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Great British Car Journey acquires AROnline

Great British Car Journey has acquired the AROnline website from its founder Keith Adams.

AROnline was established in 2001 by Keith and has grown to become regarded as the ultimate resource for fans of British motoring history, boasting nearly 6,000 published articles.

Richard Usher, founder of the museum, commented: “As a classic car authority and renowned journalist, Keith was a terrific help to us four years ago when we were putting Great British Car Journey together. He has been a stalwart supporter of our vision.

“AROnline is a ready-made archive of the history behind the majority of our exhibits, and it is a site I have been visiting for more years than I care to admit. It made absolute sense to acquire the site and give our visitors and club members access to even more of the UK’s very rich automotive history.”

Keith Adams said: “I am delighted that the future of AROnline has been secured and I am pleased to be able to retain control of the past and future content by working with Richard and his team.

“There are no plans to change the website in any material way or introduce any form of subscription charge. It has always been a free resource and the intention is that it stays that way.”

The acquisition of AROnline follows the Autocar deal in 2022, which saw Great British Car Journey secure an agreement to reproduce articles and artwork from the 125-year Autocar magazine archive.

Richard added: “We want Great British Car Journey to become recognised as the authority and place to go for all British motoring history, whether that’s viewing cars, driving them, hanging pictures of them on their wall or, now, reading about them at AROnline.”

Great British Car Journey opened in May 2021 and is a celebration of cars built in Britain. Richard, a lifelong car enthusiast and being born in Birmingham, has a natural affinity with cars built in the Midlands and beyond.

Keith has been similarly car obsessed from a very early age and has had a long journalistic career during which he has written articles for all the leading classic car magazines and is currently editor of Parker’s Guide.

Between them, Richard and Keith have owned more than 500 cars and have an abiding interest in the cars that gave the ordinary family the freedom of the road.

AROnline can continue to be accessed at www.aronline.co.uk.

What Are Our Hero Cars?

We have produced so many great cars in the UK that are on display at the Great British Car Journey but we often get asked what are the top cars and why? we call these are hero cars and detail them below. You will be able to see and drive these Great British Car Hero’s when you visit our attraction   

Mini

Perhaps the greatest of them all : The Mini 1959-2000

Like the Morris Minor the Mini was designed by Alec Issigonis and becane the most popular car ever produced in the UK. Some 5.4 Million Minis were made between 1959 and 2000

The Mini is a masterpiece: despite being only ten feet long, it will accommodate four adults and a reasonable amount of luggage and transport them at a very reasonable pace.

75% of the Mini’s footprint is devoted to passengers and luggage with the engine, gearbox and all the mechanical bits only taking up 25%. Everything about the mechanical package is clever and innovative and the result is a tiny car that delivers on every front.

The Mini also performed David-like on the Monte Carlo Rally and on race tracks around the world slaying the Goliaths from Ford and almost everyone else.

Supposedly replaced by the Metro in 1980 , the Mini refused to die and long after the Metro had been killed off the last Mini was driven off the line in Birmingham by Lulu on October 4th 2000.

Austin Seven

The Austin Seven was produced between 1922-1939 and pioneered car ownership for the common man and his family. Hitherto condemned to a motorbike possibly tethered to a side-car, Austin’s little car offered the tantalising prospect of being able to take the family for days out and even holidays at the coast : it offered freedom to explore a world away from cramped and dirty towns and cities by taking to Britain’s network of winding country roads.

By the mid 1930s despite the economic traumas earlier in the decade, a second-hand Austin 7 could be had for similar money to a motor bike combination and Britain’s Motorcycle industry would never be the same again.

By the outbreak of war in 1939, more than 300,000 Sevens had been built and as Morris and Ford joined the small car party, the hard-working couple could give their family a freedom of mobility that transformed the way we live.The Seven’s little engine produced less than 20 horsepower and fully laden it would struggle to reach 40mph,

The Seven was alsoproduced under license in France, Germany, the USA and Japan

Escort

The launch of the Ford Escort in 1968 was a seminal moment in British motoring history: For the next half century Escorts would be everywhere : on every street of every city ,town and village there would be an Escort…and then they started to disappear until now in 2024, you might go a week or even a month without even seeing one.

