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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 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.

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

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.

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.

An ‘Eggcellent’ Easter Monday Car Meet

It was great to see so many cars at the latest event at Ambergate yesterday for our Easter Monday Great British Car Meet. Although the weather was very April, it didn’t stop people and cars turning up in their droves! The sun even made one or two brief appearances.

I absolutely love the diversity of classic cars at these events: a beautiful 1947 Rolls-Royce, a sweet little Gilbern GT, an immaculate and immensely rare Mk 3 Cortina 1.3 L,  a couple of Morgan three-wheelers, a Saab 96, alongside the Minis, Metros, Maestros and Maxis (Remember: the four Ms are available to drive on our Drive Dad’s Car fleet).

Every time I went out in the car park, there was another car that caught my eye. I loved having great conversations with you, the owners about the history, the memories and why the car is special to you.

I was often accompanied by film maker extraordinaire Paul Woodford and, when I could prize her away from the Ital complete with roof rack and vintage luggage, the marvellous Sarah Crabtree. Speaking of which, have you seen the episode of Great British Car Share over on our YouTube channel in which Sarah drives (or attempts to drive) our Maxi? Watch it here if you haven’t.

Finally it was great to see road tester par excellence  John Barker and his sons. Many moons ago, John and colleagues started a magazine called EVO for which he still writes. 

I would like to thank everyone who came along to our Easter Monday Great British Car Meet and helped make it such a success.

If you missed out on this or are hungry for more, we also have an evening Car Meet on Friday 28th April and another Bank Holiday Car Meet on Monday 1st May.

Our Car Meets cost just £5 to enter with your car but if you are a member of our fantastic Great British Car Club, then entry to all our Meets is free. For an annual membership fee of just £39 you can come into the Great British Car Journey exhibition as often as you like and also attend a load of Members’ events, as well as get discounts on Drive Dad’s Car drives, in the café, gift shop and a dedicated insurance offer.

The Club is friendly and very inclusive; any car, any make or model and just a passion for classics. See the section on our website for more details on how to join.

Finally, it’s Drive it Day on Sunday 23rd April and the Club has put together a lovely 40 mile drive through the White Peak courtesy of my old friend Steve White whose Model A Ford is the oldest licensed taxi in the UK. If you want to join the run, please give us a call on 01773 317243.

A big thank you to everyone who came along to this event for your enthusiasm and support. I hope to see you again very soon.

Richard Usher

CEO and Founder, Great British Car Journey.

Discover our packed programme of car meets and events for 2023

With winter finally drawing to a close, seven day opening resumes at Great British Car Journey from Friday 24 March. We’ll be open from 10.00am to 5.00pm (last entry 4.00pm) every day until October.

With winter firmly behind us, we’ve lined up a packed calendar of car meets for 2023 and a number of family-friendly special events.

Austin, Mini, Jaguar, Jowett, TVR, Rover and Aston Martin are just a handful of the iconic British brands that will be seen in the Great British Car Journey car park with their respective clubs throughout 2023.

Since opening in 2021, the Ambergate-based museum has become increasingly popular with car clubs and groups, who use it as a meeting place for their club members.

Our central location on the A6 on the edge of the Peak District National Park, together with our toilet facilities and popular Filling Station cafe, make us an ideal meeting place for car clubs and starting point for drives.

“We aim to have as much of a show outside Great British Car Journey as we do inside. It’s just one of the many things that makes us unique,” explained the museum founder and CEO Richard Usher.

Inside, Great British Car Journey has a display of more than 130 cars – all British designed and manufactured. Alongside the fondly remembered original Mini, Austin Seven, Morris Minor and Ford Escort, visitors will also find lesser known British cars like the Arrol-Johnston and Gilbern, as well as an iconic DeLorean, Elton John’s Bentley Continental T and Lord Baden Powell’s Rolls-Royce.

In addition to the car meets, there are also a number of family-friendly events taking place throughout the year at Great British Car Journey, including 80s Retro Day on Sunday 7 May.

Family tickets cost just £36.00 when booked online and admit two adults and up to three children.

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

Make sure to book direct and online through the Great British Car Journey website to secure the best ticket price.

You can find details of all the car clubs visiting Great British Car Journey as well as family-friendly events here

Derbyshire Scouts welcome ‘Jam Roll ‘to Great British Car Journey

Arrival of Baden Powell’s Rolls Royce marks 1st birthday of Great British Car Journey

Derbyshire’s Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Explorers have welcomed the most important car in the Scout movement’s 114-year history to Great British Car Journey.

‘Jam Roll’, Lord Baden Powell’s Rolls Royce, has gone on display to the public at Great British Car Journey, marking the classic car visitor attraction’s first birthday on 22 May 2022.

