed by Travel & Leisure).

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Ireland

The luck of the Irish recurs frequently as this island regularly finds its way onto such lists. In 2016, take advantage of some of the recently launched travel services including the Belmond Grand Hibernian, a luxury rail trip that departs from Dublin and shuttles guests towards Belfast, Cork, Galway and Limerick. In the coming year, specialist travel agents will also launch boat tours and flying tours of the Emerald Isle.

3 New Restaurants Making News in 2015

There were a number of prestigious restaurant openings this year that were highly anticipated by the foodie community across the globe. Let’s take a look at three restaurants that had a major impact.

The Fat Duck, Bray, UK

The reopening of Heston Blumenthal’s three-Michelin-starred restaurant was highly anticipated. The English chef had gone off to Australia for six months for some culinary experimentation. His restaurant in Bray, which is west of London, finally reopened its doors in September. This brand new Fat Duck serves dishes such a snail porridge and crab ice cream to fine dining fans who are used to the bespectacled chef’s unusual recipes. The menu offers a culinary experience based on the chef’s childhood memories. Reservations should be made online at the restaurant’s website.

High Street, Bray, West Berkshire SL6 2AQ, UK

StreetXo, London, UK

Spanish chef David Munoz exported his famous fusion restaurant StreetXo for the first time in 2015. He chose London as the second location for his tapas bar which serves his unique version of street food. Munoz, who has won three Michelin stars for his DiverXo restaurant, does not intend to stop there, as he also plans to open a third StreetXo in New York.

15 Old Burlington Street, Mayfair, London, UK

Dominique Ansel

This French pastry chef, who is a superstar in New York, was extremely busy in 2015. He opened a mini-restaurant, called U.P., within his West Village store, which itself only began operating this year, following on from his first outlet in Soho. Dominique Ansel’s popularity has been built on the Cronut, a half-croissant, half-donut. New Yorkers have fallen in love with the Cronut, and are prepared to spend hours waiting to buy the first ones out of the oven in the morning. In his mini-restaurant, the chef offers a menu of sweet dishes inspired by various emotions. Some are trompe-l’œil creations that look like savory dishes, but aren’t. The menu costs $85 and the wine pairing is $35. Reservations are made online. You’ll need to book well ahead as the restaurant only has space for eight people.

137 7th Ave S, New York, NY 10014, USA

7 Contenders for Top Euro Car 2016

The Internet loves lists and the year-end period is full of them. This one in particular caught our eye, with two of our favorites – the BMW 7 Series and the Jaguar XE – making the cut. Behold the shortlist of nominees for European Car of the year 2016, released ahead of the awards ceremony on February 29 at the 2016 Geneva Motorshow. The AFP is right to note that this year’s pack is one of the most competitive in recent times.

There are many car of the year awards around the world but what makes the European event so noteworthy is that it represents the oldest, most mature, diverse and demanding of all automotive markets (North American car enthusiasts, register your complaints with the AFP).

Well, to be fair, it is an especially strong pack of contenders this year and crucially, there’s a very strong chance that the winner could be crowned car of the year for the very first time. Only two shortlisted manufacturers – Audi and Opel/Vauxhall – are former winners. Believe it or not, BMW has never won the top prize…

Audi A4

The latest generation car builds on the foundations of the last A4. It’s not overly aggressive to look at and it’s competent, rather than exciting to drive. But where it impresses is in comfort and refinement and that all-round sense of well-being that’s needed to stand out alongside the latest BMWs and Mercedes.

BMW 7 Series

Despite being runner up on numerous occasions, BMW has never won the ultimate prize. Even though the 7 Series sets new benchmarks for driving dynamics and tech in the highest echelons of the executive sedan sector, the fact that it is such a premium vehicle may count against it. Nevertheless, it is the first car that can be remotely parked via its key fob and has a very clever transmission that uses GPS to automatically pick the right gear to suit the road ahead. The luster of this series is precisely why it is one of our favorites.

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Jaguar XE

Lightweight (check out that almost-all-aluminum body), economical – so much so that it leads the class – and engaging to drive, this is one of the best Jaguars in years and certainly the most complete sedan. Even the infotainment and active safety features are on a par with the best from Germany and Japan.

Mazda MX-5

Despite changing trends and tastes, Mazda has never been tempted to tamper with the MX-5’s recipe. The latest generation is just as much fun to drive as the original car and is just as easy to live with.

2016 MX-5 Club (PRNewsFoto/Mazda North American Operations)

Opel/Vauxhall Astra

With the Astra, a huge dose of premium German quality has been injected into the mass-market family hatchback sector dominated by the Ford Focus and VW Golf. Sharp lines, good looks, full web connectivity and concierge service all come as standard.

Skoda Superb

If the Skoda emblems were hidden, it would be very easy to convince drivers that they were getting behind the wheel of a BMW or an Audi. The Superb really does live up to its name in terms of comfort, rear passenger space, quality and even exterior styling.

