The Italian Job is about a gang of criminals stealing gold in Turin. Two Carlisle businessmen are driving hundreds of miles to the film’s locations with a very different motive.

Paul Rheinbach and Angus Grant will drive to Italy in a Mini Cooper similar to the three which were used as getaway cars in the film.

They are seeking sponsorship from businesses and hope to raise thousands of pounds for three charities: Carlisle Youth Zone, Eden Valley Hospice and CFM’s Cash For Kids.

Paul, 49, is managing director of More Handles. Angus, 38, is managing director of Carlisle Brass. Both men are fans of the classic 1969 film, whose stars include Michael Caine, Noel Coward and Benny Hill.

Angus says: “We were on a plane together on a business trip last September. Paul suggested the idea. Before we landed, I’d agreed to do it.”

Paul says: “2019 is the 60th anniversary of the Mini and the 50th anniversary of The Italian Job. It’s also my 50th birthday in March.

“With all these anniversaries, I thought let’s do something for charity.

“I’ve had the Mini for about three years. I bought it off a friend of mine for £3,000 after too many drinks at a party.

“Next morning I thought ‘What the hell have I done?’ It’s mainly sat in my garage for the last three years.”

The 1995 vehicle needed some minor repairs. Paul, who describes himself as a perfectionist, is having much more done at M&B Bodyworks on St Nicholas Street, Carlisle.

“It had a couple of holes in the bodywork. I could have just patched it. But it’s getting a new front end, new interior and steering wheel, new wheels. It’s going to be a similar blue to the blue Mini in The Italian Job.”

The work is due to be completed by the end of February. Paul and Angus will be in Italy for a week from September 5. After travelling by ferry from Dover to Dunkirk they will drive through France, over the Alps into Italy and spend three nights in Turin, visiting many of the film’s locations in that city and along the way.

Theirs will be one of about a dozen Minis from around the world in an organised tour.

Paul and Angus’s vehicle will have More Handles and Carlisle Brass logos.

They hope it will also carry the branding of other businesses which agree to sponsor their journey.

“We would put their logos on the car for a minimum of £250,” says Paul. “I’m sure some of the bigger companies would give more.”

The mileage on the overseas leg of the journey will be about 1,600 miles. Paul and Angus will share the driving and have no qualms about travelling such a long way in such a small car.

“You sit quite far back,” says Paul. “It’s more comfortable than it looks. I’ve driven to Keswick in it and it’s fine, although Keswick’s not quite as far as Turin! You get a lot of people waving and smiling. Whenever I’ve filled it up people have come up and asked about it. I’ve had several offers for it.”

As well as being in the same line of business - More Handles buys from Carlisle Brass - Paul and Angus are good friends.

They are confident that their friendship will survive the journey, even with Paul’s tendency to quote lines from The Italian Job.

Its most famous line is one of the best-known from any film. When a van is blown up, Michael Caine’s character says: “You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!”

Angus confirms that Paul has been saying this a lot.

Paul has met Michael Caine, in 1988 when the Oscar-winning actor was filming in Cumbria.

“I was the shop manager at Nichol End Marine at Portinscale. I was only about 18. Michael Caine was filming Without A Clue, with Ben Kingsley. They would come into the shop for a cuppa.

“Ben was very quiet, but polite. Michael was ‘knocked out’ with the scenery and said I was very lucky to work in such a wonderful area.”

Asked to explain the appeal of The Italian Job, and the epic journey it has inspired, Angus says: “Everyone loves a heist film. And it’s the cars and the road trip. I’ve done a road trip to Le Mans and a bike trip to northern Spain. The crack and the banter are really good.

“My wife knows I’m mad about doing this. She said it’s a great idea. It’s going to be fun for us. If we’re raising money for charities and raising their profile, even better.”

* Email if you are interested in sponsoring Paul and Angus.