There was once a time when the Lord March’s car-orientated ‘garden party’ was just a small event on a Sunday, but oh how have things changed. 19 years after the first Festival of Speed was held, and it’s now ballooned into a massive four day event that celebrates everything to do with automobiles.
We were lucky enough to attend the first day of the ‘Festival weekend’ – here’s what we thought of the main highlights at the glorious Goodwood venue.
Moving Motor Show
But the setting isn’t just what makes the Moving Motor Show special, as it allows attendants (or, more specifically, guests of the brands on display in the ‘MMS’ hall who booked their tickets in advance) to actually test drive cars along a route that includes the ribbon of tarmac that makes up the Goodwood Hill Climb route.
Whilst there is the appeal of test driving a supercharged Jaguar or a Ferrari 458 up the hill, there is a more serious matter at hand, as the manufacturers who set up booths there report that it’s as beneficial for them as it is for the consumer – according to them, quite a sizeable percentage of the folk who take a test drive up Lord March’s driveway actually end up at least considering to buy it brand new. What was once a very risky move a few years ago has now become, in essence, a very successful promotional tool for the show itself and the brands that are on display in the MMS building.
New car debuts
Still, there were still plenty of interesting new cars that were being flaunted to the general public for the first time. At one end of the scale, you had the UK launch of the Romianian car company Dacia in the UK, with their inaugural offering to us Brits being the £9K Duster mini-SUV that is expected to fly out of the showrooms.
At the other end, though, were the ultra-expensive supercars. New offerings from the kick-started AC Cars (makers of the iconic Cobra, and now churning out bespoke two-seaters from a refurbished factory at Brooklands in Surrey) and the bonkers production-ready Nissan Juke-R were on display in Blighty for the first time, along with a whole smattering of the world’s most exotic road going machinery.
They were all blown aside, though, by the Pagani Zonda R Evoluzione. As its name suggests, the Zonda R Evo is an updated version of the Zonda R that famously set the world record around the Nurburgring a few years ago. And, if Horacio Pagani does indeed ship the Zonda Evo to the Nordschleife anytime soon, we reckon the lap time it’ll set will be even faster – after all, there’s a 10hp hike to 750, and the aero package has been revised to produce less drag and more down force and stability at speed.
And the best bit? The Italians had the courtesy of keeping it uncovered on the Thursday, so Yours Truly could spend many minutes ogling at all the intricate and exquisite detailing on the new ‘ultimate Zonda’.
Race Car Paddock
There were quite a few birthday celebrations going on at Goodwood this year, and as a result some of the race car displays focused on the noteworthy anniversaries that were marked in 2012. The 30th anniversary of Group C, 75 years of Mercedes-Benz’s ‘Silver Arrows’, forty years since the greatest season of Can-Am racing in 1972…the list goes on and on!
However, the main cause for celebration regarded Lotus, which is celebrating its 60th birthday (the sculpture just outside Goodwood House is dedicated to Lotus’ very own Diamond Jubilee). As a result, the paddock was packed with various Lotus F1 cars, all adorned with names of some of the sport’s all-time greats.
To top it all off, though, the Classic Team Lotus engineers fired up one of the many JPS livered F1 cars (the crowd was so thick and there were so many black and gold Lotus F1 cars on display that I can’t name the exact one), and the entire paddock reverberated to the cacophony that was a raw, race-proven motor, popping and cracking on the overrun and downright deafening as the revs rose! Long story short, it’s something I shan’t be forgetting about anytime soon!
Of course, the Bugatti Veyrons (which are now becoming an expected feature of the Goodwood Supercar Paddock, despite the pair being worth about £4,000,000) were there, and drew in the largest crowd, but they weren’t the only cars that were worthy of the attention of the attendants.
For instance, the Swedes (Koenigsegg), the Dutch (Spyker), the Spanish (GTA Spano), the British (Aston Martin, Bentley, AC), the Germans (Ruf) and the Italians (I don’t think we need to name any names here) all showed off their latest wares, soon to be snapped on smartphones and uploaded to countless Facebook and Instagram accounts.
There were a few disappointments – the Arash AF-10 hypercar was kept under wraps during the day we were there, the updated McLaren MP4-12C was nowhere to be seen at all and, even though the Thursday attendance figures are the lowest of the entire ‘weekend’, it was still nigh on impossible to get a clean shot of the supercars.
Still, those slight imperfections can’t quite diminish the fact that ordinary folk such as us were in the presence of a car collection that was worth more than most of the streets we live in.
Still, it’s not like the only reason to be at the ‘FoS’ is to watch someone bin a Gumpert Apollo into one of the hay bale barriers. Even without the supercar sprints on Lord March’s driveway, there’s still plenty to occupy yourself with. Even on the Thursday, when there’s not as much to do, you’ve still got an awful lot of stuff to get on with, and you’ll actually need to rush around if you intend on seeing everything in one day.
And, of course, the Moving Motor Show brings with it the unique opportunity for your Average Joe (should he book a spot beforehand) to follow in the footsteps of various racing drivers and celebrities and pilot a car up the famous Hill.
Would I consider the Festival’s eventful finale on Sunday over the Thursday? Perhaps. Would I recommend the Moving Motor Show if it’s your first time going? Definitely! Yes, it’s watered down slightly when compared with the rest of the Festival days, but it’s perfect for those who want to spend their day at the world’s greatest open air car show without the huge crowds that clog everything up – 40,000 attended the Moving Motor Show, whilst the visitor count was capped at 150,000 on the Sunday.
Long story short, we can’t praise the event highly enough – we did have our criticisms, but complaining about a few cars being covered up is a bit pointless when there’s so much more to focus on.). If you ever get the chance to go, whether you buy the tickets yourself or win them in a competition, we urge you to make your way to the Festival of Speed.
Oh, and if you have a few tickets going spare, be sure to let us here at Team VVV know, as we’d love to go back!