This is the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed

Yes, that is a genuine Rothmans-liveried, Dakar rally spec Porsche 959, and yes, it’s elevated about a hundred feet off the ground, on the end of  a very elaborate stick. That’s the kind of thing you get when the Goodwood Festival of Speed has a Silver Jubilee to celebrate.

There are motoring events, and there are motoring events, and the FoS falls into the latter category. “Festival of Speed” is to sell it short — this here is a celebration of the car, pure and simple. It just so happens that there be speed thrown into the equation. Quite a lot of it.

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Our cars: A Roving I shall go.

You know, I looked at my watch half an hour back and it was three weeks ago. Something odd is happening to time these days; the continuum appears to not be following the traditional 60 minutes per hour format. And it’s forced my transportational hand somewhat. Long story short, my mollycoddled, babied, cherished Rover is going to cover the best part of 2,000 miles in the next fortnight.

I cover far fewer annual miles than I ever used to – my working pattern means several days can pass where I don’t so much as turn an ignition key. I work from home, and the information I need to do so comes to me electronically. Very modern. It means my driving is mostly made of local shopping trips and occasional parental visits, with longer trips pencilled into the diary and OH MY GOD IS THAT NEXT WEEK?

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The Carchive: The 1974 Bedford Blitz

It’s Friday, and as the weekend approaches with the promise of fun, excitement and joviality, lets take one last gasp of dry, educational tedium. An opportunity to open our collective minds, our curiosity and wonder how we did without our new-found knowledge for so long. Welcome back to The Carchive.

Sprechen sie Deutsche? Well, here’s your chance to learn. With tonight’s trip into the pungent wasteland of motoring history, we’re heading to Germany to look at a British built Commercial Vehicle. It remains unsubstantiated that, as Vauxhall became ever more closely entwined with General Motors as the 1970s progressed, a conference was held to ponder German export opportunities for the brand’s van division. And the man at the back said, “Everyone attack”
And it turned into a Bedford Blitz.

Bedford Blitz.

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The Carchive: TH!NKCity EV

It’s hot out there. Really, really hot. What better than to dive under shelter and relax with a cool, refreshing blast from the past? It’s time to grit our teeth and pull something from the lucky tombola of motoring history.

Last time we prodded a stiff corpse from the past, it was the British Vauxhall Magnum. Today we’re heading to Norway to look at a real curiosity, and a reminder of the shaky, uneven nature of the path that brings us to where we are right now. It’s the TH!NKcity electric car. Welcome back to The Carchive.

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Adventures in wrenching – An admission of ineptitude

I’d much rather be driving my cars than working on them. To be brutally honest, I only own my own tools and twirl them at my car in order to avoid forking out bundles of cash which I could be spending on fuel. Or old car brochures, probably.

In recent times, though, I’ve become increasingly selective on which jobs I’ll gamely tackle myself – I’m not especially keen on suspension or driveshaft jobs, for example, but will happily take on most underhood stuff, including timing belts and the like. I genuinely relish, though, jobs like the one that unfolds after the jump – principally because they offer so much gain for so little.

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The Carchive: The 1973 Vauxhall Magnum

The 2018 World Cup is now in full swing, so I’ve decided to mark it in my own special style by pretending it’s not happening. Perhaps you’ll join me?

“Magnum” is an astoundingly popular name in the automotive world. We’ve seen it before in car form with the Dodge Magnum, we’ve encountered it in articulated truck form with the Renault Magnum, and if I ever find a Rayton-Fissore brochure on eBay for cheap, we’ll meet it again as a luxury SUV. This time, though, it’s a humble British car from 45 years ago. Welcome to the Vauxhall Magnum. Welcome back to The Carchive.

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When toys are wasted on kids.

Kids, eh? Today’s young’uns have no idea that we used to sit around boxes with curved-glass fronts, which flickered away at less than 50hz and provided us with fewer than a hundred channels. If there was something we wanted to watch, we had to either wait for it to be broadcast, or we had to play it back from a magnetic cassette to which we had recorded it earlier. There then came the battle against tracking, where you end up with pesky horizontal lines of a kind you never see on Youtube.

And then there’s toy cars. Looking at the Matchbox and Corgi toys of my youth, even they seem to have been broadcast in low resolution. What I once thought were perfect replicas of the cars I loved so much, were actually coarse, crude and, in many cases, pretty inaccurate. And when I opened this ‘Junior Rescue’ set by Hongwell – clearly marketed at the younger end of the auto-curious spectrum – it became clear that todays cheap toys are far too awesome.

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The Carchive: The SEAT Marbella

It’s been a while since we last held our collective noses and descended into our dark cavern of decay to peer beneath the boulders of history in search of yesterday’s mouldering, whiffy treasure. Welcome back to The Carchive.

Last time it was the Mitsubishi Tredia that came under scrutiny. Today we’re sticking with the ‘eighties and taking a glimpse at the SEAT Marbella: a car that fulfilled that brief of delivering ‘just enough car’; which doesn’t seem to be a thing any more.

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Gonna get myself armrested

Rear wheel drive. A close ratio, six speed manual gearbox. A flat-plane crank V8, twin turbocharged but with so little lag you’d swear it was normally aspirated. Direct-acting rack and pinion steering, with power assistance that gives you no clue it’s there. Grippy tyres with just enough sidewall flex to warn that you’re nearing the limits of adhesion.

My car has none of those things, but what it does have is a socking great big, padded centre armrest, and it’s among the best features a car can boast.

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A taste of the future, in a car from the past

The last time I travelled in a Citroen 2CV, it was right at the beginning of my driving career. I was seventeen, and the venue was a stubble field in a nearby farm, where a group of my schoolfriends had gathered. We were all there in our first cars, and those with the least mechanical sympathy would thrash their steeds mercilessly on the bumpy dirt. Of the motley selection of near-scrap that had assembled, one machine stood head and shoulders above the others where it came to rough terrain prowess – a luridly coloured ‘Bamboo’ edition 2CV.

We each took it in turns to roll the Citroen, gathering as much momentum as possible, making steering inputs that were as vigorous and abrupt as we could. And, although some truly alarming lean angles were achieved, the Tin Snail was resolute on keeping its tyres in with the earth. Things might have been different on solid tarmac, but harsh treatment on this loose surface resulted only in understeer. In fact, the 2CV probably did more ploughing on that summer afternoon than the Farm’s Massey Ferguson would later in the year.

Twenty years later and I’m back in a 2CV. Just like before, we’re on private land, but – although the car is broadly the same, the circumstances are rather different. Different enough for me to fear what my next 2CV experience might involve – when I’m 57.

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