Of the world's four biggest celebrations of automotive heritage, the Goodwood Festival of Speed is the most recent to emerge. Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este has been running since 1929, the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance began in 1950, Retromobile in Paris has been running since 1976 and the Goodwood Festival of Speed (FoS) was first held in 1993.

Each of these events has its own unique ambiance, but it's unlikely that the Goodwood Festival will ever be emulated, because it's the only event which brings the world's greatest cars and drivers, past and present, and puts them in one place for an entire four day festival. The final ingredient in the FoS recipe which ensures it will be difficult to replicate, is that the cars and drivers, regardless of age, all get to put the pedal to the metal amidst it all.


More than 1,200 New Atlas Plus subscribers directly support our journalism, and get access to our premium ad-free site and email newsletter. Join them for just US$19 a year.


Not only does the Festival of Speed give you an opportunity to get a close look at priceless historical artifacts such as a pre-war Auto Union Type D Doppel Kompressor or an Aston Martin DBR2 or a Mercedes-Benz W 196 S, but you're just as likely to find yourself standing next to living legends such as John Surtees, Stirling Moss or Giacomo Agostini.

Such greats aren't rare at Goodwood. If you know who's who, you'll be amazed at the high concentration of motorsport's past and present elite who make the journey for the festival, mainly because the greats are enthusiasts just like you and I and appreciate the informal nature of the event.

It's not just motorsport celebrities either. Many celebrities from other walks of life attend too, because there really is no other event like it for the car or motorcycle enthusiast.

Pebble Beach might sell a lot more million dollar cars, and Villa d'Este is unquestionably more exclusive, but the Goodwood Festival of Speed really does offer a picnic atmosphere and an opportunity to hear, smell and feel the vibrations of the world's rarest and most sought-after automobiles and motorcycles.

As the event has grown in importance over the last few decades, each year selected cars are liberated from display at museums across Europe and prepared for an almighty hammering at Goodwood.

The theme of the 2015 Festival was "Flat-out and Fearless: Racing on the Edge" and Mercedes-Benz celebrated by trucking in the W 196 S which Stirling Moss drove to victory in the 1955 Mille Miglia at an average speed of 100 mph (on public roads no less). They also trucked in Sir Stirling Moss to drive it, and nine of the twelve surviving W196R racers which dominated Formula One at that time. Only one of these cars has ever appeared at auction and sold for £19,601,500 (US$29,600,000) at Bonham's Goodwood Festival of Speed sale two years ago.

Throw in the many other exotic cars it took to Goodwood, and Mercedes took close to half a billion dollars worth of history to the Festival of Speed and allowed it to be driven as intended, flat out and fearless.

The Goodwood Festival of Speed is the world's largest and most unique outdoor celebration of motoring's heritage on Planet Earth. How it evolved makes for fascinating reading.

Lord March (pictured in the new Mazda MX-5) inherited the Goodwood estate, which has been owned by his family since 1697, in the early 1990s and decided to renew Goodwood's connection with motorsport by reopening the Goodwood racing circuit established by his grandfather in 1948. He couldn't get a permit to hold an event at the Goowood circuit, so he staged an event inside Goodwood House grounds, bypassing the regulations by holding it on his own property.

From an initial one-day event in 1993, the Goodwood Festival of Speed quickly grew to two-day events in 1994 and 1995, and a three day event from 1996 onwards. The crowd grew until 2003 when 158,000 attended and an advance-ticket-only admission policy was instituted capping attendance at 150,000.

Like Pebble Beach and Villa D'este, the events are now so powerful publicity generators, and draw such an important audience of high net worth individuals, that elite sports cars are often released at the festival, in addition to many "dynamic debuts" where cars with sporting pretensions are seen and heard for the first time doing what they were intended to do.

This year Aston Martin demonstrated its new Vulcan. The track–only Vulcan was first seen in public at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, so the Festival of Speed represented the first time the limited edition, carbon-fiber monocoque supercar was seen in it's natural environment.

There aren’t too many numbers associated with this car that aren’t eye-watering. The 7.0-liter V12 produces more than 800 hp, it can run to 60 mph inside the magic three second mark, tops 200 mph and because there will only be 24 made and sold, the exclusivity comes at a price because the development costs can be spread over fewer cars. That price is expected to be in the vicinity of £1.5 million ($2.3 million).

Lotus used the event to roll out its fastest production car ever. The Lotus 3-Eleven comes in road and race versions, the latter pictured with its aerodynamic kit at a svelte 900 kg (1,984 lb) and a power–to–weight ratio of 500 bhp per tonne.

The 1500 hp (1118 kW) Koenigsegg Regera was seen in the supercar paddock for the first time outside a motorshow (it launched this year at the Geneva Motor Show). Like the Aston Martin Vulcan, the Regera has some astonishing numbers, the most impressive being the maximum torque of 1,475 lb-ft (2,000 Nm) and the number of gearshifts required to reach it's 255 mph (410 km/h) top speed (zero). One of the best aspects of the Festival of Speed is that the supercars all get to tackle the Goodwood hill in timed runs, so you can see which ones are seriously quick.

