IF YOU could choose any classic car to take you over the Stelvio Pass in northern Italy, what would it be? A Lamborghini Miura? An Alfa Duetto? Or a Morris Minor? Philip James chose the last of these.
James’s story starts like many others we receive. His grandfather bought the Minor two-door saloon new in 1962. When he died in 1976 it passed to James.
In his 39 years of ownership, James, a company director from Cambridge, and the car, known as Peg, have covered more than 160,000 miles together. “I’m a member of the Cambridge Car Club and use it for competing in road rallies, car trials and sprints. I first took it to Le Mans [24 Hours] in 1995, and the car and I have done the trip many times since.
“The annual Morris Minor Owners Club rally from John o’ Groats to Land’s End was always scheduled to start on the Tuesday after Le Mans, so in 1995 I decided to do the trips back-to-back. I left Le Mans at 4pm on Sunday, and by 1pm on Wednesday had travelled via John o’ Groats and Land’s End back to Cambridge — a total of 2,150 miles.”
To complete this journey once would be enough for most people but not for James, who repeated it in 2009 and 2010. “They don’t do the [John o’ Groats to Land’s End] run any more. Most Minor owners don’t want to drive their cars so far in such a short time. It’s a shame.”
But Peg’s longest journey was still to come. “It was the result of me and a friend being a bit mad really,” James says. “We decided to drive from Le Mans to Monaco, then back to England via Monza, the Stelvio Pass and the Nürburgring. We visited 11 countries in 50 hours.”
So what are Peg’s future plans? A quick tour of Scandinavia, perhaps, or a day trip to Moscow? “I’m having the diff rebuilt at the moment. But then who knows?”
- Owner Philip James, 55
- Occupation Director of Coulson Building Group
- Price £586 (when new in 1962)
- Restoration costs “Never added it up”
- Value now £5,000
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If you own a classic motor and have a story to tell, let us know about it via firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Driving, The Sunday Times, 1 London Bridge Street, London SE1 9GF. Please include photos of the car as well as your contact details.