My biggest festival pleasure is wandering around unsure of what you’ll uncover next. ‘Cars, Stars and their Guitars’, features car-loving ZZ Top founder Billy Gibbons, Jeff Beck and Jimmie Vaughn, all of them playing.
The Cartier ‘Style et Luxe’ gathers some of the planet’s most eclectic, eccentric, expensive and obscure cars on Lord March’s grass, while contrast will be found with the Red Bull X-Fighters, probably the world’s most spectacular freestyle moto-cross riders, and the future-glimpsing FoS-TECH pavilion of green concept cars and prototypes.
Looking skywards will spot you the Black Cats helicopters, and just as daring will be the exploits of stunt bike rider Dougie Lampkin.
1. Alfa Romeo
Alfa is celebrating its centenary, and occupies the spectacular central display besides running even more cars than usual from its museum. It also features in the ‘Style et Luxe’, and has its own stand.
This 23 foot beauty was built by legendary hot rod creator Boyd Coddington on a commission from ZZ Top founder Billy Gibbons. It’s based on a 1948 Cadillac Series 62 Sedanette, the rework by Ford designer Larry Erickson of 2004 Mustang fame. The Caddy’s top has been decisively chopped - examine its rear, you’ll understand why this style is known as a tail-dragger. CaZZilla cost $900k at the time of construction, and is also known as ‘The Eliminator’ in ZZ Top videos. A must-see.3
3. Vauxhall Ampera
General Motor’s famous Extended-Range Electric Vehicle - E-REV - appears at the Festival’s FoS-TECH pavilion of green concept cars and prototypes. This is the European version of GM’s much publicised Chevrolet Volt You can see a full-sized model complete with interior, a chassis unit revealing the location of the key components - including the unusual, T-shaped battery pack - while a third working prototype Ampera will be running up the hill in the Low Emission Hillclimb class.
4. Audi e-Tron
Audi’s dramatic, high-performance electric e-Tron can be seen in the FoS-TECH pavilion. Two electric motors provide it with 201bhp scope for a silent, 5.9sec assault on 62mph.
5. Citroen REVOLTe
The 2CV inspired Revolte is a plug-in hybrid with vibrant, velvet interior featuring an offset driver’s seat and pair of passenger seats behind. The body is covered with solar cells, while the dashboard is a touch-sensitive screen. A mix of small internal combustion engine, electric motor and battery pack provide its green credentials, although the interior is anything but that with its rich, red velvet trim that’s as nightclub as the purple exterior paint. Find it in the FoS-TECH pavilion.
6. Lexus CT200h
Lexus’s smallest model yet, the hybrid CT200h, can be see in show car form in the FoS-TECH pavilion, where it also joined by an elegant Lexus electric bicycle.
7. Alfa Romeo Tipo 33s
A fantastic array of Alfa 33-based concept cars can be found at the Cartier Style et Luxe display. These are based on the ‘60s supercar, not the ‘80s hatchback, and include Alfa’s own exquisite Stradale, which was produced in very small numbers, Marcello Gandini’s 68 Carabo (you can see the germ of his Countach in this car), the pretty Pininfarina ’69 Iguana by Leonardo Fioravanti and the strange ’76 Navajo, also by Gandini. Each is a glorious examples of Italian coachbuilt fantasy.
8. Fabulous Four-Doors
Are obscure luxury European sports saloons your thing? Stride straight to the Cartier ‘Style et Luxe’ lawn to find a fine array of such beasts, none of which was going to cause insomnia in Stuttgart. They include the elegant De Tomaso Deauville, a kind of Italian Jaguar XJ, the rather less elegant Maserati Quattroporte II, the slightly awkward Citroen SM Opera, which makes the standard coupe look still more exquisite and the decidedly more beautiful Ferrari Pinin, which is enough to have wishing for a four-door Ferrari.
9. Aerial Theatre
As ever, there’s no shortage of aerial diversion, with the Fleet Air Arm’s Black Cats helicopter display team, the Red Arrows, the massively potent (and noisy) Hunter and Vulcan, and some Mustangs.
10. Soft-top sophistication
Another cluster of cars you might never have heard of at the Style et Luxe, including the Austin-Healey Sprite-based Innocenti Spider, and the stillborn Triumph Fury. Which is more exciting than an Acclaim.