Country mouse goes to Goodwood

Some of the most interesting cars at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this year were the ones that weren’t even moving. Yes, we admired the noisy brutes roaring up and down the straw-bale-flanked front drive, but it was the Cartier ‘Style et Luxe’ that caught the eye. On display were a selection of vehicles that The Queen and her family has owned and travelled in at home and abroad.

The 1972 Maserati-powered stretch Citroen SM Opera, in which she rode up the Champs-Elysées in 1972, was lent to Goodwood at the express instructions of President Sarkozy. Clearly, the new socialist President Hollande did not feel inclined to reverse the decision and spoil this royal celebration. The younger members of our party cast covetous eyes over the half-scale Midget racing car made for Prince Charles in 1955, powered by a two-stroke engine with a 40mph top speed.

There were also some of the cars that The Queen drove herself, such as the Vauxhall Cresta estate she used in the 1960s. I was assured by someone in the know that The Queen is a pedal-to-the-metal merchant and gives her passengers white-knuckle rides to remember. With her at the wheel, there would be no need for the Citroen’s special low gearing for processional duties.

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