Volvo XC90

Like the 7 Series, the XC90’s price might put it out of the running as affordability is a criterion of the judging panel. However, this is the safest car currently on sale at any price and one of the most comfortable. It is also proof that making an off-roader that’s as elegant as it is robust is not a trait exclusive to Land Rover’s flagship Range Rover.

Volvo XC90

Destination Fine Dining 2016: Europe and Japan

The Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville in Crissier, Switzerland (1st), Guy Savoy in Paris (2nd), El Celler de Can Roca in Spain (3rd), Osteria Francescana in Italy (4th) … Europe accounts for no less than 462 out of the 1000 restaurants in “La Liste”. It is a tad controversial of course, as previously reported and revisited here.

From New York to Melbourne, foodies the world over waited with bated breath on December 17 for the announcement of the 1000 best restaurants in the world. This project was initiated by Atout France, a body that promotes French tourism, and was unveiled by the French Foreign Ministry. The aim is clear: to provide the most objective ranking possible. To achieve this, an algorithm was created which factored in the ratings of around 200 restaurant guides from 48 countries. There was therefore no restaurant critic or voting involved in creating this “Liste“.

The ranking is setting itself up as an alternative to the “World’s 50 Best” list of restaurants compiled by the UK’s “Restaurant” magazine, which includes few French chefs. In France, this list has been criticized for a lack of transparency. And while experts do not disagree about taking French gastronomy off its pedestal, they do not believe that its quality is at such a level as only to appear in a very limited way in the “50 Best” ranking.

Massimo Bottura, owner and chef at Italian restaurant Osteria Francescana attends the 2012 World's 50 Best Restaurants awards at the Guildhall in London on April 30, 2012. AFP PHOTO/CARL COURT / AFP / CARL COURT

Massimo Bottura, owner and chef at Italian restaurant Osteria Francescana attends the 2012 World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards at the Guildhall in London on April 30, 2012. AFP PHOTO/CARL COURT

Delicious delights in Italy

“La Liste” includes 26 restaurants in France in its top hundred. The ones towards the top are Guy Savoy (4th), Michel Troisgros (Maison Troisgros 8th), Gilles Goujon (L’Auberge du Vieux Puits 9th), Emmanuel Renaut (Flocon de Sel 12th), Michel Guérard (Les Prés d’Eugénie 13th), Pierre Gagnaire (16th). None of these restaurants were included in the “World’s 50 Best.”

This new ranking also restores the prestige of another land of gastronomic delights: Italy. The two lists agree on the inimitable Osteria Francescana and its chef Massimo Bottura (2nd on the “World’s 50 Best” and 18th on “La Liste”). But the limited Italian presence on the British list suggests that Italian cuisine is not what it was. “La Liste” takes the opposite view, with no less than 11 restaurants (in the top 100), including Dal Pescatore à Canneto Sull’Oglio with its Michelin-starred chef Nadia Santini. Spain is the third best represented country in the top 100, with 9 representatives including El Celler de Can Roca, which was the winner of the 2015 “50 Best.”

The clearest disagreement involves the Danish restaurant which has been nicknamed “the best restaurant in the world,” having topped the “Restaurant” list four times. The announcement of “La Liste” has upset the hierarchy as it does not put René Redzepi’s Noma in the top hundred, but rather in 217th place.

Japan is the challenger

There was an expectation that Japan would be one of the most represented countries on “La Liste.” The rumors proved to be true. Twenty-two Japanese restaurants were awarded a place in the top 100 alone. Kyo Aji obtained third place just ahead of the first French restaurant (Guy Savoy, 4th). These two cuisines each have three representatives in the top 10. So they were neck-and-neck. But in the full list of 1000 restaurants Japan obtained 127 places, compared with 118 for France, 101 for the US, 69 for China and 52 for Spain.

Edition 2 Million Land Rover sets Auction Record

Was there ever any doubt that the unique Land Rover Defender would sell for an incredibly high price at Bonhams on December 16? Expectations were certainly high but by the time the hammer fell on Wednesday night, the Defender came through, raising £400,000 (US$598,440) including buyer’s premium. To add a little perspective on that, that princely sum is enough to buy a Ferrari and a Bentley and have enough change left over for a Porsche 911, or, for the more adventurous, 17 standard Land Rovers.

However you slice it, the sale makes Edition 2 Million, built to mark the end of the iconic Defender’s production in January – after 67 years – the most expensive as well as the most exclusive production Land Rover ever to be sold at auction.

Robert Brooks, Bonhams Chairman, said: “It’s a great privilege for Bonhams to have been selected by Land Rover to offer this historically significant, one-of-a-kind Defender at auction. Following spirited bidding, the gavel finally fell to a delighted bidder on the telephone, achieving an excellent six-figure sum for two wonderful charitable causes.”

Mike Adamson, Chief Executive of The British Red Cross said: “We are extremely grateful to Land Rover for so generously donating half the proceeds of the sale of this one-off vehicle towards our work in Nepal. The Red Cross has used Defenders in humanitarian work and relief efforts in the UK and around the world since the early 1950s and has benefited from Land Rover’s support on many occasions through vehicle donations and loans. This vitally important project in Nepal – the 18th supported by Land Rover – will improve the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people and communities.”

