News : Great British Car Journey collection passes 100 cars

Great British Car Journey

The Great British Car Journey – a new visitor attraction with an interactive twist – has just taken delivery of its 100th car, and is on course to open this April. It’s an exciting addition to the ranks of classic car destinations in the UK, as well as offering an an interesting new twist of nostalgia for Derbyshire Peak District visitors.

The latest addition to the collection is a 1987 Vauxhall Astra with 4400 miles on the clock. It joins this unique collection of British manufactured cars, which are all low-mileage or exceptional-condition examples of everyday family cars. The Great British Car Journey centres on the UK automotive history – starting with the Austin Seven – and aims to reignite visitors’ love of cars such as the Ford Cortina, Hillman Avenger, Vauxhall Chevette, BMC Mini and the Austin Metro, which celebrates its 40th birthday this year. More feted classics, such as the Morris Minor will also be highlighted – led by the collection’s 1961 Morris Minor 1,000,000 (below).

The new visitor attraction is the brainchild of former Auto Windscreens and Blyton Park owner Richard Usher, and it’s set to basically be a timeline of the rise, fall and rise of the British car industry told in nine chapters. A unique interactive device has been created by event technology specialists Imagineear and describes how the mass-production of the motor car between 1921–1995 made social history.

Don’t just go and look, drive them too!

Morris Minor 1,000,000 - Great British Car Journey

Visitors with a strong sense of nostalgia can also book one of GBCJ’s Drive Dad’s Car experiences. In these, you will be able to take one of 30 vehicles on a six-mile on-site driving route. Drivers will be accompanied by a qualified instructor and their drive will be captured on video. Visitors will be able to watch the cars being worked on.

Great British Car Journey will be based on a converted industrial site near Matlock in the Derbyshire Peak District. It will be the newest addition within the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site corridor and will add to the Peak District’s growing tourist industry, especially of historical or early industrial interest. The new venture, with its emphasis on innovative British car manufacturing, will complement the stories of Derwent Valley Mills, Crich Tramway Museum, and Heights of Abraham.

Richard says: ‘Cars were a major part of family history; they took us on holiday, they ferried kids to parties and they were lovingly washed and polished on the driveway at the weekend. Wind-up windows, chokes and old car smells will bring a smile to all who come and visit. We want everyone to get involved in the run-up to our opening by sharing their early car memories. We’ve created #mycarjourney on Twitter, and want stories and photos from family albums any year between 1920 and 2000. Just tell us where you went and what you can remember of that journey.’

Metro and Mini - Great British Car Journey

Keith Adams


  1. Sounds like this would appeal to me too! I am considering a holiday in that area this year. Showing my age when I still remember the launch of the MK2 Astra and my brother had a Minor 1000.

  2. You young lads! Launch of the Astra? That was last week! My chums round this table tonight remember the launch of 1949 Jowett Javelin!!! They call me the ‘boy’ ‘cos I can’t remember anything before the 1955 Citroen DS!
    I wish I looked like a boy though.

    • @wolseley man, I remember the Jowett Javelin when I was at infant school era. My first motoring memory was going in a Cresta PA to the Garage where my Dad was buying his first car… A Victor Deluxe F series. I would have been about 7 years old.

  3. First motoring memory – that could be a whole separate nostalgia mine! In my case, sitting on my Mum’s knee kicking three bells out of a St.Christopher medal stuck on the dashboard of our Morris Minor split screen convertible – no seat belts or child seats in those days! First vehicle launch memory – Escort Mark 1 being announced on Radio 4, or was it the Home Service in those days?

  4. Go as soon as it opens in April, it won’t be open for long! It isn’t in a tourist hotspot. It isn’t in the Peak District,as others have said. It’s in the middle of nowhere and hard to get to from the M1. How many people are going to make the effort to see a small collection (30 apparently) of average/rubbish cars? Probably one of the 3 people who watch the repeats of “George & Mildred” on daytime tv on a Freeview channel you’ve never heard of!

    • Hi Lucy – thanks for your interest.

      Great British Car Journey features over 100 significant cars and visitors will be guided through them by a revolutionary interactive guide. It is the story of how British entrepreneurs and engineers contributed to the global ownership of cars by families all over the world.

      Although the journey features failure as well as success, it celebrates truly inspired designs such as the Austin 7 and the Mini and features remarkable survivors of rarer machines such as the Morris Marina and Austin Allegro. It’s a trip through childhood memories. It’s a trip that reflects on a romantic nostalgia for Britain’s past.

      Although GBCJ is not in the Peak National Park, it is right on the edge of the A6 which remains one of the key routes into the beautiful Derbyshire Dales, following the River Derwent from Derby up to Matlock, Bakewell and beyond.

      The interest we’ve had already is truly phenomenal, and far more than we’d originally hoped, and we’d love to have you come visit us Lucy.

    • For all those interested, GBCJ is located on the A6 just 20 minutes from Jct 28 M1. It is in the Derwent Valley Mills UNESCO World Heritage site which attracts international as well as local visitors. Attractions include the National Tramway Museum at Crich, Heights of Abraham, and Cromford Mills – as well as Chatsworth House and Haddon Hall just 15 mins away. Too much to do in one day! Finally the headline to this piece is accurate. 100 cars to see, and 30 cars in the Drive Dad’s Car experience.

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