Power of heritage: Goodwood Revival a showcase of the design and engineering prowess of yesteryear

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One of only 7 in the world, this road version of the legendary Ford GT40 Le Mans car was our ride for a lap of the Goodwood track

The power brand heritage holds over modern consumers is almost hypnotic; grown men reduced to shivering wrecks at the behest of childhood memories.

Last week we were that shivering wreck as we scampered away to an ex-airfield in the countryside more excited than we’d been in a long time – we were to attend Goodwood Revival as guests of Ford UK.

Ford, fresh from launching its new Mustang, was reinforcing the impact this car has had over the last 50 years with a flock of originals – part marketing gusto, part celebration of a design classic.

This classic Mustang has been refurbished by Ford UK’s heritage team, and it’s clear to see why it is a design icon


This was crowned by the Shelby Cup: a race for pre-1966 V8 saloon cars, dominated by the marque – where passionate, rich men raced these classics around the track, while crowds revelled in the drama.

If Toyota relaunching a 4×4 on the other side of the world is enough to make a certain type of consumer go weak at the knees, then seeing a herd of Mustangs competing, crashing and triumphing is enough to boost present day brand power exponentially.

Yet at Goodwood Revival, where the crowds all sport vintage attire and are knowledgeable to some degree about the hundreds of cars, planes and motorcycles on show, everyone is there to admire the original.

The preceding day we were allowed a glimpse into the world of classic design and engineering of yesteryear – driving a selection of classic Fords on the road – before comparing them with the modern equivalent.

The Ford Escort Mk1 Mexico – fun without brakes (they do exist, right down at the bottom of the pedal)

Comparing the Ford Escort Mk1 Mexico with the latest Ford Fiesta ST3 was eyeopening as to how far technology has come in 40 years.

The sense of fun still remained with the Mexico. Brakes made of rich tea biscuits, a gearbox hating the switch from second to third, paint an eye-watering burnt orange – everyone we passed lit up when seeing it, and behind the thin steering wheel, it was a grin-inducing drive despite needing a lot more concentration.

The ST3 by comparison was a spaceship. Clocking unlawful speeds in buttock-clenching times, while gripping uneven country roads without a second guess, and stopping on a six-pence. It proved a different kind of fun.

Back at Goodwood we were lucky enough to be flung into the cramped bucket seats of a Ford GT40 Mk III for a lap of the track – in one of only 7 of the road cars ever produced.

The last two Lancaster bombers still capable of flying pass overhead – if it wasn’t for all the camera phones it could be the 1940s

Later that day we were treated to a flypast by the two remaining airworthy Lancaster bombers; one-of-a-kind Norton motorcycles racing on the track; priceless 1940s Maserati F1 cars crashing head on into barriers… The list goes on.

We packed in as much as possible, but were intrigued by the stories of reverse engineering from the teams taking part in the full schedule of serious racing.

Definitely classic, always expensive, and sometimes rare, the race cars at Goodwood Revival are prepped for the track, including this parade of Ferraris

As the years progress and off the shelf spares run out, the classic car industry is having to turn to modern production methods more often.

The National Motor Museum’s mechanics team explained how 3D scanning, 5-axis CNC machining, and in some cases, metals 3D printing were all being used increasingly by enthusiasts and restorers.

However, traditional skills and materials still exist, and an ancient Bugatti is currently being prepared by the team at its Beaulieu headquarters using the same skills as when it was originally built (including waxed paper gaskets).

It poses the question whether to rebuild in a way that is sensitive, like an archaeological restoration, or in a modern and reliable way that lets the cars function on track with fewer problems?

Ford’s heritage team are still finding spare parts for Model-T’s easier than some cars from the 1970s, with its workshops a fully operating production line, keeping the heritage fleet on the road for events such as Goodwood Revival – and maintaining the brands power to transfer its classic cool to its modern motors.

Goodwood Revival is all about the cars, bikes and planes of yesteryear, and the amazing design and engineering that went into them

Few events unleash the full power of design heritage like Goodwood Revival, and Ford was joined by Jaguar Landrover, Rolls Royce, BMW, Porsche, Aston Martin and Maserati in encouraging this.

The design and engineering skills of yesteryear are clearly still as appreciated as their modern equivalents, something that we are more than happy to join in with.

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