A ’68 AMC AMX… Rally car?

Amid the lovelies seeking shade at the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed rally paddock, you’ll encounter a deliciously varied array of classics. Some, like the Lancia Fulvia, Ford Escort, Subaru Impreza, Mini Cooper and Ford RS200 are larger than life rally heroes, permanently etched into history for their contribution to motorsport. Others, well, others aren’t so obvious.

The American Motors AMX, for example. This underdog of the pony / muscle car wars of the late sixties is no stranger to motorsport, particularly that which is played a quarter mile at a time. But I was unaware of it having any rally heritage to speak of. Throw “AMC AMX rally car” into Google (other search engines are available, but not really worth bothering with), and your results list will pretty much boil down to one car — the machine in these pictures.

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Porsche: Bringing home the bacon, and then sharing it.

Porsche is in justifiably high spirits right now. People seem to have an insatiable appetite for the brand’s products; the second generation Panamera and Cayenne are attractive enough that fears of Porsche losing its way now seem to have evaporated. Celebrating 70 years of sports cars this year, the Stuttgart stalwarts are feeling confident. Winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and doing so in such flamboyant style, must help, too.

So it’s hardy surprising that they’re bringing a party atmosphere to Goodwood this year, and the Pink Pig is here to join the party.

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Hatchback Hero: Metro 6R4

Imagine car shopping in the 1980s. Your parents are the market for a small, economical hatchback that’ll be easy to park and simple to drive. The family makes a trip to ‘big town’ to visit a few dealerships, with the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Nova and Austin-Rover Metro in mind. You, age seven, have been having a whale of  time. A car showroom is like a toy shop and an adventure playground all rolled into one. Naturally, while Mum and Dad are looking at the thoroughly sensible Fiesta Popular and Nova Merit, something has drawn you to the more exotic Fiesta XR2 and Nova SR. They’re just, well, more awesome.

And then you visit the Austin Rover showroom. While Mum, Dad and the salesman partake in more free coffee and a glance through Metro City X paint swatches, you’re busy behind the wheel of the all-white MG Metro Turbo at the far corner of the showroom. And there, next to the Turbo is a huge wall poster, showing a Metro speeding through a forest in dappled light. But this Metro way more awesome than the one you’ve been making broom broom noises in, and graunching the gearlever back and forth despite the clutch being way out of reach. You stand, and you stare, transfixed by the poster of a strange, musclebound Metro with ‘Computervision’ emblazoned on the front bumper.

“I want that one”.

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Justifiable obscurity? Porsche-Enzmann 506 Spyder

Goodwood FoS is an undertaking of such magnitude that its gravity can pull in far more than your average classic car show can manage. Sure, there are MGBs and E-Types, Austin Healeys and Aston Martin DB5s, but they mostly stay in the car park. Head on over to the Cartier ‘Style et Luxe’ concours, though, you’ll find an array of machinery that never fails to astonish.

I’m reasonably well versed on early Porsches, but my depth of knowledge comes to an abrupt halt where it comes to those where independent coachbuilders are concerned. I’m happy to concede defeat, though, when the subject is as obscure as this — the only Porsche-Enzmann 506 ever built.

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Robocar: It’s Motorsport, Jim, but….

It was something of a departure for Goodwood. Here, heading up the hill, is a car that’s all but silent. That’s nothing new in itself, of course, and it’s possible that the 2038 Goodwood Festival of Speed will be dominated by cars powered by a flow of electrons rather than a flow of high-octane gasoline.

What was new, though, is that this car, the Robocar, is unmanned. It’s fully autonomous, and makes its way up the hillclimb as a result of quick-fire measurements, signal interpretations and calculations, rather than good old fashioned instinct, bravery and hope. Could this be the future of motorsport? Or could it be the future of something completely different?

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Goodwood: Stuck in traffic.

In any other situation, a dude frantically whistling and shouting to prevent you from crossing the street would be an annoying nuisance. Not so the Goodwood Festival of Speed. In fact, upon hearing that whistle, the sense of excitement is palpable when the crowd parts to create a thoroughfare.

“What will it be?” is the collective thought, and you’ll find out soon enough. In some cases it’ll just be a golf cart ferrying team members, drivers or special guests around the site, in others it’ll be a team van coming in with vital parts, fluids or comestibles.  Best, though, is when it’s a racing car. Or two. Or an entire procession of them.

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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, feed 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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