Emma Loughlin

A busy few weeks and Summer is finally here!

Wow! What a busy few weeks we’ve had and Summer is finally here!

Huge thanks to Tom Stoddart and Reg for chauffeuring my daughter-in-law on her wedding day, to my son Charles, on Saturday 26th August.

The utterly wonderful Baden Powell Rolls Royce, Jam Roll, was the beautiful car of choice. The car and the happy couple looked magnificent! Particularly, as Lauren and Charles met at Rolls Royce in Derby, there could not have been a more appropriate wedding car. The Bridesmaids looked lovely in their Minor Million, whilst Charles and his brother Peter (Best Man) arrived courtesy of the Frogeye Sprite!

So… of course I had to test drive all the wedding cars, as well as the Jaguar E Type which we had on parade for last Sunday’s Jaguar Enthusiasts meet! The Frogeye is a delight, especially as we now have a new clutch but I also enjoyed driving our Austin 14 Goodwood to Chatsworth for last weekend’s Country Fair. And then of course there was Princess Anne’s Scimitar! We are delighted to have taken delivery of this wonderful car and you can find out all about it here.

Yes, it’s been a mad few weeks of classic cars…and its been a huge pleasure to welcome so many visitors to see and admire them too!

Richard Usher, Founder, Great British Car Journey

Just one very royal lady owner for the latest Great British Car Journey exhibit

Princess Anne with Scimitar No 5 at Gatcombe Park

A car with one very special royal lady owner is the latest to arrive at the Great British Car Journey.

A custom-built Middlebridge Scimitar, which was previously owned by HRH Princess Anne for 35 years, is now on display.

L-R: Richard Usher, Kohji Nakauchi – former owner of Middlebridge Scimitar, Dennis Nursey – former CEO of Middlebridge Scimitar, and Mick Gaughran – Chairman of MESS

The dark green car is exactly as it was the day it left the Nottingham factory on 13 December 1988 and delivered to the Princess Royal. It was to be the last of eight Scimitars that she owned over 52 years.

Amongst its distinctive detailing, the car features a unique bonnet emblem – a silver female jockey on a horse. The unique mascot was presented to the Princess Royal following her performance in the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games where she competed on the late Queen Elizabeth II’s horse ‘Goodwill’.

The historically significant car remained in the Princess Royal’s ownership until very recently. It was stored at her country estate Gatcombe Park. Despite having 114,000 miles on the clock, the car is in remarkable condition, even boasting its original exhaust system.

The unique bonnet mascot on Scimitar No 5

Unfortunately, due to personal security reasons, Her Royal Highness has been unable to drive her cherished Scimitar No 5 for a number of years. Keen to preserve the car, Princess Anne agreed to the purchase of it by Middlebridge Scimitar enthusiast and classic car collector.

Mick Gaughran, Chairman of the Middlebridge Enthusiasts Scimitar Set (MESS), explained: “Princess Anne loved the car.  She was incredibly sad to part with it, but agreed to it on condition that it would be sympathetically restored. The car had been incredibly well looked after and needed minimal work. It is simply stunning.”

The car was given its ‘minimalist’ restoration work by marque specialists with all conservation works agreed with Gatcombe Park.

“The cars have galvanised steel chassis and fibreglass bodies, so they don’t rot,” added Mick.

Following its conservation, Middlebridge Scimitar No 5 has been loaned to Great British Car Journey. It is now on display in the museum’s 150-strong collection of classic British cars, complete with its original personalised number plate – 1420 H, which was displayed on the car for 35 years. The number plate has since been returned to the 1420 Hussars, who originally gifted it to HRH on her twentieth birthday.

HRH Princess Anne with Scimitar No 5 at Gatcombe Park

“Great British Car Journey is the perfect place for Scimitar No 5. Both the car’s royal and British motoring heritage will be fully appreciated. Scimitar No 5 can now be enjoyed and appreciated by everyone,” added Mick.

The car was delivered to Great British Car Journey on Thursday 31 August. It is now one of a number of historically significant cars on display in the museum, including Lord Baden Powell’s Rolls-Royce.

Richard Usher, founder of Great British Car Journey, who took delivery of Scimitar No 5 said: “I am incredibly grateful that Great British Car Journey has been chosen to display this historically significant car. Not only is it an eighties classic, the car also has an illustrious history and Royal provenance and is a wonderful addition to our exhibition.

“It is an absolutely stunning example of a Middlebridge Scimitar and is testament to HRH the Princess Royal’s care for the vehicle that it is in such a good condition after 114,000 miles of, no doubt, enthusiastic driving!

“I have no doubt it will be much admired by the thousands of visitors who come here each year.”

