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Experiencing the Isle of Man in your classic car

If you know your motorsport – and, in particular, if motorbike racing is your thing – the Isle of Man is very likely to be on your must-visit list.

This wild and beautiful island, set in the Irish Sea between Cumbria and the Northern Ireland coast, is probably most famous for its exhilarating, daredevil TT motorbike races that take place every spring. In fact, the island has some serious motorsport heritage dating back well over a century, and involving cars as well as bikes.

For that reason, as well as its legendarily brilliant driving roads, we think you and your classic would very much enjoy some time on the island. Before you go, just make sure your insurance for your classic car is up to date.

However, as we’ll discover in this article, there is plenty more to see on Mann, as it’s also known. A rich history – including colourful Celtic and Viking chapters – and some wonderful landscapes are just two of the factors that make the Isle a worthy destination for anyone, motorbike lover or not.

Isle of Man Lighthouse

Here’s our rundown of some Manx must-sees.

Isle of Man TT

This famous event will be an absolute must for any petrolhead – especially for lovers of two-wheeled transport.

The Isle of Man Tourist Trophy races, to give them their full name, are a yearly motorbike racing event, held on a famously challenging mountain course on Mann during late May and early June.

Often dubbed one of the world’s most dangerous racing events, the TT is a time-trial race on public roads, which are closed to all other traffic throughout most of the race fortnight.

Each year’s event begins with a week’s worth of practice sessions, followed by the races themselves during the second week. Slap bang in the middle of these two weeks is the famous ‘Mad Sunday’, when the course is opened for spectators, racing groups and others to get on their bikes and head off round the island.

The TT course is also known as the Snaefell Mountain Course, and it’s one of three brilliant Manx driving routes that we’ll be profiling in a little more detail down below.

The very first TT was held back in 1907, and consisted of 10 laps of the much shorter St John's Course. A few years later, in 1911, the event moved to its current course. A little over 37 miles, the Snaefell course climbs from sea level to 1,300 feet, and takes its name from the Manx mountain that riders ascend part way along the course.

From 1989 onwards, the race was rebranded the Isle of Man TT Festival. This new look also brought some new races, including the Pre-TT Classic Races in 1989 followed by the Post-TT Races from 1991. Later, 2013 saw the arrival of the Isle of Man Classic TT, for historic racing motorcycles. The latter event now forms part, every August/September, of the Isle of Man Festival of Motorcycling.

It shares that designation with the Manx Grand Prix – another two-week racing event, in which amateur riders get to ride the famous TT course. Widely viewed as a kind of initiation rite for the TT races proper, the Grand Prix is as popular as its professional sibling.

Heading over to the Isle to watch the TT is a hugely exciting experience. It’s a very popular event, so make sure you book everything – ferry, hotel rooms and so on – well in advance. And, while you’re being organised, why not make sure your classic auto insurance is up to date, too?

Manx Museum & National Art Gallery

If you’re after a relatively easy, accessible introduction to this fascinating and unique island, a visit to the Manx Museum will serve you well. Your visit to this 100-year-old national museum begins with a film screening that takes you through the island’s eventful, 10,000-year history. After that, the museum guides you through various chapters of that story in greater detail, including the period of Viking rule and the history of the Tynwald (the island’s historic parliament).

Another section, the Natural History Gallery, details Mann’s diverse landscape and rich wildlife. And what wildlife it is! For example, the coastal hills and beaches around the island’s 99-mile shoreline are a great place to see three species of dolphin, plus minke whales and porpoises. The huge but harmless basking shark is also a relatively common sight, particularly around the Calf of Man. Seabirds including guillemots, razorbills and Manx shearwaters are also island regulars.

Back at the museum, you’ll also find the absorbing Mann at War gallery, which recounts the experiences of Manx men, women and children in conflict across the past three centuries.
There are also sections on the Isle of Man’s heyday as a holiday resort, back in Victorian times, and of course on the world-famous TT races, including profiles of some of their most revered riders and their vehicles.

Make time, too, for the National Art Gallery, part of the Museum, and home to works by some of Mann’s best-known artists including John Miller Nicholson, whose skill with draughtsmanship and colour often got him likened to his more famous contemporary, Turner. You’ll also find works by fellow Manxman Archibald Knox, a major designer for Liberty during their turn-of-the-century heyday.

Isle of Man Motor Museum

Housed in a former RAF base at Jurby near the island’s northern tip, this privately funded museum is home to no fewer than 400 vehicles. This is where you’ll get the best sense of this place’s strong and long-lasting links with motorsport. These began, in fact, way back in 1904 with the Gordon Bennett Trials – qualifying events for the fifth Gordon Bennett Cup for cars, held later that year in Germany.

The museum’s centrepiece is the Cunningham Collection, an awesome selection of cars from across the decades, put together by father-and-son team Denis and Darren Cunningham. Some of the vehicles in the collection are of major historical significance; others have some very personal stories behind them.

The former group includes a 1953 Humber Super Snipe tourer built for the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II, as she and her husband Prince Philip undertook their Coronation tour of the Commonwealth that year. Elsewhere, you’ll find the ex-White House 1965 Lincoln Continental limousine used by US Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara. An impressive number of prototypes, meanwhile, includes a right-hand-drive DeLorean, and a Ford Galaxie Limousine – the Blue Oval’s largest class of car in the States during the 1960s and 1970s.

Other highlights of the car collection include a Cadillac V16, a Citroen DS19 ‘décapotable’ (cabriolet) – and no fewer than three examples of the Facel Vega. We love the Facel Vega here at Lancaster – indeed, we nominated it as one of our 10 cars that epitomise French style – and to see one in the metal is a joyous thing indeed.

As you’d expect on an island where bikes are worshipped so devoutly, the Museum also has a 200-strong motorcycle collection, stretching from the earliest days of motorbike culture through to the 2009 winner of the first TT event for electric bikes. Beyond that, you’ll find hosts of Hondas, Harley-Davidsons, Kawasakis and many more.

Fans of transport in its wider forms will also be delighted to find, elsewhere around the Museum, a selection of trucks, buses, fire engines, hearses – and even a hovercraft!

Isle of Man steam railway

This island is full of individualities and unique selling points. Among these is the wonderful Isle of Man Steam Railway, the longest narrow-gauge steam line in Britain to still use its original locomotives and carriages.

Opened back in 1873, the three-foot steam railway tours some of the island’s most eye-catching countryside as it wends its way from the capital, Douglas, to the south coast.
The railway serves a fair few of the Isle of Man’s major heritage attractions in the south of the island, such as Silverdale Glen and Rushen Abbey (served by Ballasalla Station).

Meanwhile, Castle Rushen and the Nautical Museum are near the station at Castletown. That’s also the station to alight at if you plan to visit the Old House of Keys, the former meeting place for Mann’s Tynwald or parliament. Get off at Port Erin, meanwhile, for the fascinating Steam Railway Museum, as well as the wild, windswept Bradda Head and Port Erin beach.

The one-way journey from Douglas to Port Erin takes around an hour. Services are reasonably frequent – especially in July and August, when you’ll find seven return trains a day. You can even dine in style – Pullman style, to be precise – in the Steam Railway's elegantly restored Dining Car. Built in 1905 and restored in 2013, this sumptuous time capsule is one of just a few narrow-gauge dining cars around the world. The delicious menu uses only the finest produce from around the island – including fish and seafood, both Manx specialities.

Getting to the Isle of Man

You can travel to Douglas, the Isle’s capital, by ferry from Heysham, Liverpool or Birkenhead on the English side, or from Dublin and Belfast across the Irish Sea. You also have the choice of travelling as a foot passenger or bringing your car along. We’d obviously recommend the latter, so that you can explore this beautiful island at your leisure.

All Manx ferries are operated by the Steam Packet Company. The 96-metre sea catamaran, Manannan, runs from Liverpool from March to November, and also does some seasonal services from both Dublin and Belfast. It takes around 2 hours and 45 minutes from Liverpool to Douglas.

Alternatively, the Steam Packet also takes the Ben-my-Chree, a more traditional ferry, over to the Isle, with a journey time of 3 hours and 45 minutes. You can make the trip from the Lancashire town of Heysham at any time of the year, or from Birkenhead during the winter months. Both ships have shops, cafes, bars and other creature comforts.

If you’re planning to visit the island during either the TT or Manx Grand Prix periods, you should definitely book well in advance. Things get very busy on the island at these times, and you’ll need to get a seat on the ferry in good time.

Driving around the island

Driving on the Isle of Man is a very enjoyable experience: the scenery is breath-taking, the roads mostly fairly empty (apart from times of peak congestion, such as TT fortnight!), and you can pretty much get from anywhere on the island to anywhere else in an hour or less. 

One thing to note: the island is not part of the United Kingdom, nor of the European Union. Instead, it is a self-governing British Crown Dependency – much like the Channel Islands, Jersey and Guernsey – and has its own parliament, government and laws.

How will this affect you as a driver on the island? Well, for one thing, it’s worth checking whether your classic car insurance policy will apply on Mann. Most UK car insurance policies do include cover for driving on the island, but don’t assume that your policy includes this feature. Check with your classic car insurance provider, just to be sure.