Edition 2 Million was designed by Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division and features a number of unique, bespoke details including a map of Red Wharf Bay engraved into the aluminum fender. This beach is where, with the aid of a long stick, the sketch for the very first Land Rover was made.

Inside, the image is repeated as embroidery on the black leather seats and a special dashboard plaque denotes the car’s bespoke credentials.

But what truly sets the vehicle apart from other Defenders is that it was put together with help from the company’s ambassadors. Adventurers, entrepreneurs, members of the charities that depend on it, plus Stephen and Nick Wilks, sons of the founders of Land Rover, helped to assemble the vehicle’s parts on its Solihull, Birmingham production line.

As such, it’s a fitting tribute to what is regarded as the world’s first true SUV. Once production ceases in January, there will be a huge hole in the Land Rover lineup. A replacement for the Defender is on its way, but development is proving challenging. After all, how do you replace an icon?

Bentley Wins 18 Awards in 2015

With oil prices seemingly on an endless slide and, on the flipside, an increasingly visible commitment from automakers to moving away from the black stuff, it is indeed a good time for motoring. Volkswagen’s unfortunate dishonesty aside, the news from carmakers worldwide has been uplifting and encouraging recently. Bentley, a Volkswagen-owned firm, has been having a particularly bright moment, what the delivery of the first Bentayga and now this announcement that it has racked up no less than 18 awards this year, in markets as diverse as USA, Russia and China, as well as its home market of the UK.

Four different models, spanning the full range of Bentley’s family, received plaudits across three continents in 2015. The most celebrated model? The Flying Spur of course, which claimed six prizes.

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In the UK, for example, readers of the Daily Telegraph voted it the ‘Best Luxury Car’. Judges praised the Flying Spur for being “as enjoyable to drive as it is to be chauffeured in,” which is serious praise indeed; typically the fun factor of cars built for backseat lounging tends to drop dramatically once you get behind the wheel.

The world’s fastest road-going luxury sedan was also well received in Russia this year, with awards including Auto Goda’s ‘Car of the Year’ and Klaxon magazine’s  Golden Klaxon both emphasizing the Flying Spur’s unparalleled luxury and refinement.

Bentley’s pinnacle flagship Mulsanne Speed, meanwhile, was crowned ‘Best of the Best – Luxury Sedan’ by Robb Report. The world’s “fastest, ultra-luxury driving experience” was praised for its “superior performance and limitless customization possibilities”.

Bentley Claims Record Number Of Awards In 2015 (2)-r50

Below is the full list of awards the Crewe-based firm has racked up in 2015.

AwardAwarding BodyWinnerRegion
Industrial Excellence Award – EuropeIndustrial Excellence for ManufacturingBentley Motors LtdUK
Best Luxury CarThe TelegraphFlying SpurUK
Best of the Best – Luxury SedanRobb ReportMulsanne SpeedUSA
Best of the Best – ConvertibleRobb ReportContinental GT Speed ConvertibleUSA
Luxury Car of the YearDigital TrendsContinental GT Speed ConvertibleUSA
Best Suite at Golden Key Awards – The St Regis Hotel IstanbulBoutique Design Trade Fair NYBentley Suite at The St Regis IstanbulUSA
Top rated SedanEdmunds Testing TeamFlying SpurUSA
Design Award for Concept Cars and PrototypesVilla d’Este Concorso d’EleganzaEXP 10 Speed 6Italy
Golden KlaxonKlaxon magazineFlying Spur V8Russia
Car of the YearAuto GodaFlying SpurRussia
German Design Award – TransportationGerman Design CouncilEXP 10 Speed 6Germany
Car of the YearLocal Car of the Year Committee KazakhstanFlying SpurKazakhstan
Most Beautiful AutomobileCar and DriverEXP 10 Speed 6China
China’s foremost luxury brands – Best of BestGa Fencu Men MagazineBentleyChina
Car of the YearAuto Industry ProfessionalsFlying Spur V8China
Car of the YearCar MagazineContinental GT3-RChina
Middle East Car of the Year – Large Luxury SedanMiddle East Car of the Year AwardsMulsanne SpeedMiddle East
Best Large Luxury SedanArab Wheels AwardsMulsanne SpeedMiddle East

Bentley Claims Record Number Of Awards In 2015 (1)-r50

Bentley Claims Record Number Of Awards In 2015 (3)-r50

World’s Best for Seven Years: Etihad Airways

The World Travel Awards has crowned Etihad Airways as “World’s Leading Airline” for the seventh year in a row. When this news floated down to us via the AFP, it was like that moment Sebastian Vettel won his fourth F1 championship, or Michael Schumacher winning his seventh. There is something fatiguing about such overwhelming dominance and in this case, perhaps even a failure of the imagination.

To use another analogy, this reminds us of Restaurant Magazine choosing elBulli as best in the world five times – even then it was not five years running. Ok, Etihad had those gorgeous Nicole Kidman ads and the private apartments for First Class on the A380 are amazing. In fact, that is probably why, as reported previously, Etihad is also a major winner here. Thankfully, the overall winner there was a surprise.

