Supercars queued up outside the Mersey tunnel yesterday (June 12) as the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power visited Wirral.
The event, a “noise off” through the tunnel pitted England versus Italy ahead of the World Cup match on Saturday.
In keeping with the World Cup theme, former Liverpool FC star Mark Wright, a member of England’s Italia 90 squad, was in the pit lane to cheer the teams off.
And classical soprano Laura Wright sang the national anthem before lowering the chequered flag to start the noise-off between the cars.
Many of the top marques from both countries were represented, totalling around £10 million worth of vehicles, with one of the older Bentleys shocking a few people as flames leapt from its engine when it started and roared off into the Kingsway tunnel.
English cars taking part included the Liverpool-built BAC Mono supercar as well as a Bentley GT3 and a Jaguar F Type convertible.
The Italian line-up featured a Maserati GranCabrio MC, a Ferrari 360 Spider and a Lamborghini LP700-4 Aventador Roadster.
However, as the pageant overran some commuters travelling through the tunnel found themselves stuck in traffic for up to an hour and a half.
But the event’s real intention, as part of the International Festival of Business 2014, was to highlight Wirral’s plans to attract automotive suppliers to locate at the site in West Float, Birkenhead.
Kevin Adderley, Wirral Council’s Strategic Director for Regeneration and Environment said they are “very close to building the first building on the site” of the former Mobil factory in Birkenhead docks.
The council revealed the plans for the site off Beaufort Road near the proposed International Trade Centre early last year, and special government incentives are in place to encourage investment in the area which is also within the economic Enterprise Zone of Wirral Waters.
The car parts industry plan is intended to support local manufacturers such as Jaguar Land Rover, Vauxhall in Ellesmere Port, Toyota in North Wales and even Bentley in Crewe by bringing their suppliers closer to them from abroad.
Mr Adderley said: “The Merseyside and Wirral area has a long and successful history of in terms of car making, and we’re trying to move forward in terms of the automotive supply park.
“All the national media attention this has attracted today helps get the region on the map as a location for those in the industry to set up business here and support JLR, Vauxhall, Bentley.
“And by coincidence today marks the start of the World Cup and this is a great chance to see classic and modern cars made in both England and Italy.”
He said the authority has also launched a new marketing campaign aimed at the automotive industry across the world, and demolition of the former Mobil site is well under way.
He said: “We’re very close to having the first building on the site specifically to meet our aims, which is to attract the high value engineering automotive sector.
“But one of the things we have needed to do is raise the profile which is why the event today is so important – it’s getting the message out there.”
The visit has been organised as part of the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power, which takes place from June 13 - 15 in the grounds of Cholmondeley Castle, Cheshire, along with the IFB being held in Merseyside.
John Sutton's view...
Ferrari, Aston Martin. McLaren, Maserati. Fiat and Mini.
Lined up in the entrance to the Kingsway tunnel, I took a glance at the bloke in the Italian car to my right. He gave me a thumbs up. Had I been wearing a cap, it would have been tipped.
We were the everymen in this line-up of extraordinary cars. The sort of marques associated with engineering excellence and so stylish on a blazing sunny afternoon you wish you'd bought one instead of having a boring lodestone mortgage.
My Mini, and the slightly nippier Cooper S version at that, would surely hold its own against its azure foe. We were representing our nations as the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power Noise Off - on #WorldCupDay.
His 500 looked a bit special though. Tyres as thick as whole Parmesan cheeses, and was that a roll cage? Why did he have racing overalls on...?
AND THEY'RE OFF!!!!
Like a demented but determined flea he screeched down the tunnel, and then I caught up, as pacesetter (the Fiat 500 didn't have a speedometer). What happened in there up to 40mph is all my legal representatives have advised me to discuss.
And then we emerged into the light. Already lined up and purring away were the Bentleys and Lamborghinis, letting out the occasional growl, and from the older versions, licks of flame as engines ticked over, always happier in motion than still.
So England v Italy was a draw. Over to you, Our Boys in Brazil...