View of Isle of man

Also be aware that, unlike mainland Britain, the Isle has no national speed limit. On some roads, you can drive at any safe, appropriate speed. This, coupled with the islanders’ knowledge of their roads and the place’s well-documented love of motorsport, means that you may see some pretty fast driving while you’re here.

However, don’t take this as your own cue to drive recklessly – careless and dangerous driving laws still apply on the Isle of Man, and there are local speed limits on many roads. Some of these roads also have some frequent bends, which can be hard to see around. We recommend driving around the Isle every bit as carefully as you would on any other unfamiliar road. This will help to protect your car and occupants, as well as other road users – and, indeed, your classic car insurance premium.

Three sensational Isle of Man driving routes

The Isle of Man is rightly famed as a driver’s paradise. It’s fabulous, winding roads and beautiful, unspoilt scenery make for some truly exhilarating driving. Here are three particularly captivating routes for you to try in your classic.

TT course / Snaefell Mountain Course

Come outside of TT season itself (which is, as we mentioned, late May / early June) and you can try the iconic route out for yourself. Not on a bike (well, unless you have one and are itching to do it), and not at the 130mph speeds that some of the TT’s more fearless competitors reach. No, we recommend driving the course in your classic, at a slightly more sedate speed.

To get the full TT feel, you can start at or near the start line, at the TT Grandstand on Glencrutchery Road in the island's main town, Douglas. The first stretch takes you through the city streets of Douglas, before proceeding along the A1 (the Isle has its own road-naming system much like ours).

This road takes you through several pretty Manx villages, before turning right onto the A3. The next stretch features some rather lovely narrow valleys (or glens, to use Manx parlance), and eventually intersects with the A18 Snaefell mountain road from which the course takes its name. The A18 will then take you back to Douglas – but not before taking you past the course’s highest point at Hailwood's Height, some 1,385ft above sea level. After that, it’s a gentle descent through some typically attractive Manx countryside, back to Douglas and the finish line.

The 11-mile, A18 mountain section is a particularly exhilarating drive. Some of its sections and vantage points – such as Gooseneck, The Bungalow, Windy Corner and Creg-Ny-Baa – are hallowed names among motorcycling enthusiasts. This section also features no speed limits. Enjoy the scenery – and drive at a responsible speed to avoid having to claim on your classic car insurance policy.

West Coast

This stunning route takes you down the Isle's south-western shore. Beginning at the harbour town of, which looks west towards the Ulster shore, the route then winds down through rugged coastal scenery to the Calf Sound. This narrow stretch of water separates the Isle of Man from its own small offshore island, the seabird-rich Calf of Man.

Before you leave the charming town of Peel, you may want to take a look around. Sights to see here include Peel Castle, a magnificent ruin set on its own small island, St Peter's Isle, which is reached from the mainland by a causeway. Then there's the cathedral, seat of the Diocese of Sodor and Man. Peel is also famous for its kippers, with two working kipper smokeries still in existence in the town. At one, the 140-year-old Moore's Kipper Yard, you can take a tour and get familiar with this ancient fish-smoking process.

Petrolheads will also want to look in at the Leece Museum – and in particular at the museum's ground floor, with its display of classic motorbikes – in homage to the Isle of Man's famous motorbike racing heritage.

After you've had your fill of Peel, you can head south down the coast towards Glen Maye, a scenic valley dominated by a stupendous gorge and waterfall.

The coast road then takes you on to the village of Dalby, which looks out towards the beautiful, secluded promontory of Niarbyl. Niarbyl Bay itself is a peaceful spot, with its thatched cottages and gently rolling hills.

South from Niarbyl, you'll start climbing up towards the summit known as The Sloc. This high ground draws astronomers from across the island, thanks to its dark skies and panoramic views over the southern and north-western heavens. If you arrive in daytime, meanwhile, your views over the southern part of the Isle of Man will be just as spectacular.

Downhill from the Sloc is an exhilarating drive which will take you, via Rushen and over the railway lines, to Howe Road, which finally descends to Calf Sound and those views across to the Calf of Man.

Douglas to Point of Ayre

This exhilarating drive up the Isle of Man's eastern coast takes in the Sulby Glen valley, before ending up at the island’s wild northern shores.

You begin in the island's capital Douglas, from where you'll take the A18 due north into the heart of the island, turning left just before The Bungalow, a station on the island's Snaefell Mountain Railway and also an important viewing point for the Isle's famous annual TT races.

After leaving the A18, you're in for a beautiful, winding descent into Tholt-ty-Will glen. This stunning riverside road, with its wooden lodges and abundant greenery, is almost Scandinavian in feel. From this point, continue in a northerly direction until you hit the island's north-western coast near Jurby, a former RAF base. This is now home to the Isle of Man Motor Museum, which we discussed above, and the Jurby Transport Museum.

Your last stage of the journey, to the northern extremity of Point of Ayre, takes you past the dune-rich nature reserve of Cronk y Bing, a favoured breeding ground for wading birds including oystercatchers and ringed plovers. If you visit in autumn, look out to sea for views of divers, grebes, sea ducks, skuas and various gulls.

You'll end up at another beautiful nature reserve, The Ayres, with its romantic lighthouse and carpets of gorse and heather.

These are just three wonderful driving routes on the island. For more touring inspiration, head to the Visit Isle of Man website.

Classic car insurance – for wonderful adventures in your classic

A big part of the joy of classic car ownership is being able to take your beloved vehicle out for a spin on some of Britain’s most beautiful roads – and, when it comes to thrilling driving routes, the beautiful Isle of Man is certainly well blessed.

Having the right classic vehicle insurance will provide the cover you need for this type of adventure, just as it will safeguard you against any misadventures back in the workshop or at your next historic car rally.

Contact us today to arrange the classic car insurance you’ll need for all your future adventures.

Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.

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06 March 2024

Meet the Owner – Dave Troughton and his Vauxhall Ventora FD

There are several reasons why people acquire classic cars - performance, handling, impressing the neighbours and fine television programmes of the 1960s. Dave bought his Ventora FD for the last-named reason, and for those unfamiliar with this gem from ITC productions, here is a typical scenario from Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased):

Hidden Gem – The Triumph 1500

Some cars have the misfortune of being overshadowed by more than one member of the same family. The Triumph 1500 often seems to be unfairly neglected compared with its 1300 predecessor – the marque’s first front-wheel-drive car – and the later Dolomite. Yet, it has a distinct appeal of its own.

The Car You Always Promised Yourself – The J.D Classics Ford Capri 1300L Mk. I

A great deal of mythology surrounds the Capri Mk. I, including the belief that virtually every model on the road in this country was at least a 2000GT in XLR specification. A variation of this delusion is the 3000E and the later 3000GXL were relatively common sights in the early 1970s.

04 March 2024

The Citroën Traction Avant at 90 by Andrew Roberts

When Citroën presented the Traction Avant to its dealers in March 1934, it made automotive history. This was not only the company’s first front-wheel drive car, but there was also rack-&-pinion steering and all-independent suspension.

Meet The Owner – Kieron Trumper and his Triumph 2.5 PI Mk. 1

I bought the car last April when I was 20. I always knew I wanted a Triumph 2000/2500 as my dad had them 20/30 years ago and still owned one when I was a little kid, and it is my earliest memory of cars.

Immerse yourself in the Practical Classics World at the NEC Classic Car & Restoration Show!

Don’t miss the Practical Classics Classic Car & Restoration Show from 22-24 March at the NEC! No matter whether you’re currently engaged in a restoration project or someone who just simply appreciates the beauty of classic cars, this is the perfect place to be.

Announcing our February Bright Young Spark, George Swift!

Where did your passion for classics start? ‘Many different places: an interest in the history of engineering, being brought up around older cars, my curiosity to understand how all the components of a car come together to produce an operating vehicle.

February 2024

14 February 2024

Meet The Owner - Lewis Buchan and His Collection

Owning a classic car is a joy with a few challenges en route: maintenance, restoration costs, having to source spare parts from across the globe and being asked “What’s that then?” in the Tesco car park approximately 1,354 times. Now, imagine those experiences multiplied by 28.

January 2024

31 January 2024

Announcing our January Bright Young Spark, Rosie Hodgson- Jones!

How did it all start? ‘My dad and grandad have always enjoyed tinkering and driving their vintage cars. Since I was really little, we have always gone out in them and on holiday with them, especially with the Ford Model T car club.

Join us at the 2024 Practical Classic Restoration Show!

Gear up for a fantastic start to the year at the Practical Classics Classic Car & Restoration show, taking place from March 22 to 24 at the NEC.

29 January 2024

TOP FIVE GHIA-BADGED FORDS

When Ford acquired complete control of the Turin design house Carrozzeria Ghia in January 1973, the result was a sea change for their British flagship models. Aspirational motorists craved the car with the shield badge instead of the previous 'Executive' versions. And here are the five pioneering Ghias:

MEET THE OWNER – JON COUPLAND AND HIS ROVER 75

For many years, the virtues of the Rover 75 were taken for granted: its comfort, level of standard equipment and quiet dignity. Now they are receiving the attention that is due to them, and Jon Coupland is especially taken with his early Cowley-built 1.8-litre version. He explains:

24 January 2024

Meet The Owner - Siôn Hudson and his Vauxhall Cavalier L Mk. II

Once familiar, cars often undergo a seven-stage cycle. Firstly, they are launched with maximum fanfare before entering the second stage of their middle years. Next comes the last-of-the-line special editions, intended to clear showrooms for its replacement, followed by twilight in used-car listings.