The 20hp Rolls-Royce, which was manufactured in Derby, was originally presented to Baden-Powell, along with a caravan (Eccles), at the 1929 World Jamboree on the Scouting movement’s 21st birthday.

The car was subsequently named ‘Jam Roll’ in recognition of its connection to the Jamboree and Rolls Royce.

The unique car boasts the Scout Fleur de Lys emblem, etched with the Scouts motto ‘Be Prepared’ on the radiator in place of the traditional Spirit of Ecstasy or ‘Flying Lady’, making it one of a kind.

Now, 93-years after it was presented to Baden Powell, ‘Jam Roll’ has joined the collection of classic cars at Great British Car Journey. The arrival of the car at the attraction was extra special for the Cubs in attendance, as it helped them earn their Collectors Badge.

Tom Stoddart, One of the Trustees of B-P Jam Roll Ltd which owns the car, said: “We are absolutely delighted that Jam Roll is now on display at Great British Car Journey and available to be seen by Scouts and Guides throughout the world. Retaining the car in Derbyshire was very important to us. It is an important piece of Scouting history, and we know that it will be well looked after by Richard and his team.”

Richard Usher, CEO of Great British Car Journey said: “We are thrilled to have such a uniquely historic car in the Great British Car Journey collection. It is a wonderful way to mark the 12-month anniversary of opening the attraction.”

Scouts around the world were asked to donate a penny per member and enough was raised to buy ‘Jam Roll’ and ‘Eccles’. Lord Baden Powell used the Rolls Royce and Eccles for many years and after his death in 1941 his family sold it to private owners. It was seen infrequently at Scouts events before being acquired by BP Jam Roll Ltd, a trust established to purchase in the car in 2008 ensuring it stayed in the country.

Following Jam Roll’s purchase by the trust, of which Lord Baden Powell’s grandson the Hon. Michael Baden Powell is a trustee, the car was sympathetically restored by Scouting volunteers and members of the Rolls Royce Heritage Centre where it was stored until it arrived at Great British Car Journey.

Jam Roll has found a new home at great British Car Journey where it is now on display alongside more than 130 British-built and manufactured cars which have long since disappeared from the roads, including the Austin Seven, Morris Minor and Ford Escort as well with a number of cars with equally famous owners, including Elton John’s Bentley Continental T.

Richard added: “The fact that ‘Jam Roll’ was made in Derby, only a few miles from Baden Powell’s wife’s home town of Chesterfield and indeed Great British Car Journey, gives this internationally important car a lovely local connection.”

Although now on display at Great British Car Journey, ‘Jam Roll’ will continue to make special appearances at Scout events.

To view Jam Roll and the wider car collection at Great British Car Journey, you can purchase tickets at greatbritishcarjourney.com or simply turn up and pay upon arrival.

If you’re looking for the ultimate trip down memory lane, pick from the 38-strong Drive Dad’s Car fleet and get behind the wheel of your favourite classic car. Visit drivedadscar.com to learn more.

Triple win for Great British Car Journey in2022 Tourism Awards

Great British Car Journey’s apprentice mechanic Luke Henshaw has been named as the 2022 Tourism Young Achiever in the Peak District and Derbyshire Tourism Awards.

Luke (18) was one of just 15 Gold winners at the awards, which were organised by Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire. ‘Tourism Young Achiever’ was a new award category added to the awards line-up to recognise the thousands of jobs supported by tourism across the Peak District and Derbyshire.

In addition to Luke’s win, the Ambergate-based classic car attraction also scooped the silver award in the New Tourism Business category and bronze in the Experience of the Year category for its unique Drive Dad’s Car experience just 10 months after opening its door to visitors.
Luke, from Mansfield, joined Great British Car Journey in April ahead of the popular attraction opening in May 2021. He works and learns alongside the attraction’s Chief Engineer and to keep a fleet of nearly 200 cars in working order.

Delighted to be recognised, Luke said: “it’s a great honour to be recognised. I was a little nervous but the atmosphere was brilliant and a great experience for my first awards ceremony. I’m learning so much at Great British Car Journey. It’s a fantastic place to work with an amazing variety of the cars that I get to work on daily. It’s brilliant.”

Richard Usher, founder and CEO of Great British Car Journey said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been recognised across three categories in the awards after opening just 10 months ago amidst Covid restrictions.
“Luke, as indeed all the team – from volunteers and paid employees – are integral to ensuring Great British Car Journey continues to grow and become the go-to destination for classic car enthusiasts throughout the UK.

“Despite recent setbacks with the weather, we’re all really looking forward to 2022. We have even more plans for the attraction in the pipeline and the team and I are definitely aiming for more golds in the awards next year.