The former owner of Middlebridge Scimitar Kohji Nakauchi, a huge classic car enthusiast and collector, was there for the handover of the Scimitar No 5 to Great British Car Journey. He said he was “very honoured” to see the car on display in the museum.

To view opening times and purchase discounted entry tickets to the attraction, visit here.

Another week flies by…

Phyl the Cavalier

When I was a youngster, August was always the month of the family holiday, which meant a long drive to Dorset in a car which was rarely fit for purpose! The Singer Gazelle Convertible was pretty cramped with five of us and the dog, particularly with the hood down. My Dad liked to personalise his cars but fitting wire wheels to the Corsair GT was eccentric and caused the wheels to wobble violently at 50 mph or more… the Ford dealer in Bournemouth was baffled which was fair enough! The horn stuck on the Cortina Estate in Castle Bromwich, and Dad ignored it until Mum went ballistic, at which point he stopped and grumpily yanked a wire off somewhere! You get the picture!

So August always went by in a flash and the family car almost always created drama and tension both on the way to Dorset and on the way back… A journey of more than 160 miles which took the best part of a day.

Back to this August and the weather has been a bit kinder and I am pleased to say that we have been blessed with plenty of visitors. I have been enjoying the little Metro Cabriolet. It goes well with its 1400cc engine and is a fun drive especially with the hood down. I can really recommend these late Metros / Rover 100s… The K series is a zippy engine, the five speed box is smooth and the handling is very much like a Mini. The only problem is finding one, as like so many cars of the 90s, they have become pretty rare.

MG ZS with friends at Ambergate

We are grateful to Liz Wilson and Helen Mosley for the donation of two remarkable cars. Liz has given us her MG ZS which she has cherished for many years, having bought it with only 10,000 miles on the clock. The ZS was another successful restyle by the multi-talented Pete Stevens, turning a rather humble Rover into a svelte looking performance MG. This car has been cherished and still good extremely well. You can drive the 2.5 litre V6 version on the Drive Dad’s Car fleet.

Helen has gifted us her Grandmother’s Vauxhall Cavalier Envoy 1.8 Auto Saloon. For many years, the Cavalier and Sierra were locked in a battle for supremacy in the big family car market and both were substantially remodelled over the years. This car has done under 50,000 miles and is in great mechanical and bodily condition thanks to Helen’s Grandfather who looked after it. I have taken a photo of a device on the dashboard – can anyone identify what it is?

Phyl the Cavalier
What is this device sitting above the air vent on the Cavalier?

Both these cars will be checked over by our technicians before joining the main collection and we are very pleased to be able to offer them a dignified retirement from their long service to their owners who have preserved them for so many years.

August – Founder’s Blog

As I write this, there is rain coming down in biblical proportions and sadly Cromford Steam Rally has been unable to open today. The Derwent is looking brown and soupy but our weir is keeping our precious cargo of cars safe, although the roof is ensuring a few cars slightly watered!

I taxed the Rover 100 Cabriolet this week and I am extremely impressed with my first experience of K series Metro Motoring. The 1400 cc engine gives about 85bhp so it has plenty of go along with a sweet five speed gear box. The steering is very well weighted and for a car with a cloth roof, there is only a hint of scuttle shake when you hit one of the many potholes on the Derbyshire back roads. Of course at over £12,000 when it was new, it was always going to be a minority choice and it was only ever made to special order on the line at Longbridge. However, with the electric hood in the up position, it is completely water tight and free from draughts and wind noise. It is not clear how many were made but almost certainly less than 2000 and only a handful are registered today.

On the subject of hoods, I also drove my trusty and much loved MGB roadster this week. The hood is a truly terrible affair and quite impossible to put up in a hurry. The hood on my Austin Seven is much, much easier and faster to put up and does not involve lots of pulling, pushing and profane language. It also leaves your finger nails intact. The final struggle with the B are the dreaded Tenax fasteners – I would like to meet the genius responsible for these and challenge him to get them all securely fastened! Maybe having a new hood a few years ago was not such a great move but compared to the hood on an MX 5, the hoods on Sprites, Midgets and Bs are a woeful effort which surely should have been improved?

Of course with the roof down on the MGB, you forgive this one fairly major fault. Although in winter I would also add the heater to the list of things that could have been improved. I suppose if I had a handbook, the mysteries of the two rotary controls might be solved but without one demisting or indeed cabin heater, it does seem to rely on a fairly random twirling of those two knobs conveniently located in front of the passenger!

Stop moaning Richard! The B is still a lovely thing to drive and when I parked it in a car park full of modern cars, I admired its great shape and how gracefully it has aged.  You certainly want one with overdrive if you intend to do many long journeys but on a warm sunny day (remember those?), a standard MGB or indeed GT is a very pleasant way to enjoy driving and admire the great British countryside, particularly the very green Derbyshire Dales.

