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

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