In an audacious job that would make Charlie Croker proud, a team of Midlands graduates and apprentices have returned from an epic trip across Italy in three classic Minis – raising more than £1,500 for charity in the process.

The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) team recreated scenes from the classic Michael Caine film The Italian Job after restoring three original Minis and taking them across Italy on a 16-day trek.

Michael Caine stars as big-thinking crook Charlie Croker in the cult movie from 1969.

One of the cars – a red 1965 classic Mini – scooped the trophy for the best historic Mini on the trip.

The team restored the iconic vehicles, making them fully roadworthy to get to and from Italy.

The Minis, christened Mike, Tango and Charlie (M,T and C) drove from Turin to Trento, taking in the mountain roads of Monte Bondone and Trentino, and also drove around the famous Monza circuit.

The journey celebrated the 25th year of The Italian Job Mini Car Rally, in which hundreds of Minis make the drive across Italy, recreating the famous 1969 film. The rally raised money for Variety, the children’s charity which aims to raise the quality of life of deprived children.

The six-strong driving team, plus support staff, renovated and repaired all three cars themselves.

Apprentice Georgina Oag said: “Taking part in the rally was a great experience for all concerned. The Minis coped extremely well and had obviously been well prepared by the team. Getting the award for the best historic Mini was the icing on the cake.”

MTC chief executive Dr Clive Hickman said the trainees had risen to a big challenge and done a great job.

“This was a great experience for the trainees. They have done exceptionally well, while at the same time developing valuable skills in engineering and problem-solving, not to mention raising money for a deserving charity. They represented the MTC admirably,” he said.

The MTC’s work with apprentices has been praised by Prime Minister David Cameron who applauded the work it was doing to produce the engineers of the future.

The centre, in Coventry, opened in 2011 and was founded by the University of Birmingham, Loughborough University, the University of Nottingham and TWI Ltd. Its industrial members include some of the UK’s major global manufacturers.