Monday, 5 July 2010

The sleepers of Goodwood

Nestled within the bustling Cathedral Paddock of the 2010 Goodwood Festival of Speed, two innocuous-looking machines went largely ignored amongst the diverse and attention-grabbing cars that surrounded them.

The Alfa 164 Procar was situated alongside a couple of Alfa 155 touring cars, whose shovel-noses and colossal exhausts drew attention from the relatively standard-looking 164. But this 164 has a secret.
In the nineties, F1 mogul Bernie Ecclestone had an idea to start a new race series in which silhouette racers would house mid-mounted Formula One engines within standard-ish bodywork. The idea never really went anywhere - indeed, Alfa Romeo were the only manufacturer to actually build a car for the series - but this 164, a 215mph saloon with a heart of malice, represents a beautiful image of what could have been.

A few feet away we find a humble white Transit van. It's parked up against a fence, various Goodwood stickers plastered here and there. It's some sort of service vehicle, yes? But wait... they look like Jaguar wheels, don't they? They're pretty bloody wide too. And there are two sizeable exhausts poking out of the rear. A peek through the heavily-tinted rear window allows a slight glimpse of what could be a firewall with the very end of a pair of cylinder heads beneath it. Surely not?
The eyes do not deceive. This is a Transit in body alone - underneath, we find the chassis, engine and running gear of a Jaguar XJ220. And this is no amusing gimmick - in the hands of the incomparable Justin Law, this was one the fastest vehicles up the hill this weekend. Glorious.

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