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Goodwood FOS 2015: An Exhibition of British Muscle

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Well, since we’re here in ultra-rural Sussex which is about as British (more specifically English) as it gets, I thought we’d have a showcase of some of the plummier, more dentally challenged, limier racers to be seen at This Year’s Festival of Speed.

Y’all keep having it shoved down your throat Some of you already know that one of my cars is a Rover. I have a particular love of the marque and always loved it from its tragic but inevitable extinction, back through the wilderness years and, ultimately to the time when the Rover name actually meant something. So we start with the P6 Racer, which is kind of like seeing your grandfather benchpressing 200 pounds.

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Seeing the dapper P6, one of David Bache’s masterpieces and a car cited by none other than Ralph Nader as an example of “how all cars should be built”, wearing slick tyres and with pumped up wheelarches, is quite a shock to the system.

This was a fascinating might-have-been. British Leyland had a Competition Department. They put this car together, contracting development work out to Roy Pierpoint and Bill Shaw, basing it on a regular Rover 2000 body and chassis. Interestingly, the Rover V8 didn’t feature, in its place going a  Traco-modified, 360bhp 4.3 litre Oldsmobile unit, sucking in fuel through four hungry Weber carburettors. It was entered in the 1970 Marathon de la Route, an 84 hr race at the Nurburgring.

It failed to finish, but it did at one point build up a three-lap lead. That’s 57 miles. That’s staggering. Apparently it could do 176mph. Irrespective of all this potential, the project was cancelled and the Competition Department given the axe.

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There’s no such surprise about the P6’s replacement, the SD1, which was raced for British Leyland by Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) with great success. It won the British Touring Car Championship outright in ’83 and ’84. I mean, let’s be honest, the SD1 always looked like a racing car.

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This car had stance before stance became a thing. Show me a car dropped down on airbags with “wikkid stance, bro'” and I’ll point them back in the direction of how this car looked in 1986. This machine won the Donington and Monza rounds of the European Touring Car Championship in ’86.

And finally, as a little bow of respect to Patrick Macnee (RIP), who drove a replica of this car in The New Avengers, we have the brutal looking Broadspeed Jaguar XJ12C.

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I say brutal, and it was in both looks and performance, ending up on pole position on its debut at Silverstone in the European Touring Car Championship. It has won its place by being 2 seconds faster than the leading BMW. Alas, despite grunt and the monumental skills of Derek Bell, a win never materialised.

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However, were there a championship cup awarded for style, the Jaguar would have owned.

(All images copyright Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2015)