Ten cars, 2000 miles, some of the best driving roads in Europe and some fine dining along the way. Now that made for an epic road trip!
Prior to the trip I visited Ben at Motorsport and Performance in Leeds, a remap, 4-wheel alignment, fitment of a Steeda H-pipe for even more V8 rumble, and the Steeda IRS pack to stiffen up the movement in the rear of the car made it feel and sound a different car, and the best way to test it all was on a road test, only this one happned to be tad further than most…
Covering European road trips before has always been fun, and as a snapper, the photography aspect has always been the highlight for me. So having my own itinerary and some good friends along for the ride made this one a bit special – obviously the camera was on board too!
We set off from Calais on a chilly but bright Tuesday morning, a quick Starbucks so we could all touch base with everybody before the first stop off down to the historic race circuit in Reims. This always works well for the group shot of the cars, plus at this stage they were all still gleaming from being detailed prior to the journey.
We then stayed in Hostellerie La Briqueterie in Epernay, a beautiful hunting lodge style hotel with some fine food and wine, this was the perfect way for everyone to meet each other properly and look back on the days driving around some stunning French countryside. We weren’t so lucky with the weather the next day, constant rain all day, this was the longest stretch of the trip between hotels at 360 miles so a steady drive down on the motorway was the route everyone took. Annecy is a beautiful place and the Imperial Palace that sits on the lake was sumptuous and worthy of its five star status, definitely a place to revisit.
Day three and we were on a shorter run now, down to Embrun, picturesque and full of mountains as a backdrop for the cars to be photographed and drive around. This day provided some of the best roads and views, heading from Digne down through the Grand Canyon du Verdon was one of those breath-taking driving moments, hearing the rumble of the V8’s as they tackled some of the best roads I’ve ever driven on. A final stretch of the Route Napoléon lead us to the Michelin star restaurant at the Chateau de la Piolone.
Over half way through the trip now, all the remained was a simple and relaxing drive from Aix en Provence to St Tropez. We spent the afternoon in the jewel of the French riviera, it felt more open and authentic than Monaco and lunch off one of the side streets with a local beer was much needed.
On day six, three of us headed to Millau, home of one of the most impressive bridges in Europe. At a cost of 400m Euros it stretches over a valley and has certainly been one on the bucket list to tick off. The Mustang, BMW 240i and Mercedes GT-R then set off for one final stop off in Marcoles. Prior to this though we came across the best tarmac on the trip – rock formations that hung over the road with bends that went on for miles, it provided a great end to the trip.
As you can imagine day seven was all about getting home; 560 miles from Marcoles to Calais, a few service station pit stops, fuel, coffee and chocolate later, and by 7.30pm we were on the Shuttle to cross the channel We felt a bit sad that it was over, but at least the fuel bills will be a bit cheaper now – €1.80 for super unleaded was a bit painful every few hundred miles!
After a ‘thorough’ road test I can confirm the recent upgrades are all working well. As an overall view of my Mustang this trip summed it up, fast, loud, comfy and full of admiring glances. It really was the stand-out car of the crowd, bearing in mind the company it kept (Mercedes GTR, Bentleys, Ferrari 599) aren’t cheap cars, but it was the roar of that epic engine and looks that the French seemed to love, helped no doubt by the addition of the recent H-pipe. Meanwhile, the Steeda IRS pack made the car feel tighter and much more focused going in to the twists and turns of the Route Napoleon and Alpine roads – for £200 it’s for me a no brainier and an essential mod to any S550. If you thought Mustangs were only good for 8-lane wide, 100-mile long straight roads in America, think again. This is one Pony that can dance…