Even the gods of weather know about Goodwood’s place in the world. The sun was never going to refuse to shine on the 21st Festival of Speed.
This year it cast a vintage glow on all four days of the world’s greatest motoring festival, which returned the favour by entertaining bumper crowds with a magic mixture of dazzling new arrivals, oddballs and spectacular stalwarts.
Each festival starts by commemorating anniversaries and setting themes. This year’s highlights included 50 years of the Porsche 911 (the subject of Gerry Judah’s soaring, three-pronged sculpture at Goodwood House), plus the centenary of Aston Martin, the 50th anniversary of McLaren Racing, the 50th anniversary of Jim Clark’s first world championship in 1963, and the event’s own special anniversary. It is two decades since founder-kingpin Lord March looked out of his bedroom window to estimate crowd numbers at the first festival — held for a bunch of friends who owned nice cars and bikes — expecting 2500 people, only to be greeted by 25,000 instead.
As it has done for the past three years, the festival began on Thursday with the Moving Motor Show, a ‘selling’ event for car makers that makes it possible for invited customers to test production cars on a route around the estate. This Thursday event struggled in its early days, but those with commercial interests this year praised its effectiveness. The outbreak of enterprise also brought an unprecedented number of Taj Mahal-style mobile showrooms, topped by a temporary Ford structure so high that from its top you could see over Goodwood House to the verdant countryside beyond. No UK motor show? It’s just not true.
Goodwood understands car retailing, and the crowds expect and support it. FoS-TECH showcases hillclimb runs of green prototypes you’d only see on plinths elsewhere, while the First Glance class features mainstream models that are interesting but hardly supercars. Two eye-grabbers in these groups were Alfa Romeo’s pretty, promising 4C and Volkswagen’s petite XL1 diesel-electric ‘efficiency car’, which made several brisk runs on battery power alone.