After arriving late in the evening at Calais we were keen to find somewhere to catch a few hours sleep before heading off to Rheims early the next morning. Unfortunately all the hotels near the coast were full and we were lucky to be able to get the last couple of rooms at a motel near Arras.  Whilst that meant we did not get much sleep it did mean the drive to Rheims the next morning was relatively quick.

UMG Monte 16 18 Rheims Mumm!

On arrival in Rheims we had a little bit of time to spare so stopped at Mumm to pick up some samples of the region’s most popular export!

UMG Monte 16 21 Rheims ramp 3

We faced a dilemma. Start cracking on South or follow the Historique cars after their start from Rheims that evening? As there was no penalty in starting immediately we decided to crack on to cover as much of the route south as possible in daylight. The downside was that we left Rheims in front of some rather sparse grandstands!

UMG Monte 16 22 Town south of rheims

Cooling off in the Place d’Armes, Vitry-le-Francois where we grabbed a late lunch

UMG Monte 16 24 Roads of France 2

Ever South! The endless, straight and empty roads of France

UMG Monte 16 25 Langres dusk

We arrived at the old fortified city of Langres at dusk and met up with a large group of German Historique cars that had arrived shortly before us from Bad Homburg near Frankfurt. Although the Historique caters for cars built after 1955 and before 1981, these German cars illustrate what is needed these days to be competitive on the Historique.

2006-001PHIL-1953-b1_2.2_0018_full

Here is UMG 662 heading South on the Monte Carlo Rally in 1953 when she was the Autosport press car. Waiting with her at the level crossing is a British registered Renault 4CV which is actually competing in the rally. This atmospheric photo was taken by George Phillips, Autosport photographer and sometime MG Works Le Mans driver.

UMG Monte 16 26 Early morning check point Bourgoin - Jallieu

We left Langres as it got dark. From then on we made great use of our LED headlamps and spot lights as we ran on through the night (and thick fog) past Lyon and Dijon stopping at all the main time controls. Some were harder to find than others. This one (reached at 2am) at Bourgoin – Jallieu was hidden away on a service road on an industrial estate a mile from the town centre.

UMG Monte 16 27 Dawn Alps Maritime

After a brief rest stop in Grenoble we started climbing up into the Alpes Maritime just as dawn was breaking. Whilst there was snow on the mountains the roads were clear. This was something of a relief as we had no snow chains. Funnily enough the weather mirrored that in 1954 when UMG 662 last passed this way. Sunshine and no significant snow!

UMG662 Col Leclercs Monte Carlo Rally 1953 (press car)

The weather was very different in 1953 as this action shot on the Col Leclercs shows.

UMG Monte 16 28 Col

Much to my surprise UMG 662 had no trouble tacking the mountain passes, mostly in third gear but sometimes in second. The bitter cold (it was -5 c) certainly helped in preventing overheating. Here is UMG 662 at the top of the Croix Haute pass (3,900 feet).

UMG662 Coming out of the Col Leclercs - Monte Carlo Rally 1954 - Phillips driving

A great photo of UMG 662 coming over the Col Leclercs during the 1954 Monte Carlo Rally. No snow at all in ’54! Note the leak hanging from the radiator. A number of the Glasgow starters that year carried this strange mascot although no one is quite sure why!

UMG662 - Watching the action - Gregor Grant on right - Monte Carlo Rally 1953 (press car)

Another period photo of Col Leclercs, this time in 1953. UMG 662 can be seen, as befits a press car,  parked up in the background out of the way. The imposing figure on the right watching the Porsche 356 navigating the hairpin is Gregor Grant, founding editor of Autosport and then owner of UMG 662.

UMG Monte 16 29 Saint Andre Les Alpes

We arrived at Saint Andres-les-Alpes in the late morning by which time we had been caught up by the Historique cars. Its fair to say we caused quite a stir. This camera crew filmed an interview with Per that is included at length in the official ACM TV programme on the Historique and Classique Rallies.  The rally fans seemed a bit bored with the endless parade of 911s, Golfs and Opel Kadettes. Anything unusual and / or old attracted lots of attention.

UMG Monte 16 30 Saint Andre Les Alpes 2

We were not the only MG in town. This Swedish crewed MGA started the Historique at Bad Homburg.

UMG Monte 16 35 Saint Andres Les Alpes 6

Another Historique MG, this time the Livingstone / Skelhorn MGB that despite being British crewed also started at Bad Homburg.

UMG Monte 16 34 Saint Andres Les Alpes 5

Per chatting to the Franco Swedish crew of this rare Fiat 2300 S Coupe

UMG Monte 16 32 Saint Andres Les Alpes 3

Busy morning at Saint Andres-les-Alpes!

UMG Monte 16 31 Saint Andres Les Alpes 2

Leaving Saint Andres-les-Alpes for the final stretch into Monaco via Nice.

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