For the first time children up to seven years under the legal driving age will be able to take to the wheel of three iconic British-made classic cars.
Thanks to the UK’s largest pre-17 driving school, Young Driver, children aged 10 and over can drive a Vauxhall VX490, Morris Minor, or Austin 7 with a fully qualified driving instructor. Adults will also be welcome to sample the driving dynamics of the cars, one of which dates back almost 90 years.
Young Driver was established in 2009 to revolutionise the learning to drive journey, helping to reduce the high accident rate for newly qualified drivers by extending the learning period. The organisation typically offers lessons to 10 to 17-year-olds in brand new Vauxhall Corsa SE Premiums at 70 venues across the UK. Young Driver planned to launch the classic car experience in 2020, just as lockdown hit and events had to be put on hold.
Having spent the last few months fine-tuning the engines, the cars will be available to drive at the British Motor Museum in Gaydon, Warwickshire, from 22nd May and will be officially launched by motoring expert and TV presenter, Quentin Willson. Events cost £25 and will take place regularly throughout the year. The driving experiences last 15-minutes and people booking a lesson also get discounted entry into the museum.
“Since 1903 drivers have needed to be 17 to get behind the wheel, so our pupils will be the youngest to take control of these three classics,” said Head of Marketing at Young Driver, Sue Waterfield. “Lockdown has meant the cars have had to be rested for a few months, but we’re delighted to now be able to properly launch our classic experience.
“We’ve given more than 900,000 lessons in new cars over the last 12 years, but the Vauxhall VX490, Morris Minor and Austin 7 will give a completely different experience. We’re happy to let both youngsters and grown-ups have a go behind the wheel and take a step (or drive) back in time. The nostalgia factor will be huge for anyone over a certain age, but these cars appeal to everyone, they’re absolutely stunning and great fun to drive.”
Jeff Coope, Managing Director at the British Motor Museum, said the organisation is delighted that Young Driver has chosen the museum as the venue for its new classic experiences. “The mission of the museum as an educational charity is to inform and inspire future generations and the addition of these experiences helps to bring the history we share to life. Anyone who books with Young Driver gets discounted admission to the museum on the day of their experience and can see for themselves how the car they were driving fits into the history of British motoring. Amongst its extensive collections the museum holds, for example, is the first Morris Minor ever produced,” said Coope.
Willson, who is a patron of Young Driver, said the programme will be a fun way of teaching young drivers special skills. “Being extra delicate with steering, clutch, and brakes, listening to the rise and fall of the engine and getting used to large turning circles will make them more patient and mechanically sympathetic. I think it’s a great idea,” added Wilson.
The 1963 VX490 HB is one of only 10 currently registered with the DVLA. Having driven just 21,000 miles, Young Driver said it’s a remarkably well-preserved example of Vauxhall’s top sporting saloon of the ’60s, complete with wooden dash, sports gearbox, and six ancillary gauges.
The 1934 Austin 7 Ulster replica is said to be lively, and fun to drive, with cycle wings, fish tail exhaust, fold down windscreen and boat tail alloy body. Just like the real thing, it’s deceptively brisk.
According to Young Driver, the 1959 Morris Minor convertible is a classic British icon that radiates fun, charm and ’50s period “loveliness.” Finished in Old English White with red trim and hood, it’s easy to drive with light controls.