In other news from the WTA awards, held this year in Morocco, Saudi Arabia’s Al Faisaliah Suites claimed the double honor of ‘World’s Leading Luxury Suites Hotel’ and ‘World’s Leading Hotel Penthouse’, while InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort was recognized as the ‘World’s Leading Luxury Resort’.

The Las Vegas Strip won the title of ‘World’s Leading Tourist Attraction and the Cornelia Diamond Golf Resort & Spa was named ‘World’s Leading Fully Integrated Resort’.

WTA was established in 1993 to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the tourism industry.

For the full list of winners, go visit this website.

Air New Zealand

World’s Best Airline 2016: Air New Zealand

For the third year in a row, Air New Zealand has been proclaimed the world’s best airline, overall, in a ranking that looks at safety ratings and innovations in passenger comfort. Etihad Airways steals the show for First Class Service in particular.

For the 2016 edition of their annual awards, editors at Airlineratings.com named New Zealand’s flagship carrier the best in the world, citing its operational safety, in-flight innovations, environmental record, and motivated staff as reasons for their choice.

“Put simply Air New Zealand remains the industry leader and a textbook case of what an airline should be in today’s intensely competitive market,” said editor-in-chief Geoffrey Thomas in a statement.

Some of the innovations praised include Airband, a bracelet for unaccompanied minors that allows parents to follow their child’s journey. The tracking device is scanned by staff who send text message notifications when the child is boarding, when the flight has landed, and when they’ve met their designated pick-up person.

The airline also generated buzz when it launched a new feature on its app allowing frequent flyers with access to the Koru lounge in Auckland to pre-order their coffee from their phone.

Rounding out the top three spots on the list are Qantas Airways and Etihad Airways.

Flyers who expect to make a long-haul trip may also want to consult editors’ picks, which this year include Delta Airlines for the Americas; Lufthansa for Europe, Etihad Airways for the Middle East and Africa, and Cathay Pacific Airways for Asia-Pacific.

In the category of low-cost airline, editors chose Virgin America for the Americas; Norwegian for Europe; Kulula.com for Africa and the Middle East and Scoot for Asia/Pacific.

Here are a few other winners in various categories:

Best cabin crew: Virgin Atlantic

Best in-flight entertainment: Singapore Airlines

Best catering: Qantas

Best first class service: Etihad

Best economy: Air New Zealand

Here are the top 10 international airlines for 2016 according to Airlineratings.com:

  • 1 Air New Zealand
  • 2 Qantas Airways
  • 3 Etihad Airways
  • 4 Cathay Pacific Airways
  • 5 Singapore Airlines
  • 6 Emirates
  • 7 EVA air
  • 8 Virgin Atlantic/Virgin Australia
  • 9 All Nippon Airways
  • 10 Lufthansa

6 Supercars We Can’t Wait to See in 2016

Tis the season for incredible automotive news… Here are the six supercars – some could even be called hyper – that we can’t wait to cover next year. From Aston Martin to Lamborghini, 2016 promises to be a bumper year for very, very fast and very, very exclusive cars. Unfortunately, Bugatti, Ferrari and Lamborghini have not even given us photographic hints of what’s coming so you’ll have to use your imagination on those. The AFP have supplied the story with the best authorized images available.

Ford GT

It’s not often that the Blue Oval is mentioned in the same breath as Ferrari or Aston Martin, but 2016 is when the new Ford GT (pictured above) will officially break cover. Strictly limited to 250 examples a year and potentially as few as 1,000 examples over its entire life cycle, the mid-engine carbon-fiber racer outputs 600hp yet boasts a relatively tiny 3.5-liter V6 engine, albeit one with two huge turbochargers making up for displacement issues.

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Aston Martin DB11

After the huge publicity campaign around the current Bond film, Spectre, Aston will be hoping it’s done enough to get its fans and its detractors ready for the potential shock of the DB11, which will ditch many of the outgoing DB9’s lines in favor of something more aggressive and, hopefully, faster. The pressure on the company to deliver something that can go toe-to-toe with Porsche and Ferrari has never been greater but the company’s confidence suggests that the new car could be something special.

Bugatti Chiron

The VW-owned hypercar marque has confirmed that the Veyron’s replacement is coming in March and that it will be called the Chiron. And despite being a seriously tough act to follow, the company has promised that it will reset all of the speed and performance benchmarks the Veyron set – so a car that can go from 0-100 in under 2.4 seconds and on to a speed in excess of 431km/h.

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Ferrari FF

The company’s only true GT car, the four-seat FF, will be the focus of a major mid-life upgrade and it is expected to make its debut at this year’s Geneva motor show in March. As well as external nips and tucks there are rumors that it will be getting a turbocharged V8 engine as an option alongside the existing V12 power-plant.

Lamborghini Centenario

To mark what would have been founder Ferruccio Lamborghini’s 100th birthday, the eccentric supercar company is planning a very special model. Described as the most technologically advanced vehicle ever to carry the raging bull badge, the car — most likely to be called the Centenario — is expected to combine all of the best elements of the Huracan with all of the drama and power of its big brother, the Aventador. However, all will be revealed in Geneva in March.

