At the same time ever year, around the beginning of July, a funny thing happens to quaint Sussex cathedral city near to where I live. The roads become gridlocked with all sorts of automotive exotica, the sky’s full of helicopters and fancy jets, and streets a-wash with tweed – yes, you’ve guessed it (the title probably helped), I’m talking about the monster money-making machine that is the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Now in it’s 19th year, the Goodwood Festival of Speed is, according to Lord March, “a unique four day event that brings together an impossibly heady mix of cars, stars and motor sport royalty”. Now, I’m not too fussed about Saturday morning chefs or old Rockers, but for the sheer number and calibre of cars on show, Goodwood makes other events feel just a little bit ordinary. In fact, every year I’m sure they add another paddock with the number of exhibits, this time, easily into the thousands spread across four or five themed areas.
A few cars were old familiars, but on the whole most were new including a few real crackers of the tin-top variety: the awesome Klaus Ludwig Zakspeed Ford Capri, a 1984 BMW 635CSI and TWR Jaguar XJ-S, a 1970 Alfa Romeo 1750 GTAm and 1995 155 DTM, DTV’s ‘Old Nail’ and ‘Baby Bertha’ plus a 1986 Thundersport Vauxhall Carlton TS6000. Then there was Lotus – 42 of them – including Colin Chapman’s second ever car, the Austin 7-based Mk2 of 1949.
Favourites from the F1 paddock included a brace of Coventry-Climax powered Lotuses, a turbo-era Arrows-BMW, the infamous six-wheeled Tyrell-Cosworth P34 and a couple of retro sidecars. Another highlight was almost getting run over by Walter Roehrl’s Audi Quattro Sport – it might have hurt, but I can’t think of many better ways to go…
As always the Top Gear Tommy Try-Hard brigade were there in their modern plastic supercars and there was a good spread of current and modern tech, but the old tin was by far the star of the festival.