Unlike some of our other heroes, the Escort was able to completely reinvent itself over the years so that the last cars bore no resemblance at all to the Mk1 s of the 60s and 70s. The Escort of 2000 was a marketing creation and could be given a new name at any time whereas the Austin Seven, Morris Minor and the Mini were fundamentally the same cars for all the years that they were produced.

Morris Minor

After the Second World War, car production was slow to restart anywhere in the world and many manufacturers just dusted off their pre-war models in the hope that they would do.

Herbert Austin was dead but his great rival William Morris was still at the helm of his company and employing a young expatriate by the name of Alec Issigonis. Issigonis was to design the next great family car to occupy suburban drives all over the UK : the Morris Minor. Launched at the 1948 London Motor Show, the Minor was a quantum leap forward from the Austin Seven 

Morris himself didn’t like the Minor and continued to drive a pre-war model but the public loved it and in 1960 the millionth Minor rolled off the production line at Crowley being the first British car to reach this considerable milestone.

Rolls Royce

Henry Royce started making cars in 1904 and Rolls Royce was founded in 1906 when he was introduced to car dealership owner Charles Rolls. They increased their portfolio by purchasing potential competitor Bentley in 1931 Rolls-Royce Motors Limited was incorporated 1971 after the companies diversification into aircraft engines went wrong and it fell into receivership Perhaps the most famous Rolls Royce the iconic Silver Shadow was produced between 1965 and 1980. A Bentley version of the Silver Shadow, known as the Bentley T was also produced A marketing survey in 1987 showed that only Coca-Cola was a more widely known brand than Rolls-Royce, confirming its status as one of the most iconic cars ever to be made in the UK

Whats Going on in April at Great British Car Journey – Happy Easter!

Spring Is In The Air At Ambergate

– We are now finally open 7 days a week!

– Drive Dads Car on for eight days in April

– Back by popular demand, we are running our DeLorean rides on selected days in April

– Kids go absolutely FREE March 29th – April 14th

– A Fun easter egg hunt for the Kids, find all 9 spots where Riley the Rabbit’s hiding

TWO New Additions to our Driving Fleet!

appearing in april socials

Hop into 2 ultra rare and super cool classics this easter! Brand new to our driving fleet for April!

The first is our stunning 1958 Austin Healey 100/6, which is a reminder of an era of the Great British Sports Car. You can find this in our Luxury collection!

And the second is our 1994 Ford Granada MK3. King of the company car park, for the man who made it in sales. You can find this in our Classic collection!

DeLorean Rides In April

  • Back by popular demand, we are brining back our DeLorean rides on the 30th March and the 3rd, 6th, 10th and 13th April! Come and have a ride in our 1980s DeLorean DMC 12 for just £10 a lap.

Kids In The Holidays

  • From the 29th March to the 14th April kids go absolutely FREE
  • They can see a real F1 car, A Delorean, James Bond-style Lotus, Bentley once owned by Sir Elton John and Princess Annes Reliant Scimitar.
  • See cars being driven on selected days and even take a ride/drive yourself
  • Along with the free entry, from the 29th to the 31st of March we have a fab easter egg hunt for your kids to enjoy. Find all 9 spots where Riley The Rabbit is hiding in the attraction, jot down the numberplates of the cars he’s hiding in, and hand the form into reception and you can receive your reward.

What Else Is Going On In April?

Along with running the Drive Dads Car days, we have some great meet ups for you to enjoy too:

For April we have some fantastic events:

  • CHESTERFIELD MG GROUP VISIT Sunday 7th April

  • COFFEES & CARS with Takona Hosting – Sunday 14th April

  • AUSTIN EXTRAVAGANZASunday 14th April

  • PAN CLAN VISIT – HONDA PAN EUROPEAN BIKES – Sunday 14th April
  • DRIVE IT DAY – Sunday 21st April
  • GBCM GREAT BRITISH CAR MEET – Friday 26th April
  • SWEDISH TAKEOVER WITH NORDIK RIDES VOLVO CLUB – Saturday 27th April
  • AUTO ITALIANE – Sunday 28th April

Great British Car Meet - 1st April!

