2017 Goodwood Festival Mixes The Past, Present, and Future In a Petrol-Powered Celebration of Speed
You can always tell summer has arrived when thousands of people descend on West Sussex to stare at an enormous sculpture and climb a hill as quickly as possible.
Obviously there was a lot more to the 25th Goodwood Festival of Speed than the Hill Climb competition but it is true that for many people this celebration of motoring signals the start of summer. As always there was much to take in with racing cars and road cars, old cars and new cars, and a whole host of teasers and reveals for the future.
Visitors to this year's Festival joined the celebrations to mark 70 years of Ferrari, an event highlighted by a joint appearance from a 1947 125 S and the hyper-exclusive La Ferrari Aperta, the first and latest cars to bear the iconic badge, and huge range of models from the intervening years. A unique opportunity to see a collection of motoring icons cars gathered together in one place.
For those looking for something a bit more sedate there was also a very limited edition of the McLaren 720S to admire. We know sedate isn't usually a word associated with McLaren but this particular 720S was a unique example. Handmade from more than 280,000 Lego bricks, weighing in at 400kg more than an actual 720S and capable of reaching speeds up to zero mph in a staggering zero seconds. Just remember, if you have to ask you can't afford it.
Meanwhile, back in the real world there were quite a few things that might actually make it onto your driveway in the future.
French marque Alpine took the opportunity to display their new A110 which will be available early next year. The new A110 captures the essence of the rallying greats Alpine produced back in the 1960s and 1970s, and quite frankly it's utterly beautiful. A two-seater coupe to rival the Porsche Cayman with lightweight engineering and a 1.8-litre turbocharged engine producing 252bhp. It may not be the most practical car on offer but it's eminently desirable and priced at around £50k it's a lot cheaper than the prancing Italian horses on display.
Speaking of Italians, Maserati chose Goodwood to reveal the latest versions of the GranTurismo and GranCabrio to the public. Again, not the most practical or affordable but if you want elegance and exclusivity it's hard to beat a Maserati. Both versions of this gorgeous coupe are fitted with a 4.7-litre V8 built by Ferrari that churns out 460bhp and will top out around 185mph. If you're feeling a bit rebellious then the Maserati is definitely the non-conformist's choice.
Not everything on display was so glamorously impractical of course.
Nissan opted to show off their BladeGlider concept, an all-electric, two-seat slice of futurism that's unlikely to be any more than a weekend diversion but an excellent showcase of just how far ahead automotive designers are thinking. If you were in any doubt that electricity is the way forward - even without the recent announcement that Volvo will incorporate electric motors into all of their new models within the next few years - then this year's Goodwood Festival would have dispelled them.
The BladeGlider looks fantastic fun but real world applications are always far more pertinent.
From January 2018, as part of the Mayor's plans to combat pollution in the capital, all newly licensed taxis must emit no more than 50g/km with a minimum 30 mile zero emission range. Maker of the iconic black cab, London Taxi Company, have taken this on board and showcased their first electric taxi which is due on sale later this year in time for the new regulations coming into force. Don't get too excited though. The new taxi may have reduced emissions but the driver is unlikely to follow suit.
MINI also showcased the new Countryman SE ALL4 PHEV which is likely to prove immensely popular. The first ever Plug-in Hybrid to wear the MINI badge the Countryman combines an economical, three-cylinder petrol engine and electric motor to produce a total of 224bhp. It has an all-electric range of up to 25 miles and boasts economy figures of 49g/km and around 134mpg. In every other respect it's a regular MINI so popularity is a given. Those emissions figures are simply another reason for sales to climb.
MINI also set up a Countryman “Basecamp” with picnic benches for guests to relax and admire the AUTOHOME roof tent system specifically designed for the Countryman range. Obviously not for everyone but if you can envisage a reason to sleep in a pop-up tent on top of your car then you'll love the concept. A great idea as long as you aren't 6ft 5.
Away from the production cars the first Festival of Speed Future Lab - a new showcase of cutting edge technology - included solar-powered electric planes, flying cars, and star of the show, ROBOCAR, the world's first driverless racing car.
We're not suggesting that you should rush out and buy a flying car, or that Lewis Hamilton will hang up his helmet any time soon, but Future Lab did offer a glimpse into the thought process of the engineers and sheds light on the possible direction of vehicle design. It's not here yet but maybe it would be prudent to start looking into flying lessons for your daily commute.
Solar power and autonomous driving have already arrived in many respects with manufacturers developing increasingly sophisticated systems. There are already cars on the market that incorporate individual elements of autonomous driving and while it's not widespread yet it's only a matter of time. Only last month the government proposed a bill to address the development of autonomous cars and alternative fuel infrastructure and when lumbering behemoths like Parliament get involved it usually means the technology is pretty much sorted and the politicians are desperately playing catch-up.
In terms of what was on display at Goodwood this year much of it will seem fanciful and futuristic but as a lot of the new technology is fine-tuned it's highly likely that similar systems will make it into everyday vehicles in the future. Amongst the traditional displays of power and performance the Future Lab exhibits don't necessarily reflect an immediate vision of the future, more a suggestion of how we can use technology to solve our transport problems in the future.
As for the enormous sculpture?
These have become something of a tradition at Goodwood since the first one was installed in 1997 and are invariably hugely impressive structures. Usually dedicated to a specific manufacturer this year was a celebration of the career of former F1 Supremo Bernie Ecclestone that consisted of a huge steel circle with F1 cars of the last five decades flying off at different angles to represent his time as "driver, manager, team owner, impresario and legend of the sport". A fitting tribute perfectly suited to the Mecca of motor racing history that is the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
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