The sun shone on the south of England today as this year’s Festival of Speed entered its third day.
Canadian marque Toronto kicked off Saturday with a new 2+2 GT Coupe called the 705. Simple naming meets clean but bold design, perhaps only tainted by the odd chrome lines on the rear of this thing. Still, with a 6.5 V12 under the bonnet, you can hardly say this thing isn’t meeting all the GT cruiser requirements, and it’s pretty damn quick for such a big car, wafting up the climb in a smidgen over 56 seconds. We’ll be seeing it again sometime next year when it’s launched for real.
Cornaldie gave their display next with the, er, ‘Spaziale’, the name of which was taken with some odd glances from the British general public and a few “that sounds a little offensive” from some of the more upper class visitors at the show. That said, it did impress on the run up the climb; this 604 hp mid-engined coupe was very flat through all the corners and very nippy. Prices start at $82k, making it awfully cheap for a 600 hp mid-engined supercar. This is a one to watch if you’re looking for a proper budget supercar.
Zenshi ran a new GTE-spec version of the stunning Raizan X1, and somehow they’ve managed to make the rear of this thing look even better. I had to go to the Zenshi tent afterwards just to oggle at this thing. It also happens to be very fast, and even built specifically to the current GTE standards and being quite limited in its power, it’s one of the fastest cars of this year’s show so far. The dream of a new endurance series where we might get to see this and many other cars like it lives on.
A quick run to the burger van for lunch and I was back again for the Shromet Dragon’s run up the climb. The stylish coupe was revealed earlier this year, and its fair to say that any new sports coupe gets its christening by appearing here. It was shortly followed by a tuned version of their mid-size Mystic. What with 400 hp under the bonnet and a price of $30k brand new, it has the potential to be a real bargain, and was certainly quick for what it is on the climb.
Manson Motor Sport gave us an odd showing by not actually running anything up the climb and instead only showing us the side of two cars. Still, they were keen to point out that one of them was the 2002 MMS Goshawk, which was supposedly heralded as a “spiritual successor to the Ferrari F40” (though a flick through the S.A.M. archives reveals no such claims being made by this publication). Yet they showed us very little in the way of performance specs; odd. Still, 15 years later and they’re celebrating the company’s founding with a side profile of a very green, supposedly 1000 hp “old school” hypercar that doesn’t even have a sequential gearbox. Apparently, this new version of the Goshawk will be “the last few cars developed, engineered and assembled exclusively in Australia for years to come”. Apparently, MMS haven’t heard of DSD, ANZ, Gryphon Gear, or even the cars own engine manafacturer, Albury.
Bamford and Bamtech made their main showing today, having given us a plethora of classic racers to behold as they drive up the climb. Another BRC classic, the Shark GT made an excellent run, though the same could not be said for the modified IA Advance which rolled over on one of the last bends. The Bam/VW HA Shark, a former Le Mans winner, shouted its way up the course in glorious fashion before rounding off their display with a Teuton 301 Grp. B, which made a whole lot of noise and a whole lot of smoke. It did make it up though - just - sadly not posting the best of times. Still, plenty of drama.
Contendiente were back at it with its new experimental hyper thing, the Misil. The Spanish car maker have kept the details of this creation very quiet, and it blitzed the course in just under 46 seconds, making it a very strong contender for this years fastest time.
Orchid were also back again send the Jespar RR flying up the course. There’s been a bit of a deficit in the 90s cars department this year the RR made up for it, packing 534 hp under the bonnet and posting a decent time.
With the day drawing to a close, Maesima and Sachiuri took centre stage for some properly special runs up the climb. The Anikatian duo have two of the biggest stands at this year’s show, and they’re well worth a visit (though do try to avoid the people in smart clothes trying to sell you a new Maesima Devina), and both companies have sent some great cars up the climb this year, including the Prova MS-R01, fresh from the ATCC. But, they truly saved the best 'til last; a gorgeous NRX-085, B-spec, in full original MRD livery, certainly one of the 80s prettiest endurance racers, which was then followed by the gorgeous Sachiuri Sagitta GTE Prototype. In its simple, colour-only livery and rocking full aero packs and what not, it looked stunning. But not as stunning as the stunned look on the Sachiuri team’s faces when their GTE prototype wasn’t as fast as Zenshi’s. I’m sure there are already phonecalls being made to sort out an extensive tuning program for the Sagitta GTE right now.
The penultimate act today was Airborne, who’s stand has been frequented by many the automotive historian due to the range in age of cars on display. The company’s first prototype racer, the LM65, was on display, which owned the P 5.0 class that year. Also on show was a very special car from a sadly never-to-be-seen part of motorsport history, the GSX. Made to enter into the fated Group S category (the successor to Group B), this GSX is a RWD only model, after its AWD sister test car was ruined in a crash. Few other Group S prototypes remain, and to see one out on display like this is particularly special. Out on the climb, the Synth GT1 Stradale tore up the track and brought some much needed 90s GT1 action to the track, and it was followed by its younger relative the F15 Patricia, Airborne’s AMWEC 15 entrant.
Closing the show were newcomers Raidan who went up with a specially organised run of every single new trim of the Sorena midsize sedan. It is the single most un-designed car I’ve ever seen, with the coupe version looking a Chinese knock-off of an original Audi TT that came out of a fax machine poorly. And I’m sorry, but a 6.3l V8 pumping out 515hp and it can’t even push the fastest AWD variant below 57 seconds? Their turbo option isn’t exactly much better, with that extra 77 hp barely getting it up the climb any faster. So no, this car is not “very quick”. But what’s worst of all about this thing is that it has no passion. The Festival of Speed is a festival of speed. It’s about car makers and car enthusiasts showing off their love for automotive performance, and we’ve already seen just how much passion there is for making fast cars and displaying them here already. It’s what the show has always showcased so well. And that, as a result, makes the Sorena more than anything else, a shame. It is an unloved car that hasn’t been given the treatment and devotion to creating something brilliant that it deserves, unlike every other vehicle here.
And with that, another day closes. It’s the last day of the show tomorrow, and I’ve got a date with destiny; meeting the Bonham Owners Club and low and behold, my grandfather. What joy.
See you then!
- Gavin Anderson