Born from an idea spawned by a 32-year-old Austin Maestro, the Great British Car Journey in Derbyshire has opened its doors to the public.
The attraction is packed with British marques and models that dominated the roads for nearly a century, such as the Morris Minor, Ford Capri, and everything before, after and in between - housing cars that are reportedly so rare that you’re more likely to see a £150,000 supercar on today’s roads.
More than 130 vehicles now fill a former wire works factory on the banks of the River Derwent in Ambergate, Derbyshire.
Richard Usher, CEO of the Great British Car Journey said: “Four years ago, when I owned and managed Blyton Circuit, a gentleman approached me asking if I’d like to buy his 1989 Austin Maestro in mint condition with just 10,000 miles on the clock. My first thought was ‘no’, but it then got me thinking about when I last saw an Austin Allegro, Metro, original Mini, or even a Ford Cortina on the road. These were cars that were once on virtually every street in Britain and sold in their millions.”
The seed was planted and Richard, together with four private investors, set about amassing one of the largest privately owned collections of British designed and manufactured cars in the country.
Visitors to Great British Car Journey will be guided around the exhibition with a hand-held audio device which tells the story of individual vehicles as well as the development of the UK’s motor industry.
- Group discounts apply for pre-booked groups of 12+ or 25+, with all tickets valid for a second tour within three months.
- Carers, coach drivers and approved guides go free.
Mike Flewitt, CEO of McLaren Automotive, said: “Richard and the team have done an amazing job bringing Great British Car Journey to life. I am delighted that McLaren is able to support the exhibition which celebrates Britain’s motoring history from Bruce McLaren’s Austin Seven, where our brand story began, through to modern day supercars such as our 650S.”
One of the most difficult cars to find for the exhibition was apparently a Vauxhall Chevette. Only a handful of Chevettes in roadworthy condition are thought to exist in the world today, despite around half a million being sold in Britain between 1975 and 1984.
Richard Usher added: “I really wanted the cars to tell a story, so the journey charts the growth of car ownership from Austin’s Seven to the present day.
“It has a motor show feel with cars grouped in the decades – or chapters - in which they were produced, with period adverts and graphics prominently displayed.
“The vehicles are easily accessible. We want people to smell the old car smell, marvel at the interiors and jog memories of trips in the family car, their first car or back seat fights with their siblings when they were growing up.”
More information is available at www.greatbritishcarjourney.com