Sneak peak – A sweet and rare little car

I am delighted to have purchased a Rover 114 Cabriolet which is probably the rarest variant of the car we all more commonly know as the Metro.

The car has been lovingly looked after by Joan Watson for the last 12 years and been garaged and serviced so that it belies its 28 years of age.

By the mid 1990s cabriolets were very much in fashion again and the Metro had been reborn as the Rover 100 series and at last had a modern OHC engine and a five speed gearbox. Sadly, BMW who had bought Rover Group in 1994 had no appetite for a total facelift. However, the car was substantially updated and the cabriolet was available as a very limited edition model built on the main production line at Longbridge.

It would appear that only around 2000 were made but with an electric roof and around 75bhp on tap this was a peppy little car. Unfortunately, with a list price of over £12,000, it was also very expensive.

My new car was first registered on 16 June 1995 to a Mrs Jeffery who bought it from Lookers in Southend. The sales invoice shows she paid £12,134.25 for it.

I am now the sixth owner and she has covered 72,000 miles in that time.

I am very grateful to Joan for giving us the opportunity to buy a much-loved little car and I look forward to giving you my road test in due course.

There are less than ten of these cars still taxed on the road in 2023.

Come and meet her (and Sarah Crabtree and Paul Woodford) at the Great British Car Meet on Friday between 4 and 8pm: https://greatbritishcarjourney.com/great-british-car-meets/

A huge privilege to have Boanerges / Bo visit

It was great to meet Ben and the enthusiastic team from Imperial College London and act as a dormitory for their very precious 1902 James & Browne car overnight stay.

A small group of students from the College maintain and run ‘Bo’ and have rebuilt this vintage car to an amazing standard recently. They are currently taking a ‘tour’ through the Peak District and then onwards to Snowdonia. Naturally, they thought the Great British Car Journey would make an excellent stop on the trip!

Visitors to Great British Car Journey will have seen ‘Bo’ being driven around the site today and I was lucky enough to enjoy a ride. ‘Bo’ is not dissimilar mechanically to our resident Arrol-Johnston in which I have also been a passenger. These are pioneering cars and for those lucky enough to have been able to afford them, they offered an adventure every day.  

The Imperial car is one of only two survivors of the James & Browne marque and was bought by three students at the City and Guilds College back in 1934. It completed the London to Brighton run in 1933 at an average speed of 19.61 mph and has done the run many times since then.

Very well done to all those responsible for preserving and using this wonderful car and thanks again for bringing ‘Bo’ along for us all to enjoy.

My Motoring Week

I continue to run in “Dinky” my Austin Seven in preparation for the Pre-War Austin Seven Club Cumbrian tour in two week’s time and so far… so good. Dinky’s former owner has also been in touch, and as a result, I am now the proud owner of my third Reliant; a wonderful 1962 Regal Mk V1.  This is the third car I have bought from Eric Taylor who I met at the Ashover Show several years ago when I bought Dinky from him.

My second purchase was also a Reliant but one with four wheels; a 1987 Scimitar SS1. I drove the Scimitar this week and decided that an MOT was needed so we could do some road miles. Reliant had great plans to build 1000 of these a year but the hot hatch ruled the roads in the 1980s, so just over 1000 of these little two seaters left Tamworth in an eight year production run. It’s perhaps not one of Michelotti’s greatest designs but it’s light, nippy and a lot of fun to drive. MOT passed but a few jobs for Luke and Doc Lawrence before we buy the road tax…

The Regal has been fully restored and was a great success for Reliant in the early 60s with well over 10,000 being produced. We need a new fuel pump for mine and then we will report on the driving experience!!

I also gave my Mk 4/5 Cortina a spin as we have put this on the Drive Dads Car fleet and I must admit I was pleasantly surprised by how well it drives. I then jumped in our Mk 1 Granada with its silky smooth 2.5 litre Six cylinder engine for the early 70s luxury car experience! This is also now available to drive on the fleet.

Good to see so many Great British Car Club members for Breakfast on Sunday including this wonderful convertible Citroen Traction Avant which completed the Peking to Paris run back in 2007. Also this lovely S1 Bentley… surely the most elegant of the standard bodied Bentley and Rolls-Royce models. 

Finally, I was very excited to get the Eight track stereo in our Mk3 Cortina playing T Rex yesterday. Find the video on Facebook here!!

Stay safe and enjoy the Sun whilst it lasts… we are on holiday in Norfolk next week so its probably going to rain!

My Motoring Week…

Mini and Austin 7

A busy week at Great British Car Journey finished off with Father’s Day and hundreds of cars and visitors.

