Founder’s Almanac 2021

Founder’s Almanac 2021

January: Contractors of every trade working on Unit 4 to make it a suitable home for the GBCJ Car Collection and Visitors to it.  Snow in middle of month. Heavy rain and high river levels later on.  Purchased one owner XJS Cabriolet and Bristol 410.

February:  Work continues. Purchase Rover Streetwise on Valentine’s Day. Weather improves towards end of month. Still lots to do!

March: Humber Sceptre and another Austin Seven join us as well as a rare Vauxhall Victor from 1971 and a lovely MG TF.

Start trial hanging of banners in main display area.

April:  Morris 1800 is purchased. Alec Issigonis loved this car but unfortunately it did not sell as well as expected. Very low mileage MG ZR joins us. Pete Stevens did such a great job turning these Rovers into a really good hot hatch.  Drive -It day on April 25th attracts hundreds of visitors …to the car park. See you all again in 2022. 

May:  Working flat out!  McLaren 650S arrives … how I love this car!!

Press and opening day on May 19th. Great weather, lots of guests including the BBC who broadcast live for the Breakfast programme.

May 22nd is our first day open to visitors and thanks to the hundreds that turned up.

June:  Weather not great but loads of visitors. Welcome a big Morgan group on June 26th.

July:  At last, some Summer weather. We acquire beautiful Jensen 541S.  Welcome donation from Derby College of cutaway Ford Prefect Chassis. THANK YOU.

Visit to stud in Wiltshire where a cache of fascinating cars are hiding. More of them later

Buy a one owner from new Austin A40. My Mum learned to drive in one… I bounced around in the back!

Visitors keep coming and lots of people “Drive Dads Car”. Reviews are very favourable and at last we can open the Café properly (deliberate brief mention of the dreaded C- thing!)

August: Buy a wonderful Mk2 Cortina Ambulance.

Sunny days and rather warm.

August 30th  – De Loreans  take over. Thanks to the club for bringing the cars.

September:  Arrival of the Arrol Johnston and two lovely Jaguars.  Huge Thanks to the Plaister Charitable Trust for the loan of these wonderful cars.

Nice to see the Austin Healey Club…the first car club I ever joined.

At last, after far too long, my wife and I do a tour with the Pre-War Austin 7 Club in the beautiful Lake District. What a wonderful little car.

October:  We welcome a terrific collection of cars from the Eastern Bloc. I want a Wartburg!

November:   We are given a wonderful 1931 Austin 12. A huge Thankyou to Charles Clarkson whose family have owned this car from new.  Thanks to Autoglym the Plaister cars are put on display looking magnificent.  Well done to our team for getting them running so sweetly.

Thanks to The Federation of Historic British Vehicle Clubs for making us and the cars so welcome at the NEC. We launch the Great British Car Club which now has nearly 200 members. Please join and come and see us regularly!!!

Snow makes an unwelcome appearance on the 28th.

Fortunately, it thaws and to much excitement we get the Arrol Johnston started and driving.

December:  Mark and Luke work wonders on the Austin 12 which after four decades locked in a garage, bursts into life and I drive her round the site. “As Dependable as an Austin”. You had better believe it!!!

I set sail in our Dutton on the 17th. The weather in Littlehampton is warm and the sea is calm!

The final arrivals of 2021 arrive at Ambergate on December 30th Two lovely Farina cars: An Austin Cambridge and a Riley 14/72. I drive them both and want to thank Christine Plummer and her late Father for donating these precious cars to us.

THANK YOU to everyone who has visited in 2021. Please come again in 2022 and bring your friends with you. I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year and thanks for all the encouragement in what has been an exciting but very challenging year.


Best Drive of 2022:  Austin Seven in Cumbria

Fastest Drive of 2022:  McLaren 650S (Of course!)

Slowest Drive:  Arrol-Johnston. Magnificent.

Weirdest Drive: Dutton into the water. Well done Tim.

Most Extraordinary: Austin 12. So Dependable!

