Axon's Automotive Anorak: Revelling in Revival classics

27th September 2018
Gary Axon

It’s a commonly held belief that time flies when you’re having fun, so I’ve clearly been enjoying myself far too much over the last 20 years, as it seems like only yesterday (okay, maybe the day before) that I first visited the inaugural Goodwood Revival and was bowled over by the whole experience.


In fact, I was so taken with this ‘magical step back in time’ that I have been back to every single Revival since the initial 1998 event; the first seven as a paying punter, and each subsequent event as a member of the Goodwood team.

In my early days as a ticket buyer, I would always make a point of getting down to Goodwood at ungodly o’clock to admire the spectacular selection of up to 2,500+ classic vehicles that gather each day on display within the huge Revival Car Show parking area, before the gates to the Motor Circuit opened at 7:30am to enjoy a whole day’s historic car racing, entertainment and retail therapy.

Once I had joined the Goodwood team to help ‘deliver’ the Revival event and make each spectator’s visit as enjoyable as possible, my opportunities to get over the road and admire the enormous platter of pre-1966 and tax-free era classics became increasingly limited, due to the working pressures of the day.


During the course of the three-day Revival, I would typically get over the road on the final Sunday to take in the feast of classic cars for 30-minutes or so, before the ‘phone or radio inevitably going, with me needing to dash back to the Circuit base to attend to the next ‘moment.’

So, fast forward to this year’s 20th anniversary Revival earlier this month, and I was delighted to be given the chance to legitimately get over the road to the Revival Car Show, where I and GRR contributor Andrew Frankel had been asked to judge a small concours d’Elegance of classic cars each day, being hosted by Goodwood’s partner, Smith & Williamson.

The opportunity to go and explore the astonishing selection of classic cars and commercial vehicles in the pre-1966 Revival Car Show, plus the tax-free classics car park immediately behind it, was a welcome break, especially with such a wide and varied selection of vehicles to admire. As one journalist colleague I bumped into over there, the Revival Car Show has to be the best classic car display anywhere in Britain, if not Europe, and it’s all for free, with the huge variety of cars changing from one day to the next.


The chances of seeing around 20 Facel Vegas in one place from all over Europe, for example, as found in the top-end of the pre-1966 car park, was a remarkable sight, as was the contrast of tiny Austin Sevens and 1950s Bond Minicars, parked-up and dwarfed alongside giant pre-war ‘Blower’ Bentleys and 1950s Cadillacs and Lincolns.

No other classic car event that I know of (and I know of many) can rival both the quantity and quality of the beautiful coachbuilt Rolls-Royce, Lagonda and Alvis models attending the Revival, never mind the sheer scale of the long and endless rows of exceptional historic Aston Martins, Maseratis, Ferraris, Fords, Alfa Romeos, Citroëns, Chevrolets, Porsches, and so on.

Notable pre-66 highlights at this year’s Revival Car Show included an appealing special-bodied Graber Alvis TC, a magnificent 1920s Belgian Minerva, an unusual Intermeccanica Ford Mustang ‘shooting break’, a mouth-watering Maserati Sebring 3500, Gordon Keeble GK1, DB HBR5 Coupe and one-off Chapron-bodied Hotchkiss Gregoire Cabriolet, some real (not fake) AC Cobras and Jaguar D-Types, plus not one but two very scarce and unusual Australian-built Vauxhall Velox Utes pick-ups. 


Just behind the separation fence in the tax-free classic car parking area, more treats awaited, with everything to see from a tidy early Series 1 Morris Marina Estate, through to a zany Bond Bug, a handful of dreamy Citroën SMs, Fiat 130 Coupes and Alfa Romeo Montreals, plenty of classic Ferraris, Jensens  and Lamborghinis, plus an exotic Mercedes-Benz 600 and Rolls-Royce Camargue.

Having revived (please excuse the pun) my experience and pleasure of the Revival Car Show for more than my usual 30 minutes this year, I can’t wait to tear myself away from the intoxicating racing at the Circuit again next year for a calmer hour or so, admiring the variety and volume of exceptional classics parked-up just a couple of minutes over the road from the Goodwood track.

The team at Smith & Williams are to be applauded for their new Revival Car Show classic car concours initiative, and I for one look forward to joining them again hopefully in 2019 for a spot of light-hearted judging and mingling with like-minded classic car enthusiasts. Touring the Goodwood classic car parks at the Revival has rarely been such fun.

Photography by Barry Axon

  • Axon's automotive anorak

  • Revival

  • Revival 2018

  • Revival car show

  • 2018

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