Finally, this month we are having our first Great British Car Meet of the year!

Come down on the 1st of April 10am – 4pm for just £5 per car (free for members)

EVENT DETAILS

10am – 4pm

Book your tickets for the Great British Car Meet here

All makes and models welcome (classic cars, vintage cars or modern cars)…with their owners!

Entrance to the Great British Car Meet is £5 per car.

Whats Going on in March at Great British Car Journey

This Month we Have Plenty to Keep You Interested

March is shaping up to be a fantastic month here at the Great British Car Journey, especially as all the winter weather starts to make way for spring. From Friday 15th March we will be back open 7 days a week 

So if you have children or grandchildren to entertain, why not bring them to our interactive museum featuring iconic cars made in Britain. See a real F1 racer and a car made more than 120 years ago.

We are also running our Drive Dad’s Car driving experiences   on the 2nd, 10th, 16th, 20th, 24th, 27th, and 30th March and we have two exciting new additions to the fleet to wet your appetite (see below)

On the 10th of March bring down your mum for Mothers Day, or how about checking out the events we are holding throughout March…

TWO New Additions to our Driving Fleet!

Introducing two ultra-rare and uber-cool 1980s British Sports Saloons to our driving fleet!

The first is our stunning 1986 Rover SD1 Vitesse Twin Plenum, with its 3500 V8 and manual gearbox this legendary car is certain to put a smile on anyone’s face

And the second is our 1989 MG Montego 2.0 EFi. This sporty saloon makes a perfect addition to our MG Maestro also on our fleet, especially with 115hp under the bonnet

WHY NOT BRING MUM FOR A TRIP DOWN
MEMORY LANE ON SUNDAY 10th MARCH

Mum’s car was probably just as important as Dad’s in your early life. It was probably Mum who took you to school, dragged you to the shops and acted as a taxi to all those teenage parties. It was probably Mum’s car in which you learned to drive and from which on that joyful day, the L plates were removed. Before you bought your first car, it was probably Mum’s that you borrowed?

So why not buy Mum a slice of nostalgia for Mother’s Day and bring her to Great British Car Journey? She will almost certainly see some of the cars she has owned and you can book her a ride or drive in one of her favourites.

Mother’s Day is all about the memories of all the great things Mum has done for you. For most of us, Mum’s cars were a large part of that rich tapestry of love.

Share your Mum’s car memories with us on Facebook: our favourite three will win a £10 voucher for use in our “Filling Station” café.

THE FILLING STATION CAFE IS ALSO OPEN ON MOTHERING SUNDAY FOR CREAM TEAS & MEALS

WHATS ELSE GOING ON IN MARCH?

Along with running the Drive Dads Car days, we have some great meet ups for you to enjoy too:

For March we have some fantastic events:

  • COFFEES & CARS with Takona Hosting – Sunday 10th March

  • BRITISH MINI CLUB BREAKFAST VISIT – Sunday 17th March

  • SOUTH MIDLANDS ALFA ROMEO OWNERS CLUB – Sunday 24th March

 

Introducing the Aston Martin Lagonda to the collection

Aston Martin Lagonda V8

The latest addition to the Great British Car Journey collection, is this amazing 1980 V8 Aston Martin Lagonda.

The launch of the Lagonda in 1976 saw Aston Martin take on Rolls Royce and Bentley in the fast four-seater luxury market.

When it was unveiled at the London Motor Show there was a real sense of excitement with its bold ‘folded paper’ styling being matched by a fully electronic dashboard and control panels which looked as if they had come from a spaceship. Despite a price tag 44 years ago of almost £50,000, the car caused a sensation with nearly 200 deposits were taken at launch. 

However, production was painfully slow as the electronics proved stubbornly unreliable. It was more than a year before Lady Tavistock took delivery of the first customer car, by which time King Charles had already taken a test drive. Some 640 of these cars were made between 1977 and 1990, many being exported to America and the Middle East.

Powered by a 5.4 litre V8 running on Weber carburettors, the Lagonda could reach 60mph in 8.5 seconds and achieve a top speed of 148mph. The Lagonda epitomised the optimism of the late 70s and early 80s – it looked like no other four-seater car and was guaranteed to pull a crowd.