My daily commute has been in my 2000 Mini Cooper Sport which has covered only 10600 miles from new. The classic Mini is a work of pure genius and reconnects you with the road like nothing else. A huge “Thank you” must go to Sir Alec Issigonis for his creation, although as I turned 66 last Thursday, I realised that my springs aren’t quite what they were!

Dutton Surf

Much of the middle of the week was committed to familiarisation in the Dutton, as we finally braved the slipway and took to the Derwent. On Friday, my old friend Rob Gill who is the motoring editor of The Sun came to get aquatic. See what he thought in this Thursday’s paper or read and watch it here.

In preparation for Austin Day on Saturday, I drove our A70 Hereford and our beautiful Austin 16 Woodie, the latter in preparation for a reunion with the family who rebuilt her over 40 years ago. These big post war Austins have so much to recommend them; comfort and serenity on wheels.

Austin Day was well attended on Saturday with another fine Paralanian Camper stealing my heart – truly the Rolls Royce of camper vans! Thanks to the Austin Counties crowd for providing such an array of Devons, Dorsets, Herefords, Hampshires and Somersets.

Doc Lawrence our resident mechanical genius has also changed the bearings in Dinky, my Austin 7 in preparation for the Pre War Austin 7 Cumbrian run in July. She has never run so sweetly but I am under pain of death to run her in carefully.

Mini and Austin 7

A truly wonderful selection of Jowetts joined us for Father’s day so we had to get our Bradford Lorry (on loan from Joe Stocks) out to meet a friend. Thank you Jowetteers for joining us and happy 100th birthday to the oldest one make car club in the world!

Find our full list of upcoming events here or book your tickets to experience Great British Car Journey here.

Amphibious car sets sail at Great British Car Journey

Dutton Surf

Is it a duck? Is it a boat? Is it a car?  It’s all three. It’s a Dutton 4WD Surf – an amphibious vehicle can be seen in Great British Car Journey.

Like all the cars in the UK’s award-winning interactive car museum’s collection, the custom-built amphibious car is in full working order – on land and water!

Great British Car Journey’s director Andrew Talbot took the Dutton 4WD Surf on its maiden voyage recently when it entered the river and travelled upstream before returning to dry land.

He said: “I have spent a lot of time on the Derwent in my kayak and I’m confident that this is the first amphibious car to have ever travelled on the river. Being in the Dutton was an altogether different experience from being in my kayak or even a normal car, but it was fantastic. I loved every minute of it.”

Now named the ‘Derwent Duck’ by the museum team, the craft was built by British inventor Tim Dutton at his factory in Littlehampton. Tim has been making the only successful amphibious car in the world since 1989 at a factory that used to make lifeboats.

No more than seven of the amphibious cars are made each year and a number of them have appeared in high profile TV programmes like Hunted and Britain’s Got Talent where it was driven in the opening sequence by Simon Cowell and David Walliams.

Travelling on water at a top speed of five knots powered by jet propulsion, the Dutton Surf is designed for lazy days on the river rather than powerboating. On land, the Dutton 4WD Surf operates like a normal car and is fully road legal with a top speed of 85mph.

The craft, when not on the Derwent, can be found in the museum’s 150-strong collection which celebrates the weird and wonderful, and best and worst, of British car design over the last 100 years.

Commenting on the Derwent Duck’s addition to the exhibition, Richard Usher founder and CEO of Great British Car Journey, said: “Tim Dutton is yet another example of a British engineering pioneer and we are delighted to have the Dutton 4WD Surf in our collection. Like many of the cars in the collection, it’s a real talking point.”

For more information on news updates, new donated car features, car club visits, new merchandise and forthcoming events please sign up to our newsletter below.

Great British Car Journey named as a top new tourism business in national awards

Image credit VisitBritain/Daniela Luquini

Just two years after opening, the Great British Car Journey, an interactive car museum in Derbyshire, has been named as one of the top new tourism businesses in the national VisitEngland Awards for Excellence 2023.

The annual awards, which celebrate the tourism industry’s brightest stars, were held on Thursday 7 June at a glittering award ceremony hosted by Alex Polizzi at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London.

Great British Car Journey was one of 48 winners selected from hundreds of tourism businesses across England, including hotels, self-catering accommodation, B&Bs, glamping operators, attractions, restaurants, pubs and museums.

Accepting the bronze award for New Tourism Business of the Year Richard Usher, Founder and CEO of Great British Car Journey, said: “What a phenomenal journey the last two years have been for Great British Car Journey. To be recognised in the national VisitEngland Awards for Excellence has just blown us all away. We knew we had something special when we opened the museum in May 2021 but to have it confirmed is wonderful.

“It’s onwards and upwards for Great British Car Journey. We have many exciting plans in the pipeline which will ensure we continue to stand out in both the classic car and visitor attraction market.”

