Caravan Company recalls 1984 Beaujolais run (in a Ford Granada)
What was happening in November 1984?
British Telecom announced the sale of 3 million shares in the business to the public and employees. Bob Geldof and Midge Ure formed Band Aid to record ‘Do they know it’s Christmas?’ to help with famine relief in Ethiopia.
And, the owners of The Caravan Company set off from their Leicester branch in a Ford Granada 2.8 Ghia saloon towing a 1984 Ace Diplomat to do the famous Beaujolais Run.
Business partners Andrew Scott and Paul Clarke decided to go against the norm. Instead of doing the charity race to get the first batch of the Beaujolais Nouveau wine back to the UK in sports cars, they went for something humbler.
More attention than a Ferrari
The Ford Granada Ghia towing a caravan probably got more attention for them than if they’d driven down in a Porsche or Ferrari to collect the cases of wine released by the French authorities.
Andrew Scott said: “There were a few raised eyebrows on the Ferry to France when we joined the sports and supercars on route to France with our car and caravan combination.”
At the time, Andrew and Scott’s business was the biggest caravan retailer in the UK with branches in Leicester, Northamptonshire and Dorset.
The Birmingham Post, Birmingham Evening Mail and West Midlands Ferrari dealer Colmore sponsored the 1984 Beaujolais Run.
No drinking and driving
Before the wine was released at one minute past midnight on 15th August 1984, the competitors sat down to a lavish dinner, although they couldn’t drink the wine on the table. Officials at the starting point, a château and vineyard in Bron, near Lyon in France, unlocked the gates just past midnight and the competitors sped off towards the UK.
“Speed limits on the French Autoroutes weren’t what they are today, and whilst I cannot recall the precise speed we averaged, I do remember our fuel consumption was just 11mpg,” said Paul.
With such poor fuel consumption, Paul and Andrew missed the early ferry to Dover due to the time they lost filling up the Ford Granada.
The pair came back into the UK and headed to the Earls Court Caravan and Motorhome Show, the UK industry’s biggest event of the year. Andrew and Paul got to the show for its opening and sold their cases of Beaujolais Nouveau wine to caravan manufacturers there, including Bailey, Elddis and Swift. They raised over £700 (equivalent to £2,170 today) for charity.
Their next stop was their finishing line at the Holiday Inn in Birmingham. Andrew and Paul got back after 1pm on 15th November 1984. They’d driven over 740 miles in 13 hours towing the Ace Diplomat caravan.