Andrew Gonsalves toots a horn of approval as he wanders among Ferraris and unlikely Fiats
The Goodwood Revival could easily run the risk of being the automotive equivalent of Ladies' Day at Royal Ascot. The festival, which celebrates motor cars from the Sixties and earlier, encourages those in attendance to dress in period costume and enter into the revivalist spirit.
Ladies' Day often turns into a farce. The focus is usually on the stands rather than on the track, with guests vying for the most attention-grabbing outfit, regardless of how tasteful it is. Pictures of revelers who've overindulged, many with skin a dubious shade of ochre, make excellent tabloid fodder the following day.
Not so at Goodwood. The fashions are impressive, with real thought having gone into many of them (not least the costumes of the ever-polite staff), and I saw no one with fake-tanned skin a shade only usually seen in pottery. Guests retained their composure, taking tea at the many pit stops. (Occasionally an ale or glass of Veuve too.) However, the focus remained very firmly on those powered by oil, rather than tea or hops.
For all the fun of the Revival, there's a serious motoring element to it too. A feast of cars from Britain, the continent and the USA were in attendance, showcasing the best of a bygone era. In the Earl's Court Motor Show, held in a reconstructed miniature Exhibition Centre now the original has been demolished, every Ferrari supercar from the 250 to the LaFerrari was on display.
It was an interesting weekend over in Bonham's auction tent, too. A number of motors from soon-to-be-Top-Gear-host Chris Evans' collection were entered into the Saturday sale, including three Ferraris.
One of these, a black 365GTS 'Daytona' Spider, was once owned by William F Harrah, the American gaming magnate who founded Harrah's Entertainment. The company is now known as Caesars Entertainment and owns, among other things, Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The three prancing horses went for a total of ’5.5 million.
The car from Evans' collection that raised the most smiles wasn't anything so glamorous though. It was a faithful replica of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang- completed with the help of the film's assistant art director, Oscar-winner Peter Lamont. The car even has the wings – and must be one of the only road-legal cars in the country to do so. It sold for ’190,000.
Of the other vehicles up for grabs on the Saturday, there were two that couldn't fit in the auction tent. One was a 1992 Airstream motorhome. With a polished aluminum fuselage, faithful to the pre-war trailers the company is famed for, it was easily as long as Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square is tall. It would make the perfect base for a grand tour of Europe or, indeed, the cavernous car park of any suburban American mall.
The other was a Fiat-Bartoletti racing car transporter dating from 1956. That this historic yet proletarian vehicle fetched nearly ’600,000 proves that the appeal of the track spreads far beyond the cars that are raced, which is perhaps what the Goodwood Revival is all about.
Photographs by Andrew Gonsalves