Nova Scotia

$1.1M luxury car designed by Dartmouth man makes debut

Matthew Finbow grew up drawing cars. Now he designs them. His first project, the Speedback Silverstone Edition, was unveiled at the Geneva International Motor Show last month.

Matthew Finbow designed Speedback Silverstone Edition for David Brown Automotive in England

Matthew Finbow designed the Speedback Silverstone Edition for David Brown Automotive. (Submitted by Matthew Finbow)

As a kid, Matthew Finbow grew up honing his artistic skills in his hometown of Dartmouth, N.S., by drawing cars.

But it wasn't until he was about 14 that he realized maybe he could do it for a living.

It was the late 1990s, and advertising for the newly released Volkswagen Beetle was in full swing.

"It was all over the magazines and there were lots of articles and pictures of the design process that went into the car," Finbow said in an interview from his home in Towcester, England. "That was the first time that I realized that there was a whole industry devoted to designing vehicles, and there were people who got paid to draw cars all day."

Nowadays, he knows first hand that the design process is a lot more complex than just "drawing" cars. Finbow, 34, has just returned from the Geneva International Motor Show, where his first project was unveiled to the public: the Speedback Silverstone Edition.

But you're unlikely to see this vehicle motoring through the streets of Dartmouth.

The Speedback Silverstone Edition recently made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show. (David Brown Automotive)

For one thing, there's only one Speedback Silverstone Edition on the planet so far — the prototype on display at the Geneva show. And there will only ever be a maximum of 10.

The car, developed by David Brown Automotive, is meant to be a limited edition, very exclusive vehicle styled after the luxury cars of the 1960s.

"There's a little bit of James Bond in it," Finbow said.

And then there's the price tag: it retails for $1.1 million.

"A little bit too dear for myself," he said. "But there are some people out there who have that kind of money and have a taste that this vehicle is aimed at. So it's definitely for people who crave that kind of retro automotive styling but want a vehicle with modern underpinnings and modern technology and modern engineering."

The vehicle sells for about $1.12 million Cdn. (David Brown Automotive)

Finbow said almost everything on the vehicle is handcrafted — from the hand-rolled and hand-beaten aluminum panels on the exterior to the leather and wood finishes inside. The vehicle is a special edition of the Speedback GT, also produced by David Brown Automotive.

The buzz at the auto show was entirely positive, Finbow said.

"It was just an overwhelming reaction to the vehicle. People said that they had never seen anything quite like it and I was very, very proud to be a part of the process that brought this vehicle into life."

After graduating from Prince Andrew High School, Finbow took a foundation arts course at NSCAD University, then moved on to Humber College, where he took an automotive design course. He worked as a designer at an electric bicycle company in the Toronto area, then decided to pursue a master's degree in automotive design in England, which led to his work with David Brown Automotive.

Designer Matthew Finbow says almost everything on the vehicle is crafted by hand. (David Brown Automotive)

Finbow said he enjoys using his talent for art in practical ways.

"The entire process of, you know, beginning with a sketch on a page and ending with something real that people will enjoy, that's where the excitement comes from for me."

More excitement than getting behind the wheel of a Speedback Silverstone Edition?

Finbow said he wouldn't know — he hasn't gotten to drive one yet.

Despite being the brain behind someone else's dream car, Finbow has his own automotive dream: owning a DeLorean.

But for now, he'll make do with his trusty little Nissan Note.

"It's a fun little car," he said.

With files from Norma Lee MacLeod