This car was delivered to its first owner by Aston Martin agents: Donaldson and Evans on 1st October 1980. Its last owner loved and looked after the car for more than 30 years and it has only covered a mere 17,000 miles – in remarkable condition for its age.

Designed by William Towns, the distinctive shape divides opinion like Marmite as can be seen here.

One thing is certain – no British company will produce such a distinctive, dramatic and expensive four seater powered by petrol again.

We are grateful to Aston Engineering in Derby for finding this car and helping us recommission her.

Founder’s Blog – Making links with Toyota

As a Derbyshire resident, I have long been aware of Toyota’s presence in the county – since 1989 to be exact!

Recently, I was very privileged to be given a fascinating and enlightening tour of Toyota’s Burnaston Plant by Chris Barrow who has been with the company for many years and is a fellow car-nut. And what a fascinating tour it was.

It seems scarcely possible that it is well over 30 years since the first Carina E rolled off the Derbyshire production line on a site that opened in 1939 as Derby Municipal Airport.

Having been given a comprehensive overview of the environmental challenges facing all vehicle manufacturers, it became very clear that Toyota takes its responsibilities incredibly seriously. The focus on sustainability is relentless and the company’s investment in both electric and hydrogen technology is governed by a real desire to provide the best solution both for the consumer and the planet.

As we examined a cut away version of the Toyota Mirai which is the hydrogen powered executive car on sale in the UK, Chris and I were joined by Rob Gorton who is the senior manager for Corporate Planning and External Affairs.

Soon we boarded another Mirai for a drive around the site and a visit to the main assembly building where Corollas, in both hatch and estate form, come rolling off the line every 88 seconds. This is the longest production line in Europe, and watching the line move between all the work stations as autonomous vehicles deliver parts at the appropriate time was both mesmerising and astonishing in equal measure.

Toyota employs more than 2,500 people at its site in Burnaston, Derbyshire. With so many employees it’s no surprise that over the last four decades they have become very engaged with the Derbyshire community.

I am delighted that Great British Car Journey is now, thanks to Chris and Rob, properly engaged with Toyota and its story of Great British manufacturing success.

Watch this space for the appearance of cars built in Britain, in Derbyshire by a subsidiary of a Japanese company at a museum near you!

A sincere thank you to Chris and Rob.

Founder’s Almanack for 2023

January 2023:   
The year started brightly with a very busy Great British Car Meet on 2nd January.

‘The Mystery Car’ caused quite a stir! This beautiful and pristine example of a 1974 Vauxhall Victor FE that has less than 100 miles on the clock caught the imaginations of many.

February 2023: 
This wonderful Coleman Milne Granada joined the substantial list of cars donated to the museum. Huge thanks to all the donators.

Great British Car Share was launched with our wonderful brand ambassadors Sarah Crabtree and Paul Woodford. We are currently into series 3 ‘Rally Heroes’ – and you can catch up on all episodes over on our YouTube channel here.

Luke Henshaw, our Classic Vehicle Restoration Apprentice, was shortlisted in VisitEngland’s Tourism Superstar Awards 2023 in conjunction with The Mirror and our very own superstar finished in 2nd place in these national awards as runner-up!

March 2023: 
As usual we hoped that winter was behind us but as my picture shows… it wasn’t. This is my venerable snow-covered Rover 600 on 10th March. 

BBC Breakfast were back with us on 14th March and a lot of our cars featured on the cover of Practical Classics. 

We only went and won GOLD for the New Tourism Business of the Year Award in the Visit Peak District & Derbyshire Tourism Awards 2023!! 

The last week of March saw us with our good friends from the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs at another massive Practical Classics and Classic Car Show at the NEC. 

April 2023:  
Spring was slow to arrive as my picture of me arriving at Ambergate in ‘Dinky’ my beloved Austin 7 shows.  It didn’t stop us welcoming plenty of Imps on the 30th along with literally hundreds of Jaguars for their BIG Jaguar Breakfast Club.

May 2023: 
It was good to see Terry one of my marshalling stalwarts from Blyton Park in the middle of May and his choice of wheels didn’t disappoint… a very rare Metro convertible. 

