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Founder’s Blog – Spring 2024

It’s been another strange year for weather with a very wet and miserable Winter giving way to a Spring where long spells of cool and damp have given way to the odd few days of warm sunshine.
Writing this on May 20th, we are back to cool and grey with little promise of anything better this week. However, the sun shone yesterday as our fourth Masters of the Marque powered by Wera tools event welcomed a full car park of well over 100 cars made in La Belle France.

Amongst the plethora of 2 CVs of every vintage and hue, numerous Peugeot 205s and a smattering of Simcas, lurked a Renault 9, a 17 , a couple of Avantimes, a Citroen GS and of course DS : it still seems incredible to me that cars that were once so common should have become so extraordinarily rare.
Award winners ( courtesy of Wera Tools) were a Talbot Matra Murena, a Renault 5 GT Turbo and a Citroen BX. A huge thankyou to all the owners of all the wonderful Gallic machines which forced anything British into the overflow car park!

You can find out more about Wera Tools at their website:  https://www-de.wera.de/en/
 
Unfortunately, for health reasons I have been unable to drive on the public highway for the last few weeks and have only done a few miles around the estate at Ambergate. I am sure like most enthusiasts, I am hoping that Summer will eventually arrive and I can enjoy the odd outing in my Frogeye Sprite or MGB. I would also like to give the miraculous Lagonda Wedge a proper drive as well as the rather cute little Dutton Melos generously donated to the collection by Andrew Tunnicliffe. Finally, I did get to briefly drive our Milk Float a couple of weeks ago and if anyone has any knowledge of the workings of this Smiths Electric Vehicle, we would love to hear from you!!

Great British Car Journey launches Masters of the Marque Awards

Masters of the Marque powered by Wera Tools awards and prizes

Honouring people who cherish their classic cars, Great British Car Journey has launched its own Masters of the Marque Awards – the classic car industry’s alternative awards.

The awards have been launched in conjunction with Wera Tools UK Ltd, a specialist tool manufacturer based in Derbyshire. The company has been making high quality hand tools packed with innovative features since 1936. 

 “I am delighted to have fellow Derbyshire business Wera Tools UK onboard with our new Masters of the Marque Awards,” said Richard Usher, founder of the awards and the award-winning classic car museum in Ambergate, Derbyshire.

“These awards are purposefully quirky and quite different to anything else in the industry, very like our attraction. I wanted to recognise the thousands of classic car enthusiasts who love their cars, and have personally restored and maintain them at home,” he explained.

Winners of the awards will receive a glass trophy and items from the Wera Tools range worth up to £90. 

Additionally, all visitors to Masters of the Marque events who arrive in a vehicle corresponding with the event marque, will each receive a commemorative metal plaque.

Richard added: “We get such an array of vehicles at our marque-specific events so I was keen not to have specific categories that would limit entrants or, indeed winners. Myself or the team will personally judge all vehicles and decide on which vehicles and their owners stand out to me.”

With the exception of one, there are no set categories, and the awards can only be entered by attending one of Great British Car Journey’s Masters of the Marque events

One of the awards at each event will include the ‘Car We’d Like to Steal’ title. Richard explained: “Whenever we have events in the carpark, the Great British Car Journey team and I find ourselves wandering around the carpark and saying ‘crikey, we’d love to have that in the exhibition’ to each other.”

There are currently a number of Masters of the Marque events scheduled until the end of the year at Great British Car Journey.

14 April                Austin Extravaganza
28 April               Auto Italiane
06 May                Morgans in May (including all niche British sports car marques)
12 May                 Rovers Return – 120 Years of Rover
19 May                 Voitures Francaises
26 May                Spring Mini Day
02 June               A Fiesta of Fords
09 June               Morris Minor Day (open to all Morris’)
23 June               Reliant Regatta
14 July                 MG Summer Festival
18 August            Show Your Rootes  
26 August            Mini 65th Birthday
08 September     A Triumph of Triumphs

“I welcome owners of all cars related to their respective marques to attend. For instance, latterly produced Metros and Maestros don’t bear the Austin badge but they were definitely part of the marque and so are included in the awards,” added Richard.

Entry into the Great British Masters of the Marque in association with Wera Tools is simple; just turn up to the event in a corresponding marque of car. Winners from the above events will be invited to a Grand Celebration at the end of the year to crown an overall winner.

The cost to enter is just £10 per vehicle occupant, which also gives them full access to the museum and its facilities. 

Find out all the details on how to register to attend the Masters of the Marque events and buy discounted advance tickets here

Find out more about our inaugural Austin Extravaganza Masters of the Marque Event powered by Wera Tools here.

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.

Great British Car Journey named as one of world’s best auto museums

Research by Auto Trader has revealed that Great British Car Journey is one of the best auto museums in the world.

New research by Auto Trader has revealed that Great British Car Journey is among the top twenty best auto museum experiences in the world.

The research analysed Google review scores and annual global Google searches for over 180 auto museums around the globe. Great British Car Journey in Ambergate and Brooklands Museum are the only two UK car museums to feature in the list.

With an impressive Google review score of 4.8 out of five stars, and 52,800 global searches made for the museum every single year, Great British Car Journey is the 17th most popular and most enjoyable auto museum in the world. 

Top of the list is Gilmore Car Museum in Michigan, USA. Considered to be the largest automobile museum in North America, the Gilmore Car Museum boasts over 400 vintage and collector vehicles. 

World’s Top 20 Best-Rated Auto Museums

RankMuseum NameLocationGoogle Review Score
1Gilmore Car MuseumMichigan, USA4.9
2Nethercutt CollectionCalifornia, USA4.9
3Țiriac CollectionOtopeni, Romania4.9
4Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile MuseumIndiana, USA4.9
5Revs InstituteFlorida, USA4.9
6Museum of American SpeedNebraska, USA4.9
7Automuziejus VilniusVilnius, Lithuania4.9
8The Henry Ford MuseumMichigan, USA4.8
9Brooklands MuseumWeybridge, England4.8
10Lane Motor MuseumTennessee, USA4.8
11Blackhawk Automotive MuseumCalifornia, USA4.8
12Don Garlits Museum of Drag RacingFlorida, USA4.8
13National Automobile MuseumNevada, USA4.8
14Ford Piquette Avenue PlantMichigan, USA4.8
15Malta Classic Car MuseumSt Paul’s Bay, Malta4.8
16Studebaker National MuseumIndiana, USA4.8
17Great British Car JourneyDerbyshire, England4.8
18Rahmi M. Koç MuseumIstanbul, Turkey4.8
19Riga Motor MuseumRiga, Latvia4.8
20Simeone Foundation Automotive MuseumPennsylvania, USA4.8

Erin Baker, Editorial Director at Auto Trader, commented: “A love of cars can come in all shapes and sizes, whether it’s leasing your dream make and model or learning about the history of cars and specific brands. For those who enjoy delving into the design, engineering and people behind vehicles, we wanted to highlight the wonderful museums around the world offering car lovers the chance to immerse themselves in the automotive space. As a UK company, we are thrilled to see the likes of Brooklands Museum in Weybridge and Derbyshire’s Great British Car Journey putting Britain on the global map.”

As well as having a fantastic collection of more than 150 UK-designed and made classic cars, Great British Car Journey also offers a unique driving experience – Drive Dad’s Car, which recently won silver in the 2024 Visit Peak District and Derbyshire Tourism Awards.

Purchase discounted tickets and find details of opening times for Great British Car Journey here. Or book a Drive Dad’s Car experience here.

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.

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.