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Honda/Acura NSX

After some development complications, the NSX will be going on sale in 2016 and it will be the first affordable hybrid supercar. It will offer similar technological sophistication to that found in the McLaren P1 and Porsche 918 Spider and comparable performance, although it will be less than a third of the price. Expect demand to outstrip supply for at least the first year of production.

Food Fight: La Liste vs World’s 50 Best Restaurants

This haute cuisine battle has spent an age in the slow cooker and its flavors are just coming through… The World’s 50 Best Restaurants guide has been dismissed by many critics as “silly” nonsensical “schmozzle” that promotes chemistry-set cooking but love it or hate it there is no getting away from it. Until now that is.

Exasperated by the growing power of the British-based classification, which has long been accused of sticking the knife into French cuisine, Paris has decided to strike back with a list of its own.

La Liste claims to be the first authoritative ranking of the world’s 1,000 most “exceptional restaurants”, compiled from a rigorous mathematical analysis of hundreds of guide books and online reviews. Here’s what its algorithm, Ciacco, has determined are the 10 best in the world.

1 Restaurant de l’Hotel de Ville, Crissier, Switzerland

2 Per Se, New York

3 Kyo Aji, Tokyo

4 Guy Savoy, Paris

5 Schloss Schauenstein, Furstenau, Switzerland

6 El Celler de Can Roca, Girona, Spain

7 Kyubei, Tokyo

8 Maison Troisgros, Roanne, France

9 Auberge du Vieux Puits, Fontjoncouse, France

10 Joel Robuchon, Tokyo

Its organizers could not resist a swipe at their rivals much-criticized “opacity” as they trumpeted their own “fair and transparent methodology” when their revealed their top 10 restaurants Saturday, five days ahead of publishing their full list.

“La Liste is designed to be an aggregator, a ‘best of the best’, modeled on the world tennis rankings, the Shanghai Ranking for universities and Rotten Tomatoes film reviews website,” they declared in a statement.

No French in top 10

While not a single French restaurant makes the top 10 of the 50 Best list – long dominated by the kind of “molecular gastronomy” pioneered by the Catalan chef Ferran Adria of elBulli fame – La Liste has three.

In fact half of its top 10 are run by French chefs, including Benoit Violier who is at the helm its top-rated Restaurant de L’Hotel de Ville at Crissier in Switzerland. It ranks 88th in the 50 Best.

The only place to make the top 10 of both classifications is the Celler de Roca in the Spanish city of Girona. But La Liste’s founder Philippe Faure, the head of the French tourist board, denied it was an exercise in culinary chauvinism.

“Only 116 of the 1,000 restaurants are French, so you can’t say it is a French list,” he said. “Japan has 11 more than France, and the US is not far behind. It’s a very diverse list.”

While he admitted that the idea had come from the French foreign ministry, he claimed it had not “received a penny of public funding”, relying instead on sponsors including Moet and Hennessy and Nestle France.

Jorg Zipprick, the German journalist who crunched its numbers, said La Liste was as impartial as a computer algorithm could be. “It is such a brilliantly simple idea to put together review data from all over the world — we had to do it before someone else did.”

If there is any “culinary nationalism” at play, La Liste points the finger at its competitor, citing rows over its promotion of the new wave of British chefs and those from countries like Peru with which it has built commercial partnerships.

50 Best is ‘fair’

Despite the controversies, 50 Best has turned the stuffy conventions of fine dining on its head since it first appeared in 2002, making previously obscure Scandinavian chefs into global stars, and lichen – once the nibble of choice for foraging reindeer — into a delicacy.

But from the start it had as many haters as fans. It even sparked a protest group, Occupy 50 Best, which railed against its “opaque, obsequious ranking, where nationalism trumps quality, sexism trumps diversity and the spotlight is on the celebrity chef.”

Worse still, the Paris-based group accused the list’s perennial favorites – the Danish restaurant Noma, elBulli and the Fat Duck near London – of sending “hundreds of diners home sick” when their experimental cuisine went wrong.

Noma, voted the world’s best restaurant four times by 50 Best, is rated only 217th by La Liste.

French chef Joel Robuchon, a former 50 Best judge, said the British-based list was prone to “cronyism, ‘flip a coin’ voting, geopolitical influence and lobbying.”

Of course, he is in La Liste’s top 10.

William Drew, editor of the 50 Best hit back strongly at its critics, claiming it was far more transparent than in the past. “We have worked very hard to make it as fair and democratic as possible. We refute the accusations of nationalism. Ours is a genuinely global list based on the views of nearly 1,000 experts, with the vote audited by accountancy firm Deloitte.

“We are not linked to any country or government,” he added in a dig at La Liste.

“I don’t know anything about their much-vaunted algorithm… but you have to ask the question about the number of French restaurants and French chefs in their top 10. Of course French cuisine is hugely important but it is very strange that a list rated by a council set up by the French government should be headed by so many French chefs.”