Since opening amid Covid restrictions, the museum has been a hit, welcoming more than 60,000 visitors from through the UK and the world.

To maintain and increase visitor interest, the attraction continues to add unique and fascinating cars to its exhibition, including the Rolls-Royce which was owned by the founder of the Scouting movement Lord Baden Powell, the last Morris Minor ever made, and a Lotus driven by world champion racing driver Mario Andretti.

It has also further developed its offer to hosting regular events, launching a car club, an online shop, and its own YouTube series, Great British Car Share, with motoring personalities Sarah Crabtree and Paul Woodford.

The museum, which is located in Ambergate on the edge of the Peak District, now boasts more than 150 classic British cars in the exhibition which tells the story of car design and production in the UK from the 1923 to 2000. Uniquely, the museum also has more than 40 classic cars, ranging from the Austin Seven to the Ford Capri, which visitors to the attraction can take for a drive.

Richard added: “2023 has been a fantastic year so far. We won Gold at the Visit Peak District and Derbyshire Tourism Awards earlier in the year and also narrowly missed out on the Tourism Superstar of the Year Award for our young heritage apprentice Luke Henshaw. We’ll keep on doing what we do as it is evidently working!”

To book discounted entry tickets to Great British Car Journey visit here or to book a drive in one the cars on the Drive Dad’s Car fleet visit here

Unique piece of BMC history goes on display at Great British Car Journey

A unique piece of BMC history – a restored ‘skeleton’ example of the Austin 1100 Countryman – is now on display at Great British Car Journey after being generously lent to us by The 1100 Club.

The skeleton body of the unique vehicle is designed to show the electric motors which control the movement of front and rear seats, demonstrating its carrying capacity to the full.

The arrival at Great British Car Journey follows the end of an eight-year search by the club for a new home for the car following the closure of its former home, Stondon Motor Museum in 2015. Since the museum’s closure the car has been in storage, only being brought out by the club for shows and exhibitions. During this time, members of the Essex branch of The 1100 Club restored the rare model to its former glory.

“Absolutely over the moon” to finally bring the car out of storage, Gordon Diffey, The 1100 Club committee member who is responsible for looking after the car, explained: “After learning about the Great British Car Journey at the Classic Car Show last year where I had my car on display and then visiting the museum myself, I was very impressed and realised it would be an absolutely perfect place to display the car. Now that it is on display again at the museum, members of The 1100 Club and all other classic car enthusiasts have the opportunity to see it whenever they want.”

Originally produced by Austin to demonstrate the still unique BMC engine and transmission layout at the 1966 Geneva Motor Show, the car also appeared the following year at the 1967 Earls Court Motor Show on a turntable alongside a fully bodied version.

At the end of the show the Austin 1100 skeleton car was put into storage at the British Motor Museum at Gaydon before being purchased by The 1100 Club in 1998 and subsequently displayed at Stondon Motor Museum in Bedfordshire.

Delighted to have the Austin 1100 skeleton on display in the exhibition, Richard Usher, CEO and founder of Great British Car Journey said: “This is a truly unique car and an important piece of BMC’s history which we are delighted to now have on display. It’s a real talking point, like so many of the wonderful cars designed and produced by British manufacturers over the last 100 years. I am grateful to Gordon and The 1100 Club for giving us the opportunity to share this car with so many people.”

The Austin 1100 skeleton car

The Austin 1100 skeleton car is available to view seven days a week alongside more than 130 classic cars at Great British Car journey.

Single admission is just £17.50 but, when booked online, visitors pay just £16.00.  Concessions and family tickets are also available.

Save money and book your entry tickets online here.

Great British Car Journey introduces new Park and Peek visitor ticket

Did you know that you can now ‘Park and Peek’ at Great British Car Journey?

A new entry ticket has been introduced to the classic car visitor attraction in Ambergate.

Costing just £5, the Park and Peek ticket is a great way for up to five people to come along and see the many vehicles in the exhibition from a distance, use the toilet facilities and grab a drink or bite to eat at the Filling Station café within Great British Car Journey.

The new ticket is designed to be used by visitors attending the many car club events and meets held in the Great British Car Journey car park. In addition to the hugely popular Great British Car Meet event, which attract hundreds of visitors and cars, the museum car park is also used as a meeting point by a wide range of car clubs, including Morgan, Volvo, Porsche.

Upcoming car park events include Great British Car Meets (30 June).

Great British Car Journey is also hosting visits from Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club (17 June), Jowett Club (18 June) and Jaguar Drivers Club East Midlands (24 June).

For Park and Peek visitors keen to get up close to the 140-strong classic car exhibition within the Great British car Journey, the ticket price can be redeemed against entry to the attraction on the door.

