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VIDEO: Wintry chill adds to Monte magic for classic car crews on Scottish start line

The 1972 Fiat of Angus driver John Roberts on the start ramp in the shadow of the Titan Crane
The 1972 Fiat of Angus driver John Roberts on the start ramp in the shadow of the Titan Crane

Scotland’s first proper snowfall of the year has given crews in this year’s historic Monte Carlo rally run an early taste of what lies ahead of them en route to the principality.

Clydebank hosted the only UK start point for the legendary event as one of six European cities where a range of classic cars will set off on the 1500-mile trip to the South of France in the challenge staged by Automobile Club de Monaco (ACM).

An array of around 80 cars left the start ramp in the shadow of the town’s giant Titan Crane, with Courier Country crews among the Historique, Classique and Heritage categories.

The Historique Class is being run for the 22nd year and is restricted to car models which competed in the Monte Carlo rallies between 1955 and 1980.

Over eight days on open public roads, cars and crews will tackle 14 demanding test stages in the mountains of southern France.

They include the Fiat 124 Coupe of Monte regular John Roberts, who lives near Forfar and has started from points across Europe during his love affair with the event, with the latest outing being his eighth participation.

The Classique category is for older cars and this year includes five Rileys from the 1930s – two driven by American crews and another which actually competed in the Monte Carlo Rally before the last war.

A 1949 MG TC from 1949, French-entered Austin Healey Sprite from 1959 and a 65-year-old Ford Popular are also in the field.

They follow the same route to Monte Carlo but will not compete in any test stages, the goal simply being to finish after checking in at a series of control points on the way.

Popular Monte Heritage runs, which follow on from the full-scale starts, involve short classic Scottish stages including Aberdeen, Stirling and Dumfries and saw a hardy group of ten crews travel from John O’Groats to the Clydebank start ramp.

In that category,  Glenshee couple Ian and Sarah Milford, who operate Milford Vintage Engineering at Kirkmichael, took the top award with their 1922 Morris Bullnose of Glenshee after a successful foray south through Aberdeenshire, Angus and on to Glasgow.

Broughty Ferry enthusiast Douglas Anderson, the UK coordinator of the event and the man responsible for bringing the Monte start back to Scotland several years ago said: “It has been another wonderful Scottish start and it’s been great to return to Clydeside.

“The crowds got right behind the event and gave the crews a big boost on their demanding drive to the South of France. The Monte has  a special magic.”

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