Investing in the past

The third part of our interview with living Goodwood legend Derek Bell.

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Derek Bell
Published: 09 Jul 2018 Updated: 13 Jun 2022

Derek Bell is synonymous with Goodwood – it is his home course, the first track he ever raced. In the third part of our exclusive interview with Derek, he reveals what Goodwood stands for – and the modern-day value of a classic sport.

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The Goodwood Revival: then and now

Goodwood is my home track. I used to be able to hear the cars racing around the track when I was on the farm. To me, people talk about Silverstone, but Goodwood really is the home of British motorsport. The first international race of the calendar was held there on Easter Monday.

What the Duke has done is get hold of Goodwood with both hands, reopen the track – and give people what they want. Everything is perfect for what he wants to put on. And the racing he puts on at the Revival still keeps to the names of the races from back in the 60s. He’s done it perfectly. The F3 trophy, held annually at the Members Meeting in March, is even called the Derek Bell trophy.

What we have been given by Goodwood, and other places around the world, is the opportunity to see all these pieces of four-wheeled art, that wealthy people who own can show the public cars they’ve only read about. The world can see a living work of art from another time.

And people get caught up in the fashion, which is never going to change – getting into tweed suits and fedoras – because people around the world love to dress up. And the racing is great.

And on top of that, the cars can be driven by the people who drove them originally, or you can talk to the original drivers, and you can see the cars go…It’s a wonderful combination that aims to give a lot of people a lot of happiness.

You can say that Goodwood is an expensive weekend for people with money – but it’s so much more. The cars, the racing, give you the opportunity to live something that’s alive.

Classic cars as an investment

When compared with other assets, such as wine, cars are definitely a worthwhile investment. I buy cars because I love them, but their value will only go up. Over the last 10, 15 years the people who collect art have complained that they’re running out of art to collect, or they aren’t getting enough pleasure out of it.

On the other hand, a car is so much more – because it’s never about just the car you own. As the owner of a classic car, you can see the cars that other people have. You get just as much delight and enjoyment from other people’s cars – because they’re magnificent.

I was at Monaco recently and I walked past a garage where several men were putting a car together from scratch for the race the next day. They weren’t going to win it, they just wanted to take part. And the unified goal, the exercise of putting it together, the excitement, the adrenaline – we walked past them later, heard the engine starting, and it was great.

There’s more to it than looking at a piece of art. It’s alive.

By necessity, this briefing can only provide a short overview and it is essential to seek professional advice before applying the contents of this article. This briefing does not constitute advice nor a recommendation relating to the acquisition or disposal of investments. No responsibility can be taken for any loss arising from action taken or refrained from on the basis of this publication. Details correct at time of writing.


This article was previously published on Smith & Williamson prior to the launch of Evelyn Partners.