Janis Joplin Porsche

Record Sale for Joplin’s Psychedelic Porsche

The world’s most famous psychedelic Porsche is now also the world’s most expensive 356 model. The convertible driven by late rock legend Janis Joplin demolished estimates to sell for nearly US$1.8 million in New York December 10 in a frenetic five-minute bidding war, according to auction house RM said.

The custom-painted 356C 1600 Cabriolet model, dating back to 1964 and which had never left the Joplin family, tripled its highest pre-sale estimate of $600,000 in a five-minute sale peppered with applause. The excitement for the sale was palpable even in the lead-up, as we noted in an earlier story.

Joplin — who sang “Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes-Benz” — forked out for the Porsche but decided its original white finish too dull.

She had it painted red with a mural that included images of butterflies and jellyfish, as well as of Joplin and her band.

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The auctioneer opened bidding at $300,000 before a packed room in New York with RM Sotheby’s staff manning a bank of phones. In seconds, the price jumped to $600,000.

A ripple of applause broke out when bidding reached $1 million and again at $1.6 million. In just five minutes the car was sold, for $1.76 million, including buyer’s premium.

“Janis Joplin’s 356C is without question one of the most important Porsches of all time,” said Ian Kelleher, managing director of RM Sotheby’s West Coast Division, announcing the sale earlier this year.

“It’s a fantastic automobile that transcends art, pop culture and social movements, and is as groundbreaking and stunning as the renowned singer was herself.”

Joplin constantly drove the car, which was parked outside the Hollywood hotel where she died of an overdose in 1970.

The Porsche has since belonged to Joplin’s family, which lent it to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, where it was on display from 1995 until the family decided to sell it.

It was one of the star lots in the Driven by Disruption auction of sports cars at Sotheby’s in New York.

Handwerkskunst: A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Tourbillon

A new tourbillon wristwatch from German fine watchmaking stalwarts A. Lange & Söhne is not news, in itself. However, the Glashütte-based collectors’ favorite is introducing this complication with a stop-seconds and zero-reset function in a Handwerkskunst edition. As far as we know, this is the first time such functions have coexisted in a tourbillon wristwatch and it is certainly a first in the Handwerkskunst vein; the Handwerkskunst editions have been ongoing since 2011 and the 1815 Tourbillon was introduced in 2014. Basically, this will be the only tourbillon that can be both stopped and have its seconds hand reset to zero in the world, allowing users to set their watches accurately to within one second.

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This actually speaks to what we like about this timepiece because it is, first and foremost, a deeply personal treasure. Sure there is very large tourbillon at 6 o’clock (occupying a third of the dial) but apart from that, everything that makes this watch amazing will be known only to the wearer (and the faithful of A. Lange & Söhne of course). From the delicate hand-finishing on the movement – even beneath the dial where no one can see it – to the case and dial, this is a pleasure reserved for the wearer (and anyone he chooses to share it with). On that note, it is also an intensely masculine watch, with that dark dial ( a result of a rhodium treatment on the rose gold material) and somewhat hefty 11mm case height.

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This new 39.5mm rose gold watch will be introduced to the world properly at the Salon International de la haute Horlogerie (SIHH) in January 2016. Limited to just 30 pieces, this fifth Handwerkskunst watch features a hand-engraved caseback and rhodiumized rose gold dial. On the dial, the engraving technique used is tremblage, which creates a fine grained texture; it is our understanding that every grain here is effectively individually crafted so just imagine how hard the finishing team worked on it! From the pictures, we see that this contrasts nicely with the hand-polished polished elements in relief, including the logo and numerals.

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Specs

  • Dimensions: 39.5mm x 11.1mm
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds
  • Power reserve: 72 hours
  • Movement: Mechanical, manual-winding, hand-assembled and decorated, calibre L102.1
  • Water resistance: NA
  • Material: Rose gold, with hand-stitched alligator strap (deployant buckle)
  • Limited to 30 pieces
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World’s Largest Saint Laurent Opens in Japan

Now this is a proper flagship-type store. Tokyo is now home to the largest Saint Laurent store in the world – bigger even than your average penthouse. Spanning 929 square meters (10,000 square feet), the newly opened store along the Omotesando strip is designed to be minimalist with black marble, glass, brass and black leather, and carries Saint Laurent’s full line of ready-to-wear, leather goods and accessories for men and women, reports WWD.

To commemorate the opening, the store will be selling limited-edition Saint Laurent surfboards designed with Los Angeles-based artist Lucia Ribisi. Only 10 are available throughout the world at a price of US$6,615.

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Saudi Arabia to build world’s tallest tower

When completed, Jeddah tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, will be the world’s tallest tower at a full one kilometer high. Plans to build the tower are forging ahead after funds for the final phase of the US$2.2 billion project were secured earlier this week.

The Middle East is set, once more, to become home to another record-breaking feat of architecture and engineering with the completion of the Jeddah Tower (previously called the Kingdom Tower), which will soar above the cloud line at 3,280 feet. When completed, this tower will eclipse the current title-holder, the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai by 173 meters (568 feet).