22 January 2024

MEET THE OWNER - JON BENTLEY AND HIS SAAB 95 TWO-STROKE

To be the custodian of one classic car is a major responsibility - to have a 17- strong collection is virtually a full-time occupation. Jon Bentley’s 1965 95 is one of his fleet of Saabs that established the firm as a car maker.

A Remarkable Car – The Daimler Double Six Vanden Plas Series One

For many years, this writer has regarded the Daimler Double Six Vanden Plas Series One as the pinnacle of the XJ family. It is a car that exudes opulence and good taste in equal measure, a saloon of quiet but definite presence.

MAGNIFICENT SEVEN LOST MODELS

Or seven versions of familiar BMC and British Leyland models that never made it to the showrooms:

Classic Cars – An Ongoing Story

Of all the automotive anniversaries that will be taking place this year, the one that stuns me the most is that the Citroen CX will be celebrating its half-century. I was aged about five when I saw my first example, and to say I was mesmerised was somewhat of an understatement.

15 January 2024

TWICE THE ABILITY – THE STORY OF THE TWINI MOKE

The Mini Moke celebrates its 60th birthday in 2024, and possibly the most fascinating variant was the dual-engine ‘Twini’. When the British Motor Corporation displayed a prototype to the media in January 1963, their Managing Director George Harriman told the press:

Ten Vehicles That Altered Their Identity

It could be watching a film shot in New Zealand and wondering why a Hillman Minx is badged as a 'Humber 80' or seeing an old US advertisement for an Avenger under the name 'Plymouth Avenger'. And in 1981, when this writer was aged 11, he was mesmerised by the Fiat-based SEATS on his first visit to Spain.

09 January 2024

STARS AND THEIR CARS – THE STARSKY & HUTCH FORD GRAN TORINO

For a long time, Starsky & Hutch was a fixture on BBC1. Every week, Captain Dobey would order, “You two jokers - in my office”, and Huggy Bear would observe “You ever try to get ten horses in a basement?”.

Forgotten Hero – The Citroën Visa

The sales copy said it was "A serious challenge to those who are ahead of the Joneses" and asked potential buyers ", Do you sincerely want freedom of choice"? Equally importantly, it would allow the owner to progress "smugly in winter when other cars dig their own graves with their rear wheel drives".

60 YEARS OF THE MINI COOPER’S MONTE CARLO VICTORY

Sixty years ago, a Morris Mini Cooper 1071S, registration 33 EJB, was among the 299 entrants of the Monte Carlo Rally. As for the favourites, Motor Sport observed:

08 January 2024

Charity Heroes - Craig Cheetham on festive fundraising efforts

There’s a good chance you’re reading this issue of PC during the festive season and, while the temptation may be to snuggle down in front of the fire with a mince pie and a glass of eggnog, there’s also plenty to be getting on with where your classics are concerned.

Land’s End to John O’ Groats Reliability Trial 2023 is toughest for 7 years!

After 1500 miles over 5 legs, in 75 hours, the Land’s End to John O’ Groats Reliability Trial 2023 reached its end at a fine and sunny John O’ Groats, somewhat ironic after the dire conditions experienced during the event.

05 January 2024

Announcing our December Bright Young Spark, Courtney Ward!

My love for cars has definitely become my way of life. My grandfather was a brilliant mechanic, so naturally my dad followed suit with a passion for cars and detailing; I've grown up around it.

The Ford Capri II at Fifty by Andrew Roberts!

When Ford unveiled the Capri II on the 25th of February 1974, they faced a vast challenge – how do you improve on the original Capri?

Congratulations to Les, our Austin Healey winner!

Last year we gave you the chance to WIN a beautifully restored Austin Healey. We had thousands of entries, and we can announce that the lucky winner was Les!

FORGOTTEN HERO - THE LANCIA FLAVIA

Quite simply, the Flavia was a crucial model in Lancia’s history - their first front-wheel-drive car. It is also hard to envisage how unusual a sight it would have been in the UK when it was new. Autocar described the Flavia as “a car for the connoisseur”, and Motor Sport regarded the Lancia not so much as a status symbol but as a:

The SEAT 600 – The Car That Changed a Nation

It is a scenario familiar to many of us. You are casually scanning the eBay listings, gazing at the cars you cannot afford, when one vehicle metaphorically leaps out of the screen.

MATCHBOX TOYS AT SEVENTY

This blog is by way of a triple celebration. Lesney issued its first Matchbox die-cast model in 1953, its first buses and lorries in 1954, and for seven decades they have delighted motoring enthusiasts of all ages.

04 January 2024

The Car That Came In From The Cold – The Borgward P100

For many years, this writer has regarded the Borgward P100 ‘Big Six’ as one of the most fascinating German cars of its generation. To find an ex-Guernsey RHD example being recently sold by Classic Car Auctions | 1961 B rgward P100 B g S x-F r Sale sorely tempted him, for the P100 belongs in a world of Cold War spies.

Meet The Owner – Callum Cubbage and his Talbot-Matra Murena

For many years, I thought my father’s gold Talbot-Matra Murena 1.6 was one of the most unusual cars he had ever owned. Certainly, no one else in our village had decided to invest in an LHD three-seater mid-engine coupe. So, imagine my delight in seeing Callum’s example. He remarks: “This car is totally original apart from the replacement engine.

Meet The Owner – Michael Drewry and his Austin Ambassador 2.0 HL

Michael is the owner of one of the most misunderstood cars to hail from the British Leyland empire. To quell one myth immediately, the motoring press did not lambast the Austin Ambassador. Motor Sport was impressed by the trim’s quality and noted how the ride, handling, and steering had all been improved compared with its predecessor.

MEET THE OWNER – CALLUM ANDERSON AND HIS VAUXHALL ASTRA EXP

Marvel at the Hazelnut Metallic paintwork. Thrill to the Antique Gold side stripe and wheels, glass sunroof, front fog lamps and tinted windows. Then savour the decadence of the Chevron Tweed upholstery. In 1982, to spend £4,995 and upwards on a Vauxhall Astra EXP was to be a member of the suburban elite – i.e. the sort of person who had a Sony C7 video recorder in their living room.

Wolseley Running Report

Or what I have learned and experienced over the past twelve months. i) Panic. Yes, that was the emotion I felt on seeing smoke billow from the radiator grille and the boot last summer when the Wolseley was taking part in a show.

MEET THE OWNER - PATRICK BRADLEY AND HIS AUSTIN MAESTRO 1.3L PRESS CAR

We have previously featured Patrick’s Maestro Advantage and Montego Vanden Plas Automatic, and the latest member of his fleet is equally fascinating. In his words:

December 2023

27 December 2023

A look back at an incredible 2023

As we approach the end of 2023 and reflect on all we’ve achieved over the year, it’s a time of great pride for me.

20 December 2023

Ten Remarks You Do Not Want to Hear at Your Local Classic Car Show

A well-run local car show is one of the joys of the year. But, as many owners will tell you, the main challenge is coping with such remarks as these -

THE WORLD’S RAREST HILMAN? THE BRITISH MOTOR MUSEUM’S HILLMAN GT

Visitors to the British Motor Museum are guaranteed to be mesmerised by the sheer variety of rare machinery on display – including a very exclusive member of the Rootes Group 'Arrow' family. In 1969, the Hillman GT was the perfect car for the motorist who regarded a Jason King moustache and string-back driving gloves as high style.

Meet The Owner - James Ross Sinclair and his BMW 320/6

The 3-Series was probably the first BMW to gain mass popularity in the UK. Speeding Home Counties motorists in the 1970s might have encountered a Thames Valley police 3.0S and a successful barrister might have chosen 528 but even the cheapest of the 02s were never widely seen. James Ross Sinclair is the proud owner of a 1982 320/6 A in splendid condition.

“Sheer poetry in motion”– The Hindustan Contessa

For many Britons, the final of 25,085 VXs leaving the Luton factory in July 1978 marked the end of the Victor story, one that commenced in 1957. But this was not quite the end of the narrative, as Vauxhall sold the design to Hindustan Motors for £1.5 million. In the 1990s, the Contessa appeared in several films and was known as “the muscle car of India”.

Ten More Lost Motoring Sights

Young people, eh? With their music, their hairstyles, and their IT gadgets. They will never have experienced the joys of trudging along a dual carriageway in the rain, looking for a working public telephone box to call for a breakdown truck. Or any of these:

The BMW 2002 Turbo at Fifty

As I recently noted in my blog about the 3-Series, during the 1970s, any BMW seemed to be an exclusive sight on British roads, while the 2002 Turbo belonged in the realm of the exotic.

