Another key ingredient in the GBCJ’s Winding Trail, Usher says, is William Morris. Its history really begins in 1948 with the launch of the Morris Minor, designed by a young Alec Issigonis. Eventually, in 1952, Austin and Morris merged to form the British Motor Corporation (BMC). From this often unhappy marriage arose some of Britain’s best-selling cars, among which the Morris Minor (remarkably, GBCJ produced two Minor Millions in 1960 to celebrate the millionth car), the Mini (GBCJ has many examples, including an unregistered 30th Anniversary model) and the Austin 1100, the best-selling car of 1965.
From BMC, the visitors’ journey spans the 1950s, tackling Rootes and brands such as Hillman and Humber, and the 1960s, when Ford and Vauxhall came to an agreement and when British Leyland was formed from BMC and Leyland Motors. This continues with the troubled 1970s (Usher is careful to blame not only on the unions but also on management) and the 1980s, when Austin Rover was formed and Ford and Vauxhall vied for supremacy. It ends with the 1990s, when car manufacturing went truly global. (Yes, there’s a Tata-built City Rover on the track.) Along the way, detours to Lotus, Bristol, Scimitar, Jensen, DeLorean, TVR and Gilbern. Later this year, Usher plans to start offering visitors a crossing of the River Derwent in a Dutton amphibious car.
Of the 130 or so predominantly ordinary, everyday cars that illustrate the GBCJ journey, there are four that Usher calls “hero cars,” for the simple reason that they were the top-selling cars in the country. These are the Austin Seven, Morris Minor, Mini and Ford Escort Mk3. There are also some real rarities, including the latest MG Metro and the first known Vauxhall Cavalier Mk2. In addition, there are 15 cars with interesting stories or associations. These include the Humber Hawk which belonged to Sir Fenton Atkinson, the judge who oversaw the trial of the Moors murderers in 1966.
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This notice was published: 2021-06-06 05:01:24