As well as getting to see the myriad of makes and models on display in the car park, the new Park and Peek ticket also allows visitors to use the onsite cafe and toilet facilities at the attraction as well as view, from a distance, the 140-strong classic car exhibition within the museum.

Richard Usher, Founder and CEO of Great British Car Journey explained: “We regularly have many great vehicles in our car park thanks to our regular Car Meets and visiting car clubs that provoke as much interest outside as in the attraction.”

“More often than not, visitors upgrade their ticket to entry once they have seen the exhibition and realised that it is not a bland ‘don’t touch’ museum, rather people can open the doors of the cars, look at the interiors and inhale that old car smell. It’s a real trip down memory lane.

”The Park and Peek ticket can be purchased on the day from reception at Great British Car Journey or click the button below.

Fiesta of Fords

Ford has been part of the car landscape in the UK since the dawn of motoring with the Model T assembled in Manchester being the best selling car in Britain before war broke out in 1914.

The building of Dagenham was a colossal enterprise and for the last seventy years Ford models have never been far from the top of the sales charts. Anglias, Escorts, Fiestas, Cortinas, Sierras, Mondeos and Focuses have provided affordable, reliable and comfortable motoring for millions and millions of people.

On June 4th Great British Car Journey celebrates all the products of the Blue Oval in a Fiesta of Fords.

If you own one come and join us! Email your car registration number to Oliver@greatbritishcarjourney.com so we can discount your entry to what we hope will be a day of the blue oval under a blue sky.

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Happy 2nd Birthday to Great British Car Journey!

Two years ago today Great British Car Journey opened its doors to the public!

 We want to thank everyone who has visited us and continues to support us along the way – we’ve had yet another incredible year!

Some of the highlights this year include:

None of this could have been achieved without our amazing team who work tirelessly to make sure every visitor has an unforgettable experience. From our skilled vehicle technicians and calm and collected driving instructors to the army of volunteers and café team and everyone in between – we are grateful to work alongside such passionate people.

Thanks also go to the wonderful owners who have allowed us to display their cars in our exhibition; as well as the army of car enthusiasts who turn out in their droves in their much-loved classics at our car meets – you enable us to showcase the best of British automotive engineering and design. And, of course, a big thank you to the incredible car clubs and everyone who visits us – we appreciate your support.

As we look forward to what 2023/24 has in-store. We already have some exciting new events and projects in the pipeline, including the addition of more classic cars to the Drive Dad’s Car fleet that you won’t want to miss (discover them at Meet the Fleet Day this Saturday!), more quirky and historic vehicles to the exhibitions and some stunning new Autocar front covers available for purchase.

So why not come and celebrate with us and experience the magic of Great British Car Journey for yourself? With themed events, fascinating interactive audio tours and the most wonderful classic cars with their own story to tell, there’s something for everyone to enjoy!

Join us this week and next for :

Mini and Issigonis Day – May 28th

The Suez crisis of 1956 prompted Len Lord who was in charge of BMC the merged Austin and Morris empire, to put the production of a small economical car to the top of the priority list.

Launched in 1959, the Mini was the work of Alec Issigonis who had designed the Morris Minor. The Mini was destined to be the greatest British popular car of all time with well over 5 million being made until the last one rolled off the production line in October 2000.

At Great British Car Journey, we absolutely LOVE Minis and we recognise Sir Alec Issigonis as a genius. Sunday 28th May is the day we acknowledge this! We would like to assemble as many Minis as possible and we reckon, because they are so tiny, we have room for at least 400!!

So if you love Minis and certainly if you own one, we would love to see you at Great British Car Journey on May 28th.

Anyone arriving in a Mini or any Mini derived car is entitled to a special MINI DAY admission price so please email oliver@greatbritishcarjourney.com with your car registration number so we can apply discount to your visit. This invitation extends to Elfs Hornets and all Austin / Morris / MG / Riley / Wolseley 1100/1300 variants as we celebrate the genius of Sir Alec and an era when his cars ruled the road and the race and rally circuit.

Join us for 75th celebrations at our Morris Minor Day

Morris Minor Million

The Morris Minor made its debut at the British Motor Show at Earls Court in October 1948. Alec Issigonis’ first great volume design is therefore 75 years old this year.

The Minor is central to the story of Great British Car Journey, being the best selling and most loved, next generation of true family transport after the war and taking over the mantle from the Austin 7.

Hopefully, Sunday 21st May will be a lovely early Summer day and we would like to assemble as many Morris Minors as possible to celebrate this marvellous little car.

We have a great selection of Morris Minors in the collection including a wonderful early convertible from 1950 and the last Minor ever made, kindly on loan from the Morris Minor Owners Club, as well as two Minor Millions!