Most unexpected: Riley 14/72 yesterday. Comfy and rather lovely.



See you all in 2022

Richard Usher   31/12/21.

UK’s newest car club launched at Classic Motor Show

Great British Car Club Logo

The UK’s newest classic car club was launched by Great British Car Journey at the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show today (12 November).

The Great British Car Club celebrates diversity, welcoming enthusiasts of any old cars regardless of age, value or country of origin.

Richard Usher, founder and CEO of Great British Car Journey explained why he has launched the new club: “Having been a member of numerous clubs, I have noticed that younger enthusiasts and even oldies like me, have become less fixated on a single make and that enthusiasm for old cars now covers a very broad spectrum of makes and models and I wanted to create a club which represented this.”

As well as giving member unlimited visits access to the Great British Car Journey attraction and its facilities, membership of the new club aims to connect classic car enthusiasts through special events, newsletters and online forums as well as offering discounts on products and access to a specialist classic car insurer.

Richard added: “There are hundreds of excellent car clubs who are doing a great job encouraging interest in and the use of old cars, but we have the luxury of facilities at Great British Car Journey which we can put at our members’ disposal.”

Former CEO of McLaren, friend of Great British Car Journey and classic car enthusiast, Mike Flewitt has agreed to be Honorary President of Great British Car Club. Mike also opened the attraction in May earlier this year.

Great British Car Journey CEO Richard Usher and honorary president Mike Flewitt abourd the 1902 Affol Johnston

Annual membership of the club is from just £31.

Great British Car Journey can be found on stand 5-320 within the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC) village at the Classic Motor Show.

As well as launching the new club, the stand will also host the attraction’s newest exhibit a 1905 Arrol-Johnston Dogcart. The latest acquisition at the attraction puts a century between the oldest car and the most recent classic car on display – a McLaren 650S.

As well as the undercover exhibition at Great British Car Journey, the attraction also offers visitors the opportunity to drive more than 30 classic cars on a private route as part of the Drive Dad’s Car experience.

Since opening in May, Great British Car Journey has proved a hit with classic car enthusiasts attracting 25,000 visitors. Both the attraction and Richard Usher have also been named as finalists in the Royal Automobile Club Historic Awards and The Historic Motoring Awards.

Richard added: “We are tremendously excited to be at the Classic Motor Show and are grateful to the Federation for helping us tell thousands more people about the Great British Car journey, Drive Dad’s Car and the brand new Great British Car Club.”

Click here to find out more and join the Great British Car Club

Winter Opening Hours

Please see below for our revised opening timetable for the winter period:


Open between: 10am till 5pm – Last entry at 3.00pm

Closed every Tuesday and Wednesday


Open between: 10am till 5pm – Last entry at 3.00pm

Closed every Tuesday and Wednesday

W/C 20th December open all week except closed on the, 24th 25th 26th

Open 27th 28th 29th 30th

Closed 31st


Open between: 10am till 5pm – Last entry at 3.00pm

Closed 1st

Re open 2nd Jan all week

Closed 11th -12th (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Closed 18th -19th (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Closed 24th Jan Re-open Friday 4th Feb


Open between: 10am till 5pm – Last entry at 3.00pm

Closed 8th-9th (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Closed 15th 16th (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Open every day from 17th Feb onwards


Great British Car Journey to host Harry Potter Halloween special event

Calling all wizards, witches and muggles! Come join the Great British Car Journey for a very special Harry Potter-themed event for all the family on Sunday 31 October.

A 1960 Ford Anglia 105E, which was enchanted by Ron Weasley’s father in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – is flying into Great British Car Journey to take centre stage at the event.

The event also celebrates 82 years since the very first Ford Anglia model, the E04A, was released for sale on the 31 October 1939.

The Great British Car Journey Harry Potter Halloween Special promises to be a magical spectacle with family entry to the attraction discounted on the day.

On the day, the Ford Anglia 105E Owners Club will be bringing along a selection of the classic cars which were immortalised in the Harry Potter film to display at Great British Car Journey.

