on a mem­o­rable week­end with an old four-wheeled friend

Gor­don cel­e­brates five sig­nif­i­cant an­niver­saries at the Good­wood Fes­ti­val of Speed – and looks for­ward to a mile­stone of his own later this year

Classic Cars (UK) - - Contents - Gor­don Mur­ray is one of the most in­no­va­tive au­to­mo­tive de­sign­ers of his gen­er­a­tion. He de­signed Gp-win­ning F1 cars for Brabham and Mclaren and the Mclaren F1 road car

For me, the Good­wood Fes­ti­val of Speed is one of the two best clas­sic car week­ends in the world – the other one is the Good­wood Re­vival meet­ing. I had a spec­tac­u­larly full week­end at this year’s Fes­ti­val hav­ing be­ing asked by Lord March to take part in three events. This year’s ex­trav­a­ganza cel­e­brated sev­eral an­niver­saries, in­clud­ing Bernie Ec­cle­stone’s five decades in F1. It kicked off with a din­ner for him on Fri­day night hosted by Lord March in Good­wood House with many Brabham me­chan­ics, driv­ers and as­so­ciates among the guests – it was good to see so many old friends and to cel­e­brate Bernie’s fan­tas­tic achieve­ments. The fi­nale saw us all on the bal­cony op­po­site the mag­nif­i­cent sculp­ture de­pict­ing his F1 decades while the man him­self was in­ter­viewed by Mark Web­ber. In my view the Brabham years rep­re­sented the best com­bi­na­tion of fun and suc­cess and it was great to see so many of my early Brabham cars at Good­wood, in­clud­ing the BT52 and the ‘fan car’.

The sec­ond dis­ci­pline I was in­vited to take part in was the Cartier Con­cours d’elé­gance where I was head judge in two classes – Cin­que­cento and Maserati. The orig­i­nal Fiat 500 is one of my all-time favourite clas­sics, so I was in my el­e­ment with so many in­ter­est­ing lit­tle cars on dis­play. In the end it was a pretty close-run thing be­tween a very orig­i­nal 1957 500, which was de­tailed right down to pe­riod lug­gage, and a late Fifties Steyr with a 500cc boxer-twin en­gine mated to a syn­chro gear­box. In the end the Aus­trian car came out on top.

Other an­niver­saries in­cluded 70 years of Fer­rari, 40 years of Williams and 50 years of the Cos­worth DFV grand prix en­gine. Keith Duck­worth’s pow­er­plant is dear to my heart be­cause it pow­ered so many of my Brabham F1 cars, win­ning my first grand prix in 1974 and my first World Cham­pi­onship in 1981. Prob­a­bly more sig­nif­i­cantly, the first DFV to fin­ish Le Mans was in the 1972 Duck­hams Ford pro­to­type I de­signed for Alain de Cadenet.

My most poignant an­niver­sary this year is my own, with 2017 notch­ing up 50 years of de­sign­ing cars. At the last count that’s around 70 de­signs and 55 ac­tual cars. With a lot of help from Bernie and Mclaren I’m plan­ning my own cel­e­bra­tion in Novem­ber with a col­lec­tion of more than 40 of my cars which I am told is unique in au­to­mo­tive his­tory. To en­sure the col­lec­tion starts with T1 – my first rac­ing car, which I cam­paigned for two seasons in South Africa – the pro­to­type guys here at Gor­don Mur­ray De­sign have built a faith­ful replica us­ing my orig­i­nal draw­ings (and pho­tos). I called the orig­i­nal car – now long gone – the IGM-FORD and de­signed it to Class A na­tional sports car reg­u­la­tions, al­low­ing en­gines up to 1100cc.

The chaps in the pro­to­type shop have only one stan­dard, so chas­sis No2 is a much bet­ter build qual­ity than chas­sis No1! I had run the replica briefly at Dunsfold in a straight line but had no idea how it was go­ing to han­dle when I ar­rived at the first right-han­der on the Good­wood hill climb. For­tu­nately, the bal­ance was very good and by the fourth run on Satur­day I was pretty much on the limit. All in all, a clas­sic car week­end to re­mem­ber.

Gor­don blazes up the Good­wood hill in his IGM-FORD replica

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