Although Morris himself was no great fan of the Minor, it is a landmark vehicle in the history of Great British cars with more than 1.7 million being built between 1948 and 1971.

Joining us on Sunday will be members of the Northamptonshire Branch of the Morris Minor Club, along with ‘Miranda’ the Morris Minor Marie Curie fundraiser.

A special event entry price is available for all Morris Minors attending so if you are coming in a Minor please email your interest and car registration number to ian@greatbritishcarjourney.com so we can discount your admission.

If you are a Morris Minor fan but don’t own, pop along to see the fantastic display.

Rover Day – 14 May 2023

Rover Day 2023 at Great British Car Journey

Hopefully watching from above, John Kemp Starley, would have observed the car park at Great British Car Journey largely populated by Rovers on Sunday 14th May 2023 as we celebrated the great British institution that was Rover cars. Of course, Starley made his considerable reputation with his Rover ‘safety’ bicycle and it was not until 1904 that the first Rover car took to the road, preceded by some motorbikes and an ingenious electric tricycle.

Over the next 100 years, Rover concentrated on cars and although Starley died in 1901, his legacy was more than present in our car park for our Rover themed day.

I would like to thank all the owners of the cars who made our first Rover Day so memorable. In particular, the enthusiastic Rover 200 and 400 Owners Club and their events co-ordinator Iain Turner for putting on a great display of some of the last high volume Rovers ever made. Iain has a pristine Rover 200vi which was one of the last really hot hatches to carry the Rover name.

The famous Viking Ship logo was visible on virtually all the significant post-war models on display with a number of P6 and SD1s present representing an era when Rover lost its rather staid image with some truly inspirational models. Sadly, the Rover car story ended in 2005, when the closure of Longbridge ended production of the 75.

Rover Day however, was a celebration of the greatness of Rover and I look forward to celebrating again next year with even more cars!

Our themed events programme continues this weekend with a 75th birthday celebration of Alec Issigonis’ first great success, the Morris Minor. If you own one or just love them, join us next Sunday!

Richard Usher
Found and CEO, Great British Car Journey

Founder’s Classic Week of Driving

Despite having a rather busy weekend, I managed to squeeze a little bit of Classic motoring into my week.

It started with a familiarisation drive in one of the latest cars donated to the museum – a 1997 Rover 820 kindly donated by Stephen Yates, having been in long term family ownership. These luxury Rovers benefitted from the British Leyland collaboration with Honda and sold well, replacing the ageing SD1. This particular car has been cherished by Stephen and his parents and drives very sweetly providing a very comfortable ride.

On Monday, I briefly drove another car donated to us by Peter Mathers, a 2007 Ford Ka 1.3. making it a late version of the car launched in 1996 and substantially changed in 2008. I owned a SportKa back in 2004 which I used as a runaround and thought back then that it was a fun drive which could definitely have handled more power. The styling was not to everyone’s taste but it was distinctive which I think has really stood the test of time. Sadly in my view the last iteration of the Ka which was discontinued in 2019 looked like just another small euro-box and had lost the distinctive character of the original car. We would like to thank Peter for this ‘modern classic’ and one of the last Fords to have a really distinctive shape.

On Thursday I drove home in my A40 Farina which is always guaranteed to raise a smile. This car was supplied new by Kennings in Loscoe in 1963 and I am only the second owner. It has covered 250,000 miles and now has a 1275cc engine with twin carbs. Needless to say it is a sprightly little thing. The reg number is original as in 1963 before going to the A suffix , Derbyshire County Council decided to use up some old numbers. My Mum learned to drive in an A40 so I have early memories of listening to her instructor, Mrs Parker, giving her lessons as I stayed quiet in the back!

Finally, I am delighted to announce that we have bought a really rare HB Viva from Great British Car Club member Paul Simpson. This SL variant has a 1600 OHC engine with 83 bhp on tap. It’s in great condition and drives really well. This was a real alternative to an Escort GT and I think drives rather better with its coil sprung back axle with trailing arms. I have driven it round the site but can’t wait for an open road trip!

So… another varied week of motoring down at Great British Car Journey and we personally have a Porsche Cayenne on loan at the moment as Mrs Usher’s Macan is in for some work. The Cayenne is all that’s wrong with modern cars, its huge bulk makes it feel really heavy (which it is) and if you drive with any enthusiasm, it’s actually quite hard work and very hard on the wallet. Does anyone really need such a big lumbering thing to take the kids to school? I cant wait to get our diesel Macan back.

Richard Usher,
Founder and CEO, Great British Car Journey

April goes out with a bang and May starts with one!

