Thierry Boutsen is a former F1 driver and founder of Boutsen Classic Cars, a brokerage company dedicated to the sale of exceptional cars. Erwan Grimaud is the founder of the Monegasque company MC Clic, which specialises in the design, production and manufacture of drones. Two different career paths that both embody the spirit of Top Marques, an exclusive international car show for supercars and classic cars, whose 18th edition will take place from 7 to 11 June 2023. We brought the two enthusiasts together...
What is so special about the Top Marques car show?
Thierry Boutsen: With its supercars and hypercars, it is at the cutting edge of innovation. But Top Marques is also about classic cars. Therefore, the show gives a good overview of the best of the work being done today as well as the best of yesterday. The event is unique in Europe, if not the world.
Erwan Grimaud: And, of course, we are in Monaco. A place like no other, known for its Grand Prix, its iconic cars... This is a show that draws major crowds, in a beautiful setting. All the major players in the automotive industry attend, and have done for years.
In your opinion, what is it that makes Monaco a place of automotive know-how and excellence?
Thierry Boutsen: If you only consider the number of automotive events held in Monaco, it’s extraordinary. The Monaco Historic Grand Prix, the F1 Monaco Grand Prix, the E-Prix... You also have the WRC Rallye Monte-Carlo, the Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique and the Top Marques show. Six events! Not to mention Monaco’s fabulous museum, home to the collection of H.S.H. Prince Albert II. There are so many opportunities here to admire exceptional cars!
In 2022, Top Marques opened its doors to classic cars for the first time. Thierry Boutsen, you played a part in this, why was this initiative introduced?
Thierry Boutsen: It is important to recognise that the Top Marques show today is nothing like it was in the past. It has been taken over and is ably run by a Monegasque company, Monaco Check-In. They do a really good job. The idea is to honour automobiles, to demonstrate what is currently going on. And classic cars, collector cars, are very fashionable at the moment. It is therefore natural, indeed essential, to give them a prominent place at the heart of the show. And I was obviously in a good position to assist them.
Top Brands 2023
The 18th edition of the international supercar show will take place from 7 to 11 July 2023 at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco.
To find out all about events in Monaco, go to our Agenda!
You love high-tech and supercars, but what is it that fuels your passion for the legends of the past?
Thierry Boutsen: I originally trained as an engineer. And when I was younger, I was crazy about vintage cars, in awe when faced with a Ferrari, Porsche, Rolls Royce or Lamborghini... I then went into motor racing. And for years I had to lay this passion aside. But now that I’m “off the circuit”, I’ve been able to dedicate myself to it again, notably through my company Boutsen Classic Cars. I am rediscovering a passion from my youth. A passion which, it seems, I share with a lot of people, given the worldwide infatuation for these models from the past.
As for you, Erwan Grimaud, you design and manufacture drones in Monaco... Why?
Erwan Grimaud: When I was younger, I used to do a lot of modelmaking with my grandfather. First, radio-controlled helicopters, then multirotors, aeroplanes, and today, at MC Clic, we manufacture land drones to explore hard-to-reach areas, as well as aquatic drones for bathymetry and, of course, aerial drones. We work locally. That’s important. Firstly, because I am from Monaco and proud of it [laughs]. And it is also a way of showing another side to Monaco, away from the bling of Monaco’s facade. A Monaco that is a place for research and technological advances...
Is Monaco a “playground” for innovation?
Erwan Grimaud: Absolutely. In Monaco you have a lot of organisations focused on high technology, scientific, biomedical and environmental research, and more. Monaco is a real incubator! And for us, designing drones, Monaco, due to its variety and architectural density, and its combination of land and sea, is somewhere that pushes us to continually innovate to enable our machines to evolve in sometimes complex conditions. So, yes, it’s very stimulating. And for a little over two years now, we have been working on the development of “new mobility systems”, like our MC One, whose prototype we presented at Top Marques in 2022.
The MC One, which came after a project in 2021 for a Renault 4L flying car! What kind of futuristic vehicle can we expect this year?
Erwan Grimaud: We can expect the final version of the MC One. The model presented last year was only a concept to prove that it could fly. Our idea, very simply, is to transport not one person but two, more even. To be able to fly longer and further. On the 2022 prototype, there were some “details” we had to correct. Today we are in a position to present a version that is industrialisable, more autonomous and slightly heavier. And weight is everything, both in a supercar and a flying car!
To what extent does automotive high technology inspire the design and manufacture of MC Clic drones?
Erwan Grimaud: Automotive engineering inspires us a lot, at the very least in terms of design and aerodynamic profile. But in aeronautics, as in the automotive industry, biomimicry is also an inexhaustible source of inspiration. To “copy” the living world, nature and animals is to copy the best!
And if you compare the F1 cars you drove in the 1980s and 1990s and the prototypes coming out of laboratories today, has the spirit of construction changed?
Thierry Boutsen: The change has been phenomenal. When I started F1, laptops didn’t exist. Everything was literally “handmade”, whether it was by engineers or mechanics. It was not improvisation but it was about the ingenious ideas that came out of the heads of engineers to make the car more competitive than others. Today, everything more or less is done by computer, everything is calculated to the micromillimetre. But I would never say that “it was better before”. Cars today perform better, are more reliable, safer... There has been enormous progress on every level. That is how it goes with evolution and innovation, in cars as in aviation and in any other means of transport.
Finally, Erwan Grimaud, if I were to say to you “Boutsen Classic Cars and Thierry Boutsen”...?
Erwan Grimaud: Beautiful cars and a very nice man who bought me a coffee [laughs]. And someone who has a real and genuine interest in innovation and high technology. Quite a character!
And Thierry Boutsen, if I said to you “MC Clic”...?
Thierry Boutsen: They too are very high-tech. They do fantastic things. The models they came with last year took your breath away. And I think this is just the beginning. I am curious to see what they have in store for us this year.
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