Yes, of course Saturday also counts as a ‘car show’ at Players Classic, but this is my article, my rules and I like these titles as a pair.
Sundays are different entirely, as Goodwood Circuit is closed for the day in order to park show cars from the end of the last curve all the way to the first corner. This is in addition to the paddocks, pit lane, in between the two and the front ‘lawn’ on the outside of the track. On a Sunday, Players Classic is a large show.
My Sunday began a lot less relaxedly than my Saturday, as dusty overnight rain had left my car looking like a Saudi Arabia abandonment special. I wasn’t alone; at the local self-service jet-wash, a few others attending Players had also turned up for a quick pre-show wash.
Parked up inside, and with most of the sand removed, it was apparent there would be a lot of walking ahead. Without a plan though, it would be easy to spend hours lost amongst the sea of cars.
Most plans concerning show coverage begin with coffee, and Sunday was no exception. The location of the nearest caffeine dispensary was next to the ILB Drivers Club stand, where the boys had a timeless black BMW E28 and BBS RS combo on display.
Across the lawn was an incredible S14 Nissan 200SX, running Air Lift Performance suspension, Work Equip split rims, and possibly the tidiest engine bay I’ve ever seen in an S-chassis car.
The Nissan shared the lawn with a lovely yellow Beetle affectionately named ‘Teenage Kicks’, and a beautiful Oak Green Porsche 964.
Back in the paddocks, big brake kits, BBS GTs and VW Golfs seemed to be the flavour of the day. A Mk6 GTI was parked next to me, featuring an Aston Martin front calliper conversion as well as a twin calliper-rear setup behind fully polished BBS wheels. This car was absolutely dripping in carbon details both outside and under the bonnet.
Parked next to the Mk6 GTI was a Mk5 on chrome powder-coated Audi Rotor wheels that barely cleared the acid green Brembo big brake kit. Talk about cutting it fine; the owner probably couldn’t fit two sheets of paper in that gap.
In the next paddock over sat another Mk6 GTI on BBS GT wheels. This time though, the wheel faces were actually skinned in carbon fibre and sat over a VW R big brake conversion.
One notable feature from this year’s Players Classic Sunday – big brakes and BBS wheels aside – was the absolute strangest and most changeable weather. Fortunately I keep a waterproof jacket in my kit bag, as in the space of two hours we went from chilly overcast to Sahara sun, with a few spots of tropical shower along the way.
A personal favourite of mine from the paddocks was Jayme Hill’s engine-swapped Mini, as featured by Cian at Dubshed in May. To quote my colleague: “The longer you spend nosing around the finer details of this amazing build, the better it gets,” and I can verify this is 100% the truth.
It wasn’t all German and British, as there was a fantastic example of an AE86 Toyota Sprinter Trueno parked in between paddocks. Panda paint scheme, Epsilon wheels and more JDM-inspired references than you could shake a shinai at – if there were a prize for ‘Most Honourable’ car, this Toyota would have taken it.
As promised in Saturday’s coverage, here’s that Ford Sierra ‘LS 400’ which had experienced a mishap on track the day before. It was nothing a quick trip for a spare track rod end, a hammer and a comedic sticker couldn’t solve. If you hadn’t worked it out by now, the correct answer for the Sierra’s powerplant is a 1UZ-FE out of, you guessed it, a Lexus LS 400.
Other paddock highlights included Charlie Dunn’s magnificent supercharged Audi RS4…
…A purple-on-gold, MK-Motorsport-engined BMW E30…
…And Matt Hagan’s Mk2 VW Golf. I previously spotlighted this car when I saw it at Tucked at the Manor, but the Golf was now sporting Epsilon mesh split rims and had been repaired after being forced off the road into a lamp post by a learner driver. It was nice to see it not only back up to scratch, but even better with, in my opinion, the perfect set of wheels. A little Easter egg for you: The set on Matt’s car were originally on a Ferrari Testarossa.
The grassy alley in between the pit lane and paddock is home to some very spicy builds, year after year.
This year it ranged from Carrera Bodyworks’ in-progress Mk4 Ford Escort performance build…
…To Aiman Bugis’ E31 BMW 840Ci on Air Lift Performance suspension, there’s something for everyone on the lawn and the quality is always high.
This year there was a very strong showing of old school Ford Escorts, of which the beige Mk2 – on what I believe are gold Image RM1 wheels – took my fancy.
Josh Greswell’s GX61 Toyota Mark II deserves a mention for having one of the most trick home-brewed suspension systems I’ve seen in a long time. My colleague Michal may have a feature coming up so I’ll let him explain, but it’s very cool. Plus, not that any factual details seem to exist, but the wheels Josh had fitted for Players are known as ‘Marios.’ It would have been rude not to get some photos really…
Two icons in the UK VW scene were parked side-by-side in front of the ‘Goodwood Motor Circuit’ sign. The first belongs to Patric James, one of the core Players family who founded the Westside VW Club years ago. Patric’s always been an advocate for the Corrado, and his silver example is one of his best. Best detail? The Lancia Delta Integrale Martini edition seats inside (which I handily took no photos of…)
Next to him was Alex Wright, whose Mk1 Golf needs no introduction, although this time he brought his static Audi S3 out to display. Always one to push the boat out, Alex had fitted 20-inch wheels on the hot hatch. I was skeptical about this detail when I found out online, but I have to say that in person it just works.
One thing I did not expect to see on the day was a Group A-spec E30 BMW M3. Plain white with no livery, the body lines were easy to admire, those box arches especially.
For some reason, Ford owners absolutely love a mirror and a concours-tidy undercarriage. I understand the desire to show off your better-than-factory floor, but my god, I could not imagine the patience required to maintain it.
What’s an easy way to draw a crowd? Revving. In particular, revving a Chevy Chevelle with a mammoth supercharger and air intake jutting out of the bonnet.
American cars aren’t that common here in the UK, small roads and fuel prices have ensured that over the years. But for anyone who’s watched The Fast and The Furious growing up, the letters BDS on a ‘blower’ mean the car is something to be reckoned with.
Prefer your revving a touch smoother? It also came available in straight-six form.
At a show like Players Classic, there is so much to look at it’s almost impossible to take it all in. Saturday definitely seemed to be the more relaxed day, but that was most likely down to what seemed like less visitors than Sunday. The sheer volume of spectators the show attracts is unreal, even with unpredictable and fairly unpleasant weather.
And yet, no matter how big the show has become over 16 years of Players, you can tell that Jay, Carl and the rest of the Players family are very much at the heart of them all.
The award ceremonies are always a laugh, not only in amongst themselves, but with the crowd too.
It’s easy to forget that most shows start as a bunch of mates who decide to put on a meet, which evolves over time or dies. Yet to keep the show growing to the extent they have, while still keeping it friendly and fun, the gents have done a proper job.
Players Classic embodies what is great about the car scene, and I can’t wait for next year’s show.
I’ve still got some spotlights to come, but the huge gallery below should hold you over till then.