Designed to recognise and reward excellence and outstanding achievement in the Peak District and Derbyshire’s valuable tourism sector, the awards brought together 41 finalists in 15 categories for a glittering ceremony at Chesterfield’s four-star Casa Hotel.
Great British Car Journey is open seven days a week from 10.00am until 5.00pm and charts the history of the British motoring industry through more than 130 cars on display, including Austin Sevens, Morris Minors, Minis, Ford Escorts and even a McLaren supercar.

You can book tickets to visit us at: www.greatbritishcarjourney.com

Great British Car Journey’s barn find proves Austin really is ‘Britain’s dependable car’

An Austin Heavy 12/4, which was owned from new by the same family for 90 years, is working once again despite having spent the last 43 years stored in an overgrown timber garage.

Purchased on 22 July 1931 by Fred Woodhall, the Austin 12/4 travelled many thousands of miles in the UK as well as throughout Europe. In 1961 the car was passed on to the original owner’s son and then great grandson, Charles Clarkson who has now donated it to the Great British Car Journey based in Ambergate, Derbyshire. 

Despite being forgotten about for more than 40 years, with only minor attention, the engine started, and the electrics worked. Additionally, the car’s brakes work, it pulls strongly in all gears, the dynamo charges, the radiator still holds water, and all major functions are fine; all testament to the manufacturer’s claim in the 30s that Austin was ‘Britain’s Dependable Car’.

Richard Usher, Chief Executive of Great British Car Journey explained: “I was absolutely flabbergasted when the car started given the storage conditions. The garage was so overgrown with ivy we couldn’t open the doors so had to physically remove them in order to get to the car. Once we got the car out and lifted the bonnet it looked like the engine had completely seized.”

The car retains all its original features and is in remarkable condition given its storage conditions. Now on display at the classic car visitor attraction, there are no plans to restore the Austin 12/4. Richard explained why: “We’ve given it a clean and a polish but that’s it. Great British Car Journey is all about preserving the history of vehicles and part of that is showing how they’ve been used and the life they have led.

“The fact this car has survived being driven many thousands of miles and is driveable after more than 40 years off the road is testimony to Austin’s build quality and Britain’s motoring heritage. I am delighted that we have been able to add this remarkable example of a pre war Austin to the Great British Car Journey collection.”

Cheeky Valentine’s survey proves classic car enthusiasts are Mini not Maxi lovers!

Despite the fully fold down rear seats and ample boot space, the Austin Maxi has been placed bottom in a poll of British classic cars favoured by drivers for a first date between 1960 – 1990.

Instead, in an online survey by Great British Car Journey, the original Mini has been declared the all-time favourite British car for romance.
Ahead of Valentine’s Day, the Derbyshire classic car visitor attraction asked its 16,000 strong social media following to tell them about the car in which they had their first or most memorable date in.

In the full list of the top 10 British cars for a first date, second and third place in the survey were claimed by the iconic Ford Capri followed by the loveable Morris Minor respectively.

1. Mini
2. Ford Capri
3. Morris Minor
4. Ford Escort
5. Austin Metro
6. Ford Fiesta
7. Hillman Imp
8. MGB
9. Austin Morris 1100
10. Austin Maxi

Richard Usher, Chief Executive of the classic car visitor attraction, said: “Cleary the cramped conditions of the classic Mini were no deterrent to romance as our survey has shown. The Maxi was a brave attempt to create something new but was let down by a simply shocking 5 speed gearbox and a dumpy unattractive shape. Despite its poor reputation the car had many redeeming features, particularly when it came to dating!

“Despite what its critics may say, the Austin Maxi was a great concept, and I am delighted to have a superb 1981 example in the Great British Car Journey collection.”

Produced from 1969 – 1981, the Austin Maxi is recognised for being Britain’s first genuinely family-sized hatchback, with plenty of space and seats that folded down into a lumpy double bed. Only half a million were sold compared to the far sexier Ford Capri which was launched the same year and sold 1.9 million worldwide by the end of production.

To celebrate Valentine’s Day and help people relive their dating memories of days gone by, Great British Car Journey is offering couples discounted admission to the attraction in Ambergate. Entry for couples is just £25, compared to £30 for two single admissions.

For couples that really want the ultimate trip down Memory Lane, they can also take the car they enjoyed their first or most memorable date in for a drive. The Drive Dad’s Car experience at Great British Car Journey offers people the chance to get back behind the wheel of 30 British classics including the Mini, Morris Minor and Ford Capri.

As part of our Valentine’s Day celebrations, Great British Car Journey is also offering 20% off all Drive Dad’s Car experiences booked up until midnight on Monday 14 February 2022. To claim the discount, simply use the code VALENTINES20 when booking online at www.drivedadscar.com

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 www.drivedadscar.com or to book tickets for the exhibition, click here: Buy tickets