There will also be be a ‘Hedwig Hunt’ for children in the attraction’s collection of more than 130 classic cars as well as plenty of ghoulish goodies in the café and prizes throughout the day for visitors wearing Harry Potter-themed fancy dress.

Manufactured in Dagenham by Ford between 1959 – 1968, the Anglia, with its American-influenced styling, including a sweeping nose line and its prominent ‘eye’ headlamps, has rightfully claimed its place in the Great British Car Journey collection of classic cars, which boasts its own Ford Anglia 105 Estate.

In total more than 1.5 million Ford Anglias were produced, yet only around 320 remain today.

To celebrate the Ford Anglia’s birthday 82nd birthday, family tickets (2 adults and up to 3 children) are discounted to £30, a saving of £10. Entry includes access to the special Harry Potter Halloween event from 10.00am – 6.00pm (last entry at 4.00pm). Pre-booking is essential for the Halloween event.

To book tickets for the Harry Potter Halloween Special event on Sunday 31 October at Great British Car Journey, please click here: Admissions or call 01773 317243.

Classic Mini scales the Heights

A classic 1989 Mini can now be found atop the Heights of Abraham !

Visitors to Matlock Bath’s Heights of Abraham are set for a surprise when they alight the cable car at the top of the 60-acre Hilltop Estate. They’ll be greeted by a classic 1989 Mini!

The Mini has been lent to Derbyshire’s oldest tourist attraction by Derbyshire’s newest one, Great British Car Journey, which opened in May earlier this year.

Getting to the top of the Heights of Abraham was no mean feat for the 31-year-old car, which faced a half mile climb to reach the summit which is 1000 feet above sea level.

Rupert Pugh, Director of the Heights of Abraham, drove the car to the summit himself, negotiating the steep, narrow paths and tricky hairpin bends that wrap around Masson Hill. One slip and the car could have ended up back down the hill!

The branded 30th Anniversary edition Mini, which promotes the classic car attraction in Ambergate, will now greet visitors to the hilltop attraction. Visitors to the Heights of Abraham will also get discounted entry to Great British Car Journey.

Rupert commented: “I had a great deal of fun acquainting myself with the Mini. Initially I was rather sceptical that it could make the climb, but it surprised and delighted me on the journey up to the summit. It’s already proving a real talking point with visitors with many asking how we got it up here.”

Richard Usher, CEO of Great British Car Journey said: “I am very grateful to Heights of Abraham for giving us the opportunity to promote Great British Car Journey. Being a new attraction in the area we’re very keen to ensure as many people as possible know about us and visit. We’re looking forward to welcoming many of the people that visit Heights of Abraham each year to Great British Car Journey.”

The classic Mini was produced by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) and its successors from 1959 until 2000 and is considered one of the most influential cars of the twentieth centuries. Despite 5.3 million original Minis being produced, today just 8,176 exist in the world.

Great British Car Journey boasts seven original Minis in its collection, including a rare unregistered Mini with just 12 miles on the clock. For people keen to take one for a drive, Great British Car Journey also offers a 20-minute Drive Dad’s Car driving experience in four Minis, including a 1966 Mini 850 MK1, and a Mini Cooper which was manufactured in 2000 and one of the last Minis ever made.

Alongside Minis, visitors to Great British Car Journey will find a collection of 130 popular cars designed and manufactured in the UK between 1920 and 2000, including the Austin Seven, Morris Minor, Ford Escort and Vauxhall Chevette – cars that were all produced in their millions and were on virtually every street and carpark in Britain but have since all but disappeared from the roads.

To arrange a Mini driving experience at Great British Car Journey, visit or to book tickets for the exhibition, click here: Buy tickets

Great British Car Journey goes back to the future with DeLorean Day event on 30 August

Great British Car Journey will be celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the iconic DMC DeLorean sportscar later this month.

Monday 30 August has been declared DeLorean Day at the classic car visitor attraction in Ambergate. To celebrate, there will be something for every member of the family to enjoy at Great British Car Journey.

