Whether you are a petrolhead, a movie buff, or just a fan of beautiful scenery, you will probably remember the opening scene of The Italian Job. In this iconic scene a Lamborghini Miura cruises through the twists and turns of the Grand Saint Bernard Pass above the town of Aosta in northwest Italy. Sadly, the car is confronted by the mafia, who prevent it travelling any further by crushing it and pushing it down a ravine. For car enthusiasts, it is a heartbreaking moment.
Despite the Miura’s demise, the idea of driving a beautiful sports car through a mountain pass is attractive to many people. A Miura might not be practical for most of us, or affordable come to that, but the industry and designers have been creating cars to complete this picture for decades. They are called GT cars, or Gran Turismo (Grand Touring). No, Gran Turismo is not only a PlayStation game: it is a genre of motor car, one that has been lusted after by many people for decades.
These days the definition of a GT car is a little more blurred than it once was. Technically, the Miura was not a GT car, but a sportscar. Purists will say that a GT must be a 2+2, which means two proper seats up front and two seats that barely qualify as such in the rear. This makes the Porsche 911 a GT, but, in spite of its superb touring ability and undeniable character on a mountain pass, the 911 is a sports car and not a GT. Like I said, it’s all a little blurry. A GT should be able to travel long distances on highways, back roads, and mountain passes in comfort, and, crucially, it must do so with a sense of style.
In recent years, manufacturers have cottoned onto this whole GT thing and tried to reinvent it. BMW has its 3 Series and 5 Series GT models, but let’s be honest, GT cars they are not. Its Gran Coupé models are closer, but they are not really GT cars, or even coupés. They are more like extended fast-backs, with all the practicality of a grand tourer.
More obvious, perhaps, are models such as the Bentley Continental GT (it’s in the name), which is an absolute pleasure to drive over long distances, and, in spite of its rather hefty weight, defies the laws of physics when you hurl it at a mountain pass.