Aiglonians share their enthusiasm for all things automotive and the cars that have inspired them, from classic sports models to highly tuned fantasy machines.
SIMON KIDSTON Simon Kidston (Alpina, 1985) spent a decade running the European operations of Brooks’ auction house (now Bonhams) – but in 2006 he decided to focus on his first love, and founded the Geneva-based consultancy Kidston SA, specialising in brokering private sales of the world’s rarest and most valuable motor cars.
Fast cars are in Simon Kidston’s blood. His uncle, Commander Glen Kidston, was one of the original ‘Bentley Boys’ who cut a swathe through motor racing in the 1920s, and his father competed at gentleman-driver level. His own early attempts to enter the motoring world, however, were temporarily foiled. “My father gave me a small amount of money to buy a first car,” he recalls. “I figured that, by reading the second-hand car magazines, I could buy a very, very second-hand Aston Martin, more glamorous than the Renault 5 my father had in mind. I ended up investing the money in a Wimbledon nightclub, thanks to an introduction by fellow Alpina boys, the Doyle brothers, which lasted about two weeks.” In 1996, Simon acquired his pride and joy, a Lamborghini Miura – a model he had lusted after since seeing it on screen in The Italian Job. “My love for the Miura actually started from being driven to school over the Grand Saint Bernard Pass every term. When I saw the film, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s the same road, but a rather sexier car.’ I was hooked.” A slight frustration in his line of work is rarely being able to own cars he handles for clients. Simon recalls one in particular. “It was a psychedelic-liveried Porsche 917K,” he says, “an all-conquering racing car from the early 70s. It’s a 240mph coupé with 600 horsepower behind the driver’s shoulders and about 2mm of fibreglass in front of his feet, which tends to concentrate the mind. That’s the one that got away.” And although he has taken his Miura as far afield as California and Kuwait, the drive he describes with the greatest fondness is somewhat closer to home. “The memory of blasting up the hill from Ollon to Villars in my little red Alfa Spider, all 120 horsepower of it, still makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. That and wheel-clamping PP’s car when I got to Aiglon...”
SIR JACKIE STEWART OBE Ranking among the greatest Formula One racing drivers of all time, Sir Jackie Stewart OBE won the World Drivers’ Championship three times, and was an outspoken advocate for better safety standards on track and public roads. Both his sons attended Aiglon College. Paul (Alpina, 1984) followed his father into motorsport, and Mark (Belvedere, 1986) is a documentary film-maker.
With its 800cc engine and single windscreen wiper, Sir Jackie’s first vehicle was a far cry from the machines that powered his famous Formula One victories in the 60s and 70s. “I was serving an apprenticeship in my parents’ garage,” he says. “I saved up all my tips and bought a brand new Austin A30. I had that car before I even had a driving licence.” The other cars that stand out in his recollection are somewhat more powerful. “A highlight was my first racing car – a little Cooper, in which I won the British and European Championships in Formula Three. And we won the World Championship in a Matra with a Ford engine in 1969. That was a very special car, beautifully built – Matra were a French company who were in the missile business.” Today, Sir Jackie is more likely to take the back seat, taking care of business while on the move in Britain and Switzerland. “I drive very little,” he says. “I’ve had a driver for about 40 years. My garage is not what people would expect of a world champion. I have a Lexus hybrid, a longwheelbase Range Rover and a Ford Cougar.” However, Ford’s new supercar – a 50th anniversary tribute to the classic GT40 – has proved an irresistible temptation. “I’m going to buy the new GT,” he says. “There’s a brand new one coming up, so I’ve decided to be a young boy again.”
TALAL AL SAUD AND SULTAN AL SAUD Talal (Belvedere, 1998) and his brother Sultan (Belvedere, 2006) are the driving force behind Team Galag – one of the best-known crews to compete in Gumball 3000, the annual international rally. In 2013, they won the ‘Spirit of Gumball’ award at the 15th anniversary event.