Rosemary Smith - 7th August 1937 - 5th December 2023

In the beginning, I was a dizzy blonde, the young one with the blonde hair and false eyelashes. Then, after I started winning things, there was a bit more of a grudging acceptance, and then when I got the drive with Rootes in England, they started to take note: ‘She must be quite good. Now, when I talk to some people I raced against, I get much more respect.

11 December 2023

SCALEXTRIC – THE CHRISTMAS PRESENT FOR THE FUTURE STIRLING MOSS

In days gone by, the approach to Christmas could be marked by the Advent Calendar, the promise of seasonal specials on television, and the Woolworth commercials. Meanwhile, another advertisement appeared to keen future motorists who were still at school  - YouTube

Meet The Owner – Alastair Inglis and his Peugeot 203 Styleside

There are those rare occasions when a classic car enthusiast encounters a vehicle they were unaware of. The 1952 203 Styleside ute owned by Alastair Inglis, the  203 Registrar of Club Peugeot UK, is one such exclusive machine. The ute was a version sold only in Australia, where just two remain on the road.

FIT FOR A PROFESSIONAL – THE FORD CAPRI GHIA MK. II

In 1976, this Ford Capri Mk. II Ghia, offered for sale by Praters, represented the high life to the discerning motorists; on seeing that shield badge on the front wings, neighbours and business colleagues would regard you with awe as a member of that exclusive club – 'The Fellowship of Ghia'.

TOP TEN 1970S LIMITED-EDITION FORDS – PART 1

In the 1970s, Ford GB demonstrated a mastery of the art of the limited edition special model. Here are just ten of such desirable cars -

06 December 2023

Biggest and best! Experts and enthusiasts celebrate at NEC classic season finale!

The Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show lived up to its ‘biggest and best’ tagline this weekend as 71,290 enthusiasts joined at Birmingham’s NEC to celebrate another great year for the classic car community.

Announcing our November Bright Young Spark, Joshua Finch!

Dad always had a classic car restoration project. My earliest memory is of a Morris Traveller. Helping him with his projects from a young age was what really sparked my passion for cars...

The Austin J40 continuation – The ultimate pedal car for Christmas?

Picture the scene. It is Christmas Day, 1958, and beneath the tree is a large package – more to the point, a pedal-car-sized package. Could it possibly be the Austin J40, the country’s ultimate pedal car?

November 2023

28 November 2023

FIFTY YEARS OF LADA IN THE UK

Fifty years ago, visitors to the London Motor Show saw an unfamiliar marque displayed on Stand 152. The Moskvich sold by Satra Motors Ltd. was an established sight in the UK, but Earls Court was the first time most Britons encountered its fellow USSR product - a Fiat 124 clone named Lada. The sales publicly claimed:

THE AUSTIN J40 CONTINUATION – THE ULTIMATE PEDAL CAR FOR CHRISTMAS?

Picture the scene. It is Christmas Day, 1958, and beneath the tree is a large package – more to the point, a pedal-car-sized package. Could it possibly be the Austin J40, the country’s ultimate pedal car? You have dropped subtle hints for the past few weeks, but your parents claim it is “far too extravagant”.

27 November 2023

The Vauxhall Firenza Droop Snoot at 50

The year is 1973, the place is the London Motor Show, and your attention is drawn by the Vauxhall display – namely, a striking-looking coupe. The sales team called it the “High Performance” Firenza, but showgoers were already referring to it as the “Droop Snoot”.

THE FORD CORSAIR AT 60

The year is 1963 and your recently gained managerial status demands a new car and Ford seem to have the ideal vehicle. You excitedly read an article by the famous publisher Jocelyn Stevens entitled “Corsair – with man in mind” which states “‘To me, But the man of today is sophisticated, cool, tough – and on the outside, casually elegant.

THREE DAYS AT THE LANCASTER INSURANCE CLASSIC MOTOR SHOW

How do you select a Car of the Show from the recent event at the NEC? It is a true Mission Impossible from the moment you enter any of the Halls, with cars as varied as a Volvo 262C and a Vauxhall Cresta PA waiting to bombard your senses. At one point, I covetously eyed a Riley Pathfinder in metallic blue, but then I suddenly noticed its Wolseley 6/90 Series One stablemate in grey.

16 November 2023

RARER THAN RARE – THE TALBOT TAGORA SX

In 1981, when this writer was eleven, and Adam and the Ants were the pop group du jour, certain mass-produced executive cars were about as rare as a watchable episode of Runaround. I seldom encountered a Vauxhall Viceroy, a Renault 30TX, a Citroën CX Prestige, a Volvo 264 or a Rover SD1 V8S on Lower Swanwick’s (less than) mean streets.

OVERLOOKED GEMS – THE SINGER SM1500 AND HUNTER

Amidst the many and varied cars displayed at the 1948 London Motor Show was a formal-looking saloon that offered "dignity, style and perfect balance". The SM1500 was Singer's first post-war design, and today it merits far greater recognition.

MEET THE OWNER – ERIC DALTON AND HIS AUSTIN AMBASSADOR VANDEN PLAS

Readers of Practical Classics will instantly recognise Eric’s Austin Ambassador Vanden Plas in all its Opaline Green magnificence. As he explains:

15 November 2023

STARS AND THEIR CARS - DOCTOR WHO AT SIXTY

At 5:15 p.m. on Saturday 23rd November 1963, after Grandstand and before The Telegoons and Dixon of Dock Green, BBC Television premiered the first episode of a series they billed as  “A new adventure in time and space”. And the first car to be seen in Doctor Who was a Wolseley 6/80 – albeit only the front half, which the production crew mounted on castors.

13 November 2023

BIGGEST AND BEST! EXPERTS AND ENTHUSIASTS CELEBRATE AT NEC CLASSIC SEASON FINALE

The Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show lived up to its ‘biggest and best’ tagline this weekend as 71,290 enthusiasts joined at Birmingham’s NEC to celebrate another great year for the classic car community.

10 November 2023

MEET THE OWNER – JOHN KINGSFORD AND HIS VAUXHALL CARLTON MK.I

There is an elite group of cars that fall into the category of “whatever happened to” - cars such as John Kingsford’s magnificently Orange Tan Vauxhall Carlton. 45 years ago, this was the perfect transport for the someone who was really “going places” – and who chose a paint finish that would undoubtedly stand out in the office car park.

Meet the Owner – 1972 Toyota Crown Custom Estate

There are those rare but wonderful times when an advertisement for a classic car stops you in your tracks. A 1972 Toyota Crown Custom Estate in the finest orange available to humanity is just such a vehicle. 51 years ago, this would have been the vehicle for the local elite – the sort of motorist who also owned two colour television sets.

MEMORIES OF THE 1983 LONDON MOTORFAIR

What would have caught your eye at the 1983 London Motorfair, which ran from the 20th to the 30th October? The second-generation VW Golf? The Renault 11? The Fiat Regata? Or the Ford Fiesta Mk. II? All of which impressed the then 13-year-old writer, although I cannot recall seeing the AC Cobra Mk. IV by Autocraft.

09 November 2023

A VISIT TO THE 1973 LONDON MOTOR SHOW

At last, the doors to Earls Court are opened - The Lamborghini Countach is the most expensive car of the 1973 London Motor Show at £16,314, and the Fiat 126 is the cheapest at £699. Your initial ports of call are the British Leyland stands, and firstly, there is the Austin Allegro, which made its bow on the 17th May.

07 November 2023

A VISIT TO THE 1963 LONDON MOTOR SHOW

The first car you hope to see at the London Motor Show is the Lotus Cortina, which debuted earlier that year. £1,100 2s 11d may be rather a lot of money, but The Motor thought it "a good compromise for a keen driver who has to remember that the family must sit somewhere".

October 2023

30 October 2023

Revving Up for a Classic Car Paradise at the NEC!

Buckle up, car enthusiasts! The Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show, the crown jewel of classic car exhibitions, is back and roaring with excitement - you won't want to miss it!

The Triumph 2000 at 60

When Motor Sport tested the Triumph 2000 in 1964, they described it as "a 6-cylinder, luxuriously equipped and styled family-type 5-seater saloon, likely to appeal to ordinary rather than discerning motorists".

Announcing our October Bright Young Spark!

Announcing our October Bright Young Spark!

27 October 2023

MGB is revealed as fan favourite

2023 is a big year for MGs, as it marks its 100th birthday and the MG Owners’ Club (MGOC) achieves its 50th anniversary, and to celebrate Lancaster Insurance has revealed the top MG model favoured by owners, the B.

THE JAGUAR S-TYPE AT SIXTY

Sixty years ago, Jaguar introduced a new model for the driver who lived in a world of expense account steak and scampi. Seeing an S-Type in the driveway would show the neighbours that you had reached ‘the top’ and induce envy in all Ford Zodiac owners.

Meet The Owner – Graham Walker and his Renault 6 TL

Sometimes, when looking at used car advertisements, you encounter a vehicle that gives you an overwhelming rush of nostalgia - Classic car Renault 6 hatchback luxury 4 model ready to enjoy rare | eBay. A 1977 Renault 6TL seems to belong to a lost world of The Old Grey Whistle Test on BBC2 and Space 1999 iced-lollies from your local newsagent.