Earlier this week the Saudi government announced that a financing deal between the developer, the Jeddah Economic Company, and Alinma Investment had been signed, giving the project the final green light.

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Set to open in the port city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the tower will be a mixed-use building and feature a seven-storey Four Seasons hotel with 200 rooms; seven storeys of office space; 121 serviced apartments; 318 different types of housing units; and the world’s highest observatory at 660 meters above ground.

Inspired by its desert surroundings, the tower, designed by designers Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, is meant to evoke the “folded fronds of a young desert plant” shooting up from the ground.

The idea is to represent new life, and new development around the record-breaking project.

Servicing the 170 storeys, however, requires a sophisticated elevator system. A total of 59 elevators, five double-deck elevators, and 12 escalators will help visitors move about the monster building. Elevators that shuttle visitors to the observatory will travel at a rate of 10 meters per second.

And the sky terrace, which will open on the 157th floor, will open out into the clouds from the penthouse floor.

Construction of the first 26 floors is complete.

Meanwhile, the Jeddah Tower forms part of a larger project, Jeddah Economic City, a modern community that will span 5.3 million square meters and serve as a business and tourism hotspot.

The waterfront district will feature a luxury shopping mall, luxury hotels, open spaces, residential and business areas and a seaside promenade.

The Jeddah Tower is set for completion in 2020.

Audi scoops five ‘Auto Trophy’ awards

The world’s car fans have spoken: Four of Audi’s cars have been voted best in class and the company’s automotive design the best in the world.

Collecting one of the five awards at the ceremony November 24, Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of Audi AG, said: “We are truly delighted at the readers’ decision, which confirms we are offering highly attractive automobiles with top design in every segment. On that basis, we can also be confident about the continuing success of the Audi model initiative.”

Among its awards, voted on by readers of all car-related publications and web portals owned by the Bauer Media Group, Audi scooped best compact car, best full-size SUV and best supercar for its R8, as well as the top design accolade.

Hosted by German motoring magazine, Auto Zeitung, Audi usually performs well at the awards ceremony, thanks to home advantage. However, what made this year’s wins impressive was that it was the first time in the Auto Trophy’s 28-year history that voting was opened up to car fans globally.

Best ski resort 2015: Austria’s Kitzbuehel

Austrian ski resort Kitzbuehel has dethroned France’s Val Thorens to be named the world’s best ski resort 2015. At the third annual World Ski Awards, the host of the ceremony was given the coveted title Saturday at a gala event that aims to highlight the best in the industry.

Located 95 km from Innsbruck, Kitzbuehel boasts a 120-year-old skiing tradition and features 170 km of slopes including the Streif, one of the most famous and challenging downhill ski race tracks for its high-speed jumps, steep slopes, curves, compressions and bumps.

The ski area also features 50 gondolas and lifts, 120 km of cross country ski trails, and 155 days of guaranteed snow from December through to April.

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Visitors can choose between rustic Tyrolean guesthouses, or five-starred hotels in town. Likewise, medieval streets are dotted with international designer boutiques for the well-heeled.

Meanwhile, Utah’s only Forbes Five-Star, AAA Five-Diamond hotel, the Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley took home the title of World’s Best Ski Hotel this year, a ski hotel styled after European winter getaways.

Named after Norwegian Olympic Gold Medal skier Stein Eriksen, the lodge mixes Nordic elements with contemporary American esthetics within its 180 rooms or suites and features 145 stone fireplaces and cathedral ceilings.

The World Ski Awards are an offshoot of the World Travel Awards which has been described as the Oscars of the travel world.

Winners are determined by votes cast by key players in the ski industry — executives, travel buyers, tour operators, agents and media — as well as ski tourism consumers. Kitzbuehel managed to knock France’s Val Thorens from the top spot which it had held onto for the first two years.

Votes are cast by professionals working within the ski industry — senior executives, travel buyers, tour operators, agents and media — and by the public (ski tourism consumers).

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Here are the major winners of the World Ski Awards 2015:

  • World’s Best Ski Resort 2015: Kitzbuehel, Austria
  • World’s Best Ski Hotel: Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley, USA
  • World’s Best New Ski Hotel: Nira Montana
  • World’s Best Ski Boutique Hotel: The Vale Niseko, Japan
  • World’s Best Ski Chalet: Bighorn, Revelstoke, Canada
  • World’s Best New Ski Chalet: Sirocco, Switzerland

Mr and Mrs Smith reveal best boutique hotel 2015

The Pig On the Beach in Studland, Dorset was crowned the Best Smith Hotel 2015 by Mr and Mrs Smith for its fairytale hideaway, seaside setting and sense of whimsy. Mr and Mrs Smith is an organization of renowned anonymous connoisseurs who specialize in independent luxury hotels. According to the AFP, the panel of 50 judges were convinced that the seaside manor in Dorset channels British charm with romantic cottages, free-standing baths, four poster beds and restored dovecotes.

The country house features 23 bedrooms that offer uninterrupted views of the sandy coastline and, according to Mr and Mrs Smith, evokes the setting of a ‘happier’ Harry Potter movie. No Deathly Hallows this.