In May 2016, Aiglon students witnessed an unusual sight: a fully street-legal Batmobile straight out of the Arkham Knight video game. The Al Saud brothers were on their way from the Bucharest finish line of the 2016 event when they realised they were in the neighbourhood. Sultan says: “We were driving through Switzerland, and my brother said, ‘Shall we have lunch in Villars?’ As a joke, I said we should park it in Belvedere car park, and we contacted the school to see if we could. We didn’t realise how many people would come out to see!” The custom-made Batmobile is the second they have commissioned, and boasts performance and looks. Constructed almost entirely from carbon fibre, it’s based on a Lamborghini Gallardo chassis and powered by a 5.2-litre V10. “It was built by a gentleman in Sweden who was lead engineer for [performance-car constructor] Koenigsegg,” says Talal. “With our projects, we’ve always had the problem of ending up with cars that underperformed. This is probably the only one that’s over-engineered.” Most recently, the brothers started their own rally. The first Snow Tour saw an eclectic selection of cars travel through Sweden to drive on a frozen lake. Sultan says: “We thought, why don’t we do a road trip with friends, and create a rally around it? It’s not Gumball, but in Stockholm we had 150 to 200 people waiting outside our hotel to see the cars. For me, the cars are simply a means to create these unique experiences.”
ALFONSO DE ORLÉANS-BORBÓN Alfonso (Delaware, 1986) made his debut as a racing driver at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1994, finishing fourth in the GT2 class and 10th overall. Five years later, he founded the motorsport team, Racing Engineering, which has enjoyed consistent success in Spanish Formula Three and GP2.
Unlike many figures in elite motorsport, Alfonso de Orléans-Borbón has driven trucks as well as racing cars. When he first started competing for Repsol, funding was so tight that he gained his heavy-goods vehicle licence to drive the team truck to each race. This proved invaluable when he founded Racing Engineering in 1999. “The first year that we did Formula Three, we had no budget,” he says. “I was truck driver, team manager, technical director and extra mechanic when needed. We got one hotel room for the two drivers, and we all slept in the trucks to save money.” The approach paid off, and the team won the teams’ championship in Spanish Formula Three for six years running, with drivers including a young Sebastian Vettel. Success in World Series by Nissan and GP2 have followed; the 2015 and 2016 seasons both ended with Racing Engineering in second place. Alfonso credits his first 24 Hours of Le Mans with supplying the spark for his career, and the Ferrari 348 GT from that race still takes pole position in his affections. “It was absolutely brilliant to drive – it was as sturdy as a tank. It had a normal stick gearbox from a road car. You saw other people modifying the 348 and trying to make it special, and they didn’t last the race. We were the only Ferrari that finished.” Equally memorable for a different set of reasons is the Porsche 962 in which he won the 1,000km of Monza. “They had to take the mirrors off because it would shake too much during acceleration,” he says. “I had to put elastic bands on my legs, because when you pressed the brakes, all the blood would rush to your legs and you would literally faint. It was an animal.”
FREDERICA AND SIMON KIRKPATRICK Frederica and Simon are the parents of Larissa (Le Cerf, 2016) and Alexandra (Le Cerf, 2017). They compete in regularity rallies all over the world in Flighty, their 1928 Type 37A Grand Prix Bugatti, and have taken part in 14 editions of the prestigious Mille Miglia event.
“To have a shared passion is the ultimate in a marriage, apart from your children!” says Frederica Kirkpatrick. “It gives us both something to work for all the time.” That may be a tall order, as their partnership – with Frederica driving and Simon navigating – has already been extraordinarily successful. For six years, they have been the top-placed British team in the Mille Miglia, an event for pre-1957 cars that takes in some of Italy’s most spectacular driving terrain. “That’s the feather in the cap,” she says. “It’s highly contested, especially by the Italians and the Argentineans, who tend to be the ones who keep winning it.” The Kirkpatricks’ car collection includes Jaunty, another Bugatti, which once permitted them to build a family motoring holiday around a trip to compete at the Prescott Speed Hill Climb in Gloucestershire. “They’re both twoseaters with no luggage space, so the girls had to pack all their clothes in a Swiss Army rucksack, including shoes.” Fortunately, their daughters have inherited their enthusiasm for classic cars – partly thanks to a Morris Minor called Beaky Colander. Frederica says: “We bought her for the girls to learn to drive in, and so they would learn to double-declutch. That’s something you don’t get to do in a modern car!”
Words: WILLIAM HAM BEVAN
Illustrations: RUI RICARDO - FOLIO ART