Being selected to take part in a Land Rover celebration parade at Goodwood was a huge honour for Peter – but the price was missing out on a massive sporting event
…is part of Land Rover’s 70 Years cavalcade
‘All those racing cars, hot hatches, etc had arrived on trailers pulled by – yes, Range Rovers and Discos’
Oh, no!’ The voices carry loud and clear through the doubleglazing. I pause, hosepipe in hand, and glance across at the window of the B&B where I’m staying. Its owners are on their couch, staring horrified at their TV. Just down the driveway, the main road is silent – it’s the World Cup semi-final. That ‘Oh, no!’ tells me things are going badly for England. Why aren’t I watching? Well, I’m washing my car. What! During the World Cup semi-final, when every other man, woman and child is glued to the TV?? Yes – on this particular occasion washing the car is more important.
It all started a couple of months earlier when I got a phone call asking if I’d like to have my Freelander 2 included as one of Land Rover’s ‘Seventy Cars for Seventy Years’ anniversary event at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Quite an honour, but the Freelander was still wearing some previous-owner paintwork scratches and hadn’t been properly cleaned for ages. I said yes to the invitation, but knew Land Rover would expect a show-condition car. There was a lot to do.
A friend repainted the front and rear bumpers. Then, with specialist solvents, a power polisher and fine cutting compound, he managed to remove most of the hard-as-glass tar-spots on the lower panels. He got the wheels looking decent too. Next stop: another paint shop, to repaint the bonnet. Things were looking better already. When the paint had hardened a bit I treated the Freelander to several washes, taking care to brush inside all the nooks and crannies. After lightly rubing the upper panels with cutting compound, I de-greased and polished the glass. Then, finally, Autoglym Super Resin Polish.
Interiors are a fiddly job on any car and my Freelander 2 takes longer than most – its lightcoloured trim shows up every defect. I spent an entire day getting its 12-year-old interior back to almost-new condition. But, when finished, the whole car looked so beautiful that for several weeks I hardly used it – with Goodwood’s date approaching, I didn’t dare risk any damage. Everything had to be clean, working, ready to go.
The day before ’70 cars’ I hit the road south, heading for a B&B near Goodwood. But pretty soon a fast tick-tick-tick told me the rear nearside indicator wasn’t working – bad connection, it’s happened before. I didn’t have a screwdriver, and no motorway service stations stocked tools. So I eventually turned off on to A-roads and bought a crummy kit of small hand-tools for £9.99. Two screws removed, but the light cluster still resisted – it wiggled about but didn’t come free. There’s a technique for removal, but I couldn’t remember it. Slapping, pushing, twisting, then I thought: ‘I can’t risk breaking this light cluster because the event’s tomorrow!’ Time to send up a distress signal. I phoned main dealer Harwoods of Basingstoke, explained my dilemma and asked if they could help. ‘Yes, just bring the car,’ was the answer. Result: indicator fixed, and a big thanks to Harwoods.
The next problem showed up at the B&B – the car was dirty and insect-spattered. That’s how I came to be washing, courtesy of the B&B’S hosepipe, while England were going down to Croatia in the World Cup. Never mind: everything was clean, working and ready to go… again.
Come in, number 67! Goodwood isn’t one place. There’s Goodwood House, Goodwood farm, Goodwood circuit, and heaven knows what – massive acreage, lots of entrances. The perimeter roads are closed or diverted, so you’re soon forced to go where you don’t want to. A 15-minute drive took 90. At one point I was in a paddock with no way out – race-circuit access closed behind me, hill-climb access closed ahead. Luckily, a Goodwood big-wig jumped into the passenger seat and got staff to move barriers and let me out on to public roads. I arrived at the meet-up point with literally one minute to spare, to be stickered number 67.
The ’70 cars’ drive was wonderful – Land Rovers and Range Rovers, standard production models and special conversions. I didn’t expect my ordinary-looking Freelander 2 to get any attention. Well, I was wrong – Google ‘Goodwood Autocar Land Rover 70’ to see my car with a photographer in an Evoque convertible behind.
These publicity events are designed to catch media attention and I’d thought Festival of Speed punters wouldn’t be very interested, but I was wrong about that too. Thousands of spectators watched intently as we rolled past, listening to Richard Beddall’s knowledgeable commentary. Afterwards, I found out why. All those racing cars, hot hatches, etc had arrived at Goodwood on trailers, and the trailers were almost exclusively pulled by – yes, Range Rovers or Discos. ‘Seventy Cars for Seventy Years’: quite an event. And it was quite something to have been part of it.