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If the main house is reminiscent of Harry Potter, something about the thatched roof and hexagonal shape of restored dovecote cottages could be reminiscent of The Shire, in The Hobbit. Staying with the good vibrations, that would be the lovely book, not the bloated film series.

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Compact trailers are also transformed into independent cabins for a whimsical glamping-style getaway.

Decor is shabby chic, with vintage light pieces, rotary phones and weathered furnishings set against crisp, white, and floral linens, wood beams, and lounge chairs that are set under the window for daydreaming.

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The kitchen serves British garden food, with ingredients either plucked from their own garden or sourced within 25 miles (40 km) and include home-smoked pork belly with crispy courgette flowers, and rhubarb cheesecake with wild rosehip syrup.

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For the awards, the panel took into consideration the votes of 22,000 travelers, whittling down a list of 1,000 hotels to a dozen winners.

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Here are a few other notable winners from the 2015 Smith Hotel Awards:

  • Best dressed hotel: Ett Hem, Stockholm
  • Sexiest bedroom in the world: Roccia Suite, Bellevue Syrene, Sorrento, Italy
  • Hottest hotel bar: Zetter Townhouse, London
  • Best hotel restaurant: Oreade at Monteverdi, Italy
  • Best hotel pool: Amangiri, Utah, USA
  • Best spa hotel: The Nam Hai, Hoi An, Vietnam
  • Best budget boutique hotel: Masseria Cervarolo, Puglia, Italy
  • Best for families: Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort, Fiji
  • Eco Award: Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia
  • Above and beyond: Huka Lodge, New Zealand
  • Best newcomer: The Battery, San Francisco

Singapore’s Interlace wins World Building of the Year

The Interlace, a distinctive condo in Singapore designed by OMA/Ole Scheeran, has been named World Building of the Year.

The winner was announced at the World Architecture Festival in Singapore, which wound down November 6, according the AFP RelaxNews.

The Interlace consists of separate apartment buildings that are stacked to create terraces and gardens. With an 8ha footprint, this 1,040-unit was developed by CapitalLand Singapore and it does provoke strong reactions, as the above image from the AFP shows. When the project was announced as a category winner on Wednesday, judges said they selected it for its “radical and alternative approach” to contemporary living in a tropical environment.

According to the Straits Times, Festival director Paul Finch said the judges were impressed by its “bold, contemporary architecture and thinking”. Indeed, depending on where and how one sees it, Interlace is a study in shifting perspectives. Within the building, there are many views on offer, meaning one could conceivably visit two homes in different parts of the building and be treated to entirely different perspectives, literally. The end result is a building that excites but also confounds.

The interlace succeeds The Chapel community center in Vietnam by a21 studio, which earned the distinction in 2014.

A full list of overall winners can be found at www.worldarchitecturefestival.com/congratulations-2015-waf-winners.

Greatest British Car: Jaguar E-Type

A global poll organized by Classic & Sports Car has crowned the Jaguar E-Type as the best that Britain ever produced. Jaguar’s iconic car, whether in coupé or convertible form –  despite being over 50 years old – is officially the greatest, according to car aficionados from 66 countries. Accolades like this usually provoke the Internet so we look forward fun times ahead.

Collecting the award at the end of October, John Edwards, Managing Director, Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations, said: “This a fantastic accolade for one of Jaguar’s most recognizable models ever built. The fact that it has captured the most votes in a global public vote is a testament to its status as one of the world’s most iconic sportscars and now, officially, as the Best British Car Ever.”

The poll, held to settle automotive arguments, has been running for six months in 66 countries where Classic & Sports Car – the world’s most popular classic car magazine – is published, and featured a shortlist drawn up by a panel of some of the industry’s most respected names, including legendary designer Gordon Murray.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the car that is most closely associated with Murray’s genius, the McLaren F1, was one of the 10 finalists that made the shortlist. Still, he was more than magnanimous in defeat and praised the E-Type’s: “Classic styling and advanced engineering.”

Other cars to make the final list include the original Mini Cooper S, the original Range Rover, the Lotus Seven, the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, the Austin 7 and, controversially, the Ford GT 40, which, although an American marque, was conceived, designed, developed and built in the UK. Built in 1961 and actually driven from the factory in Coventry to Switzerland for its unveiling at the Geneva motor show, the E-Type married cutting-edge design with incredible speed and handling in an affordable package.

As commentator and jury member Simon Taylor notes: “Not only the fastest and most beautiful supercar of its day, but also miraculously half or one-third of the price of the cars that it pulverized. If they’d only made 75, instead of 75,000, they’d be auctioned today for Ferrari GTO money.”

Even Enzo Ferrari himself admitted there were only two cars about which he ever felt pangs of jealously – the Mini and the E-Type Jaguar. He went as far as to declare the E-Type the “most beautiful” car ever made.

Yet it almost didn’t happen. The E-Type was originally conceived as a racecar, but thankfully Jaguar realized what they had on their hands and the track sensation quickly grew into a road-going convertible and coupe and one that during its lifetime could count Steve McQueen and Frank Sinatra among its many fans.