It was a lovely day for Morris Minors 75th anniversary celebrations on the 21st

New tarmac for Drive Dad’s Car on May 23rd.

June 2023:  
A Fiesta of Fords and some summer sun as well as a lovely Bentley as summer finally arrived. How better to celebrate than to take the Dutton for a spin on the Derwent?  

I really do want an Austin Paralanian!     

Proud to have been awarded the Bronze Award for New Tourism Business of the Year at the VisitEngland Awards.

On Father’s Day we reunited our lovely Austin 16 Woodie with the owner who restored her 40 years ago. It was a lovely family affair as children and grandchildren went for a drive… 

And yes – I bought another Reliant… it’s a long story!

July 2023:  
We don’t see many Veteran cars but this was an absolute cracker!  

Took a little break with the Pre-war Austin 7 Club to the Lake District. The hood was up and down quite a lot! 

Dinky was also on display at ‘Secret Gardens’ in my home village of Winster… that’s not my garden by the way! 

Celebrated Summer by buying my own Metro Convertible…it’s a little pocket rocket!

August 2023:  
Was rather wet and cool, so we were pretty busy as the annual influx of visitors to our beautiful county sought refuge from the elements. 

The Westfield owners are a hardy lot though… not a hood in sight! 

Don’t often see both our Minor Millions together. 

September 2023: 
The weather was still mixed for the Chatsworth Country Fair. ‘Dinky’ and our lovely one owner Austin 14 made friends with some Morrises!  

Incredibly grateful that we were chosen to display the custom-built Middlebridge Scimitar, previously owned by HRH Princess Anne for 35 years, Not only is it an eighties classic, the car also has an illustrious history and Royal provenance. 

Mrs Usher finally bought an Aston – she absolutely deserves it!  

Autumn arrived early but it didn’t daunt the Minis for East Mids Minis National Day!!

October 2023: 
More rain and more Morris Minor Travellers for 70th Birthday celebrations!  

Another donation in the form of this magnificent Marina. 

Another car I could fall in love with; this lovely Lotus Europa – Colin Chapman’s genius in full flow. 

A special birthday was celebrated by a very special Austin 7… 

Just before a lot more rain arrived and we needed to keep those valuable cars up in the air… It’s really not that easy to get the Lola onto the ramp! 

Don’t run Buddy over Ian…and what are you driving? 

Danny Hopkins took my Mini on a terrific ‘Italian Job’ adventure and brought her back unscathed… 

November 2023: 
Back to the NEC for the Classic Motor Show and celebrating the wonder of the Mini. Thanks to Paul, John, Steve and Becky for all the hard work … and Oliver of course who visited more than 300 clubs! The ‘Woodie’ made a guest appearance with the Austin Counties Club and Danny was reunited with my Mini! Ray Newell announced another great book …in fact he has two new ones out and they are both superb.

The Jowetts were close by and this lovely example looks similar to a car that was about to come our way… The Paramount was just around the corner.  If you don’t know what I am talking about, we have bought a Paramount made in the wonderful County of Derbyshire in 1950.

December 2023:  
So much snow arrived on the 3rd that we were unable to open.  

The Great British Car Club Christmas Dinner was a jolly affair.

The weather continued to be stormy…cutting Winster off from Elton.

The last Great British Car Meet of the year was inevitably damp and so thanks to all our enthusiastic friends, it was extremely well attended.

Thanks to all our visitors in 2023…we hope to see you again soon.

Thanks to all my wonderful team including the volunteer army and of course my amazing other half.

Summary of 2023

Best Drive:  
In my Frogeye Sprite going home in September. 45 bhp shouldn’t be such fun.

Fastest Drive:  
Mrs Usher’s Aston Martin. Not that fast though, as she was in the passenger seat.

Slowest Drive: 
A ride in the 1902 James and Browne. Thanks so much to the students from Imperial College London who brought “Boanerges” (means Son of Thunder) to see us and for taking me for a drive.

Weirdest Drive: 
Fishing from the Dutton in the middle of the Derwent with the Sun’s Motoring Correspondent and old friend Rob Gill.

