#IAA: F1 star for Eterniti

Time 11:19 pm, September 14, 2011

img_0496NEW British car firm Eterniti has signed up former F1 driver Johnny Herbert to hone its range of bespoke cars.

The north London-based manufacturer launched its Hermera SUV – a £150k rebadged version of the Porsche Cayenne Turbo – at the Frankfurt motor show.

Speaking to Car Dealer, former Le Mans driver Herbert said he was delighted to take up the post as Eterniti’s brand ambassador and is confident the marque can be a success.

The new car manufacturer plans to attract wealthy customers – mostly from the Far East and Russia – with a totally bespoke build programme for its cars.

‘Bespoke is a word that is used constantly, and I don’t use it lightly when I say we’ll do absolutely anything for customers apart from change body panels,’ said sales director Andrew Brown.

‘Inside customers can have whatever they want. A number of manufacturers will offer that but we really will do it. Any colour, any combination, facility or gadget they desire we will install for them.

‘There are an awful lot of millionaires and billionaires everywhere now and they’ll be our target. Not our only target, but a target nonetheless.’

The Hermera starts life as a standard Cayenne Turbo then Eterniti changes every body panel. The maker has no official links to Porsche – it even buys the cars from the German firm at list price.

‘Our cars are for buyers who want luxury and bespoke,’ explained Brown. ‘Our research has been extensive and there is no doubt that there are people who go into a Porsche dealer and look at a Cayenne and think it is not special or unique enough. We will offer them that exclusivity.’

Herbert believes in the Eterniti model too. He told us he wouldn’t have put his name to it if he didn’t believe in it.

‘If you look at the luxury car market you’ll see it is thriving,’ he said. ‘But you have got to market it right and get the right product. I think there is a market for this car, but it is about getting that concept right: It has to be luxury and performance together.’

‘I want to see this car as a rounded product. Luxury is easy, but to get performance that goes with that in a soft and comfortable way takes time.’

Herbert has yet to drive one of the cars, but will be getting behind the wheel in the coming weeks to help test and shape it for the road.

‘It needs to have a sporty side but be luxurious too,’ he explained. ‘It needs to have the right tyres, wheels and suspension to work, but it seems I’ll have the ability to look into this and help make it the right package.

‘There’s no good having something that looks great – and I like the aggressive styling of this car – but that rides badly. Many cars have failed that way. The Dodge Viper was absolutely monstrously fast but was a pig to drive; there was no enjoyment factor to it whatsoever.

‘I want to see this car as a rounded product. Luxury is easy, but to get performance that goes with that in a soft and comfortable way takes time.’

It’s not just about remodelled Cayennes either. Eterniti is planning a £350k-plus supercar to rival the Porsche 918 Spyder in the not too distant future too.

‘That’s a project that is definitely in the pipeline and will materialise in the next few years,’ added Brown.

For now, though, the maker has small ambitions. It hopes to sell 30 cars a year, rising to 100 in the years that follow. Only time will tell whether its cars have what it takes to interest the seriously wealthy into parting with their cash.

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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