Look past the obvious pandemic-shaped news and these past 18 months haven’t been much better for the die-hard Speedhunter.
In the UK and Europe, we’ve officially been handed our judgement day: January 1, 2030. That’s when all (new) ICE-powered cars will no longer be eligible for sale, and that includes hybrids.
Over at Hethel, Lotus Cars have just launched their last ever petrol-burning sports car in the form of the Emira. It’s a proper belter, and while I struggle with the idea of an all-electric Lotus in the future they’re at least going out with a bang.
Which is more than can be said for the trusty German powerhouse that is Mercedes-AMG. We’re in for much downsizing and piped-in engine noise unfortunately. That also means the next-gen C63 AMG will get a four-cylinder hybrid engine, a far cry from the 6.2-litre V8 brute we celebrated a decade ago.
To shake a fist at all this would be very archaic and very boomer. The world is constantly changing – as is public perception towards sustainability – and the demographic for who these kinds of cars appeal to simply isn’t the same as past generations.
In fact, the general consensus between EV carmakers is that younger people aren’t particularly fussed about oil-burning tech; they want mobility… but they want it clean. Which is a handy narrative to play into.
We’re continually told to look forward, not behind. Bizarre BMW marketing campaigns will even shun an iconic flagship model like the E65 760Li to try and elevate the downright gawky BMW iX. There’s no attempt at inclusion here; either join the revolution or be left behind, you ruddy dinosaur.
So it’s easy to feel a bit disheartened by it all, especially if you not only burn fossil fuels but actively enjoy it. You could even say it’s become a bit taboo. But as the internet has shown over the years, it doesn’t matter how obscure your interest is, there’s always something out there for you. Yup, and there’s always Goodwood Festival of Speed.
We didn’t get a FoS last year for obvious reasons, and we nearly didn’t get one this year either. But after being approved for ‘test event’ status just two weeks earlier – which would require all attendees to be Covid tested every day – Goodwood not only got the green light, but with full capacity too. And while it felt downright weird at times, it was a welcome reminder that, no matter what our automotive future looks like, it will always have a global following.
Not that Goodwood is a two fingers up to EVs kind of event; quite the opposite. As the name suggests, this is a festival of speed and not just a festival of internal combustion. EV, hybrid and hydrogen-powered cars all took to the hill alongside their counterparts dating right back to the early 1900s.
This year’s show included an Electric Avenue (not endorsed by Eddy Grant) along with a future lab giving us a glimpse into what the next decade of motoring could look like. Apparently, that’s LED lights and overly-complex wheel designs.
But let’s be honest, the real reason for attending Goodwood is the hillclimb. In recent years it’s adopted the term ‘moving motorshow’ which couldn’t be more accurate. I can’t think anything more frustrating than seeing acres of performance cars laid up in show halls, the only evidence of speed being a continually-looped video playing behind ‘em. You say it’s 1,200bhp, but is it really?
Manufacturers ruled the roost on Thursday, and if you think that’s a bad thing just listen to the Aston Martin Valkyrie rip up the 1.16-mile hillclimb. I urge you to find a better-sounding production car right now, and that includes in motorsport. Add it in the comments if you find one, because I absolutely want to hear it.
Friday through to Sunday is the real main attraction; pre-war monsters, F1 legends, drift cars, NASCARs, Group C Le Mans and all eras of rallying. From a photography point of view it’s a bit of a nightmare. You want to mix up angles and locations, but there’s always something special lining up you simply must watch before moving on. Repeat this eight times a day, every day, and that’s Goodwood in a nutshell.
For me, the one car I couldn’t not watch was the Ric Wood Motorsport R32 Skyline GT-R. Built to full Group A specification and wearing the period correct HKS livery, it performed (and sounded) even better than it looked.
That was helped mainly due to British Touring Car ace Jake Hill behind the wheel, who during the Sunday shootout decimated the course in under 49-seconds. Not only did he win the Super Saloon class, he also embarrassed a whole lot of newer, more powerful race cars in the process. Not bad for ’90s tech.
With our EV future looking decidedly closer this year, do you think events like the Goodwood Festival of Speed are becoming more or less relevant? I’m biased – as I’d imagine the bulk of you will be too – and while the performance/tech being employed by the likes of Rimac is mind-boggling, I’ll always struggle to look at anything EV-powered on an emotive level.
But then, as a man who takes no better joy than sitting on a hill watching old race cars belch out plumes of smoke, tech and forward-thinking aren’t exactly words I’ll ever be associated with. And that’s absolutely fine with me.Gallery