What started off 19 years ago as Lord March’s attempt at setting up what was essentially a car-themed garden party has now ballooned into one of the most prestigious automotive events on the calendar. Thousands of car enthusiasts from across the globe flock to the Goodwood estate every summer to soak in the unique atmosphere of the Festival of Speed.
We were very fortunate enough to bagsy ourselves a few tickets to attend the event, and here’s what we thought were the highlights of this year’s Festival.
Moving Motor Show
Formed in 2010 as a result of the British International Motor Show’s unfortunate demise, the Moving Motor Show has proven itself to be a more than worthy replacement. This may be down to its distinct USP – whereas most international auto shows are held in crowded exhibition halls, the Moving Motor Show is a much less static affair, with the attendants actually being able to test drive new cars up the Goodwood Hill Climb route!
Though not all of the car manufacturers on display at the Festival are present in the ‘MMS Hall’, there is a wide array of manufacturers, ranging from Ford and Renault to Ferrari and Rolls-Royce. And it also seems to be beneficial to the brands as well as the consumers – though no official figures have been released, it seems that a decent percentage of the folk who test drive a car at Goodwood end up buying it brand new.
And if that’s not evidence enough to showcase the Moving Motor Show’s importance to new car sales (highly crucial in the economically unsound times we live in), factor in that the Romanian car company Dacia made its official return to the UK this year at Goodwood, marking the UK debut of its mini-SUV crossover, the Duster.
The Supercar Paddock
Seeing a supercar is always a special occasion. Seeing a pair or a trio of them in one place is also quite momentous. Observing ten or so in the same setting is a dream come true for most people.
So, when Michelin announce a gathering of over 30 of ‘em at the Supercar Paddock for this year’s Festival of Speed, it’s not too hard to see why the crowds they drew in were absolutely huge!
Sheltered under the pre-fab awnings was a collection of cars that were collectively perhaps more valuable than the stately home which cast its shadow over the paddock. The usual suspects were there, with fabled offerings from Bugatti and Pagani being surrounded by a vast, impregnable wall of cameras and smartphones, though there were other offerings on display that were just as popular with the public.
After all, no matter where you looked, there was always at least £80,000 worth of supercar in your peripheral vision, so there was still plenty to keep you focused on (that is, if you could get yourself to the front of the tightly packed crowds!). I mean, where else in the world would you be within touching distance of the finest speed machines from Maserati, Ferrari and Lamborghini, all laid out in an uninterrupted row?
The Supercar Paddock has always been a huge crowd pleaser, and based on what was being flaunted this year, we’d be shocked if anyone left the venue feeling disappointed!
New car debuts
The Goodwood Festival of Speed isn’t just an event that’s significant for us Brits, as quite a few manufacturers recognise the event as one of significant importance when it comes to launching cars – after all, where better to unveil a new motor than at a place where the public can get right up close to it? As a result, Goodwood has been the launch pad for quite a few new cars this year.
At one end of the scale, you have the UK debut for mainstream motors such as the aforementioned Dacia Duster and the new Volvo V40
, both of which are expected to be fairly big sales successes. And, at the other end, you have the mightily expensive and super exotic machinery that have set foot on UK soil for the first time, like the latest Shelby Mustang, the new Vanquish and the Bugatti Veyron Vitesse.
Unusually, though, even a few pre-production prototypes were flaunting their stuff this year. Renault and Jaguar, for instance, were showing off the development mules for their respective upcoming Clio RS and F-Type Roadster models, whilst an AMG-fettled Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake (a car which, in more ‘mundane’ guises, has literally just been unveiled) made a surprise appearance during the weekend . Sadly, we couldn’t snap any pics of it, but we can say the swoopy estate prototype’s twin-turbo V8 sounds ruddy marvellous!
The birthday celebrations
Every year, there’s always at least one noteworthy anniversary of some sorts to celebrate at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, and this year was no exception. A handful of the world’s greatest road cars and manufacturers had metaphorical candles to extinguish, and even an iconic season of Can-Am racing was being remembered!
Out of all the cars that were reaching a noteworthy milestone, most of them were supercars of some sorts – the oldest examples of the Mercedes-Benz 300SL, for instance, are turning 60 this year, and the Jaguar XJ220 has reached the ripe age of 20. But it was Lotus that was dominating the festivities this year.
For starters, the diddy Lotus Elan roadster is now a vintage car, having turned 50 years old this year. But the company that made it was also in a mood for jubilation, as the Norfolk firm is now 60. As a result, most of the displays – in particular the racing car paddock, which was the temporary home for perhaps the largest ever gathering of JPS livered F1 cars – were keen to celebrate this momentous landmark for the firm.
And, above all, the gargantuan ‘stressed frame’ sculpture, bristled with some of the company’s greatest ever Formula cars from across the years, that towered over Goodwood House was dedicated to the memory of the great Colin Chapman and the business he set up. Overall, we reckon it’s a more than worthy tribute.
All in all, the Goodwood Festival of Speed (as always) didn’t disappoint. Yes, the weather did get a wee bit miserable in the final days of the show, but a slight spot of rain couldn’t dampen anyone’s spirits, especially when there was plenty more to focus on. We’ll be staggered if your lasting memory of this year’s show is that it got a bit damp every now and again!
It was a truly fabulous show this year, with plenty going on to entertain everyone, whether it was watching the Zonda R Evo storm up the Hill for the first time, ogling at all the tasty new concept and road cars, or wondering just how on Earth the crew managed to get a carriage from Her Majesty’s Royal Train into the Cartier Style et Luxe concourse show!
We loved our time there, and we’ll definitely be trying to make our way back again next year. Here’s hoping Lord March has something very special in store for the 20th Annual Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2013…