The American hot rods might have made the most noise when they were fired up early on Friday morning, but they were actually beaten to the circuit by a rather more genteel, and certainly quintessentially British, form of automotive art…
Forty-eight heritage Land Rovers filled the grid for the start of a parade lap send-off to one of the country’s most loved vehicles. As the whole country must know by now, the icon of British off-roadability the Defender (or what at least is known as the Defender these days) finishes production this year.
They made a spectacular display. All the earliest, most historically significant and best-loved Land Rovers made up to 1966 were here. The parade was led by the first 1947 centre-steer model, driven by Doug Hill from the National Motor Museum, and closely followed by the famous No1 ‘HUEY’ and no fewer than nine of the very first prototypes.
After that, surely everything that a Land Rover has ever been was driven around the circuit: fire engine Land Rovers, military Land Rovers (including Winston Churchill’s), forward-control and amphibious Land Rovers, a Dormobile Land Rover, one with a conveyor belt on its roof… and yes even a circus Land Rover apparently driven by an elephant.
The parade lap kept the early morning crowd entranced. It was slow, quiet and there was no tyre smoke. But as a Goodwood said farewell to one of a handful of truly great British automotive icons it was totally compelling.