DOZENS of cars costing less than £500 will hit the road from Llandudno to Torquay in a banger rally later this year.

The Veterans Banger Rally 2021 has been organised by former Navy anti-submarine John McGowan, from Prestatyn, who has attracted attention with the hearse limousine he has refurbished with a Men in Black theme.

The original plan to drive 1,500 miles to Gibraltar was halted due to fears over a third wave of Covid-19 in Europe so they have instead decided to stage the long-distance rally on home turf in September.

It will see more than 300 people in 70 teams drive from Staffordshire to Llandudno, down to Torquay, across to Skegness, on up to Newcastle, over to Blackpool before finishing in Runcorn.

Mr McGowan, whose team includes Dyserth mechanics Carl Bradley and Phil White, of CP Motors, is hoping to raise £2,000 for the Armed Forces Charities and Sir Tom Foundation.

“I decided to organise a banger rally with veterans because it could enable them to open up, chat and get a few things off their chest that maybe they couldn’t with non-service personnel. There is a camaraderie that you get and you have brilliant laugh. The cars are fitted with radios so that different teams can talk to each other.

“We have tried to pick places that people might have visited on family holidays; it is a way of giving a ‘thank you’ to all these places and hopefully helping to boost the economy. We also chose central locations as people will be travelling from Northern Ireland, Scotland and the Channel Islands.

“We would have loved to visit 20 or 30 towns but we would have been on the road for three or four weeks.”

All entrants must have one team member who is an ex-service personnel, cannot purchase their car for more than £500 and must complete the rally within five days.

Mr McGowan is well-versed in rallies and has taken part in Benidorm or Bust and the Moscow Marathon, and believes the events are a good way to see the world and experience new cultures.

Other cars that could be involved in the rally include modified three-wheelers and vehicles themed with the Thunderbirds and the Smurfs.

He said: “Normally we are dressed up as idiots and the cars dressed just as bad. You meet people in different countries, and they see the cars and smile and wave, and if you have a breakdown people are always there to help. You also get to visit places you never thought you would go. You drive on different roads and stop off, seeing different cultures and hearing different languages.”

Mr McGowan, who later became a clerk during his 13-year service, fell victim to the coronavirus pandemic after his events business was forced to close down, however he is now hoping to run a full-time business of organising rallies.

“I lost my events company but I decided that as enjoyed doing this so much as a voluntary thing I wanted to set up another events business specialising in automotive challenges, which will start in 2022.

“They will include the Bug to Montecarlo, involving VW Beetles and a UK 1200, travelling around the UK.”

Donate to Mr McGowan’s fundraiser by clicking here. Businesses can also sponsor the team and individuals can have their name on the car for a £10 donation.

For more information and to get involved, visit the ‘Team- Men in Black’ Facebook page.