Celebrating speed at Goodwood

Speed. There is something at once modern, advanced, superhuman, and utterly sexy about it. It demands a visceral reaction. Speed is about pure emotion. These are now famous words coined by the controversial founder of the Italian Futurist movement F. T. Marinetti who wrote in the 1909 manifesto:

‘We declare that the splendour of the world has been enriched by a new beauty, the beauty of speed. A racing automobile with its bonnet adorned with great tubes like serpents with explosive breath … a roaring motor car which seems to run on machine-gun fire…’

Speed symbolises progress, and in the epoch of sustainability, it is perhaps not getting quite the glory it deserves. However, recent products such as the BMW hybrid i8 supercar have proved that you can have an environmentally caring product and still race like they did in the golden age of the automobile.

Last weekend we were at Goodwood Festival of Speed, the annual event that simply celebrates speed in its very rawest of forms. It is beautiful here, set deep in one of England’s most picturesque spots in West Sussex.

The famous Goodwood Hill sees drivers race to complete an uphill course – and it is quite spectacular watching the parade of exotic metal, as RAF Red Arrows perform some stunning air acrobatics over Goodwood House.

This is not a straightforward car show, and it certainly shouldn’t double up as an occasion for carmakers to exhibit their entire range. Sadly, increasingly this seems to be the case, which is why, it was exciting to see marques like Jaguar Land Rover embracing the spirit of the occasion.

The vast JLR pavilion positioned on a hill with great views over the festival blended with its surroundings, and the interactive display, including a Land Rover off road course, seemed to have punters excited throughout the event.

Goodwood saw the first sighting of the production version of the new F-Type Project 7, the 340ps, 3.0-litre XE S, and a selection of the company’s heritage automobiles including the XJ13, Group 44 E-type, Long Nose D-type, TWR XJS and Broadspeed XJ12C.

Jaguar also debuted the latest luxury XJ range and a special version XJR Rapid Response Vehicle (RRV) for Bloodhound SSC. The car has a spacious cabin and it’s 5.0-litre V8 550ps supercharged petrol engine takes it from 0-60mph in just 4.4 seconds and on to a top speed of 174mph – a bit like Marinetti’s machine gun.

This is the latest creation to come out of Special Vehicle Operations, a division within the company specialising in tuned versions of new and classic cars. If this all sounds a little 007, then we suspect this was intentional. As with Goodwood, half the charm of JLR is its association with all things quintessentially British.

‘These are specially developed cars for a very special purpose, showcasing SVO’s ability to design and engineer bespoke vehicles to the highest possible standards,’ says SVO managing director John Edwards, adding: ‘We’re proud to be playing a part in another great British land speed record attempt.’

Nargess Banks

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