May Day Great British Car Meet

We enjoyed a fantastic weekend at Great British Car Journey as April moved into May last week. Both Saturday, Sunday and Monday (May Day) were really busy and I would like to thank all the team for their hard work and dedication. Thanks also to all the organisers from Jaguar Drivers Club, Morgan Sports Car Club, The Imp Club and Aston Martin Owners Club for visiting and being so complimentary about our venue.

A belated Happy 60th Birthday to the Hillman Imp – that clever little car built by the Rootes Group in Scotland which deserved to be a bigger success back in the 1960s. I was particularly impressed by the variety of different Jaguars which attended the Breakfast Club and was pleased to hear from the Club Chairman, Roger Kemp, that the club is enjoying good growth with plenty of owners of current cars signing up too. The Club magazine edited by the indefatigable, Gaynor Cauter, is a very well-produced publication which I would say is worth the club membership fee in its own right.

Similarly, Roy Blunt, Chairman of The Imp Club affirmed that interest in the Imp and all its variants remained strong and they had enjoyed a good weekend celebrating this significant anniversary.

The winning Austin Paralanian Camper Van
The winning Austin Paralanian Camper Van – Image courtesy of Carly Staton

On Monday, we entered a new month with our second Great British Car Meet in three days and a fantastic turnout saw the car park full and the café as busy as ever. My absolute favourite car of the day was the pristine Austin Paralanian Camper Van. The name Paralanian came from the fact that they were coach-built in Parry Lane, Bradford, so not quite as exotic as it sounds. However, it was a very luxurious Motor Home by the standards of post-war Britain and this particular example was a real credit to its owner. I hope we will see it again.

Visit our calendar for the full list of future classic car events at Great British Car Journey.

Richard Usher
Founder and CEO of Great British Car Journey.

Great British Car Journey announced as finalist in VisitEngland Awards for Excellence

Great British Car journey has reached the finals of the prestigious VisitEngland Awards for Excellence.

Great British Car journey is one of five tourism businesses from the Peak District and Derbyshire that have reached the finals of the prestigious VisitEngland Awards for Excellence.

Great British Car Journey has been shortlisted has been shortlisted for New Tourism Business of the Year in the national awards after winning gold at the 2023 Peak District & Derbyshire Tourism Awards earlier this year.

Gold winners of the 2023 Visit Peak District & Derbyshire Tourism Awards

Judges for the Peak District & Derbyshire Tourism Awards described Great British Car journey as ‘a well thought through structured experience which captures in creative detail the timeline of the British Motor Industry over the last 100 years. It is of interest not only to motoring enthusiasts but provides a window into the nation’s social history from working families in the 20s, to the swinging 60s, the industrial struggles of the 70’s to the emerging high tech vehicles of now. The historic vehicle apprenticeship programme adopted by the Great British Journey is to be commended.’

The VisitEngland Awards for Excellence awards are the highest accolades in English tourism and champion the very best of the country’s tourism industry celebrating quality, innovation, best practice and exceptional customer service.

Richard Usher, CEO and founder of Great British Car Journey, finalists in the New Tourism Business category, said: “Since we opened in Derbyshire in 2021, the attraction has really struck a chord with the general public, whether they are classic car enthusiasts or not, offering the ultimate trip down memory lane. The exhibition, driving experience and our events are attracting visitors and tourist groups from all over the world. It’s been an exciting journey for the entire Great British Car Journey team. To be a finalist in the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence is just the icing on the cake.”

Alongside Great British Car Journey, fellow Peak District and Derbyshire businesses – Wildhive Callow Hall, The Blind Bull, Pure Outdoor and myGuidedWalks – have also been shortlisted in the national awards.

Wildhive Callow Hall near Ashbourne has reached the finals for Small Hotel of the Year; and The Blind Bull at Little Hucklow, near Buxton, has been shortlisted for the Pub of the Year Award, Outdoor activity and training providers Pure Outdoor have been shortlisted for the Ethical, Responsible and Sustainable Tourism Award; and myGuidedWalks, a Peak District walking experience provider, has been shortlisted in the Experience of the Year category.

“Good luck to our fellow Derbyshire and Peak District nominees in these prestigious awards,” added Richard.

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony held at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter on Wednesday 7 June 2023.

Jo Dilley, Managing Director of Visit Peak District & Derbyshire said: “It’s an excellent achievement to be shortlisted for these prestigious national awards and we’re proud that the Peak District and Derbyshire is represented by five fantastic finalists.

“This serves as a timely reminder of the value and sheer quality of our world-class tourism offer, and is testament to our passionate businesses who are dedicated to providing visitors with unforgettable experiences.

“Entering locally aligned awards is the only way to qualify for the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence, so we encourage tourism businesses to look out for when entries open for the 2024 Peak District & Derbyshire Tourism Awards this summer. We wish our finalists the very best of luck!”

To discover why Great British Car Journey is