Here are a couple of videos – 62 years apart. The first shows the arrival at Monaco Harbour of Gregor Grant at the finish of the Monte Carlo Rally in 1954. Little did he know he was soon to be disqualified for missing the final time control.

The second video shows my arrival at the same place in the same car at the end of the Rallye Monte Carlo Classique in January 2016.

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The route from Saint Andres-les-Alpes to Monaco was relatively straightforward and downhill all the way. Within a few hours we reached Nice on the coast where it was sunny and a good 10 degrees warmer than up in the mountains..

As we were so close to Monaco we decided to sprint to the finish by taking the peage from Nice to the principality. What we had not recalled was that the 30 or so miles is for the main part uphill. The strain on the engine pulling the car uphill non stop for 30 minutes in the warm air caused her to overheat. We pulled over some 10 miles from Monaco and let her cool down a bit. Then very gingerly motored on to La Turbie where we turned off the peage and coasted down several thousand feet to the finish line at Monaco harbour.

As we were so close to Monaco we decided to sprint to the finish by taking the peage from Nice to the principality. What we had not recalled was that the 30 or so miles is for the main part uphill. The strain on the engine pulling the car uphill non stop for 30 minutes in the warm air caused her to overheat. We pulled over some 10 miles from Monaco and let her cool down a bit. Then very gingerly motored on to La Turbie where we turned off the peage and coasted down several thousand feet to the finish line at Monaco harbour.

 

UMG Monte 16 36 Monaco Finish

When we arrived at the finish we found the ACM still setting up. We were the first car in of all the Classiques and indeed all the Historiques too! Here Per can be seen chatting Claude Plasseraud of the ACM who had scrutineered and seen us off from John O’ Groats and who was at the finish to welcome us. The hospitality and efficiency of the ACM were first rate.

UMG Monte - Finishing ramp

UMG 662 on the finishing gantry at Monaco Harbour. We are proudly flying the new Caithness flag that had been carried down from John O’ Groats. This was the first time that UMG 663 had been classed as a finisher on the Monte having been a non competitive press car in ’53 and having been disqualified in ’54 on arrival in Monaco.

UMG Monte 16 37 Cafe de Paris

A well earned celebratory drink at the Café De Paris in Casino Square. A £15 bottle of beer never tasted so good!

UMG Monte 16 39 At the finish

The Classique cars were allowed to park right at the finish on the quayside.

UMG Monte 16 40 At the finish

Douglas Anderson, the organiser of the UK Monte start arrives on the quayside in his smart Triumph Herald Coupe.

UMG Monte 16 43 at the finish

John Lomas’ Riley 9 Tourer arrives at the finish. A tremendous result and a testimony to the quality of the preparation by Lomas’ company, Blue Diamond Services.

UMG Monte 16 47 Monaco

The sun shines on (as Somerset Maugham so memorably put it) “the sunny place for shady people”! If you look carefully at the quayside above the white marquee you can see the Classique cars parked up.

UMG Monte 16 46 in the tunnel

Its always fun driving the Grand Prix circuit at Monaco. Here UMG 662 speeds through the tunnel towards Tabac, with somewhat less velocity and howl than an F1 car!

UMG Monte 16 44 at the finish

One of several Renault 5 Alpines on the Rallye Monte Carlo Historique, this one the Verneuil / Rollin car that started from Rheims.

UMG Monte 16 41 At the finish

The Simble / Fjeldstad Saab 96 that started in Oslo.

UMG Monte 16 45 at the finish

A relatively timeless photo of the Monte Carlo Rally. The Priam’s Simca Coupe 1200S climbing up to Casino Square at the start of the Day Two regularities for the Historique cars. The Priam’s started at Rheims.

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.