In this job I get to see all sorts of things, and on the automotive side I'm lucky enough to experience some of the coolest cars imaginable, the range from Birkin Performance Cars is certainly part of that category. While it's always good fun shooting cars, it's always better when you get to pilot the cars around yourself. I was given the Birkin S3 180 XS to drive and I'm not embarrassed to say that it scared the crap out of me. Fitted with a race-spec 2.0 Ford Duratec motor on throttles that makes a very healthy 138kW with 208Nm of torque - in a chassis tipping the scales at just 633kg - it makes for an insane power-to-weight ratio of 218kW per ton. To put that in context, a Ferrari 612 Scaglietti F1 produces 216kW per ton. The Ferrari has all the bells and whistles, but the Birkin has no power steering, no ABS and a manual H-pattern shifter - it's a driver's car in every sense of the word.
I nailed it from the line and took it to the top of 3rd gear where the limiter cuts in at 7200rpm and that was more than enough for me, I scared myself and backed off. The steering is surgical in it's precision and at high speeds a slight pull on it will see you changing lanes in an instant, it's not a car for beginner drivers, you need to know what you're doing. Even with such a low weight and such good power delivery, there's grip for days. On a tight bend I ran out of confidence long before the Birkin was anywhere near its limits. I'd love to have a few hours with one on a racetrack to get to know it better, that's where a Birkin is truly in it's element.
I got shots of the car in a few locations - a basement, on the road and in a few other spots. There were three cars that I shot but my favourite, and the best looking of the bunch, is the one in the classic black and gold colours done in homage to the old John Player Special race livery. The Top Gear Birkin is also a looker, and quite a bit more special than the rest thanks to having carbon fibre panels making it even lighter - and quicker.
Check out some more wicked Birkins...
Author: Chris Wall
A slightly tattooed motoring fanatic, photography nut and avid collector of knowledge. Use the search bar to navigate through the archives.