As Nascar star of the silver screen Ricky Bobby once said… “I wanna go fast” and and I never felt more affinity for his sentiment than this week/when I got the chance to get behind the wheel of a real American muscle car…’
Chevrolet Europe kindly provided me with the all new 6.2L V8 Camaro kicking out a neck jarring 453hp!
The idea was to juxtapose an American muscle-car icon with classic British style on a road trip from Paris to the Goodwood Festival of Speed and arrive ‘Like a Gentleman’.
Shortly after arriving at the hotel in Paris I was introduced to the Camaro, and what better way to make its acquaintance than in the full garb of a British gentleman? Thanks to the classic British tailoring by London based tailor extraordinaire Joshua Kane Bespoke, I turned out in his legendary black and white houndstooth two-piece suit and couldn’t have coordinated with the car any better .
After filming the quick intro scene I was free to explore the capabilities of the car and get to grips with driving on the other side of the road.
To start the road trip we made tracks (excuse the pun) to the Goodwood racetrack where the Festival of Speed takes place. Starting with a rather pleasant two-and-a-half hour drive on clear roads through the French countryside to the small coastal town of Wissant, we set up to play a round of cross channel golf. Golf is a sport embedded within the British gentleman culture. Having elements of both speed and power it was an obvious choice to include a few ‘drives’ in the road trip.
As the itinerary for the day was a long drive and a round of golf, I wanted to dress a little more casually. With roots in British motor sport, I couldn’t think of a more perfect brand to wear than the iconic Belstaff. I chose a few items from their Spring/Summer ’16 collection which is just as at home on the driving range as it is in the driving seat.
After a few swings (and misses) I packed away the iron and hit the road to Calais where we boarded the train across the channel. Within 10 minutes of English motorway, in a typically English manner, the heavens opened. It was time to test the windscreen wipers! Switching from one side of the road to the other in a left hand drive vehicle was a little disorientating but the transition was made a lot easier thanks to the paddle shift gears and the heads-up display navigation projected onto the windscreen.
A few hours later I pulled up to my favourite barber shop in Brighton, Cutter & Grinder, to see my good friend and master barber Hossein. In preparation for the Festival of Speed at Goodwood I checked in for a beard trim and a hot towel shave around the neck line. The hot towel was just what the doctor ordered to help wind down after a long day in the driving seat.
The next morning was spent relaxing at Drakes, a boutique hotel right on the Brighton seaside, followed by a visit to another contemporary British tailor Gresham Blake. As any gentleman knows, wearing a suit is all about the fit and fabric. The exceptionally attentive staff helped me decide on both, taking the time to show me the different cloths available and explaining the benefits of each fabric.
On Saturday morning I completed the final leg of the trip, driving from Brighton to Goodwood racetrack where the Festival of Speed has showcased some of the most amazing cars and motorbikes from the past, present and future since 1993. Pulling into the festival slowly (and very loudly of course) in the Camaro definitely turned heads and brought more than a few smiles to the faces of on lookers as I parked up in least muddy car park reserved for super cars.
Heavy rainfall on Friday left the festival grounds looking somewhat like a quagmire. Wearing a tailored suit covered in mud is not the most gentlemanly of looks so I went back to the trusty Belstaff collection, choosing the iconic and very apt ‘Road Master’ jacket. Styled with a pair of Hunter wellington boots and a pair of Ray-Ban aviators I was ready for whatever the British summer could throw at me! Words simply cannot describe the noise of the engines being fired up and revving throughout the festival. The atmosphere was of adrenaline and excitement making even the most stern aristocrats crack a childlike grin.
To finish the day, and definitely the highlight of my time with Chevrolet, I had the honour of joining ex-racer and current Technical Manager at Chevrolet Europe for a lap of the iconic Goodwood Hill Climb in the new Corvette C7 Stingray.
I really can’t thank Chevrolet Europe enough for bringing me along and letting me loose in what is easily the most beautiful car I’ve ever driven. You can catch all of the episodes in the YouTube playlist embedded below. Hopefully I’ll be back next year with even more horse power under my feet!