London, Great Britain. Baird & Co. is one of Britain’s leading bullion merchants and gold refiners– founded in 1967 and based at a discreet address in East London. Last week Baird, which refines gold for clients around the world, needed to organise a significant shipment of gold from its refinery to its new London showroom in Hatton Garden. The bars – 24 in total – are around the same size as a house brick and each weigh 12.5 kg. Together the bars have a combined market value of approximately £10,000,000*. Baird invited Porsche to assist with the daunting job of transporting the shipment – with a strict set of provisos attached.
Every gold bar is created with meticulous precision – and every part of the process is carefully examined and thought through by Baird & Co. Prudently, once formed into bars, the gold is stored at Baird & Co’s state-of-the-art underground vault in Hatton Garden. But, getting to the vault from the gold refinery means travelling 12 miles across London – a journey that carries an inherent risk. In an effort to reduce this risk, Baird & Co resolved that the gold needed to be transported with great efficiency, under careful watch and that time was of the essence – the longer it took, the greater the risk.
Three examples of the Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo were provided for the purpose. Despite the cars being spacious and, with a minimum of 550 hp and four wheel drive, not lacking performance, the requirements stipulated by Baird & Co were nevertheless daunting. Each of the cars for the job needed to be capable of carrying four adults – the driver, a radio operator and specialist security – and have the load capacity to house two specially-designed gold bullion crates that, when containing gold bars, weigh more than 60 kg. Despite the cargo, they also needed to retain significant reserves of performance for the gold’s rapid journey through Central London.
At 11:00 on Sunday morning, the convoy left East London and was tracked by a helicopter and by security staff on the ground as the blue, red, and white Panamera Turbo Sport Turismos – each carrying over £3.3 million in gold bullion – passed through the streets of London. Guided by a lead car, accompanied by security staff and fitted with cameras to record the occasion, the convoy made efficient progress through the Capital – the drivers of each car acutely aware of their precious cargo. The precisely planned and rehearsed route went without a hitch and the convoy completed its 12 mile journey at the Hatton Garden vault 30 minutes after it set off. Specialist teams extracted the heavy gold crates from each of the Panamera Turbo Sport Turismos – the air suspension on each meaning the cars remained level throughout – before they were placed in the vaults. Upon arriving, the crates were opened and the gold bars were catalogued and accounted for.
A relieved Nick Hammond, Director of Baird & Co commented: ‘We take an awful lot of measures to ensure the security of our staff and, of course, the gold – we really do try and avoid risk. And in this instance, we had a very large shipment of gold to transport – which is quite rare. We had to rely on the cars to be absolutely reliable, to be stable and to be more than capable of carrying the gold with capacity – in terms of performance – to spare. We didn’t want the vehicles to be anywhere near their limits, which is asking quite a lot. And, despite the phenomenal weight – and the density of the weight – the Panameras had to carry, they performed impeccably.’
The three Panamera Sport Turismos were standard, production cars – two were of ‘Turbo’ specification, equipped with 4.0-litre V8 engines developing 550 hp while the third (finished in Carmine Red) was a German-registered Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo – with a combined output of 680 hp and the ability to travel on electrical power only.