Production of the DeLorean began in 1981 just four years before the car was catapulted into the spotlight by the highest-grossing film of 1985 – Back To The Future.

With its revolutionary stainless-steel body and distinctive gull-wing doors, the DeLorean was born with film star appeal. 

The futuristic DMC-12 sportscar now enjoys cult status for its time-travelling antics with Marty McFly and Doc Brown in the blockbuster Back to the Future movie franchise.

There will be a selection of DeLorean cars on display at the attraction, including a very rare right hand drive model on loan from the DeLorean Owners Club UK.

There’s even the opportunity to sit in a DeLorean and utter the immortal words of Doc Brown – “Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads!”

Kids are also encouraged to come in Back To The Future costumes, with a prize for the best mini Marty McFly and Doc Brown on the day. Prizes include a ride in a DeLorean, model cars and goody bags.

However, it’s not all about Back To The Future. At the event enthusiasts can meet with one of the foremost DeLorean experts in the UK, Chris Parnham, author of DeLorean: Celebrating the Impossible. Chris has an encyclopedic knowledge of the DeLorean and its inventor John Zachary DeLorean.

Manufactured in Northern Ireland, the DeLorean has rightfully claimed its place in the Great British Car collection which features more than 130 cars manufactured and designed in the UK.

Pre-booking is essential for DeLorean Day. Family tickets (2 adults and up to 3 children) for the day are just £30, a saving of £10, and include access to the full exhibition from 10.00am – 5.00pm

To book a ticket for the DeLorean Day event on Monday 30 August at Great British Car Journey visit or call 01773 317243.


Another busy week!

Another busy week at GBCJ  with some great Classics visiting today from Staffordshire and beyond.  Groups are always very welcome and hopefully as Covid recedes, we will be able to host Club meets in both the attraction and our licensed café . Like most hospitality businesses , we are struggling to recruit catering staff so if you fancy working in a place for the car-intoxicated and you have some catering experience , PLEASE get in touch by emailing

Practical Classics has done us proud in the July edition so thanks as ever to Danny Hopkins for his infectious enthusiasm. I have also seen an advanced copy of the next EVO which has a review by my old friend John Barker.

I hope everyone is enjoying this overdue warm spell and that it remains hoods down for the foreseeable future.

Don’t forget Fathers Day …why not buy him a Drive Dad’s Car Experience?

Stay Safe

 Just one of the beautiful cars popping in to visit today!


We were happy to welcome the Chair of the British Tourist Authority on his whistle-stop tour of Peak District & Derbyshire

The Chair of the British Tourist Authority has enjoyed a whistle-stop tour of Peak District & Derbyshire to celebrate the reopening of local tourism and hospitality businesses.

Lord Patrick McLoughlin CH visited some of the county’s top visitor attractions and destinations during a day trip to discuss how businesses are working hard to welcome visitors back safely, and to discuss the ongoing challenges facing the sector during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Organised by Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire, the area’s official destination management organisation, the trip enabled Lord McLoughlin – who was MP for Derbyshire Dales between 1986 and 2019 – to see first-hand how the industry is preparing to recover and rebuild following the easing of lockdown restrictions.

Highlighting the Peak District & Derbyshire’s appeal as a year-round, all weather destination, the day began with a visit to the newly-opened Great British Car Journey at Ambergate. Lord McLoughlin toured the state-of-the-art exhibition – which celebrates 100 years of British motoring history – before sampling the Peak District region’s first whisky, recently launched by the nearby White Peak Distillery.

Lord McLoughlin then visited Chatsworth, where he was welcomed by the Duke of Devonshire for a tour of the magnificent Grade I listed House, before enjoying a networking lunch with local tourism businesses and representatives.

The trip also included visits to the Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop and Thornbridge Brewery, where business owners highlighted the ongoing difficulties and unique set of challenges facing the tourism and hospitality industry as businesses continue to adapt to new restrictions.

