Sunday, 26 September 2010

Glorious Goodwood

Off-track the Goodwood Revival is a paradise. The racing is fine but how glorious to find oddball cars you haven’t seen for years. An Austin Sixteen like the one in which I passed my driving test. A bit down at heel perhaps but what do you expect for a 63 year old? They made 36,000 for a post-war car-starved market. And Riley RMs. There seemed to be a lot this year. Imagine it; torsion bar independent suspension and twin high-camshafts in 1946-1952. How well-proportioned and what fun for geeks looking for dark blue badges for 1½ Litres and light blue for the 2½. The first time I saw 100mph from a driving seat was in a 2½ in Glencoe. Maybe it wasn’t quite. Speedometers were notoriously optimistic, but it certainly felt like it. The car park was full of that were quite ordinary a generation ago, like the Austin A70 Hampshire converted into a woody estate. I wonder if it was original. Quite a lot were made as estates in a wheeze to escape tax. I wonder if it was sold.
Exotics in the car park. The Hispano-Suiza badge features the colours of Spain (red and yellow) and the Swiss white cross on red. The story behind the stork, like the Ferrari prancing horse, goes back to a First World War aviator, in this case the French ace Georges Guynemer an adversary of the Red Baron. His SPAD biplane, powered by a Hispano-Suiza V8, failed to come back from a flight over the Western Front on 9 September 1917. His squadron adopted the stork symbol of Alsace (annexed by Bismarck in 1870-1871, which France was then trying to win back) and in 1919 it was applied to the cars made at Bois-Colombes, in the Rue du Capitaine Guynemer.
Aeroplanes were one of the best bits. This is Number One daughter with the Spitfire. She is into vintage clothing and the hat is based on a 45rpm vinyl record. See It is astonishing how the British enjoy dressing up. The period feel is amazing even though what looks like a visiting general taking to Dad’s Army is a Major with a staff officer’s hat and the medal on the left dates from the First World War (but with the ribbon the wrong way round). Well maybe not so odd. Quite a lot of the Walmington-on-Sea worthies guarding the Tangmere satellite airfield were probably 1914-1918 veterans.

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