Stalking car parks for hidden gems and striking gold

| 14 Mar 2012

There was a time  – so long ago that it was called a press day or media day – that on Goodwood preview day the Cathedral Paddock would be dominated by classics.

This was back when both the Sussex events were in their infancy and, even though the press day guest list would half-fill that car park at best, anyone who had, or could lay their hands on, a classic would drive it down there. It was unspoken, but unquestioned. Compulsory.

In recent years, my traditional Goodwood press day classic-spotting has become rather more difficult because, first up, fewer people seem to bother to take old cars down there, and secondly, the parking now overflows in all directions from the Paddock as if Pavarotti has just done a bomb in your paddling pool.

Of course, even though the classics are both more scarce and spread further than ever, I won't be deterred from snooping around finding them.

The reason? There is always an absolute gem to be found at Goodwood and for the dedicated classic stalker this year was no exception.

Sure there was a wonderful Healey and a lovely Pagoda tucked between the rep-mobiles and Chelsea tractors, both hopefully making the modern-drivers parked beside them hang their heads in shame and think about the cars they should have brought.

Slightly separated, but equally impressive was the trio of Italian lovelies that included an under-appreciated-on-the-day Ferrari 275 GTB, yet none of these was my "find".

The car that knocked me sideways to see was tucked away like a bluebell in the woods, otherwise inconspicuous beside an old building that was plastered in asbestos warnings.

A car that has always intrigued and fascinated me, a Morgan Plus 4 Plus. People talk about "event" cars, well this, by its rarity alone, is far more than that. 

And yet it came so close to being a non-event car.

Only 26 were built between 1964 and 1967 and few survive in roadworthy state. 

Despite spending my work and play time with classics, the last time I saw one on the road was at the Gawsworth Hall classic car show more than half a decade ago. They are that rare.

And when I do see a +4+ (which isn't that often) I feel an enormous urge to put one back to back with a Lotus Elite for a C&SC feature.

Its story is fascinating, an heroic failure that only Britain, only Morgan, could serve up.

Made from glassfibre and powered by the 2-litre Triumph four, it was quick and sleek. So sleek. What a shape, such an un-Morgan shape. 

Is it any good to drive? I honestly don't know because, thus far, that pleasure has eluded me. 

That doesn't really matter though, because as far as car park finds go, it is the pinnacle so far for me.

Another successful day at Goodwood.