The 650 hp twin-turbo V8 Noble M600 isn’t cheap at around $330,000 but on the same track on the same day, it smoked all its competitors to take out the Michelin Supercar award. Anthony Reid’s time of 51.33 seconds beat the Lexus LFA of Chris Ward by 0.78 seconds with third spot going to the new Aston Martin's £250,000 Vantage GT12 driven by Matt Becker.

Though ineligible for the supercar shoot-out, Nissan’s Juke-R 2.0 (which also made its global dynamic debut at the Festival of Speed) set a time which would have given it third place in the category. The original Nissan Juke-R Crossover supercar was introduced four years ago, marrying Nissan’s compact Juke with the engine and running gear from the Nissan GT-R. Now four years on, Juke-R has been given an upgrade based on the latest model of the Juke plus extra dollops of power.

The Juke was driven by last year’s supercar winner Jann Mardenborough, the winner of the third Nissan Playstation GT Academy. Polyphony Digital (the creators of the ultra-realistic race simulator Gran Turismo video game series) was well represented with CEO and founder Kazunori Yamauchi among the many celebrities who piloted cars up the hill.

For those wondering what the hillclimb looks like from the driver's seat, there's an excellent video by former F1 star David Coulthard here.

Ford demonstrated the performance of the all-new Focus RS to the public for the first time at the 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed, where World Rallycross star Ken Block tackled the hillclimb at the wheel of a prototype car. The Focus RS is the first Ford RS model equipped with selectable Drive Modes (including a Drift Mode that allows controlled oversteer drifts) and launch control. The 2.3-liter all-aluminum four-cylinder EcoBoost borrowed from the Ford Mustang has been significantly upgraded for the Focus RS to deliver 10 percent more power with 350 PS maximum output.

Honda’s MotoGP bike for the road, the RC213V-S, had its dynamic debut in the hands of former champ Casey Stoner at the recent Monster Energy de Catalunya MotoGP event in Spain on June 14, but both Stoner and the bike were on hand for a number of demonstration runs at the Festival of Speed. MotoGP rider Scott Redding and TT legend John McGuinness also demonstrated the extremely compact 1,000 cc, 90 degree V4 which will sell for €188,000 ($184,000 in the US), with additional race kit costing €12,000.

The bike makes a staggering 215 hp with the kit fitted (much less without), and weight drops from a featherweight 170 kg to 160 kg with race kit in place. Applications to own an RC213V-S open on July 12 and can only be made at the official website. That doesn't get you a bike, just a place in the queue and an opportunity to plead your case. With only 250 expected to be produced, you'll need to be very convincing.

The Bienville Legacy made its debut at Goodwood and although we'd been somewhat prepared by Loz Blain's article on the bike, it's still a knock-out. The Legacy starts out with a 185 hp 1,650 cc Motus MV4 engine but a Rotrex supercharger boosts that to about 300 horsespower and the entire rolling sculpture runs to $250,000.

We've done our best to portray the remarkable 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed in the photo gallery, and we've added plenty of detail and links to the captions so you can find out more about any of the bikes or cars pictured there.

As with all of the major concours events, Goodwood has an auction of collectible cars and over the years, some of the world's most expensive cars have been sold here. Cars such as Fangio's 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R, a 1954 Ferrari 375 Plus spider ($18,315,361), a 1935 Alfa Romeo 8C-35 ($9,416,986), a 1929 Bentley 4 l Supercharged single-seater ($7,906,745), a 1929 Mercedes-Benz SSK two-seater tourer ($7,427,010), the famous "Corgi" 1912 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost pullman limousine ($7,379,786) and a 1955 Maserati 300S ($6,091,943), all cars which are in the top 100 most expensive cars ever sold.

This year the top selling car at Bonham's Goodwood sale was a 1935 Aston Martin Works Ulster "LM19" Mille Miglia Competition Sports Two-Seater which sold for £2,913,500 ($4,584,430). The full story of the car is worth reading at the auction site.

Another top seller was the 1961 Porsche RS-61 Spyder Sports-Racing Two-Seater which was the property of none other than Sir Stirling Moss, and the auction link tells a wonderful tale about his relationship with the model. It sold for £1,905,500 ($2,998,329).

A third car sold for more than $2 million on Friday night, being the first example built of the Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR Roadster, an even more exclusive, limited edition, open-topped variant of the already super-exclusive CLK GTR Coupé with which Mercedes-Benz had re-entered international sports car racing in 1997. At the time of its introduction the CLK GTR Roadster was the world's most expensive "production" car with a price tag of $1.5 million, a figure exceeded only recently by the Ferrari FXX. The 1998 Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR Roadster sold for £1,513,500 ($2,381,512).

Two other cars topped the magic million, being a 2004 Enzo Ferrari for £897,500 ($1,412,228) and a 1963 Aston Martin DB4 Series V Convertible for £964,700 ($1,517,968).

The Goodwood Festival of Speed is an event like no other, and it gets better every year. If you weren't there, it's an event that every petrolhead should visit at least once in a lifetime.

View gallery - 198 images