Nostalgia: Going retro on the road

The Scotsman-sponsored Mini Cooper on show at Patrick Thomson's department store in 1971. Picture: TSPL

The Scotsman-sponsored Mini Cooper on show at Patrick Thomson's department store in 1971. Picture: TSPL

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RESTORING an old banger and driving it hundreds of miles across unknown terrain may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for some it is the challenge of a lifetime.

There are now countless events across the globe which encourage budding mechanics to restore old vehicles to their former glory in order to compete in a real-life “wacky races”.

Father and son Robert and Nicol Benn are just one duo who have been working to restore a rusting 1968 Fiat 500 estate in a bid to take it on a 1600-mile round trip to Le Mans in France.

But the pair had their plans halted when Nicol, aged just 20, was diagnosed with testicular cancer, and had to undergo surgery and endure months of chemotherapy. Thankfully Nicol has now been given the all-clear and the father-and-son team will be following in the footsteps of many Lothians residents who have gone before them.

Back in 1971, two cars represented Scotland in the Monte Carlo Rally.

One of them, a Mini Cooper which had an extra large thistle painted on its roof, was sponsored by The Scotsman, and driven by Andrew Cowan and Johnstone Syer.

And celebrations were held in the street in 1968 when John Findlay was welcomed home in Bonnyrigg after winning the Manx Junior and Senior Grand Prix trophies.

But Edinburgh’s love affair with racing cars does not always result in the vehicles being driven at high speeds.

Back in August 1983, during the Evening News Festival Cavalcade, a traditional Edinburgh taxi wowed onlookers on Princess Street as it was transformed into a racing car.