Young Drivers given green light to enjoy the ‘classics!’

AS a driver of 35 years – and a mother of two – I appreciate the value of the much-lauded Young Driver scheme, first established in 2009 to help reduce the high accident rate for newly qualified drivers.

It’s a great opportunity for 10-17-year-olds to get behind the wheel in preparation for driving lessons, learning to brake, steer, reverse, park and negotiate the gears – all for the first time.

Young Drivers, classic car experience, Quentin Willson, British Motor Museum, Gaydon
The Chalmers ‘boys’ flank motoring journalist Quentin Willson at the launch of the Young Driver Classic Car Experience at The British Motor Museum.
Young Drivers, classic car experience, Quentin Willson, British Motor Museum, Gaydon
James in the 1937 Austin 7 replica

Now the team behind the UK’s largest pre-17 driving school – whose cars are finally back on the road post-pandemic – are expanding their offering by giving lucky young motor enthusiasts access to classic cars too!

In the Classic Car Experience, youngsters can take a spin in three of Britain’s most iconic cars – a Vauxhall VX490, Morris Minor or Austin 7 – with a fully qualified driving instructor. And the envious parents don’t have to miss out either.

Having spent the last few months fine-tuning the engines, the classic cars are now available to drive (for anyone from 10 upwards) at the British Motor Museum on selected dates. The experiences last 15 minutes and those booking a lesson also get discounted entry into the museum. (See BMM review from the same day here)

To mark the occasion on Saturday was motoring journalist and former Top Gear presenter Quentin Willson, who has also been patron to Young Drivers.

The car’s touch points are sanitised between drivers who are joined for the trip by an instructor. But be warned – the Austin 7 is not designed for teenagers over 6ft tall and unfortunately only one of my sons was able to successfully peel himself in and out of the vehicle. Something to consider before you go.

He was able to enjoy his session in the Morris Minor however and it was a delight to witness the beaming smiles (amid the looks of concentration) from a wide range of ages as they got to grips with, what was for many, their first ever experience behind the wheel.

As Quentin himself put it to me – “Classic cars can be a refreshingly authentic way to start your driving ‘journey,’ with the absence of electronic intervention allowing the driver to feel more connected to their vehicle.”

Young Drivers, classic car experience, Quentin Willson, British Motor Museum, Gaydon
James with the Vauxhall vx490
Young Drivers, classic car experience, Quentin Willson, British Motor Museum, Gaydon
James before driving the Morris Minor

This is a big part of what also makes it such a unique experience for the more mature modern-day driver – although you’ll also be made to appreciate the comforts and driveability of today’s cars!

Young Driver was established in 2009 with the aim of revolutionising the learning to drive journey, helping to reduce the high accident rate for newly qualified drivers by extending the learning period. For more information and to book a lesson please visit

Future Classic Young Driver events at The British Motor Museum are on 19th June, 25th September and 20th November. Visit to book.

The cars. . .

Austin 7: This was introduced to the British public in 1922 – just four years after the start of World War One – and by the start of World War Two, in 1939, some 290,000 of them were in use around the world.

Morris Minor: This car made its debut in 1948, designed by motoring legend Alec Issigonis, who went on to design the Mini, and was the first to sell over a million units.

Vauxhall VX490: This was produced between 1963-67 during which time 31,000 saloons were made of the HB spec, of which only 10 are on the UK roads today.

For more about The British Motor Museum visit my latest article here.

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