Goodwood: The UK's premier auto shopping street

The Goodwood Festival of Speed reminds me what it is I don’t like about motor-shows. Mostly they take place in massive indoor halls, great for protection from the weather, but terrible for natural lighting. Therefore, a zillion lightbulbs machinegun the whole place with lumens from every possible direction creating a constant, uncomfortable glare. Furthermore, there’s the claustrophobia. No matter how vast the building, there’s nowhere to go but the stands. Every vehicle is surrounded by throngs of people, some of which are possibly only on the stand because they haven’t successfully managed to get off it.
These and many other factors conspire to make the average motorshow a sterile, unnatural experience, worsened by the brainwashed drones who are probably rewarded for every set of customer contact details they can extract from you.
Goodwood is different. It isn’t even a motorshow, really, but the corporate aspect of it is unbelievably well executed. Every year a tiny new city of individual showcases appears here, only to vanish just four days later. It’s the kind of thing that really should be a permanent fixture somewhere as a go-to venue for car companies to impress us.

Every brand takes this place really, really seriously. And well they might. There’s a huge number of rather moneyed people milling about, many of whom have had a good few glasses of wine and may have lost a little of their usual fiscal discipline.
Many marques have a presence here which makes their usual high-street installations look distinctly low key. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Renault, photographed above, sent out mixed slightly mixed messages with the slogan ‘passion for life’ emblazoned on a predominantly grey building.
Lexus arrived with pretty much an actual dealership, all polished wooden floors, electric sliding doors and concealed lighting.
Inside I actually felt a little guilty for bringing mud inside and looking a bit scruffy. It was interesting that everybody I overheard was speaking in hushed, library tones.
Ford had the same multi-storey structure as a few years ago, except this time they had a pecular pro-suicide side-attraction encouraging folk to throw themselves off a high ledge.
Tesla were about, with a stand of a size far greater than their current market UK presence would lead you to expect. However, I suspect that won’t be true for long. Also, the Model X photographed above must the one car where the pester-power of children will most influence a buying decision. Kids love this thing. And, seriously, if you were seven you’d want your family car to have a pair of gullwing doors too, wouldn’t you?
Alfa had a stand which wouldn’t look out of place on a city street, either.
Inside was fairly heaving with people wanting to catch a look under the bonnet of the new Guilia Quadrifoglio. Seriously, this thing is drawing so much attention I really, really hope it’s good. For Alfa’s sake. Hell, for our sake.
Last year the Honda stand turned all their 2015 offerings into giant-sized Diecast Delights. with every single car being presented in a giant box labled ‘Scale 1:1’ I loved it and wondered what they’d do this year, and whether it could possibly be as imaginative.
Of course it could. Honda had a semi-functional adult-sized Fisher Price garage in which to display their cars. It’s absololutely brilliant and Honda should seriously consider making this the official corporate style of all their dealerships.
Nissan had an idea to bring people the next best thing to being able to taking a test drive on the premises, by setting up a virtual reality GT-R simulator. Again, the kids loved it. These attractions are really gunning to influence future generations of customers.
It’s about bloody time, really.
And Jaguar Land Rover? They’ve pulled out the stops so impressively that we’ll take a look at them separately.
(All Images Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2015)

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  1. Maymar Avatar

    I want to live in that Honda display.
    Not gonna lie though, I’m getting a bit claustrophobic just looking at those throngs of people, even if it’s indoors? How late does Goodwood stay open? Our annual motor show is open 10-10, so I typically head around dinner as it’s starting to clear out. It might be antiseptic, but you could cartwheel through the place after 9.

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      I’m annoyed that the only reasonably well composed photo I got of the main drag through “The Village” was at it’s busiest time. The event actually closes at seven but the crowds start to thin after about 17:30.

  2. Sjalabais Avatar

    Any idea what the total Goodwood budget would be? It’s always amazing to see how much money can be pumped through such a events. Also interesting to see Tesla and Alfa-Romeo among otherwise major automakers.

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      That would be an interesting statistic to search for. I’d guess deep into tens of millions.

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