Thinking about a cross-Europe rally? Advice from the sharp end…

From: Adrian Flux Insurance Services
Published: Fri Jan 22 2010

There's been a big increase in the number of cross-Europe rallies, where punters take their classic car, or an old jalopy, and coax or cajole it over thousands of miles, usually with a mountain pass or two thrown in to really test the drivers' mettle. They're all in a good cause, of course, raising money for charities.

The Italian Job is an annual touring event to Italy specifically for Minis and any of the other vehicles that appeared in the 1969 Michael Caine film. This year James Suckling took his classic Mini on the 3,200 mile round trip to Rome, with dad Tony as navigator and co-driver. This was their first time and Tony managed to persuade Adrian Flux Insurance Services to give them a bit of sponsorship to help them towards their fund raising target for the children’s charity KidsOut.

Flux is one of the companies that are willing to insure cars and drivers for these types of events. It also offers classic car breakdown insurance (with roadside assistance, recovery and so on), which includes cover in Europe. "They know all about these rallies and can get things sorted out for you," says Tony.

After a successful trip – the pair came 13th out of 60 and raised £2,500 for KidsOut – James offers a bit of solid advice for anyone thinking of trying one the rallies.

Of course, the main issue with any rally is to make sure the car is up to the job. "You want whatever is going to come out of the woodwork to come out now, not halfway up Mont Blanc," says James. "We struck lucky with our local garage, JCT600 of Wakefield. They've been looking after the car forever and they did a mega service for free. That was really generous, otherwise it would have cost several hundred quid.

"Then there's the problem of spares – which ones do you take? A great thing about rallies like the Italian Job is that everyone is willing to help each other out and there's plenty of specialist expertise on hand. So we decided to travel light, with the bare minimum. We had one big issue: the starter motor failed. Luckily the organisers had a fully-equipped service van and they had the right one in stock – I fitted it in the car park of the Hotel Mercure in Dijon!"

James' rally checklist:
• Make sure the car is working properly (!)
• If you've done any major part replacement or overhaul take a long drive to bed things in before you go
• Know your route and local traffic regulations before you start (including spare lights, safety triangle, hi-viz vest, etc.)
• In a classic car, allow extra time to get there …
• Use petrol from well known brands: the local stuff can clog up the works (we had that problem - the engine wouldn't idle)
• Be prepared for breakdowns (take out travel assistance and vehicle recovery)
• Buy a good map (SatNav often isn't allowed)
• Be prepared to put in some TLC after the event – the car will need it!
• Make sure your insurance covers you for the event
• Retain a sense of humour when everything is going wrong!

James admits he loves classic Minis to bits, "But they're fickle – you never quite know when something might go wrong."

Tony points out that you need to be committed: "A long trip underlines the problems with the car – for example, Minis really are very, very small. Eventually we found a way to sit without the door handle digging in!" he says. "But the rally was brilliant, with some totally 'money can't buy' driving experiences, like going round the old banked track at Monza."

James adds: "Of course, a big part of the excitement of doing these rallies is will you make it? In a modern car it would be easy. In a classic it's a whole different ball game. We sat on the bonnet outside the Colosseum in Rome and it dawned on us: we were having the time of our lives!

"If you're thinking of trying a rally, my advice would be go for it. It'll be unforgettable."

Adrian Flux aims to offer cheaper car insurance and has a huge range of policies for the motoring enthusiast. For details contact the Adrian Flux quote line on 0800 081 8989, email the company at or see the Flux homepage on
Company: Adrian Flux Insurance Services
Contact Name: Toni Turner
Contact Email:
Contact Phone: 01263 761000

Visit website »