The final stop of the day was Buxton where Lord McLoughlin toured the town’s iconic Opera House, which recently reopened following 16 months of closure, and the Ensana Buxton Crescent Hotel & Thermal Spa, the destination’s first 5-star hotel which opened in October 2020 following a £70 million renovation.

The visit follows the launch of Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire’s £70,000 Escape the Everyday marketing campaign, supported by funding from VisitEngland, to boost the recovery of local tourism and hospitality businesses.

British Tourist Authority Chairman Lord Patrick McLoughlin said:“I’m so pleased to be in Derbyshire today as English Tourism Week draws to a close. The week has been dedicated to showing support for tourism businesses and destinations across the sector as they reopen and start to rebuild. Local businesses have been working so hard to welcome visitors back safely, adapting and innovating to meet new ways of working and still providing a great visitor experience.

“And it is great to see the activity that Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire will be delivering locally, with support from VisitEngland funding and aligning with our national ‘Escape the Everyday’ campaign, to encourage more people to get out and discover the outstanding destinations and quality attractions here on our doorstep and to drive bookings.

“Millions of jobs and local economies depend on tourism right across the country and the industry needs all of us to make sure it gets back on its feet.”

Jo Dilley, Managing Director of Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire, said“It’s great to welcome Lord McLoughlin to the area to recognise the efforts made by local businesses to reopen safely, and to also see up close some of the exciting new additions to our tourism offer.

“Over 32,000 local jobs depend on tourism and I am confident that we left him in no doubt that, despite ongoing challenges, the businesses that make up the Peak District & Derbyshire’s visitor economy are resilient, passionate and fully focussed on the future and their role in successfully supporting the county’s economic recovery.

“More than 900 local businesses have now signed up to the We’re Good To Go industry standard, demonstrating they have all the right safety measures in place, and the continued success of the vaccination programme is going to be vital in helping us get the sector back on its feet.

“However, it will take at least two years for tourism to recover back to its pre-pandemic value, so it’s never been more important for us all to support our local businesses and visitor attractions – and the industry is looking forward to welcoming you back.”

Councillor Barry Lewis, Leader of Derbyshire County Council, said“Tourism is a vital part of the Derbyshire economy which is worth around £2.5bn a year to the county, supports 32,000 jobs, attracts 41 million day visitors and more than 4.3 million staying visitors.

“As we move further along the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown, we’re looking forward to welcoming more visitors back and are working hard with our partners to help rebuild our visitor economy following the pandemic.

“With uncertainty about foreign travel, more and more people are looking at staying in the UK for their holidays and Derbyshire is a perfect destination for short or longer stays.

“From stunning, specially protected landscapes, exciting outdoor activities and brilliant attractions to rich history and heritage, quality accommodation and fine, locally produced food and drink, Derbyshire has everything. There are lots of new places to explore too and this year we’re especially encouraging people to come to Derbyshire to discover many of our hidden gems that are off the main tourist trails.

“Whether people are looking for a local day out or wanting to stay longer, Derbyshire is a fantastic and fun place to visit and we’re pleased that Lord McLoughlin, in his role as chair of VisitBritain, has taken the opportunity to visit Derbyshire to discuss the challenges businesses have faced during the pandemic and get first-hand experience of how they have adapted to reopen safely.”


End of May round-up

Feedback from visitors has been fantastically positive and we look forward to welcoming many more in the coming weeks. The Drive Dads Car fleet has been well driven over the weekend and apart from a rather large nut falling off the Sunbeam Rapier, the cars have behaved as well as the drivers.

Our resident mechanical wizard : Doctor Mark Lawrence will no doubt be able to advise what said nut should be doing but I am afraid that the Rapier is currently in the sick bay!!  We have been visited by many superb classic cars ranging from a magnificent pre-war Lagonda to Citroen 2 CVs and a rather lovely Volvo P1800 as driven by Roger Moore in “The Saint”.

Please feedback to us with any criticisms (or otherwise) and do join us on all the usual social media channels. Above all, thanks for coming and we hope to see you again.