In an era when cities are turning against internal combustion, the existence of MotoFest Coventry is a welcome anomaly. First held in 2014, the event has grown into the largest free of charge urban motorsport festival in the UK, and for two days Coventry is filled with more than 1,000 cars and bikes providing both live action and static displays. I’ll issue a health warning that not all at MotoFest may fully appeal to the archetypal ViaRETRO grumpy old man, but look hard enough and there’ll be something for everyone.
Coventry is an appropriate venue for a festival of motoring as it was once a hive of manufacturing. Firms such as Alvis, Armstrong Siddeley, Daimler, Hillman, Humber, Jaguar, Lanchester, Lea-Francis, Singer, Standard, Sunbeam-Talbot and Triumph all had plants in the area and steady employment helped the city boom. The industry helped the city recover from a comprehensive flattening during World War II and although clean-sheet redevelopment facilitated many an architectural crime, it was better than living in rubble. One product of the futuristic vision was the creation of an inner city ring road encircling the financial and retail district; a sign of a time when the private motor car was seen as integral to urban development. These days the manufacturing plants have long gone but Coventry still retains links to the motor industry. It also retains that notorious ring road and on MotoFest weekend it really comes alive when normal traffic is prohibited and the noisy stuff is let loose.
I’ll let the pictures do the talking and concentrate on the more ViaRETRO approved attractions, but the festival goes way beyond a normal show. The ring road sprint circuit showcases a mix of serious competition cars and what I’d call trinket poseur accessories, but it all brings in the crowds. Personally, I can’t get too excited by modern supercars as they’re really just a (sizeable) credit agreement way from reality and real exclusivity is largely a thing of the past. They’re also largely either hideous or underwhelming, but don’t be concerned as I didn’t photograph any. Neither will I bring you anything stanced, scene or covered in hashtag stickers, because although our hobby is a broad church, there are some diocese that are plain wrong. You’ll be safe here, but regardless of your preferences the fact that MotoFest happens at all should be celebrated.
Step into the gallery then, I’ve applied the appropriate filters to minimise offence. You’ll see plenty of locally built marques, Citroëns celebrating their Centenary, Jaguar’s XKSS and D-Type Continuations open to the elements and at risk of sticky fingers, and a bear with a driving licence. You can breathe a sigh of relief and be comfortable that nothing bad will happen. But in the spirit of full disclosure, I should mention there is a Maestro…