MEET THE OWNER - SEBASTIAN SAUER AND HIS HONDA ACCORD SERIES ONE SALOON

Sebastian has long been an enthusiast of old cars, and he recently sold his 1987 Toyota Celica to buy this incredibly rare machine – “It was a no-brainer!”. His 1978 first-generation Honda Accord saloon is believed to be the only remaining example in Gibraltar.

25 October 2023

A Car of Temptation – A Riley Two-Point-Six

Auctions can be places of great temptation to the unwary classic car enthusiasts. Take the 1959 Riley Two-Point-Six to be sold by H&H on the 29th November. After just one look, this writer was plotting to eBay several members of his family to raise the necessary funds - 1959 Riley 2.6 Saloon (handh.co.uk).

MEET THE OWNER – TREVOR HANDY AND HIS FORD GRANADA 3.0GL MK. I ESTATE

The public reaction is very good, especially when you lift the bonnet you can eat your lunch off it. I have always been a fan of big cars and estate cars, especially Ford, so when I first saw this one, I knew I would end up with it.

24 October 2023

AUSTIN A90 ATLANTIC

Seventy-five years ago, the A90 Atlantic was a star of the first post-war  London Motor Show. Many of the 562,954 visitors to Earls Court were agog at those gold-faced instruments,  the ECKO radio set,  the heater, the centrally mounted fog lamp and the "Jewelescent" paint finish. Plus, any car with a power-operated hood was a world apart from a realm of smog, Woodbines and queuing for the cheese ration.

1970 AUSTIN-HEALEY SPRITE

In late 1969, British Leyland extensively revised the MG Midget Mk. III and its Austin-Healey Sprite Mk. IV companion model. The black grilles and Ro-Style wheels altered the line-up’s image. It was farewell to blazers, cravats and Graham Hill moustaches and hello to Jason King sideburns and large amounts of Hai Karate aftershave. And who could resist the “Racy 3-spoke steering wheel with simulated leather-bound rim”?

1955 CITROEN ‘ONZE NORMALE’ TRACTION AVANT

When Citroën unveiled the original Traction Avant to the public on the 18th of April 1934, it marked an evolutionary step in the development of the motor car. There was the elegant uni-body construction, the front wheel drive, the torsion bar suspension and the hydraulic brakes. By comparison, other saloons of that era looked as though they had recently emerged from The Ark.

1967 JAGUAR E-TYPE

In December of 1961, Car & Driver rhapsodised over the E-Type: Our first impressions of taking over this car are not easy to describe. The car is beautiful to look at from any angle, and it was said by many, who saw it in the flesh for the first time when meeting our test crew, that pictures so far published had all failed to do justice to its appearance.

ROVER 2600 SD1

When British Leyland commenced work on the SD1, David Bache,  Rover’s Head of Design, intended to create a five-door supercar on a limited budget. He later stated: “It may be more difficult to achieve high standards with a simpler design because more intensive development is needed:

FORD SIERRA SAPPHIRE RS COSWORTH

"It's not for the inexperienced, but oh, how it rewards skilful, fluent, driving". That is how Ford promoted the new Sapphire RS Cosworth on its launch in 1988 – "Developed on the track, there's little to touch it on the road".

2004 MG SV-R

The best things about the car, however, remain the chassis and the steering, which has a lovely feel to it. The chassis is sharp without feeling snappy, taut without riding harshly. The car feels smart and intimate: you feel on top of the job.

1993 Ford Fiesta

1993 – a time when Meat Loaf announced I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That) and when Angus Deayton still hosted Have I Got News For You. And a time when a Ford Fiesta was a familiar sight. Thirty years later, time and the impact of various scrappage schemes means that it is now an increasingly rare sight on British roads.

19 October 2023

75 YEARS OF THE JAGUAR XK120

Many people are familiar with the history of the XK120 – that Browns Lane intended it as a ‘test-bed’ for the latest Jaguar engine and how its appearance at Earls Court was because of the Mk. VII saloon would not be ready until 1950 due to body-tooling problems.

02 October 2023

1967 Mini T – The Mini From Italy

At first glance, this handsome Mini looks like a prime example of a Morris  Mk.1 Traveller. Then you notice the left-hand-drive layout and the unfamiliar badging. It is, in fact, a 1967 Innocenti Mini T - one of the 437,234 Minis built in Milan.

70 YEARS OF VOLKSWAGEN IN THE UK

The 1953 London Motor Show marked the first time a British motorist could buy a German car since the Second World War, but the Beetle had been a presence on the UK’s roads for a number of years. VW had sold them to British service personnel in Germany for £150 during the late 1940s, and on demob, they were allowed to take their Beetles home.

MEET THE OWNER – ELTON MURPHY AND HIS OPEL COMMODORE GS

Just take a look at the veloured magnificence of that interior, with wooden decorations reminiscent of a top-of-the-range hostess trolley. Then, marvel at the vinyl roof, the matt black grille and those elaborate wheels.

A VISIT TO THE 1953 LONDON MOTOR SHOW

It is the 21st October 1953, and the Duke of Edinburgh is to open the London Motor Show - an event that heralds the beginning of the post-war buyer’s market. Of course, Vauxhall buyers might still be awaiting delivery of the Wyvern or Velox they bought in 1947 and Morris dealers  may still be fulfilling orders for the Minor placed in 1948.

The Forgotten Ford Granada – Made By Hyundai

Some of us (all right, me) have long been fascinated with large European saloons that enjoyed an afterlife or a parallel career in another continent. India’s  Hindustan Contessa (aka the Vauxhall Victor FE) and the Standard 2000 (aka the Rover SD1) are prime examples of the former; we have the Hyundai-built  Ford Granada Mk for the latter. II.

THE WORLD’S OLDEST LANDCRAB?– A 1963 PRE-PRODUCTION AUSTIN 1800

It is always a pleasure to follow the progress of a car you wrote about previously. Many years ago, I compared a pre-production Austin 1800 ‘Landcrab’ with a Slough-built Citroën ID19 for Classic Cars magazine and described it as “a scaled-up BMC 1100 and is just as enjoyable to drive”. And now 531 NOF is in search of a new custodian.

THE MORRIS MINOR TRAVELLER AT SEVENTY

Autocar of 9th October 1953 profiled a new version of a vehicle, one “considered by many people as a classic design of its type, and as such is often used as a yardstick when comparing small cars”. They further praised the “very bright and light interior” and the “particularly useful luggage compartment”. It was, of course, the Morris Minor “Travellers Car”.

September 2023

29 September 2023

HAPPY 50TH BIRTHDAY TO THE RELIANT ROBIN

The 1st November 1973 edition of Autocar concluded its report on a crucial new British car with glowing praise: All told, the Robin marks a real step forward in three-wheeler design.

70 YEARS OF THE 2CV IN BRITAIN

the work of a designer who has kissed the lash of austerity with an almost masochistic fervour. Simplified to the point of crudity, it seems almost needlessly ugly, but it is full of original ideals planned to cut weight and cost and increase production. Besides this the Volkswagen is elaborate and the baby Renault a voiture de luxe.

26 September 2023

A Car of My Dreams - The Fiat 2300 Familiare

I recently wrote about how and why I craved a Fiat 2300, and, by pure chance, one is being sold by Anglia Car Auctions in November. Better still, this 1967 example is the even more exclusive Familiare estate version, in RHD form, and is possibly the only surviving version in the UK with optional automatic transmission.

Announcing our September Bright Young Sparks Winner!

Mark’s Story……. ‘I’ve found my passion' Mark Wager followed his dream after being knocked back at school.

CMS News

The UK’s biggest and best is only 2 months away! Prepare for an awe-inspiring journey through automotive history at the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show 2023!

75 years of the Morris Minor by Andrew Roberts

The 1949 Morris models are being kept secret until today. We believe an aerodynamic car with the four-cylinder side-valve engine used in the former “Eight,” known as the Morris Minor, will be on show, together with larger models, one of which will be called the Morris Oxford. Go and see for yourselves!

Club of the month: Marina Owners Club

As many clubs begin to get planning for the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show in November, we hear the Marina Owners Club have already pulled out all the stops to create a show stopping display for the ‘Perfect Partners’ theme.

Lancaster Insurance enhance specialist MX-5 scheme to offer owners reduced premiums

Renowned for its MX-5 cover options, and close association with the model, Lancaster Insurance is thrilled to be reinforcing its commitment by developing its specialist scheme to offer owners reduced premiums across the MX-5 range.

THE ROVER 75 AT 25

On the 20th October, the Rover 75 will celebrate its quarter-century – a fact that seems impossible to many classic enthusiasts of a certain vintage. For many of us, including this writer, it seems to be almost yesterday that Mr. J Clarkson reported on the Rover's launch for Top Gear -

Meet the Owner - Joseph Lane and his Police Wolseley 6/80

Our old friend Joseph Lane has recently acquired another Wolseley to join his 6/90 and the other members of his classic police car fleet. His 1953 6/80 is the sort of vehicle that seems to dominate the output of Talking Pictures Television; a car associated with such black & white film dialogue as “You got me bang to rights Inspector!’  and “Dash it all, Superintendent – I was dining at the Blue Parrot nightclub that evening!”.

