The British motor show is dead (for now), but car enthusiasts of Britain continue to want a flagship motoring event, and I reckon it’s clear they’ve already decided that the ideal event already occurs on England’s South Downs in early July, and it is known as the Goodwood Festival of Speed. It is held this year on 3-5 July.
Think about it: the Festival of Speed eclipses every other motoring event, including the British Grand Prix. It is held in a better location than any London or Birmingham exhibition centre, it contains all the new cars that count, there’s non-stop action, and it can truly claim that there are things for all members of a family to do. And there’s simply no event like the Supercar Paddock in Europe: you can touch the cars one minute, and see them driven at full noise the next.
Question is, can there ever be a decent case for a formal British motor show again?
Before deciding, we have to make a list of the boxes the Goodwood Festival currently doesn’t tick, and decide whether they matter any more.
At present, Goodwood doesn’t present potential buyers with a chance to see every new car, but then the motor show hasn’t done that for years. It doesn’t have a proper press day either; other motor shows do, but that’s mainly a concern to hacks. There’s a bit of leg-work involved in getting yourself from one car stand to the next, and you have to bypass the odd book stall and autojumble stand on the way. But then maybe that provides people with the variety they crave.
I’m fast reaching the opinion that a traditional car show isn’t needed in Britain any more. What counts to car enthusiasts is a fixture that feeds enthusiasm, whose very mention promises absorption, spectacle and good times. That, for me, is what the Goodwood Festival does.
It strikes me the most productive thing the FoS people could do is to accept this new status, to list the traditional motor show components they’re missing (those that matter), and bolt them onto their already-brilliant event.
I wonder what Lord March and his handful of pals would have said, had they contemplated this turn of events when they decided, 17 years ago, to run a few fast cars up the Goodwood drive?