It’s the last day at the Festival of Speed 2017, but the drama and excitement have not let up even for a moment.
AL Autos opened Sunday with a number of their more significant models, these being the Berlina and the Actio, and a new model, the Novem. The car may appear to be squinting a bit and the back is far too overdone for its own good, but they’ve managed to squeeze in another new V8 bi turbo producing 944 hp . It’s good for 0-60 in 2.5 seconds and tops out at 231 mph, but couldn’t match a number of cars that are, on paper, less powerful and not as fast than it on the climb.
Orchid launched the newest version of the Jespar today, with this 3rd gen being powered by a 3.0l i6 producing 510hp. It cleared the course very quickly, and with so much power and performance for just £54k, it looks like this year’s show has produced yet another bargain performance car. An original Lyrel from 1976 was also taken up the course to (partially) celebrate the company’s 70th birthday.
Outside of the hill climbs, Harris launched a new version of the Conqueror, this being the 5th generation of the British limousine. The 600hp V12 super sedan appears to have taken its design cues from the previous gen Honda Accord at the front and advice from an 8 year old boy who’s just seen his first F&F movie at the rear. They then continued their obsession with cars in portrait with side views of their cars by announcing a load of updates and facelifts, though no one could actually see the impact of them due to the lack of photos.
With the show drawing to a close, the finale of this year’s festival was kicked off by an unexpected late entrant from Erin who were keen to cash in the GTE battle being fought at this years show. It wasn’t enough to beat the Zenshi Raizan though; that thing remains an exceptionally fast car and arguably the most impressive car at this years show.
Shortly after, one of the more anticipated displays kicked off; Merciel brought a truck load of rally goodness, kicking off with the 112 Vite Rallye. It was hardly quick, but its thrummy 4 pot engine was unmistakable and joyous to hear. However, it was the 1985 124 Vite Rally Group B racer that really stunned most. This legendary French rally machine made one hell of a racket, as well as plenty of crackles and bangs as it passed in front of the house. Rounding off this trio was the new 216 Vite Rally, the star of this year’s WRC. The dinky French hatchback is practically annexing the whole championship, and looked great today on the climb in its Red Bull colours. But that wasn’t all; Merciel fulfilled their promise of announcing a return to GT racing with the Corsaire GTE Proto, in blazing light blue and 716 hp under the bonnet. More unusually though is that this Proto version is powered by an i6, perhaps suggesting a return of this layout to GT racing. Rounding off their show was the 2017 ATCC spec Verona (though this one is an updated and improved variant), wearing its Shell sponsored livery. The weaker showing during last season was put to bed as it flew up the course.
Gryphon Gear then prepped for their slot, and rolled out a … GBF Procurro SR6? I had to check the guidebook to work out what this thing was. This particualr version of the curvy hypercar-thing is called the Bellua “GG Tune” Competizione. It’s purpose appears mostly to be to show a new side of GG in terms of working alongside other companies, which of course means it packs a 9 litre, 1500hp V8, and hence is very fast, happily keeping up woth the best of this years showing. I’m not sold on the looks; the rear is gorgeous but the front makes it look like its constantly about to sneeze, but I am going to be keeping this car and its small team of creators on my radar. What the purpose or intentions with the SR6 are, I don’t know. But hey, when was the last time GG making ultra fast cars just for the hell of it was ever boring?
The end of the show was to be an Assoluto spectacular, with a whole host of their creations going up the run. The Fatalita Vulcano was the star of the show, a new, more focused version of the Mk V version of the supercar, delivering a very impressive time. Following this was the even faster 2014 Crinale and its relative the 1988 Crinale, showing that even the hypercars of yesteryear are not to be messed with after the '88 version cleared the climb in little under 53 seconds. The new Infintio 815 was the last car up the climb, finally getting to see it stretch its legs and flex its muscles having been kept closed up for most of the year at the various auto shows its appeared at.
And with that, the Festival of Speed 2017 was done. Inbetween all of this, I had the chance to meet with the prestigious Bonham Owners Club, totally under my own accord and not at all because my job was on the line.
#An Afternoon with the Bonham Owners Club
It is one thing to have a car, but another to truly own one. It’s safe to say that the dedicated members of the Bonham Owners Club are true owners of their classics; passionate and caring about their cars, knowledgeable and ready to do anything to ensure they stay running. It’s what makes their group one of the largest and most respected owners clubs in the UK, and they never miss a chance to be at a big car event. The display at this year’s FoS was a display of the very best of this club’s membership, and I had the privilege to get up close and personal with the many cars on display.
