If you’ve been following my Twitter feed of late (and if not, why not?), then you might well have caught sight of mentions of a summer project to be published on here. Well, as of tonight, the event has officially started and hence this introduction to set the scene. Welcome to Banger Does Britain.
Okay, it’s a little twee, or even naff, but it’s succinct in a Channel 5 documentary sort of way (I use “Channel 5” and “documentary” together in the same sentence in the loosest possible sense). It’s not an original idea, but one which has been inspired by Keith Adams, the late, great Phil Llewellyn and James Ruppert. However, out of necessity I’m having to do things slightly differently.
The premise is this: to drive to the ‘four corners of Britain’ in under 24 hours on the summer solstice – the day of the year with the most natural daylight. Herein lies my first problem: I’ll be at work on 21 June and would need the day off before and after for sleeping and travelling purposes. Asking for time off, as a teacher during the exam season, would make me as popular as a strong gust of wind near Eddie Jordan’s hair. So, it’ll have to be rescheduled for a date in the summer holidays. My expedition, that is, not the summer solstice.
The ‘four corners’ drive sets off from the Lizard Point in the South up to Dunnet Head, near John O’Groats in the North, visiting Lowestoft in the East and Ardnamurchan in the West en route. According to Google Maps this little road trip is a not insignificant 1250 miles, or thereabouts.
The first such journey I read of was back in 1998 when Phil Llewellyn tackled and completed it with minutes to spare. I was gripped and had thoughts then of doing something similar in the future. Fast forward to 2008, and strapped to the comfortable confines of a Citroën C5 Tourer, Keith Adams attempts the same feat – and manages it with a more comfortable margin – partially attributable to the car, but also more miles of multi-laned roads making the adventure a tad more manageable.
Keith’s journey reignited my passion for recreating the journey myself but clearly I needed a different angle on it. Unbeknown to them, both Keith and James Ruppert provided that edge. James you will no doubt know from his Autocar column and his books, as well as his evangelical preachings on thrifty motoring at Bangernomics.
How did this manifest itself? Well, using James’ mantra of cheap motoring and Keith’s passion for the cars of MG Rover Group and its predecessors, I will be undertaking the drive in a car built at Longbridge, Cowley, Solihull, Abingdon or Speeke (okay, probably one of the first two) and costing no more the £500.
And the reason for the launch tonight? I’ve started to look more seriously at the potential metal to drive. The most likely set of wheels to undertake the journey in relative comfort and the least stress, appear to be those of the much-loved R8 series Rovers, either in 200 hatchback or 400 saloon formats, but there are a few other possibilities. Rather excitedly, I’ve put a bid in on an as yet undisclosed motor on eBay. If I win it I’ll be amazed but it would add a dimension of relative rarity to the excursion. There’s a few days to go on the auction, but there’s no immediate rush and rest assured, the purchase of whatever car I end up with will feature on here.
Besides the car purchase, I still need to sort out somewhere cheap overnight to stay in the Cornwall area and similarly, somewhere in the north of Scotland too (hint, hint Twitter followers). Plus, I suspect I really ought to have a co-driver, for as much as I’m into cars, I’m not sure I could manage 24 hours behind the wheel on my own and after all, someone needs to take photos…
In the next episode of Banger Does Britain – The Car Purchase