Most Extraordinary:  
My Mini’s adventure with Practical Classics’ Editor and friend Danny Hopkins on the 2023 Italian Job run. I would like to do this event!

Most Unexpected:  
Driving the Paramount – a car I had never heard of until it arrived at Ambergate.

Incredibly rare Derbyshire-made car returns home

Paramount

An incredibly rare piece of Derbyshire’s car making history has made a return to the county. 

Better known for the manufacture of Rolls-Royces and Toyotas, few people know that in the 1950s, Derbyshire was also home to the production of the now almost forgotten Paramount car.

And now, the fifth Paramount car ever made has gone on display at Great British Car Journey after being discovered at a classic car auction.

Richard Usher, founder and director of Great British Car Journey explained: “We consider ourselves experts in British classic cars but even the Paramount was a mystery to the team here. We had no idea this car even existed. It wasn’t until we were alerted to its local history that we knew we had to have it and bring it home. The Paramount really is a forgotten piece of Derbyshire’s motoring heritage.”

Only 10 Paramount cars were manufactured at the factory in Swadlincote and all of them bear the registration PNU, and were numbered 1 – 10. Great British Car Journey’s Paramount original number plate would have been PNU 4.

“We’d love to trace another of the Swadlincote Paramounts, but we think it’s highly unlikely any will be in existence which makes ours even more special,” said Richard.

Just 16 Paramounts were produced in Derbyshire; first at the Swadlincote factory and then later in Melbourne, until production moved to Buckinghamshire in 1953.  In total, just 76 Paramount cars were made until 1956 when production ceased.

“Our brilliant team at Great British Car Journey have already got the car running and looking a lot smarter than when she arrived,” he added.

According to an advert from 1950, the beautiful red, four seater convertible Paramount was ‘designed to provide a sports car of exceptional beauty whilst retaining the distinctive British character favoured by most sports drivers.’

The Paramount boasts Triumph running gear underneath its all-aluminium bodywork which is stretched over a wooden ash frame mounted on a tubular metal chassis.

Richard added: “The car is beautifully made. It is testament to the skills of the craftsmen who made her, as the bodywork is full of complex curves.” 

The Paramount now joins Great British Car Journey’s only other Derbyshire made car in the interactive classic car exhibition – a Rolls-Royce once owned by Scouts founder Lord Baden Powell.

To see the car on display at Great British Car Journey, purchase discounted tickets and find details of opening times here

Great British Car Share Series 2 Now Available

After the success of Series 1 of the Great British Car Share the deadly duo Paul and Sarah are back together for Series 2 to continue their automotive journey down memory lane in some more of the Drive Dads Car fleet of classic British Cars available to drive. We are sure you will enjoy watching them try out the same cars that are available for our classic British Car driving experience. Cars driven include some real classic 60s & 70s cars including a Land Rover MK1, Triumph Stag and Ford Capri 

You can view our full You Tube Channel by clicking the red button below or click on the individual video thumbnails to watch different episodes

You will also be able to see all episodes from Series 1 here too

If you are interested in driving some of these cars yourself (or giving as a gift to someone else) then you can click on the blue button below to see the full fleet of cars available 

We hope you enjoy The Great British Car Share and it inspires you to visit Drive Dads Car or the Great British Car Journey for a very personal trip down memory lane where you will find many of the cars you grew up with

Career route starts at Great British Car Journey for new apprentice

Another young, classic car enthusiast has kick-started their career at Great British Car Journey.

Riley Smith (19), from Underwood, has embarked on a Level Three Apprenticeship in Digital Marketing at the museum.

He joins from Ashfield School where he completed A Levels in Computer Studies, Physics, and Business Studies.

Keen to get his career started after school, Riley explained: “I didn’t want to go to university. I knew that I wanted to have a lived-experience of industry. Great British Car Journey has been a fantastic starting point for that to happen and I am looking forward to putting my Business Studies A Level into practice here.”

In his new role at the classic car visitor attraction, Riley will be helping to market Great British Car Journey’s new online range of merchandise.

Riley’s journey with Great British Car Journey began last year when he completed a work experience placement. Subsequently, the placement helped Riley secure a weekend job as a coordinator for our popular Drive Dad’s Car experience.

