Masses of passionate enthusiasts fly in for the annual Goodwood Revival. Even more drive to the Goodwood Estate in the south of England in their modern daily car. But there are also a surprisingly large number who elect to make the journey to and from a significant part of the whole Revival experience, and as such arrive in real style.
For those committed to bring their own prized classic car to the party, there’s The Revival Car Show. A large field converted into a classic car parking lot, and placed conveniently right next to the “Over the Road” area filled to the brim with food & drink stalls, the Revival Market with masses of vendor stalls, the fairground, the outdoor drive-in-themed Revival Cinema and much more.
Of course, attending the Goodwood Revival is all about the on-track action. Or is it? Perhaps it is in equal measures about authenticity. About traveling back in time to a very different and charming era. Goodwood go to great lengths to create the perfect setting for this to happen. So much so, that in my full report from their 20th anniversary I described it as entering a movie set. But the final touch is definitely delivered by the spectators, where just about everyone makes an effort to arrive in period dress of some sort – be that ladies in extravagant dresses from the roaring twenties, gentlemen in fifties tweed three-piece suits or maybe the de rigueur one-piece mechanic’s overalls. But back to that field – and not least all the fabulous classic cars parked in it. For how could you possibly complete the whole spectacle better than also arriving in a period vehicle? And indeed there were many fabulous examples which had excelled as the means of transport to the Revival and where now displayed at The Revival Car Show.
Even in the name of providing our ViaRETRO readers with hard facts rather than the dreaded fake news, there was no way I was ever going to endeavour counting all the classic cars parked in the field. But when I managed to rip myself away from the Goodwood Circuit on the Saturday, I can easily guarantee that there was well beyond a thousand cars participating in the Revival Car Show. In fact, I would even struggle to put a number to the ones which really stood out and impressed me the most – so vast and diverse was this drool-worthy collection classics being driven to the event.
While still in a minority, there were more pre-war vehicles than at your average static classic car display. The astonishingly bonkers Simplex impressed no end with its size alone, as it took up as much space as would a small truck! It was joined by several almost as big vintage Bentley’s, early Rolls-Royce’s and in the other end of the scale some Midget MG’s, Austin Seven’s, a thoroughly delicious early Frazer Nash BMW, and not least a painstakingly elegant and quite petite open-bodied Fiat Balilla.
Moving on to the post-war classics, which were represented by every European car manufacturing country short of the East Block, of course the United States of America and not least Japan, it was two extravagant Facel Vega’s parked together which truly left me gasping for air. While the opulent HK500 is by far my favourite Facel Vega, pairing it with the later and quite sharp Facel II was certainly effective. What a couple! Admitted, I spent way too long circling these two French mastodons while taking in all their exquisite details such as the split-down-the-middle rear lights of the HK500 with the large “V” in the dividing glass. And then there’s the interiors with the hand-painted facia of the HK500 resembling a large wood panel even better than could an actual piece of wood. Just stunning…
Punching an equally impressive visual impact – albeit in a hugely different way – was the race-breed first-generation Chevrolet Corvair I came across not far from the stylish French Grand Tourer’s. Who ever said that hearing-aid-beige couldn’t be sporty? Even at standstill, this American racer oozed motorsport like few others. Those arch-filling black steel wheels wrapped in wide Dunlop Racing rubber, the super-low suspension set-up, the striped out interior and not least the excellent contrast of the red and blue painted numbers on the doors were simply perfectly balanced. I immediately found myself in a fantasyland of blasting around a dusty oval track somewhere in the south of America.
But if I really had to choose only one, for its sheer beauty alone, it would have to be the streamlined 1938 Jensen-built Steyr 220 McEvoy Special, which had been driven all the way from Austria by its owner. Every bit as aerodynamically elegant as the best of the period BMW 328 Mille Miglia roadsters, this rare Steyr impressed with its unadorned simplicity of design. Such purity! And after a prolonged restoration which was completed only two years ago, luckily for all of us enthusiasts who now get the pleasure of experiencing this unique temptress – the current owner clearly isn’t afraid to use his striking Austrian roadster. Sir, I salute you!
While the Steyr 220 Special had clearly just proven that it is indeed a usable and competent classic car on proper roadtrips, there were of course heaps of excellent classics present which would perhaps offer even more usability and if nothing else a bit more comfort. Favourites of mine included the Peerless GT which I also admired at last year’s Revival, a brilliant blue metallic Gordon Keeble GK1, a very purposeful-looking early Datsun 240Z retaining all of those unique early details of the very first cars off the production line, and not least a gorgeous pale yellow Fiat Dino 2400 Coupé. Any one of these would be more than welcome in my garage…
Other classics in the field made a big point of exhibiting their abilities to take on the most gruelling roads – and dirt tracks – that you could ever dream of throwing at them. How about a Jaguar XK150 FHC for La Carrera Panamericana or an Aston Martin DB6 for Vietnam to Myanmar and back?
And if the iconic JPS colour scheme works so well on a Lotus, then why not try it on an Oldsmobile Super 88 as well? What’s the verdict?
Last year, the Goodwood Revival saw some pretty heavy downpour both leading up to the event, but also during the three days of none-stop celebrations of a golden era. Not surprisingly, this lead to the field in which the Revival Car Show is held being more than just a little muddy. While this might at first sound like an awful thing, I found it actually added to the experience, as the many lovely classics were displayed with a healthy splattering of mud up and down their flanks. It made them look more real, and it proved that these classics were indeed used and enjoyed by their owners out on the open road as they are meant to be. Still, on the whole it was probably a good thing that this year’s Revival was blessed with dry and for the most part sunny weather.
So this year, rather than being fascinated by all the mud, I instead found myself captivated by the number of foreign number plates to be found on the classic cars in The Revival Car Show. It goes without saying that the majority were of course still British, but probably not by near as big a margin as you would have expected. Especially the Belgians were present with their classics by the hoards! In Alfa Romeo’s, Lancia’s, Porsche’s, Ferrari’s and much more. But also the French, Dutch and Germans made a good appearance. I spotted quite a few Austrian and Swiss number plates, and even a Norwegian and what I believe must have been a Luxembourgian number plate on a little Triumph Herald. To all of you, whether you drove an Autobianchi A112 from Germany or a Ferrari 512BB from Belgium – WELL DONE! That is truly encompassing the ViaRETRO-spirit of classic car ownership…
If you’re at the Goodwood Revival, difficult as it may be to leave the action of the circuit and the charm of the High Street behind you, it’s truly worthwhile to dedicate at least an hour to walking the field of The Revival Car Show. In fact, I challenge you to limit yourself to only one hour. I personally needed longer. And if you own a classic car and you’re attending the Goodwood Revival, make the effort to drive it there. It only adds to the whole experience, and as an added bonus others get the pleasure of your pride and joy as well. After all, at the Goodwood Revival – perhaps more than at any other event – you really want to arrive in a suitably period means of transportation. It’s just part of the whole show…