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Burn's Supper before the start

A windy JoG for organiser Jonathan Lord

Dawn over A35 at JoG

celebrating 90th anniversary of 1926 start

Riley WD lining up for the start

Ford Pop heads south

Alan Duncan on snowy A9

Lotus Elite in hot pursuit

Ford Zodiac travels in comfort

Graeme Gallaoway's Anglia
Monte Carlo Classique - JoG to Paisley 
Story Jim Paterson - Photos Alan Duncan

The northern lights gave way to dawn over John O' Groats for the Monte Carlo Classique starters on Wednesday 27th January. Following a 'Burn's Supper' hosted by the local car clubs the night before, the pre 1959 cars gathered at 8.00am on the start line.

First off was an AC Montlhèry Sports, reliving the 90th anniversary of the Victor Bruce win in the 1926 Monte Carlo Rallye. Driven by grandson Mike Grimmond, this 1927 example, the original Monte car no longer exists, had Bruce's daughter Wendy joining him in the support car.

A 1934 Lagonda M45 Tourer, known affectionately as 'Josephine' crewed by James and Andrew Mann, grandsons of original owner Conrad Mann. It was the largest sports car in Britain at the time, boasting a 4.5 litre engine, and would be seen on route by our flying photographer Alan Duncan showing a clean pair of heels to many a younger more modern vehicle.  The car has been seen on regular continental 'sorties' and has more than 415000 miles on the clock.

The Blue diamond logo of Riley was carried by a 1931 WD tourer with John Lomax and Gordon McAllan crewing this veteran machine. Gordon told me the average they expected would be around 30mph, less on the uphill sections. They were hoping for a tail wind on the route south to Paisley.

Mike Helm brought his Triumph TR3A all the way from Essex with Andy Flexney on the maps. The pair are regulars on Club Triumph events and close friends of us at CCHMSC. The car can be seen on the Club Triumph Round Britain Reliability Run, which takes no more than 48 hours non stop.   John O' Groats is the northern most point on route. Today they would find the wet and windy weather on route a trial for the TR, losing sparks in Paisley, just as they were to head for the start ramp. Mike is a good engineer and knows where to kick the car in the right spot.

Robert Jan Van Rheenan brought his 1934 Bentley 3.5 litre all the way from Holland. It seemed ironic that they would motor all the way back and pass the end of their street on the way to Monte Carlo. Another pretty fast car it would be brakes that had to be managed, again due to the unfavourable conditions on the way to Paisley.

More modern metal included Fiona and Richard Lamotte's 1958 Austin A35. This has been seen on a number of CCHMSC events and definitely shows a clean pair of heels to many modern cars, just ask Alan Duncan.

The superb Lotus Elite of Mark Butler, not many of them around now, had David Sutton in the left seat. David built rally cars for the likes of Ari Vatanen who won the WRC in a Sutton prepared Ford Escort.  Terry Mower and Nick Green crewed a 1960 Ford Mk2 Zodiac, while the 1954 MG YB of Marc Hanson, which was the the Autosport company car and press car in the early 50’s, had Per Jonsson from Sweden as co-driver. Per is a veteran of Monte Carlo Rallyes.  A good old Ford Pop known as ‘The Tortoise’ crewed by Ian glass and Nick Ward would not hang about either on the way to Paisley.

Pulling up the rear of the Classique crews was event coordinator Douglas Anderson in his 1961 Triumph Herald Coupé. Jim Paterson of CCHMSC drove with Douglas from Glasgow to Monte in this car as part of the Monte 100 year anniversary event in 2011. Lets hope he can repeat the drive this year. The James Slevin and Callum Cameron Riley RMA blew its engine a day before the start so they would follow in their Ford Fiesta day car.

The Classique crews were followed by a few heading to Paisley on the associated Heritage run, making about 20 cars heading south.
The weather was kind for the run down to Inverness, where a press photo opportunity was laid on at Caledonian Thistle FC stadium. also time for a quick coffee and natural break. Good place for fuel as well.

The route headed down the A9 over Drumochter Pass with snow at the side of the road. The Riley WD crew pulled in at Aviemore for fuel and hot drinks to 'unfreeze' themselves. With an average speed of just over 30mph it would take until 5.00pm to reach Paisley, just in time for a coffee and a sandwich before heading for the start ramp at 6.00pm.

The John O’ Groats crews were joined at Paisley by Jim Wilson’s Reims tour crews, Pete Gibson and the Capri Club Scotland crews heading for Monte Carlo, and the Heritage crews heading for either Dumfries or Balmaha. In total around 70 classic cars would line up for the drive across the ramp

See all Alan Duncans photos of the start at John O' Groats

Updated  30 January 2016