Car design enthusiasts without even a passing fondness for a carefully calibrated engine note may struggle at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. A quiet place for the contemplation of automotive art it is not.
However, the sheer scale and variety of vehicles on offer – crucially moving as well as static – is what makes the event, set within Lord March's huge country estate on England's south coast near Chichester, like no other in the world.
Classic motorbikes, F1, Le Mans and rally cars plus the latest production supercars take turns to roar up Goodwood's famous hill climb route. Exotic concepts and one-off coach-built cars nestle on the lawns outside the main estate buildings – this year suitably Diamond Jubilee-themed around cars Queen Elizabeth II has been ferried around in – and then there are off-road courses, conventional motorshow stands, weird automotive memorabilia stalls and more.
Steadily expanding in size and scope since its 1993 launch, the 2012 Festival of Speed has recently started to attract global product launches normally reserved for motorshows – this year the Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake was unveiled to the public after its private unveil at Brooklands the night before – as well as allowing a few lucky visitors the chance to drive some of the new cars themselves at the Moving Motorshow part of the show. A new record attendance of 185,000 people over the now four-day event from Thursday to Sunday attests to its popularity, the only downside of which can be large queues on the more obvious routes to the venue.
Still, using a ‘who dares wins' attitude, coupled with a large amount of luck, Car Design News discovered a sneaky traffic-free country back-road route to Goodwood to bring you 2012's design highlights from what the organisers describe, and still with some justification, as the "biggest motoring garden party in the world"...
1. A perfect place to start at Goodwood to witness the design style and graphic elegance of classic motorsport vehicles up close is the Cathedral Paddock. The beautifully clean nose cone designs of the blue and gold 1962 Brabham-Climax BT3 (left) and gold and green 1963 Brabham-Climax BT7 (right) are perfect examples.
2. The Group C racing series brought a wonderfully aerodynamic and fitted body shell look to racing car design from the early 1980s with speeds topping 250mph at Le Mans. The 1987 Jaguar XJR8/9 livery makes smoking Silk Cut cigarettes seem like a great idea...
3...as does drinking Martini when seeing the 1982 Lancia LC1
4. The fluoro wing mirrors on the 1991 Mercedes-Benz C291 is an accent that still looks thoroughly contemporary in 2012.
5. The radical Gandini-penned Lancia Stratos rally car not only looked great but dominated world rallying in mid-70s winning the WRC from 1974 to 1976.
6. The 1985 Renault Maxi Turbo pops and bangs its way back to the paddock displaying a fine line in exaggerated rally car design. Note the flared and vented rear wheel arch, protruding front lights and red all-of-a-piece, jutting A-pillar, cant rail and rear spoiler.
7. The 2012 Renault Alpine A110-50 celebrates 50 years of the original A110 with a stunning mid-engined supercar concept. Only recently unveiled at the 2012 Monaco Grand Prix, Goodwood gave a great early opportunity to view the vehicle's design details up close. Nice to see the A110-50's handlers thought about their outfits too, rocking suitably two-tone blue Adidas Gazelles.
8. An unidentified classic storms up the hill.
9. No car design concourse is complete without at least one Alfa Romeo. Here's the 1953 6C 3000 CM with a fetching yellow goatee...
10. ...and the substantially vented nose of the 1932 Alfa Romeo Gran Premio Tipo B ‘P3'. The straight-eight masterpiece raced to victory at the 1935 German Grand Prix with Nuvolari at the wheel, beating Mercedes and Auto union on their home turf.
11. The 2012 BAC Mono is one of most original and well-resolved small sportscar designs of the last few years. The ultra-lightweight 540kg single-seater from the Cheshire, UK got a lot of love at Goodwood, and in our opinion, with good reason.
12. The angularity of the Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 is actually less brutal up close and displays great attention to detail from its hexagonal fuel cap to its sharp and thoughtfully placed shut-lines and finish. It's a true Lamborghini, but now with build quality to match.
13. Cartier's ‘Style et Luxe' display never fails to impress. This year's Diamond Jubilee-themed display featured numerous cars Queen Elizabeth II used in various royal visits. This one-off 1937 Daimler 4.5-litre V32 Shooting Brake was entered into the exhibition by the Queen herself, and features a real wood exterior, folding luncheon table, plus drop-down windows and special gun racks for shooting from within the car.
14. The 1953 Land Rover Series I 'State IV Royal Review Vehicle' was custom-designed with a rear platform so royal passengers could acknowledge the crowd without let or hindrance. The 4x4 did 50,000 miles on a six-month Commonwealth tour soon after the Coronation and remained on duty until being replaced by a Range Rover in 1974.
15. This 1953 Humber Super Snipe Drophead also served duty for the Commonwealth Coronation Tour in 1953-54. Coach-built from a standard 4.1-litre saloon by the Jones Brothers of Kilburn in London, its interior is arguably its most interesting aspect, featuring a wonderful gold dashboard with a sunrise-style speedometer in the upper section and a ribbed lower area. It also sported folding B-pillars and pull-out blinds behind the driver/passenger division in order to protect royal knees from sunburn in hot countries.
16. The Queen took this 1950 Lincoln Cosmopolitan Limousine ‘Bubbletop' to the White House in 1957. Commissioned by US President Harry S Truman in 1950 with a whopping 3,683mm (145-inch) wheelbase the unusual ‘bubbletop' canopy was added in 1954 by Dwight D Eisenhower after he realised no one could see him with the top up when it rained. Who said long rear overhangs are bad?
17. For ceremonial occasions the French President retains two Citroën SM Presidentielle Landaulet models. Originally created for President Georges Pompidou by coachbuilder Henri Chapron they are based on the SM Opera special edition four-door coupe and saw use when the Queen visited Paris in 1972. It also features a special low-speed gear for smooth parading. Note the super-modern cabin, bar the now-primitive radio situated in the transmission tunnel.
18. This super-shiny 1925 Rolls-Royce 20HP was a special order for the Maharajah of Bharatpur, but its cabriolet body by Windover of London proved so heavy Rolls-Royce reportedly refused to issue a guarantee for it. It ended up being used for tiger shooting, thus the extra side body-mounted spotlight. The Duke of Edinburgh rode in it during a visit to the Maharajah's palace in 1965, but now restored and living in the UK, tigers can thankfully sleep safe once more.
19. This '32 Ford ‘Rat Rod' belongs to Lord March for driving around his estate. Luckily for its longevity the rusty look is just a paint effect, the bodywork is in good condition, the engine a 1950s Lincoln unit.
20. Lotus's future road-going car business may be uncertain, but it mustered a fine display of its great motorsport vehicles as lead sponsor of the 2012 event, with a huge signature Gerry Judah swirling sculpture of cars and metal outside Goodwood House.
Show Review: Goodwood Festival of Speed 2011