We all set off for the Goodwood Revival on Friday, wondering how different it would be this year. After all, we reckoned, this event seems to depend particularly heavily on its corporate sponsors - and given that there’s a recession going on, aren’t such people in full retreat?

Given the trepidation, one of the special pleasures of Revival '09 was to discover that it was as wonderful as ever. There were indeed fewer corporate sponsors, but the comforting swell of car-loving private citizens from all over Europe - and of people who wouldn’t miss this fixture for anything, even the implementation of entry fees - entirely made up for it.

Besides, it soon became clear that there are still plenty of people for whom a recession means nothing: at the Bonhams classic car sale, someone paid £15,000 for a child’s pedal car styled like at Aston Martin DBR2, around 50 per cent more than the auctioneers’ estimate. (The only thing wrong with the Bonhams Revival sale, actually, was that yet again it contained very little to give the ordinary old car lover hope. This auction firm, perhaps understandably, is tending to concentrate exclusively on cars with amazing provenance and eye-watering prices, thus encouraging many of us ordinary people to walk past its vast marquee without bothering to look inside...)

The genius of Goodwood’s Revival is the fact that every year it is substantially the same, a reaffirmation that the pre-'65 era was indeed a golden age. Yet Lord March and his henchmen realised long ago that the trick was to provide different things: this year the things that made the difference were Mini racing (though we missed the rest of the old saloons), Sir Stirling Moss’s birthday, lots of aerial activity — starring the Vickers Vimy and Avro Vulcan — a large increase in full functioning period garage displays (Morgan celebrated its centenary by appearing to build a Plus Four Plus coupe) and full realisation of the new ‘Earls Court’ motor show pavilion, in future to carry the name of that famous London exhibition centre permanently.

There is simply no other classic car event which provides such an intoxicating variety of fine cars, or which works so well for people whose interest is not primarily in on-track action. One Autocar staffer is already saying that next year he’ll go to the Revival on both Saturday and Sunday, but take in the main event on only one of them — because he believes there’s a full day’s enjoyment to be had in simply walking around the classic car park, savouring cars that are hardly ever seen on public roads, or on the sales inventories of classic car dealerships.

Just like every year, this year’s Goodwood Revival was the same, but different...

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