UMG Monte 16 2 Scrutineering

Scrutineering took place the afternoon before the start in unusually sunny conditions. The little side valve 3 speed Ford Popular on the right, a recent veteran of the Lands End – John O Groats Rally, proved surprisingly nimble and quick!

UMG Monte 16 3 JoG Civic Reception (Bertie Sutherland's niece - Lord Lieutenant of Caithness)

The Lord Lieutenant of Caithness made all the crews welcome at a civic reception in John O Groats the evening before the start. The rally plaques on the wall behind her belonged to her uncle Ian Sutherland who competed on the Monte many times in the fifties with his brother, Bertie. Much to my surprise it turned out Bertie Sutherland had owned UMG 662 in the seventies. The rally took us through Golspie and right past the front door of the garage where the car had sat under restoration for 10 years!

UMG Monte 16 4 JoG start

With new LED headlights burning brightly we were flagged off at dawn from John O Groats by the Lord Lieutenant of Caithness. Despite the bitter cold and early hour we were grateful that a large number of local people assembled to see us off. We were also given bags with local delicacies including miniature bottles of local whisky and some homemade biscuits. The hospitality of the people of John O Groats was magnificent.

UMG Monte 16 6 Cairngorm snow

After a spectacular drive down the coast to Inverness (following the route of the 1926 rally) we headed up towards Aviemore and  the Cairngorms. The weather deteriorated and we were hit by a blizzard of sleet and snow.

UMG Monte 16 5 Cairngorms snow

We had taken the precaution of fitting period demisters but neither they nor the wipers could cope. Luckily this was the worst weather we were to encounter on the whole rally.

UMG Monte 16 8 Gleneagles

As is often the case in Scotland the bad weather cleared as quickly as it arrived. By the time we made it to Perth the sun was shining. The road from Perth to Glasgow took us past the famous Gleneagles Hotel. I could not resist stopping at the hotel for a photo. In 1953 Gregor Grant driving UMG 662 won his class in the driving tests held at Gleneagles during the Coronation Rally. This was probably the first time the car had been back in 63 years!

UMG 662 Scottish Rally 1953

UMG 662 on the Scottish Coronation Rally 1953

 

 

 

UMG Monte 16 10 Paisley

The traditional start of the Monte in the UK is Glasgow but in recent years, the largest town in Scotland, Paisley has taken on the mantle. It was at paisley we met up with the cars doing the Historique rally to Monte Carlo as well as 20 or more cars doing local “Monte Heritage” runs from Paisley to Dumfries. The paddock was just by the Old Abbey and Town Hall. The Provost of Paisley very kindly welcomed us to a civic reception in the town hall whilst the hundreds of members of the public who had turned up to see the start had the opportunity to inspect all the cars and chat to the drivers.

UMG Monte 16 11 Paisley 2

Last minute tweaking for the Historique cars. The McGibbon Volvo Amazon at the front went on to win the Saltire Cup from the Glasgow start committee. White / Brown crewing the Rover 2000 beyond won the Thistle Cup.

UMG Monte 16 12 Paisley 3

The Classique cars waiting for the off. The Triumph Herald Coupe was driven to Monte by Glasgow start organiser Douglas Anderson.

UMG662 - Paisley Start, Monte Carlo Classic Rally 2016

The start of each car from the gantry was greeted by fire works and the cheers of over a thousand spectators. The very warm welcome given to the Rally by the people of Paisley was greatly appreciated.

There are a number of videos on YouTube showing the evening at Paisley including this one which (at 7.45) inexplicably focuses on yours truly treating the car to a general tighten up after the long run down from John O’ Groats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Gregor Grant, the founding editor of Autosport Magazine, owned an MG YB saloon which was his personal transport as well as the office hack. He bought it new from the MG factory and kept it for two years. In that time it was used as a press car for numerous UK and continental events including the Mille Miglia and the Monte Carlo Rally.  Gregor and his close friend (and sometime MG Works driver) George Phillips also used the car competitively, including in the Scottish Rally in 1953 and the Production Touring Car race at Silverstone in the same year.   They also competed in the 1954 Monte Carlo Rally. Whilst they completed the rally they were sadly disqualified for missing the last time check. 

I bought Gregor’s old car, UMG 662, last year with the intention of running it on the Monte Carlo Historic Rally. Sadly I found out that that rally now only caters for newer cars. However, in December I discovered that the Automobile Club De Monaco were running a special one off Classic Monte Carlo rally celebrating 80 years since the first British  winner. They were keen for Gregor’s old car to take part so I set about frantically getting the car ready. 

The car is now set up and is ready to be trailered off to John of Groats for the start on Wddnesday. The route is through the Highlands to Paisley where we will join the cars doing the historic rally. From there we go to Dumfries, stop overnight before heading to Hull the next day via Croft race circuit. We then take the overnight ferry to Zeebrugge and meet up with the historic cars again in Rheims on Friday. From there it is 36 hours non stop through France, over the Alps Maritime to Monaco.  

A full post will follow but in the meantime, if you would like to follow our progress to Monte please follow me on Twitter @mctrhanson or search #MG2Monte.