Classic Bonham’s may have about as much reputation for reliability as any other British maker, but that doesn’t put off these gentlemen. Geoffrey H. Stanbury, a 68 year old retired civil engineer, is the proud owner of a 1975 Bonham Kashmir, the 4.2l i6 model, in a recently resprayed maroon red with gold coach lines and original 20 spoke wheels. “My grandfather used to drive me and my sister to and from Blackpool in his '72 model, and I fell in love with it instantly. It is by far and away the most comfortable car I’ve ever owned”. He continues to talk in extortionate detail about the many engineering advancements that were made on this particularly model, including the fully independent rear suspension and use of in-bore brakes to reduce the weight on the axle ends. I decided not to tell him that the benefits for ride comfort this supposedly provide have been debunked many times over in the year’s since the car’s release, and that no, I really do not give a shit that this was one of the first cars with electronic cruise control.
Geoffrey’s wife, Miranda, says its truly his pride and joy. “I sometimes wonder what happened to our marriage when I see him tinkering with his Bonham instead of helping out around the house”. And boy, does he tinker! “An afternoon spent ensuring the vacuum lines are all still in good order and that the carburetor is clean is an after well spent, ha!” he jokes. Miranda rolls her eyes.
The Bonham Owners Club is not your usual owners club. They’re very much about getting your hands grimy, dealing with the all too common roadside brake downs and waxing your motor many more times than you really need to, but there’s also an air of poshness about them. It’s less amber ale and stout down The Royal Oak, and more pinot grigio and G&T’s at the country club. These were hardly cheap cars back in their day, and they certainly aren’t today, especially the sportier models. Many of the owners I spoke to bought there cars for cheap years ago, when classics were at a low value across the market, and have managed to make a very tidy profit thanks to the rise in demand for such vehicles. Of course, many more hold on to their beloved cars.
One of their more affluent members, and the chair of the southern england division of the club, is none other than my grandfather, Gordon Anderson. He in fact has a number of Bonhams, including a 1978 Kashmir with coachwork done by Mulliner Park Ward, as well as two mid-eighties Chaucers that he never fails to tell me how much better they are than their German rivals from the time- [/quote]
“Gavin, I may be old, but I can still see what you’re typing”. Gordon had insisted that Gavin come back with him to the Goodwood House, because naturally, Gordon knew Lord March quite well.
“Gordon” Gavin began.
“Gavin, you know how to address me”
“Grandfather” he said begrudgingly, “I need to type out this article before the end of tonight and I would really appreciate if you didn’t disrupt me.”
“Oh come come, I can assist you with it. I’ve been a member of the owners club for many years you know…”
“Yes, grandfather, I am very aware.”
“Don’t you be rude with me mister, or I’ll be on the phone to your mother right away about your escapades with your new girlfriend” Gordon said, with a grievous tone.
“Sorry, my girlfriend?”
“Yes, I saw you two together”
Gavin sighed. “Grandfather, that was Madoka Matsusaka of Airborne, she was speaking to me about the Japan trip I went on”
“Airborne, eh? Never knew you had a taste for Polish women”
“Oh that’s quite enough. I didn’t come to Goodwood to be lectured by you on how to be an uptight gentleman or whatever, and I certainly don’t need to hear your backwards thoughts on women” Gavin raged.
“Ah, come on! I can advise you on that, I know how to…”
“STOP. Please. I’m allowed to talk to a woman without hitting on them”
“You wouldn’t have said that when you were 17. I remember when you came home from that party after Alice, or Alicia, whatever her name was, slapped you because you trying to compliment her…”
“Please, kindly, do not continue.” Gavin said, sternly.
Silence came across the room.
“I’ll see you at dinner round mum’s next Sunday” - And with that, Gavin picked up his bag and laptop and left the room.
It wasn’t that Gavin and Gordon didn’t get along, it was more just that since he’d tried to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps, Gordon had become very impertinent and always took the chance to exert his views on something, regardless of how backwards a view it was. Still, his journalism advice was usually very helpful - Gordon didn’t get invited to these events for nothing; he is very well respected after all…
And with that, coverage of this years Festival of Speed comes to a close. Thank you to everyone who posted something, it’s been a lot of fun writing this. Gavin will see you at the next car event he’s invited to. Bye for now!