The Goodwood Festival of Speed is not only about cars up the Hill or manufacturers' stands trying to entice potential customers. In a most agreeable setting on the lawns of Goodwood House there is also the Cartier Style et Luxe Concours d'Elegance. There are a number of categories all vying for the vote of various celebrity judges plus the honour of 'Best in Show'. Themes for this year included "Alfresco Exotica", "Serious Wedge", "100 Years of Bugatti" and "Mini Adventures".
Serious Wedge could have been the theme for radio/TV "personality" Chris Evans' collection of Ferraris that appeared in front of the House on Sunday morning. It included his Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider, that he purchased last year for $10.9 million, generating the expected blaze of publicity.
After a quick look round the Concours, it became clear that there was one car that stood head and shoulders above the opposition, the Hispano-Suiza H6C Xenia. This car was built in 1938 to act a showcase for the new suspension system of Andre Dubonnet. Dubonnet (part of the drinks family) commissioned Jean Andreau, a noted aerodynamics expert to design state of the art bodywork. The construction was by Jacques Saoutchik and the finished product was this amazing art deco machine.
It is a car like no other and easily took top honours in the Goodwood concours. It also achieved Mr Dubonnet's aim at the time, he sold his enclosed coil spring suspension system to Alfa Romeo, General Motors and Fiat. The buyers will have been stunned by the grace and beauty of this piece of art.
At the other end of the spectrum comes the 1972 Guyson E12. This ultimate wedge is based on a V12 Jaguar E-Type, words fail me.
No it does not get any better, no matter what angle you look at it from.
Another member of the "Alfresco Exotica" is the TVR Trident Roadster dating back to 1967. Despite a lot interest in this and the coupe version, TVR were in financial difficulties and this model never made production. Blackpool's finest did not worry the Italian superstars.
1973 and the AC 428 Convertable, a combination of US technology from Ford, Italian styling from Frua and British………..well not sure what we brought to the party…………but it sure was not business acumen as only 28 of these gorgeous softops were sold.
Much more successful in commercial and artistic terms was the Ferrari 365 GTS/4 even if it irritates Ferrari that it known simply as the Daytona Ferrari. The production run on this elegant creation extended to 1406 of which 122 were Spiders but many more have been converted since.
Another V8 Chrysler powered supercar of the time was the Monteverdi 375C
Where Ferrari goes, Maserati are sure to follow…………………The Ghibli Spyder has a real touch of class.
The class titled "Serious Wedge – Studies in Angular Sportscar Design 1965-1980" does exactly what it says on the label. Not a curve in sight, except in the skirt. This improbable green machine is an Alfa Romeo Carabo, dating from 1968 and based on the T33 sports prototype.
Eleven years on and the Aston Martin Bulldog arrived. Conceived as a test bed for the comapny's engineers with perhaps an optimistic planned production run of 25. It had a 5.3 litre twin turbo to send it on its way and reached over 190mph during trials. It remained a one off.
This space ship originated from Luton………..it is the 1970 Vauxhall SRV
Another styling excercise it actually had four doors, the rear pair having no handles and adjustable suspension and aerodynamics.
1959 saw the launch of the Mini so a display of some of the odder examples of the car during the past 50 years was arranged.
In 1966 The Beatles were easily the biggest thing in the entertainment world……….so their manager Brian Epstein gave them each a Mini Cooper. This one was George Harrison's which he personalised as his 'Tantric' car in line with the social fashions of that year.
Perhaps more appropriate to the setting is this 1965 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud lll Continental.
And to round off the look at life on the lawn a car fit for a King…….well the Shah of Persia actually and not a car but a Bugatti Type 57C Cabriolet, automotive art at its peak.