Meet the Owner – Tony Ludovico and his Alfa Romeo Alfa 6

My car was registered in Italy in 1986, but it was actually manufactured in 1984. I imported it to the UK it in 2018 after it had stood in a barn in Verona for 16 years  - and after a wash and wax and the original paintwork was still amazing!

THE VOLVO 145 - A CELEBRATION

As most readers already know, earlier this year, Volvo announced the demise of their estates, ending a tradition that commenced in 1962 with the station wagon version of the Amazon. Five years later, its 145 successor founded a dynasty that lasted until as recently as 1993 and is still the image conjured by so many Britons on hearing the words “Volvo Estate”.

Meet The Owner – Scarlett Devey and her Austin A40 Somerset

Creativity can spring from the strangest of places. Sometimes, it’s a case of making the most of what you have – for Scarlett Devey, it wasn’t a case of ‘make do and mend’, more ‘build back, and better’. Having spent her life to date around classics, custom cars and hot rods, she knew that she wanted something special for her first car; as it turned out, an Austin A40 Somerset more than fit the bill.

The real cost of restoring an MGB

When describing the MGB, words like ‘seminal’ and ‘evergreen’ come to mind. A worldwide favourite, beloved among enthusiasts, it remains an obvious candidate for restoration, owing to the parts supply, advice and support network available. But should you take the plunge? The MG Owners’ Club (MGOC) stepped into the breach to advise.

Meet The Owner – Alex Sebbinger and his Rover 825 Sterling

Cars go through hundreds – if not thousands – of interim changes during their production lifetimes. The purest of their kind, they’re normally the rarest of all; altered, improved, facelifted, or scrapped early on after flaws were exposed. Few survive, and even fewer are cherished. For arch Rover 800 enthusiast, Alex Sebbinger, his 1986 825 Sterling is something of a holy grail.

21 September 2023

THE VAUXHALL VIVA HA AT 60

The 26th September 1963 was an important date for Vauxhall – the public launch of their first post-war car. To promote the "1-litre car with the millionaire ride," there was a cinema commercial featuring Peter Gilmore, with a six-minute advertising feature screened on ITV on the 29th September.

MEET THE OWNER – BILLY HEALEY AND HIS 1962 BEDFORD CA ROMANY

The year is 1962, and you have fully prepared your new Bedford CA Romany De Luxe for a holiday in Dorset. The cool box contains a supply of UHT milk while the cupboards bulge loaves of Sunblest bread, jars of Bourn-Vita, and tins of the finest Heinz tomato soup available to humanity. Best of all, Frank Ifield singing I Remember You playing on Radio Luxembourg, accompanies the journey along the A35 to that holiday camp in Swanage.

MEET THE OWNER - KIERON MAUGHAN AND HIS PANHARD 24

Sometimes, you have the unexpected pleasure of writing about a car so rare that you have only read about it. When Panhard launched the 24 on the 23rd June 1963, it marked their swansong as a car manufacturer, and Kieron Maughan owns one of a handful of RHD models.

15 September 2023

The Wolseley’s return

Here, you see two Thames Valley officers admire my Wolseley 6/99 on display at Cowley’s Templars Square Shopping Centre.

MEET THE OWNER – GLENN LOUCH AND HIS 1978 OPEL KADETT C

One of the many Lancaster Insurance Classic Car Show’s stars last year was a smart two-door saloon in pale blue.

14 September 2023

Lancaster Insurance enhance specialist MX-5 scheme to offer owners reduced premiums

Renowned for its MX-5 cover options, and close association with the model, Lancaster Insurance is thrilled to be reinforcing its commitment by developing its specialist scheme to offer owners reduced premiums across the MX-5 range.

Seventy Years of The Original Ford Zodiac

Seventy years ago, Ford GB unveiled a new model that instantly became the object of desire of Teddy Boys at the Hammersmith Palais and ambitious business owners alike. It was, of course, the Zephyr-Zodiac with exterior trim plated in nine-carat gold. Here was quasi-Hollywood glamour for only £851 2s 6d. Ford proudly claimed such a price placed it “within reach of those who would otherwise consider such motoring beyond their means”.

A Day at the 2023 Beaulieu Autojumble

On arriving at the 2023 Beaulieu Autojumble, I was greeted by a Hillman Avenger Estate belonging to the museum's Chief Executive, Dr. Jon Murden, and a green Volvo 145. Lancaster Insurance's Austin-Healey Sprite was in the distance, as orange as a Space Hopper. Naturally, I immediately felt at home.

The Austin FX3 at 75

This year marks the 75th birthday of the Citroën 2CV, the Jaguar XK120, the Land Rover and the Morris Minor, to name but a few fine vehicles.

13 September 2023

MEET THE OWNER – JAMES WADE AND HIS ROVER 2400SD TURBO DIESEL

Four years ago, this writer first encountered James Wade, Rover SD1 enthusiast extraordinaire, and his 1986 police model.

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN SPORTING FORD ESCORTS

From a time when no edition of ITV’s World of Sport would have been complete without the sound of an Escort in full cry...

MEET THE OWNER – NEIL GRUBB AND HIS FORD CORTINA GHIA MK. IV

Around 47 years ago, Neil Grubb’s father was a devotee of British Leyland and had recently taken delivery of a Princess 2200 HLS.

Harris Mann 1938 - 2023

The late Harris Mann said: “We’re not trying to be either transatlantic or European. The Americans are big and ornate and the proportions are wrong for what we’re trying to do. We’re not trying to be Europeans...

05 September 2023

Join us in Celebrating Automotive Excellence at the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show!

Prepare to be captivated by a world where the beauty of classic cars reigns supreme. The Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show isn't just an event; it's a grand celebration of the very essence of these mechanical masterpieces.

Lancaster Insurance sponsors the National Motor Museum at the 2023 Beaulieu Autojumbles!

Lancaster Insurance is passionate about supporting the classic car community and is thrilled to sponsor the National Motor Museum at the 2023 Beaulieu Autojumbles – both the Spring and International meets.

100 Years of MG – On Screen

Here are just some of the MG’s roles on film and television...

Coffee and Cars at Lancaster Insurance!

The next date for your diary is: Saturday 16th September. The event will run from 10am until 1pm and is completely FREE to enter and there are NO pre booking requirements to come and enjoy the event.

August 2023

31 August 2023

Lancaster Insurance sponsors the National Motor Museum at the 2023 Beaulieu Autojumbles

Lancaster Insurance is passionate about supporting the classic car community and is thrilled to sponsor the National Motor Museum at the 2023 Beaulieu Autojumbles – both the Spring and International meets.

The Mercedes-Benz 600 at 60

It is the 12th September 1963, and you are a hardworking accountant somewhere in Bonn. A polished Ford Taunus 12M is parked outside your home, and you are reading about the latest Mercedes-Benz with a mixture of envy and pride. The 600 was the automotive embodiment of the German economic miracle, with a new 6.3 litre SOHC Bosch mechanical fuel-injected V8 engine propelling nearly 2 ½ tons of Mercedes-Benz to a top speed of 125 mph.

14 August 2023

MEET THE OWNER - ROBERT DESMOND AND HIS PEUGEOT 304

My first ever car was a 304 saloon, but it rusted away as they tended to in the 1980s. I looked for another for decades and saw this in the late 1990s, but it had sold. Fast-forward 20 years, I saw it again for sale in County Cork, so I bought it unseen in 2018.

SEVENTY YEARS OF SEAT

Sometimes a car does not have to be technologically advanced to cause a minor revolution in a country’s transportation. The SEAT 1400 was a sober-looking 5-6 seater saloon along the lines of the Standard Vanguard with a steering column gear change and a top speed of just 75 mph. But in 1953, the first example heralded the start of Spain’s first car manufacturer.

MEET THE OWNER – ADAM SCARBOROUGH AND HIS TALBOT HORIZON

Adam’s Talbot Horizon can potentially turn more heads than the average Ferrari or Lamborghini. As he remarks, “Near enough every time I go out, even if it is just to the petrol station, I get stopped by people shocked that it has survived. Most think the brown colour is typical of its era”.

THE PEUGEOT 604 – A CELEBRATION

We recently posted a brochure picture of the 604 on our Facebook page, and the response truly amazed us! So many remembered the flagship Peugeot of the late 1970s and early 1980s that we just had to write a special blog. When Car magazine evaluated the 604 opposite the intriguing choices of the BMW 528 and the XJ6 3.4 S2 they concluded, “The Jaguar is still a brilliant car, but in some respects Peugeot have managed to better it.

July 2023

31 July 2023

Lancaster Insurance visit Practical Classics workshop!

As long-time readers of Practical Classics, the Lancaster Insurance team were delighted to receive an extended invite to see the PC workshop. Hosted by Danny, James and Matt Tomkins; the team were in their element getting a tour of the premises and seeing just how much magic happens behind those unassuming shutters!

Step into the Classic Car Wonderland at the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show!

Rev your engines and buckle up, car enthusiasts! The Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show, the crown jewel of classic car exhibitions, is back and roaring with excitement - you won't want to miss it!

CLASSIC CAR VALUES by Andrew Roberts

A few weeks ago, we reported on how two Ford Capri 3.0S Mk. IIIs from The Professionals are expected to fetch £200,000 - £230,000 at the Silverstone Auction next month.

