Colin Smith's Goodwood Magnificent Seven
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A purely personal look at the star cars of the 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed
1. 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR ‘‘722’’
Special car. Legendary driver. Remarkable achievement. For me the most memorable sight at Goodwood was 85-year-old Sir Stirling Moss driving the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR which he steered to victory in the 1955 Mille Miglia. It was believed only Italian drivers could win the 1000-mile road race on Italian highways and mountain passes. Moss and Mercedes broke the race record by 30 minutes at an average speed of 97.9mph. A key to their victory was a system of notes used by Moss and co-driver Denis Jenkinson that were the forerunner to rally pace notes.
2.1911 Fiat S76
It sounded like artillery — with muzzle flashes and smoke — as it made its first public appearance in more than 100 years and left onlookers in no doubt as to why it was known as the ‘‘Beast of Turin’’. The 1911 Fiat S76 was created as the Italian answer to the land speed records set by the Blitzen Benz. It has a 28.5-litre four-cylinder engine producing about 300bhp and is chain-driven with rear wheel brakes. You can only marvel at the bravery of the men who drove such cars at speeds approaching 130mph.
3. 1956 Swamp Rat 1B:
Florida drag racing pioneer ‘‘Big Daddy’’ Don Garlits was a Goodwood debutant bringing is original Swamp Rat dragster to the Festival of Speed as part of the Americana category. Built in 1956 using 1937 Chev frame rails and a Chrysler V8 the car was raced by Garlits and Art Malone in naturally aspirated and supercharged configurations through till 1961 and was the first dragster to reach 180mph in 1958. Garlits further refined his engineering ideas with his series of Swamp Rat racers but this car was the starting point.
4. 1986 Audi Quattro S1 E2
When rally great Hannu Mikkola powered past in the big-winged ‘‘ultimate quattro’’ my memory reset to 1982 to recall standing in frozen forests near Taupo and hearing the approach of howling five-cylinder Audis on their first visit to New Zealand. Mikkola wasn’t rallying’s original ‘‘Flying Finn’’ but he was the first of many Scandinavian superstars we saw in action on New Zealand roads.
5. 1991 Mazda 787B
Mazda has held its breath a couple of times when Nissan and Toyota have threatened then failed so the four-rotor 787B from 1991 remains the only Japanese car to have won the Le Mans 24 Hours –defeating Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar in the process. It serves as a symbol of Mazda’s commitment to doing things differently and its four-rotor wail is as distinctive as the iconic orange and green Charge livery.
6. 1976 Kojima-Cosworth KE007
The 1970s is my favourite Formula 1 era and I have a fascination with one-offs and rarities. Japanese team Kojima Engineering acquired a Cosworth DFV engine and built the purposeful looking KE007 in readiness for Japan’s first world championship Grand Prix at Fuji in 1976. Definitely not a back-marker, the car qualified 10th in hands of Masahiro Hasemi and is credited with the fastest lap of the race that is remembered as the dramatic decider of the Hunt vs Lauda title fight.
7. 1971 McLaren-Chevrolet M8F
For me a McLaren in the marque’s signature orange livery is a symbol of Kiwi sporting equally as strong as a silver fern on a black jersey. This 1971 M8F was raced by Denny Hulme and Peter Revson and is owned by Lord Bamford — chairman of the JCB excavator firm. It was skilfully driven by historic racer Andy Newall who had the brutal 8.8-litre car on full-noise up the hillclimb course.