Richard Usher, Founder and CEO of Great British Car Journey explained: “Riley impressed us from the start. From a successful work experience week, through to his weekends working alongside members of the public; Riley has made an impact with his enthusiasm and willingness to learn.”   

Riley’s enthusiasm for his apprenticeship is evident: “I’m living the dream! I’m restoring my own classic 1275 Mini at home so working at Great British Car Journey is a perfect fit for my future career ambitions and interests.”

Riley is one of two apprentices now employed at the museum. Its heritage apprentice Luke Henshaw was named as the Tourism Young Achiever in 2022 in the Visit Peak District and Derbyshire Tourism Awards. Last year, the attraction was named as the best New Tourism Business in the Visit Peak District and Derbyshire Tourism Awards.

As the award-winning classic car attraction continues to go from strength-to strength, Richard reflects: “We are in a position to offer unique and meaningful apprenticeships and Riley is already making the most of his placement with us.

“The cars at Great British Car Journey here may have a rich history, but we are delighted to offer Riley a bright future with us.”

You can check out visiting times and book tickets to visit us here.

Christmas Lunches & Dinners at the Filling Station Cafe

We’re delighted to now offer evening meals alongside our Christmas lunches at the Filling Station Cafe this festive season for just £18.95 for 2-courses or £20.95 for 3-courses.

You and your friends, group, colleagues, organisation or family can book Monday to Thursday from 6pm-8pm throughout both November and December or Monday to Thursday in November from 12pm-2pm, and Monday to Friday in December 12pm-2pm for a really unique Christmas treat. We have a delicious traditional Christmas menu or you can choose from our standard menu 

For more information please contact us or email ian@greatbritishcarjourney.com to book your festive get-together (minimum group size is 15 and maximum 40).

The Great British Car Journey is also a unique destination for any Corporate Event in Derbyshire 

We can also arrange private tours of the attraction during the winter months or classic car driving sessions tailored to your specific group 

We are a lot more than just a summer visitor attraction and can offer the best Christmas events in Ambergate, Derbyshire and the Peak District for anybody that enjoys a bit of nostalgia   

 

What’s Your Favourite Classic British Car?

The idea behind the launch of our Great British Cars Range was to make sure we had merchandise available for every classic British Car

As T-Shirts seemed to be the most popular part of the range we thought we would launch a campaign to Wear Your Favourite Car. Our range of high quality soft style cotton unisex T-Shirts is proving to be a great way to let people share their favourite British Cars with the rest of the world. All you have to do is 

    1. Select favourite car from over 80 different models
    2. Decide what colour t-shirt is needed
    3. Choose size required 

You are now ready to let the world know what is your favourite car

You can share your favourite or these t-shirts also make the perfect gift for other car lovers

A very big Italian Mini adventure for Practical Classics editor starts at Great British Car Journey

DAanny Hopkins, editor of Practical Classics with the Great British Car Journey Mini

Great British Car Journey friend and Practical Classics Editor Danny Hopkins has begun his own Mini adventure 23 years to the day after the classic Mini ceased production (4 October 2000).

Richard Usher, founder and CEO of GBCJ has lent Danny his own classic Mini Cooper Sport from the museum’s collection which he will use to take part in the legendary Italian Job run in aid of Buttle UK, a charity dedicated to helping children and young people in crisis.

When he heard about Danny’s epic adventure for charity, Richard was happy to lend his own Mini for the adventure. He explained: “I’ve known Danny for a number of years and share his enthusiasm for anything with four wheels (and some with three). When I heard what he wanted to do and all about the charity, I had no hesitation in lending him my personal Mini.”

Richard handed over the branded Mini to Danny at GBCJ ahead of him starting his epic Italian adventure. On Monday 9 October, Danny will join 30+ Minis in his specially branded Mini, for a 14-day blast to and through Italy. The journey starts with a run to Imola via Nurburgring and Munich.

During the 2,000 mile charity jaunt to Turin, the classic Mini convoy will then blast through Modena and Sienna to Turin, before heading back to the UK through the Alps. Along the way, Danny will be visiting Ferrari, the founder of which, Enzo Ferrari was known to be the owner of at least one Mini.

Most importantly of all, however, Danny will be raising cash for the charity during his travels.

“Raising cash for Buttle UK is what this is all about,’ said Danny.  “They are a wonderful charity, helping kids in difficult situations so, unlike Harry and the boys in the film, I aim to get back to the UK with a lot of cash.” 

The GBCJ Mini was registered on 18 October 2000. It boasts just 11,000 miles on the clock and is in fine running order after being serviced in the GBCJ workshop by our resident classic car technicians, Doc Lawrence and his able apprentice Luke Henshaw. Vintage Tyres have also supplied a full set of new rubber tyres.

Richard added: “The Mini is the hero car of Great British Car Journey and this little example is sure gonna have a story to tell when it returns from its travels. It will be going back on display with an extra 2,500 miles on the clock and all its decals!”

We’ll be following Danny’s Mini adventure on GBCJ social media channels each day as he sends us video diary updates. Follow our social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram  

“It’s an amazing collaborative effort,” added Danny, “but I don’t want it to be in vain so feel free to dig deep… and walk tall having done a good thing. I’ll be doing regular updates as I go… it’s a long way in a little car. I promise I won’t blow the bloody doors off though.”

You can donate to Buttle UK via Danny’s JustGIving page here

Photo Prints of Classic Cars Now Available

We have had some great feedback on the quality of the photographs of the various classic cars in the Great British Car Journey that we have used to create the new Great British Cars Merchandise Range

So we have decided to invest in a high quality professional photo printer so we can supply these images as Sublimation Photo Prints at affordable prices

These prints are now available in our online store and in our gift shop at Ambergate

  • They are a high quality 12′ x 8″ gloss photo print 
  • Supplied as standard in a black card photo frame with silver insert at an entry price of just £9.95
  • They can also be upgraded to be supplied in a wooden photo frame for just £19.95  

Special Deal 

Buy 2 Get 1 Free – 3 Prints for Under £20

Browse over 75 iconic images of classic British Cars all photographed taken of actual cars from our interactive museum and driving experience 

  1. Choose your favourite 3 cars – we know its hard to pick from so many classics 
  2. Add them to your shopping basket
  3. This will automatically give you the 3rd product free of charge
  4. Checkout and pay for your order
  5. Prints will be delivered in approximately 5 days 
  6. Keep to yourself or share with friends 

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.

Stylish New Clear Water Bottle Range Launched

As part of our commitment to continue rolling out new products as part of the Great British Cars range, we are delighted to announce the launch of a range of multi image water bottle designs for our most popular cars.

The designs feature small images of our actual cars (from the Great British Cars Range) printed on the clear bottles with a durable UV cured ink to make them both practical and stylish for all car lovers.

This style of water bottle has become increasing popular and ours are both unique and priced at just £12.95 each.

This 750ml capacity clear water bottle is a great way to keep yourself hydrated and fits perfectly in most car cup holders. It is easy to carry around so stops you using disposable plastic bottles so both saves you money and the planet!

It has a screw top lid with a foldable spout that helps you to avoid spills and the internal straw means it’s easy to drink from without tipping the bottle.

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.

Great British Cars Merchandise Range Now Available

Great British Cars Range Now Available

Since we opened over two years ago we have always wanted to offer a wider range of merchandise featuring all the cars in our museum and providing options for all tastes and budgets. The Great British Cars range is the result of more than 12 months of research, design and testing which, we believe, represents the widest selection of classic British car merchandise available. Please take a look and tell us what you think.

The Great British Cars range is a celebration of the most iconic cars ever made in the UK. The range comprises a collection of high quality products, all created using stylish photos of actual cars from the Great British Car Journey exhibition and Drive Dad’s Car fleet.

We have focussed on proven popular product types, like t-shirts, mugs, drinks bottles, fridge magnets, and coasters, but we aim to soon introduce other products following customer feedback.

Our vision is to offer something for every car in the museum and every car on the Drive Dad’s Car fleet.

We already stock some of the more popular car / product combinations in our onsite gift shop, we are using the latest print-on-demand technology to ensure we have 1000s of additional products always available in our online gift shop.