Celebrating 100 years of the Jowett Club

Well done to the Jowett Car Club who this year, are celebrating 100 years of their club. Formed in 1923, the Jowett Car Club claims to be the oldest one-make car club in the world.

40 years young: The Midget and Sprite Club

Inexpensive, beloved and well represented in terms of spares: these are just a few of the things a ‘Spridget’ has got going for it.

Coffee and Cars at Lancaster Insurance!

Each event will run from 10am until 1pm and is completely FREE to enter and there are NO pre booking requirements to come and enjoy the event. Classics of all conditions are welcome to the event and every car is made to feel welcome, whether it’s a work in progress or a concours show winner.

25 July 2023

TOP TEN IMMODEST CAR ADVERTISEMENTS

Over the years, this writer has immersed himself in the fascinating world of bygone car advertisements and brochures. With screen sales camp gains, he has learned that a Ford Corsair 2000E is the ideal vehicle for an elopement and that it was not a good idea for Bill ‘Arthur Fowler’ Treacher to take an Austin Allegro for a test-drive.

The SD1 From India – The Story of The Standard 2000

Of all the rare Rover SD1 variants – the V8S, the Vanden Plas Series 1, the 2400SD Turbo – the Standard 2000 from India is possibly the most interesting.  In theory it looked set to appeal to the discerning motorist – but in reality, the project had sone very fundamental flaws.

THE REMARKABLE TVR GRIFFITH 200

"You dreamed it...we built it". That was the marketing slogan for the remarkable blend of the TVR Grantura Mk. III with a 4,727cc Ford V8 engine known as the Griffith 200.

The BMC ADO16 – The Graham Hill Connection

Sixty years ago, the keen driver who found their family outgrowing a Mini Cooper and who really needed four doors now had the ideal car – a Morris 1100 with GT tuning by Speedwell Performance Conversions Ltd.

Meet The Owner – Siôn Hudson and his 1980 Ford Fiesta 1100L

It is often the case that seemingly mundane versions of popular cars are of equal, or greater, interest than their more expensive brethren. In the early 1980s, the Fiesta S, Ghia and XR2 were far less commonly seen than the likes of Siôn Hudson’s L – the car from a time when “5 position reclining front seats”, “Sandford” fabric trim and “driver’s and passenger’s storage door bins” represented the pinnacle of luxury in the Elm Green housing estate.

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN GERALD PALMER BMC SALOONS

There is a strong case for Gerald Palmer’s creations for the British Motor Corporation to be considered some of the most elegant saloons of their generation.

THE STORY OF THE 9X – THE MINI REPLACEMENT THAT NEVER WAS

The year is 1967 and Alec Issigonis is about to commence work on one of his most ambitious projects to date – an heir to the Mini. The 9X commenced after Issigonis finished work on the  ADO14, which was to become the Austin Maxi.

17 July 2023

Meet The Owner – Neil Allen and his Austin Metro

‘A British car, to beat the world’ was the Metro’s advertising slogan in 1980 – and British car fans certainly took the model to their hearts. One such fan was Neil Allen, who’d spent his childhood in and around them, took driving lessons in a Rover Metro, and, before his 1983 Mk1 came along, had a 1988 Metro City in the garage.

MEET THE OWNER - STEVEN GRAY AND HIS BEDFORD HA ROMA

Last year, we met Steven Gray, the proud owner of a Vauxhall Chevette Sun Hatch. But his fleet also includes a motor home that looks as though it has strayed from the set of Carry On Camping – a 1968 Bedford HA Roma. Some time ago, I described this fine machine in a Telegraph article thus.

DO YOU REMEMBER THE FORD ORION MK. I?

Some cars take pride in being reassuringly conventional, not least the Orion, a vehicle that only Terry and June might have considered at the cutting edge of automotive fashion. Ford never intended to break new bounds, but it more than fulfilled its role as a saloon to appeal to fleet buyers.

07 July 2023

40 years young: The Midget and Sprite Club

Inexpensive, beloved and well represented in terms of spares: these are just a few of the things a ‘Spridget’ has got going for it. With the comings and goings of lockdowns, the advent of 10 per cent ethanol fuel and more competition from the internet than ever before, Andrew Parrott, club chair of the Midget and Sprite Club, reassured Lancaster Insurance Services that the organisation was more than set for the challenges of the future.

Meet The Owner – Alastair Roberts and his Ford Probe 16v

The Ford Probe was never meant to replace the Capri, but the press didn’t see it that way. Six years since the beloved model went the way of the dodo, front-wheel drive coupes were still in demand; Alastair Roberts, having owned a Capri 2.0S in the past, bought his Probe 16v after the end of an unhappy company car lease.

June 2023

30 June 2023

All NEW restoration show Tex Mex Motors is out now on Netflix!

We all love watching our favourite car shows on TV, such as Wheeler Dealers and Top Gear, but we are always on the hunt for a new one to dive into and Netflix have us covered with the launch of Tex Mex Motors. Focusing on a new business set up in El Paso, Texas, on the border of Mexico and the USA, the team have a goal to clear $250,000 in four months by buying classics in Mexico, restoring and selling them for a profit.

40 YEARS OF THE JAGUAR XJ-S EVENTER

Forty years ago, the well-heeled motorist searching for a British sporting three-door estate car had three options. Firstly, there was the Reliant Scimitar GTE; secondly, one could always opt for a specially tuned Range Rover. And thirdly, there was the new Jaguar XJ-S Eventer - the perfect shooting brake for that excursion to Goodwood.

The Lancaster team attend the MG Centenary show!

Lancaster team (Sam and Lorna) arrived at the show bright and early, looking forward to the day. With the weather not looking to promising they set up and waited for the start of the event. As the event went on, they were fortunate enough to be blessed with some sunshine and had a wonderful setting with the event being held at the British Motor Museum.

Did anybody order a Jam Sandwich?

The Rover SD1 was the archetypal police car of the late 1970s and 1980s, often referred to as the ‘Jam Sandwich’, due to its distinctive white paint finish augmented by a contrasting stripe. Many forces introduced this new livery in the 1970s, and it often featured on the Rover 3500 P6B. The replacement SD1 debuted in 1976 with a ‘Police Specification’ version.

The Lancaster team attend MG’s in the Park!

Last weekend the Car Club team, Paris and Sam, travelled across to the Cotswolds for another MG event, this time it was MG’s in the Park. The event is held at Cotswold Wildlife Park, where the team arrived nice and early to get set up for the day.

Coffee and Cars at Lancaster Insurance is BACK by popular demand!

Fire up those engines, the Lancaster Insurance Coffee and Cars meets are back for July and August; giving everyone the chance to come down and enjoy classic cars, vehicles, bikes and commercials completely free of charge!

29 June 2023

DO YOU REMEMBER – THE DATSUN SKYLINE 240K COUPE

When I encountered a Datsun Skyline 240K Coupe for Classic & Sports Car nearly twenty years ago, I wrote that it hailed from a time when "a ceramic cooker hob, Texas Speak & Spell and a car with electric windows were the three essential prerequisites for middle-class success".

MEET THE OWNER – STEVE LLOYD AND HIS OPEL COLLECTION

Many readers who live near Milford Haven will know the Vauxhall dealer W P Lewis & Son. Their managing director Steve Lloyd is also the custodian of four very rare cars that hail from when his family’s company was an Opel franchisee.

Behind The Shutters: Courtney Ward, Ambassador, Mazda MX-5 Owners’ Club

Classic car clubs have a vital role in preserving historic vehicles. Aside from the spares, camaraderie and events, they need to be a welcoming space for all interested parties. The best way to get into older motors is to start young – and Courtney Ward, Mazda MX-5 Owners’ Club ambassador, joined when she was 11.

The challenges facing classic car owners in London

It can be tricky running a historic vehicle in any city, but our capital poses its own unique challenges. As the expanding Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) will affect owners of modern classics after 29 August, Lancaster Insurance caught up with Darren Vince, founder of Waterloo Classics, to better understand the situation from within Greater London and the Congestion Charge zone.

21 June 2023

The MG Cyberster is set to become a future classic

Britain’s sports cars are among our most precious motoring legacies; of all the storied marques of yesterday, MG is sorely missed. Fans have been waiting nearly a quarter of a century for a new MG sports car – and if everything goes to plan, they’ll get one sometime next year: the Cyberster, an all-electric cabriolet that’s set to go toe-to-toe with Tesla’s second-generation Roadster.

Eight summer drop-top convertibles for £10k or less

Winter blues be gone! As the days get longer and the nights shorten, the chance of decent weather grows by the hour – and there’s plenty of open-top motoring to be had, even on a modest budget. For those seeking miles of headroom, our cheapest cars hail from the mid-Nineties and early Noughties at £2500 and wind back the decades just before breaching £10,000.

Understanding TVR: the life and times of an unforgettable British car maker

The appeal of a TVR is obvious: powerful, affordable, and handsome. Before and after the closure of the Blackpool factory in Bristol Road in 2006, the TVR Car Club enthusiastically supported (and continues to support) every TVR, from the earliest specials to the last Sagaris or Typhon.

