Church of England Diocese of Leicester Barwell

The Italian Job’

25 Oct 2019, midnight

is one of the most iconic films ever made, with the immortal line; ‘You’re only supposed to blow the b’ doors off’! The film ends with the Minis heading for the Swiss border before the final cliff hanger with the bus teetering on the cliff edge.

My love of this film I was first attracted to the ‘mini’ during the 60’s, when it was only a fashion accessory worn by Lulu & Twiggy, however in 1969, when I started work at a British Leyland Garage (Thos’ B Williams in Ashby Parva), a lasting affair began with the real Mini (the one with four wheels)!

The Mini was an icon in so many ways. Born in 1959 & designed by Sir Alec Issigonis, it was compact, reliable & fun to drive. This revolutionary car crossed all social barriers, & anyone & everyone could be cool in a Mini.

A lasting memory for me was going to see the premiere of ‘The Italian Job’ at The Cameo Cinema, Leicester, courtesy of BL, who arranged this treat for their dealer mechanics. This film starring Michael Caine & the car is shared with Adam, my son, who has owned a perfectly original red ’95 Mini Mayfair, which with the help of myself is still in superb condition today.

It was Adam who first introduced me to ‘Italian Job Tours’, a 10 day adventure through France & Italy to Turin, taking in the sights & locations of the film. In 2015 Adam & I did the trip together, then in 2017 my wife Julie accompanied me on this 2000 mile round trip.

Adam & Emma, his girlfriend of many years, married at Swinford on Sept’ 7th, & with the passenger seat removed, his Mini was the main wedding car for him to drive his bride to the reception at Kenilworth!

With confetti removed & seat replaced ,my brother Ian (Max Electrical) & I, set off on Sept 10th on this fabulous adventure in the tyre tracks of The Italian Job. About 15 more Minis joined us at Dover for the beginning of this epic trip.The wonderful theme tune ‘On Days Like These’ was often our musical background as we took two days to cross rural France & through the stunning beauty of the French Alps into The Mont Blanc Tunnel into Italy.

The scenery east of the tunnel is simply awesome, with the majestic Mont Blanc behind us & St Bernard Pass to the north, every view took our breath away. Our first trip in Italy took us up through 1st gear hairpin bends to the exit of tunnel where the Lamborghini crashes & bursts into flames before being pushed over the cliff by the mafia’s bulldozer. Then it was a Mini driver’s paradise of 30 miles climbing the St Benard Pass to the Swiss border. It was along here where the Minis were pushed out of the bus.

The next 3 nights were spent at the 4 star Lingotto Hotel (formerly the Fiat factory) in Turin.

Saturday & Sunday were spent in this splendid city seeing all the film locations. Although the scenes were shot 50 years ago, most of the sights have not changed. We walked along the boulevards & piazzas where the traffic was gridlocked, and onto the City hall balcony, before strolling along the shopping arcades where the Minis were making handbrake turns with the gold on board.

On Sunday we visited the ‘Church of The Great Mother of God’, above the steps where the Minis rudely interrupted a wedding ceremony, then the wier where the cars crossed the River Po.

The best was saved until Monday when we were able to drive our cars on the banked test track above the old Fiat Factory. What an incredible experience it was seeing the sights of Turin whilst having the most exhilarating fun on this iconic track.

Finally before heading back to France we drove to the heights of the Colle De Nivolet~ where they filmed the cliff hanger scene. Without doubt this was the best drive ever climbing to about 3000 meters through alpine scenery & climbing numerous 1st gear bends to the climax of this awesome trip. Our Mini was perfect over the 2000 miles, without using any oil or water.

As a bonus I was also able to raise over £650 to help with the upkeep of our Church at Potters Marston.