Behind the shutters: MG Owners’ Club Race Championship

Since 1981, the MG Owners’ Club’s Race Championship has given drivers of all skill levels a chance to race for an affordable sum. Run to strict safety standards, differing little from how they left the factory, MGs from Abingdon, Cowley and Longbridge compete on circuits the length and breadth of the UK.

Summer driving: We pick the UK’s best roads

The lure of the open road becomes all the more special behind the wheel of a classic car. It’s the antithesis of the motorway grind on the cross-city commute; even if your historic vehicle isn’t particularly quick, it’s the experience and the scenery that counts more than making progress.

15 June 2023

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY

Father’s Day will soon be upon us, so I would like to celebrate the return to the road of one of my parent’s projects –  his 1983 Talbot-Matra Murena 1.6. Here is what I wrote about his previous projects in 2018:

Our ten favourite English motor museums

Museums still have a lot to offer classic car enthusiasts. They’re part of the preservation movement that keeps historic vehicles on the road; not only are venues given over to exhibits, but space is also allotted to owners to gather and display their cars. As institutions, they repair and display our past motoring heritage.

THE MGA – ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT CARS IN MG’S HISTORY

On 27 May the British Motor Museum paid host to the Centenary of MG. Such a magnificent event prompted a question that is impossible to answer – what is the most historically significant car to bear the octagon badge? Obviously, there is ‘Old Number One’ but you could also cite the TC, the first MG officially marked in the USA, or the MGB, once the world’s best-selling sports car.

STARS AND THEIR CARS – BARRY NEWMAN AND THE DODGE CHARGER R/T 440 MAGNUM

The passing of Barry Newman on the 11 May means there can be only one choice for ‘Stars and Their Cars’ for this month. Some readers may remember the actor as Petrocelli, a television series filled with Cadillac Fleetwoods and other fine Detroit machinery.

12 June 2023

THE RETURN OF THE RALEIGH CHOPPER

The 20th June sees the return of a vehicle that embodies 1970s popular culture as much as a Ford Cortina GXL with a vinyl roof and a bottle of Hai Karate aftershave in the glove compartment. On that date, the Raleigh Chopper is to return, in either Infra Red or Ultra Violet, at a price of £950

The Panhard Dyna Z at 70

On the 17th June 1953, Panhard launched the Dyna Z at Paris’s Les Ambassadeurs – and to say it caused a sensation would be an understatement. For one, there was its appearance; the company’s Head of Chassis Development and Chief Stylist, Louis Bionier, designed and tested the monocoque aluminium body in a wind tunnel. Moreover, Panhard proudly claimed the Z had a  drag coefficient of just 0.28.

MEET THE OWNER – STEVE POWLAY AND HIS POLICE MGC ROADSTER

In the 1980s, Steve owned an MG Midget and an MGB, and his recent retirement prompted him to buy a third Abingdon sports car in July 2019. Any MGC Roadster is a distinctive machine, but this example is one of 18 commissioned by the London Metropolitan Police.

MEET THE OWNER – THE MARK DENTON COLLECTION

“My father always had Triumphs and drove a Vanguard pick-up when serving in the RAF. I took a shine to my Vanguard van in the village when I was 13 years old”. And today, Mark Denton’s fleet includes a TR7 Convertible and no fewer than six Vanguards – one of the UK’s most important post-war cars.

08 June 2023

100 YEARS OF MG – AND 100 MG FACTS

In 1923, William Morris permitted Cecil Kimber, the General Manager of Morris Garages of Queen Street in Oxford, to build sporting versions of Morris cars. That August, the company registered the first six MG Super Sports. And so, to celebrate 100 years of MG, here are 100 facts:

WHY THE MG METRO 1300 MATTERS

The centenary of MG is the opportunity to pay homage to so many of their cars, including a model that was rather overlooked for too long. The MG Metro was neither designed nor built in the Abingdon factory but its debut in May 1982 marked the revival of one of the world’s most famous marques.

02 June 2023

MEET THE OWNER – DANIEL NICHOLS AND HIS MORRIS 1800HL

Earlier this year, Daniel employed a very unusual car for work duty. Of course, any BL ‘Wedge’ is a fascinating sight, and the Nichols HL was deployed “on the school run and delivering modern car parts for repair. In the last six months, I boast she’s done 4,000 miles on main car duty, and was only a fan belt short of 100% reliable!”.

01 June 2023

CLASSIC MOTOR SHOW CELEBRATES TEN YEARS AS ‘PERFECT PARTNERS’ WITH LANCASTER INSURANCE FOR 2023 SHOW THEME

Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show will be held 10-12 Nov 2023 at Birmingham’s NEC.The 2023 show theme is ‘Perfect Partners’. Clubs and exhibitors encouraged to take part in annual show theme. Tickets now on sale via advanced online booking.

May 2023

24 May 2024

MEET THE OWNER – JON COUPLAND AND HIS TOYOTA MR2 MK.1A

“It is exceptionally rare, being one of the earliest in the UK. It is a Mk.1a, which they only produced for a year (the same as the colour). I know of maybe only four in the UK in that shade”.

MEET THE OWNER – JOHN WALLIS AND HIS BORGWARD P100

If the fates had been kinder, the name "Borgward" would have been as familiar to 2024 drivers as Audi or BMW. John Wallis, a long-term devotee of the German marque, has recently become the custodian of the P100 ‘Big Six' - Borgward's last hurrah and a car with the potential to be one of the finest big saloons of its generation.

Meet The Owner – Steven Gray and his Vauxhall Chevette 2300HS

Steven Gray recently fell prey to a phenomenon known to many classic car owners. There he was, minding his own business and thinking his current fleet of Bedford HAs and Vauxhall Chevettes was quite enough, when suddenly he was caught in the tractor beam of a tempting vehicle.

Meet the Owner - Ian Gillson and his Renault 16TL

“My father had TL back in 1977, and around 1980, the family acquired a 1974 TS. Sadly, it succumbed to the dreaded rust and ended in Renault 16 Heaven, but I never forgot them”.

MEET THE OWNER – JAMES ROSS SINCLAIR AND HIS WOLSELEY 1300

These things were so popular in the 1960s and 1970s that nobody took any notice of them. There was at least one on every street. By the late 1970s/early 1980s, they were falling apart and becoming a rarer sight. If familiarity breeds contempt, then 50 years after production finally ended, I think objectively, this is a very pretty car.

13 May 2024

THE SUBARU 360 – THE CAR THAT TRANSFOMRED JAPANESE MOTORING

Bonham Cars Online is currently listing one of the most significant cars in Japanese motoring history: This 1968 360 is an example of the vehicle that brought mobility to so many families. Not to mention that the 360 was the pioneer car to wear the Subaru badge.

MEET THE OWNER – PHILIP HANSON AND HIS WOLSELEY 16/60

“My Wolseley was registered in Worcester in January 1967 and is a manual gearbox model. It has covered only 46,000 miles and I am only the second owner.” Philip undertook some body restoration in 2016 and the result is a car that lives up to the British Motor Corporation’s promise of: “Luxuriously practical...a car that satisfies.”

Meet The Owner – Carl Pearce and his Triumph Stag

There are mixed reactions to my Triumph – you often get told how these cars used to blow up. This is incorrect; they suffered from overheating, which was caused by casting sand that hadn't been properly removed when the engine blocks were made. The sand used to block the radiator, hence the overheating.

03 May 2024

A Truly Exclusive Renault – Jason Crawley’s 20TX

At last year’s Silverstone Festival, many visitors were seen mouthing the phrase “What is it?” at a handsome, burgundy-coloured hatchback. Some seemed to think it was a Lancia while others were under the belief it was an Audi. Few seemed to recognise Jason Crawley’s 20TX – the car Renault claimed was “certainly no slouch”.

Sportissimo – Robert Meldrum’s Vauxhall Viva HB De Luxe Estate

This is a totally and utterly subjective view, but this writer regards Robert Meldrum’s Viva HB as one of the most handsome estates of its era. Today, his white Vauxhall creates a stir whenever he goes for a drive, with amazed reactions from members of the public too young to recall the HB.

Meet The Owner – Darren Staples and his Vauxhall Nova Sola

The reasons why people engage with a classic car are as diverse as the vehicles themselves. It could be due to their performance or the opportunity to realise a childhood dream of owning a machine last glimpsed in The Ladybird Book of Motor Cars. For some, it is the chance to experience a favourite television programme or film vicariously.

MEET THE OWNER - ANDREW THOMSON AND HIS VOLKSWAGEN SANTANA

Andrew Thomson recently acquired a car from the 1980s that has been almost entirely forgotten in the UK through no fault of its own. The Santana GX5 was spacious, dependable, and very well-appointed, but its main fault was that the Volkswagen badge meant little to the UK’s middle managers.

01 May 2024

Join us for the Lancaster Insurance Services Classic Motor Show at the NEC on 8-10 November!

Tickets go on Sale for the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show on 8 May!

31 May 2023

50 YEARS OF THE AUSTIN ALLEGRO

On the 17th May 1973, British Leyland unveiled the eventual replacement for the ADO16 1100/1300 range. According to their CEO Lord Stokes: