Banger Does Britain began life as a flight of fancy one evening back in May, when I had the idea of combining the great ‘Four Corners’ drives of Phil Llewellyn and Keith Adams, together with the Bangernomics theory of cheap motoring, championed by James Ruppert. The back story’s all here, but the brief was this: take a car that cost £500 and drive to each of the four extreme compass points of mainland Britain within a 24 hour timeframe. This is the story of the adventure that was Banger Does Britain.
We’d said our goodbyes in Lincoln, having collected Trev, had our ‘official’ Banger Does Britain photo taken, loaded the back seat up with so many refreshments that we could have opened a mobile shop and set off southwest. Lincoln to Cornwall is a journey and a half in ordinary circumstances but we’d barely got an hour into the journey when the enormity of the challenge finally began to hit home – this long drive of nearly 380 miles was only to get to the starting point. Suddenly what seems to be a small island geographically felt utterly enormous.
Also in the car was a collection of gifts, or to use his word, ‘tat’, sent by James Ruppert in support of the trip. A ’90s tape (yes, as in cassette) from a long (and best) forgotten group, some mints, an inspirational early Bangernomics article, a period warranty book for a Rover 600 (as if that’d be needed…) and a fantastic, and touching, T-shirt commemorating the event. Sadly, it was a might too small – my physique is less six-pack and more keg-like – so it took pride of place on the rear parcel shelf.
The journey itself was uneventful and unsurprising in almost every respect, other than the ease and smoothness in which it was completed. No major traffic jams or satnav quirks sending us down the wrong roads. Just two guys out on a lengthy cruise in a cheap car down to Lizard Point. A pleasant experience was the weather becoming warmer and more golden in its glow as we neared our destination. That feel good factor permeated the car as the anticipation of adventure grew exponentially.
A little over six hours after leaving an unseasonably grey Lincoln in the rear view mirror, the Rover 620Si (also known as the Red Rocket, Christened (un)affectionately by Dave who lives next door), was in the tiny car park surrounded by equally miniature buildings marking the most southerly tip of Britain – Lizard Point, we’d arrived.
The dilemma then was what to do next to while away the hours. We knew we needed to try and get some rest, or ideally sleep, but first there were people to text, a Twitter feed to update and a glut of messages of support to reply to. Lizard Point’s one of those places that could be blissful or painful depending on your needs at a particular moment. For us, it was definitely one of frustration – no mobile phone signal at all. A drive back up to Lizard village enabled a good old fashioned phone connection but a conspicuous absence of the much needed 3G alphanumeric at the top of the screen. So back further inland to Helston we ventured, parked in the confines of the local Sainsbury’s supermarket and thumbed away at our screens, before the lure of the grassy parking lot in Lizard was too much to contain.
Although we parked up, reclined the seats and tried in vain to create makeshift curtains from discarded clothing to block out the bright, slowly setting sun, sleep itself was a distant friend, visiting briefly for spells of a few minutes at a time. By the time 8pm struck, we cut our losses and ventured back down to Lizard Point itself, killing time by wandering around the slip down to the sea and derelict lifeboat launch, taking photos, listening to the radio and playing solitaire on my iPhone (you any idea how many games you can play in an hour? I felt like a grand master at the end of the tournament).
Finally, the final 10 minutes of 26 July were upon us. The Red Rocket was fired up for a systems check on the heating/ventilation controls, dials, buttons and lights. All was good.
0 miles | 0:00 | 0mph average | Lizard Point – Most Southerly Point
The engine nicely warmed, an imaginary Martin Brundle had left the Lizard Point car park following his grid interviews with the chief protagonists to mic up and count down those red lights being extinguished… AND WE’RE OFF!
100 miles | 01:30 | 66.7mph average | A30 on the outskirts of Exeter
The first hundred miles had proven to be something of a worrying omen, as the brain in the satnav decided to not understand the highways and byways of Cornwall (as @MajorGav correctly predicted it would a month ago). It got us down there without a hitch but it clearly felt merely retracing our steps to get back to the A30 was far too boring.
As both of us were unfamiliar with any of the roads, we followed the instructions like proverbial lemmings, darting off left down a particularly narrow road when we were told to. For a good five miles the road twisted and turned, lined either side with hedgerows so close that both sides of the lustrous paintwork were battle-scarred at the same time. Being so dark it added to the fun of dodging potholes but sadly not all the small boulders that littered the route, one in particular being catapulted into the floorpan by the nearside front tyre with a clonking ferocity.
And talking of tyres, those bargain rubbers on each corner revealed their inadequacies at coping with the stresses of transmitting the gallop of 131 lame horses as they scrabbled for traction. I was charitable and suggested it was the sandy coating the asphalt was graced with. The ordeal was short-lived and more conventional roads came into view, both on the brightly glowing display screen and through the bug tarnished windscreen. A30 engaged, we were now on our way.
There was a change of plan in this first leg – Andrew Elphick, kindly resident of the southeast of England, left a well-timed comment on the earlier post about the route dissuading us from going around the bottom of the M25 due to roadworks slowing down progress. The only alternative was to go back up the M5 and head eastwards on the M4. Andrew, I’ve no idea how much time you saved us, but thank you.
200 miles | 02:50 | 75.0mph average | M4 en route to London
Motorway journeys, with next to no traffic, can be a bit, well, dull. The M5 and M4 didn’t let our expectations down. But, dull doesn’t have to be a negative trait all the time and here it wasn’t – good progress was made and the most was made of deserted roads. When a fuel stop near Reading was the highlight of this century of miles, it’s probably best to move on to the next instalment…
300 miles | 04:20 | 66.7mph average | M25 (clockwise) having recently passed Windsor and Slough
…except the next one was more of the M4 and the now northbound trip around the M25. Again, the roads were empty enough to make strong progress and revel in the relaxed cruisability of the 14 year old thoroughbred. Flippancy aside, on this score the Rover’s refined ride comfort and lightness of the controls was self evident – and something of a revelation.
400 miles | 05:55 | 63.2mph average | A14 towards Lowestoft
The transition from motorways (only 1% of the UK’s roads are motorways if you didn’t already know) to more conventional A-roads brought only a negligible drop in performance. The feeling that pervaded was predominantly one of excited anticipation as we were rapidly approaching the east coast and would soon be at our second compass point. The Rover was still wilfully responding in appreciation as its throttle was coaxed open with each straightening of the road. It was too early to put the champagne on ice but a quarter of the time was up, but mileage-wise we were well ahead of schedule. This was looking doable.
446 miles | 06:30 | 68.6mph average | Lowestoft – Most Easterly Point
End of Leg 1
Lowestoft would prove to be the second time the satnav would gladly share incorrect information but this time because the directions were sending us in ways down one way streets that would have incurred the wrath of the local constabulary, so we toured around the town centre and circumnavigated roundabouts until the North Sea was visible. A quick trip to the most easterly point, marked on the ground with a circular feature before returning to the dock area for a quick photo and keying in the next destination – Lowestoft was done: over and out.
500 miles | 07:34 | 60.6mph average | A47 between Norwich and Kings Lynn
Leaving Lowestoft combined with two significant criteria that slowed down the journey for the next couple of stints. Naturally, because we were on the road at a time when early rising commuters and delivery drivers were all vying for the same stretches of tarmac, progress was less rapid. This was further stifled by the long, uncompromising stretches of single carriageway roads, which encouraged trains of trucks to thwart the progress of swarms of cars behind them. Frustration tinged the journey but we kept reminding ourselves we were ahead of schedule and it was still very much game on.
600 miles | 09:53 | 43.2mph average | A1 North, mid-way between Newark and East Markham
Still stuck behind the articulated snake of vegetable deliveries from the rich arable lands of the flats of eastern England was not at all joyous, but one by one, the cars in front took advantage of breaks in the traffic to pull right and get by. The Red Rocket got its turn too, that Honda engine’s smoothness giving way to a metallic rasping as the automatic gearbox slipped down a couple of cogs as the rev counter swung round in unison.
Thankfully at 8:40am, such drivetrain thundering had given way to sedate, low RPM meandering in a timely prelude to a phone call from BBC Radio Lincolnshire’s Breakfast Show with Rod Whiting, where I was asked live from the outskirts of Sleaford about the journey and the reasons behind it. Have a listen (UK readers only).
Following another stop for another sizeable fill of unleaded, we edged nearer familiar territory, being less than half an hour from home as we joined the A1 at the Newark junction. It was a strange sensation and one in which the time lost on the A47 and A17 toyed with the reminder that distance-wise we still weren’t halfway through.
The A1 itself soon renewed hope and speedy progress became the norm again as overtaking became a doddle by virtue of more than one carriageway in each direction. The renewal of positivity was also the offspring of familiarity. Despite being a Lincoln resident for over 30 years, regular visits to family in Sheffield and southwest Scotland throughout my childhood, meant the roads were well travelled and easy by comparison to any others we ventured on. Each drive on that stretch of the A1 and A66 to follow brings back a memory, fresh from the vaults of a particular trip from my past – thoughts harking back to tank-like Volvo 244s, usually accompanied by ELO blasting from a two speaker car stereo. But this was 2011 and the stereo wasn’t even on – paranoia meant the only melodies I wanted to hear were those of bits not falling off or breaking as we blazed a trail northwards.
700 miles | 11:32 | 43.2mph average | A66 heading towards the M6
Following a long stretch of the northern A1, which is being improved and widened and subject to the de rigueur 50mph limits and average speed cameras, the left hand jink up to Scotch Corner roundabout was a welcome relief, especially as for the past few years, the A66 is not the road to hell it once was. Enormous sections are now dualled, meaning that progress can be made at great pace while simultaneously enjoying the spectacular scenery that a traverse across the Moors and Pennines affords. The Red Rocket stretched its legs and people gawped open mouthed from their cars as we serenely went by.
A conversation about how we were going well both in terms of time and distance was interrupted by a message from Keith Adams asking how we were doing. I confirmed I’d deliberately not compared our progress against his progress, but a speedy response confirmed that when he did it, albeit in a much more capable and economical diesel-powered Citroën C5 estate a few years ago, he was in Scotland by now. Mood? Somewhat flattened. I’m sure this wasn’t the intention but the immediate sinking feeling was hard to take. Those roads in Scotland must be tricky to navigate at speed surely, if it took Keith so long to do that second half? If I only knew what was to come…
800 miles | 13:15 | 58.3mph average | A74M heading towards Glasgow
The A66 gave way to a blast north up the M6 towards the Scottish borders, and giving welcome sight to more familiar roadside furniture. The signs to Gretna are world famous, as is the enormous blue and white Saltire gracing the Welcome to Scotland banner. But this area is also special for more childhood memories – my late father was a proud Scot (more so on the rare occasion they beat the English at something) and visiting family in the Dumfries area was thus a regular journey. The border signage would prompt a winding open of the sunroof and windows of the car, followed by a deep inhalation of breath and a melodramatic vocalisation as though he was preaching from the pulpit of the Scottish Tourist Board (which he’d probably been working on in his mind since Scotch Corner). On one occasion, as we tried to control the detritus blowing about the car with all its windows open, his hand went aloft through the sunroof and he uttered the immortal line “Welcome to God’s country”. Within seconds the cabin of the Volvo was engulfed in a tortuous, uncompromising waft from farmyard excrement. If that’s Scottish air, I’ll go home… Needless to say, lesson learned and 20 years on the Rover’s windows were firmly shut and the aircon was on recirculation mode, just in case.
A quick stop off at the services to fill up the Red Rocket’s tank, while we emptied ours, and we were on our way, enjoying a gorgeous break in the grey, overcast weather for the first time. It was bright, blue, sunny and, who’d have thought it, warm too!
900 miles | 14:48 | 64.5mph average | A82 alongside Loch Lomond
As the A74M became the M74, the progress north continued with rapid pace. The motorway was relatively light of traffic and finally we got a true sense of how north we’d come already as the road begins to wend its way around the impressive range of mountains that are such a feature of northwest Scotland.
But such a visual treat was nothing compared to the awesome spectacle that emerged as we ripped past Hamilton Services. As Glasgow grew ever larger on the horizon, my rear view mirrors were filled with a fast approaching C-Class Mercedes, headlights ablaze, being flashed to draw attention to itself. It was none other than my long time Twitterati member, Stephen McNaughton (@OriginRPM) who’d been faithful to his word and had joined in convoy to offer some much welcome moral support and cheer. Actually, who am I kidding? It was bloody hilarious, and touching at the same. Now, I thought my badly applied body graphics to the Red Rocket were ‘enthusiastic amateur’ at best, but Stephen had quite clearly spared every expense in his pursuit of camaraderie – the sleek lines of his sporting Benz were comically enhanced with A4 sheets of paper, sticky-taped to the bodywork confirming Origin RPM’s allegiance to the Banger Does Britain phenomena. What the hell we looked like as we got to Glasgow is anyone’s guess but who cares – it was a fantastic gesture and a brilliant tale I can hopefully dine out on, or at least cadge a coffee over, for weeks and months to come.
Navigating around the motorways that bypass Glasgow and then north into the spectacular scenery beyond was delightful. Loch Lomond is so naturally beautiful – if you’ve yet to visit this area of the country, you really must make amends. Winding roads, courteous driving and clean, crisp air.
1000 miles | 17:45 | 33.9mph average | B8007 in sight of Ardnamurchan Lighthouse
Without doubt, the most spectacular section of the whole Banger Does Britain trip was that between 900 and 1000 miles. Every emotion was cajoled within it. Joy, frustration, being awestruck, anger, despair, determination. It was a rollercoaster both of the mind and of the road.
That delightful, beautiful scenery around Loch Lomond was but an aperitif of what was to come as we ventured further north and west to the end of our second leg. As the A82 begins to weave its way towards our destination, little reminders are there to serve as recognition points about how harsh this place must be at times of the year. Glistening shimmers of ice on the mountain tops speak for nature, whereas man’s voice was represented by a gate that swings across the road to shut it in case of heavy snowfall. Coming from the relatively mild East Midlands of England where a few flakes of snow in winter renders everyone housebound, this puts things in perspective.
But I wasn’t prepared for what came next as we headed towards Glencoe. The stunning mountainous vista, enormous expanses of green landscapes peppered by rocky outcrops and glimpses of unsullied lochs was simply majestic. At times the only sign of humanity was the road on which we were travelling – it in itself was spectacular with winding, twisty bends and enormous straights that went on as far as you could see. I could barely contain my appreciation, my eyes welling up, struggling to absorb all of the magnificence before me. If heaven could be a place on earth, then I could happily spend an eternity here.
The astute among you will have noticed something else of a spectacular nature – the sizeable drop in average speed for this 100 mile stretch. Other than the winding nature of the roads slowing the natural progress down, the first significant pace hinderer was Loch Linnhe, and specifically the ferry between Corran and Ardgour to cross it. It’s a simple affair, with folding ramps at either end to get back onto the slipway. It’s also an efficient exercise in packaging vehicles into a relatively small space as you can see from the photo. It’s a slickly managed operation too, the whole crossing taking little more than five minutes – the loading and unloading takes longer. And therein lies the culprit – as we arrived in the queue at Corran, the ferry was still in port at Ardgour. That was a long 20 minutes and in a race against a clock, spending a third of an hour travelling the 0.4 mile distance is never going to be efficient. Yet a bigger hurdle was still to come.
Back on dry land, we began the final 47 mile blast to the westerly compass point of our travels. Except we didn’t blast to begin with, as we formed a snake of cars winding its way around the coastal road. Before long, an expanse of road revealed itself with no traffic coming in the opposite direction. Easing out into the oncoming lane to take a view gave a signal of intent but nobody else bit. Indicator stalk flicked upwards, offside amber light flashing, throttle manipulated to induce kickdown, fully into the right hand lane now and with a rorty crescendo five cars and a caravan were dispatched, soon becoming specks on the rearward horizon. This was getting easy again. And then suddenly it wasn’t.
The final 30 miles to Ardnamurchan Lighthouse was like nothing I’ve experienced before. Never have I ever concentrated so much while driving, progressing by deft flicking of my right foot between accelerator and brake, spinning the steering wheel rapidly one way, then the other in quick succession, eyes out on stalks trying to anticipate the direction of the road from the corridors of trees or barriers outlining the route, while cresting blind summit after blind summit. This outguns any driving simulator on any kind of video game you will sample. Your body and mind are pummelled coping with all the different sensory experiences as you try to drive quickly. G-forces rock you as you try to take bends faster than the car wants to go. Rises and dips make your stomach feel as though it’s yo-yoing between your throat and ankles. Elbows and kneecaps taking a battering from the dashboard and door card as you get thrown about the cabin over rapidly changing undulations. If this doesn’t sound awkward enough when trying to make good progress, you’ll be interested to note that barring passing places that crop up every few hundred metres, the entire distance is single track, with only half of it surfaced with what could be described as something recognisable as modern asphalt. As the clock ticked faster than the miles were coming down on the satnav, frustration did finally kick in and I tried to up the pace, much to the dismay of the Rover.
A small, sporty hatchback or, even better, a purpose designed roadster, with a short wheelbase and taut handling would have been perfect for this section of the journey. Basically, all of the things the 600 Series wasn’t. Those tyres, changing direction more frequently than Nick Clegg at a Cabinet meeting at Number 10, chirped and squeaked as they sought out grip, sounding like a flock of canaries under the wheel arches. The wallowy handling, which was a welcome friend on motorway cruises, meant it pitched and dived like a red porpoise. And with the addition of greater speed into the equation, the thrill of getting a bit of air under the front wheels was quickly eroded as it landed ungracefully, bottoming out with a graunching scrape of the road surface with the chassis. Even at just 35mph, much of the road was too uneven to be comfortable. What became more and more difficult to manage was slowing down, not because I was mashing the carpet pile with the accelerator pedal but because the brakes were having a terrible time coping with all the stop-start-stop manoeuvres, brake fade becoming more apparent, until eventually they got so hot they were next to useless.
This was driving on your wits, fuelled by a rich mix of 4Star leaded adrenaline. Under normal circumstances I’d have loved it. But against the clock and managing an average of barely 30mph on that particular section, the challenge looked to be on a knife edge. Thankfully, our destination was clearly visible.
1002 miles | 17:55 | 55.9mph average | Ardnamurchan Lighthouse – Most Westerly Point
End of Leg 2
Two more miles of those uncompromising roads (and a set of traffic lights!) later, and the Rover was parked by Ardnamurchan Lighthouse for a quick fire photo shoot and to input details of the third and final destination point into the satnav. I’d been trying to convince myself that it wouldn’t take us back along the road we’d just come down and back to ferry – it would take too long and there simply must be another way. There wasn’t.
It was just after 6pm, 246 miles to go in less than six hours, with that single track road and ferry to contend with before progress could get serious. My heart sank again. We weren’t going to do it. Satnav agreed – estimated arrival time at Dunnet Head was 00:20…
1100 miles | 20:45 | 33.3mph average | A82 alongside Loch Ness
Deflation quickly gave way to determination. If we weren’t going to do it within the 24 hour time limit then I was going to fail with my head held high, knowing I’d extracting everything from both myself and the car in order to try and make it.
The return leg along that single track ribbon of tarmac was tackled with a new approach, one of respect and even greater levels of concentration and commitment. Slower where the car couldn’t cope with the extremes previously requested of it, meant some bends were tackled at just 15mph, while the straights and smoother surfaces were harried up to the brink of the national speed limit. My grip of the wheel became much more relaxed to try and feel even more of the limited messages from the road surface that were being telegraphed up the steering column. Brake pedal was touched as infrequently as possible, so that the pads and discs were more effective when I did need to call upon them. I’d learned and was being rewarded with much quicker progress. A smile of hope returned to my face – until we caught up a couple of cars and the rate of progress again dwindled.
One soon went an off in an alternate direction, but the remaining one, a Prius, not famed for their point-to-point abilities, remained resolutely in front. It did, however, pick up the pace but I had to wait until we finally got back to the longer straights for the final section back to the ferry terminal to get past. Throttle floored, steely determination in my eyes and rapid pace back to the boat was achieved.
Back on the ferry, we waited for the final few cars to join us before setting back across the water to Corran. I noticed in the mirrors the Prius had joined us a few cars back and the whole family got out and appeared to be looking towards us. Immediately I began to relive the overtaking move in my mind – “surely I wasn’t that close to them that they’d have anything to complain about as we went past, was I? I certainly wasn’t dangerous.” The father of the group then started walking over and popped his head in the window…
I’ve no idea who the family were but the words of the guy who spoke to us couldn’t have been better timed. He wasn’t complaining, he’d actually come across to say that after we drove by they’d looked on the website to see what Banger Does Britain was all about and wanted to wish us all the best for our final leg. How great was that? Prius family, if you’re looking on here again to see if we did it, please drop me an email – would be great to hear from you. I was determined to do all we could before, but the supportive words of a stranger coming across to give us their best, made me even more so – after all, I’d be letting them down too if we didn’t make it.
We got back onto dry land and headed to Fort William, seemingly the location of more hotels than the Monopoly board game factory, but again, traffic blighted progress. Not that it was going especially slowly, but when the limit’s 60 and you really need to do it to have a real shot at beating the clock, 45 feels decidedly pedestrian.
Fort William entered, car brimmed for the final assault in the shadow of Ben Nevis and its neighbours – the final push began just after 7pm. It was still touch and go at best and the satnav still wasn’t confident. Every ounce of limited performance and questionable ability of both the Rover and I had to be extracted if we were going to pull it off. It had to be a top drawer display if it was to be successful. Tonight, we had to be the same as Jenson Button was in his McLaren at the Canadian Grand Prix – untouchable.
The final push began strongly with the roads gradually becoming more and more car free – it was getting late and we were going further and further north with each mile under our belts. Every sensible overtaking opportunity was grabbed with both hands and the Rover eagerly pressed on, genuinely not skipping a beat at any point.
As I gazed across the enormity of the expanses of Loch Ness, I began to fill with pride at all we’d achieved in a car costing £500 that I’d deliberately bought unseen to add another element of drama to the experience. And that pride soon converted into belief – there was a destiny about this, it had to happen.
1200 miles | 22:35 | 66.0mph average | A9 heading north past Dunbeath Castle
The pleasure of the increase in progress and the likelihood of success was complimented by yet more stunning Scottish scenery. Blasting along with the North Sea to the right and rolling hills to the left highlighted the remoteness of this final section of the journey, on a few occasions the only other signs of life came from the flames visible on the oil rigs out to sea. The coastline is wonderfully complex in shape too, the many firths providing opportunities for engineers to display their talents in producing a variety of different styles and types of bridge with which to cross them.
When the road left the sea views behind and we tackled the hillier terrain, the limitations of the Red Rocket’s engine and gearbox flexibility become more evident, especially when scaling 13% gradients and hunting for the right ratio made the drivetrain sound as though it was playing a tune – badly. But those dips and rises, followed by short straights and hairpin bends made is feel like we were descending the Alps for an overnight stay in Monte Carlo. But there and then, the Monegasque capital had nothing at all over northwest Scotland.
Had we been on the French Riviera we wouldn’t have seen the lorry driver, hustling his articulated chariot for all it was worth around the meandering bends, with skill, precision and a significant dose of lairiness. Nor would we have experienced the eeriness of the thick fog that suddenly blanketed the landscape, reminiscent of scenes from Hound of the Baskervilles.
Foot down, concentration at 100% and then some, Dunnet village was located, leaving just one last challenge – to find the lighthouse that marked the end of the journey.
Winding around yet more single track roads for the final five miles, trying to make sense of unlit, infrequently signposted routes while avoiding all the frogs and a young rabbit that had ventured onto the road to witness the event, the goal got ever closer.
A sudden, uphill climb, sharp bend to the right, followed by another climb, a rumble over a cattle grid and into an unlit visitors car park, Dunnet Head Lighthouse stood ahead beaming out to hardy seafarers…
1248 miles | 23:38 | 52.8mph average | Dunnet Head Lighthouse – Most Northerly Point
End of Leg 3
End of Banger Does Britain
The scale of the achievement proved to be a poignant existential reflection that night as I tried to drift off to sleep. In some ways, Banger Does Britain was a frivolous and trivial event, especially in light of the horrors of human tragedy that fill the news bulletins on a daily basis. But like most things in life, they can’t simply be explained in black and white terminology, because life is a rich tapestry of vibrant colours and sensations.
On a personal level I feel pride at the achievement, that what started off as a slightly tongue in cheek idea turned into so much more. There was an adventurous spirit to it I’ve not sensed since I was a kid exploring and orienteering on a school trip in North Yorkshire when I was 11. And there was, of course, the fact we actually bloody did it – all four corners of Britain visited, linked by 1248 miles of the most diverse types of road, yet the journey took just less than 24 hours.
Then there’s the very humbling way it appeared to touch the lives of others to one degree or another. The plethora of online messages offering best wishes and support never ceased to amaze me. It’s an incredible feeling knowing so many people were interested in how it was going. Your support and encouragement was brilliant. As a slight aside, if you saw us while we were doing the drive and are only just finding out more about it now, do drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know where you saw the Red Rocket. If you took any photos too, even better.
There’s the very serious but easy to miss point here too – these are, for many people, harsh times financially. Families have to make monetary cutbacks in order to feed and clothe themselves. Seeing the financial hardship of some students I teach illustrates this and it’s a hard thing to witness. Whether we agree it should be or not, public transport is in many areas a poor alternative to the freedom and flexibility owning a car can offer to people. In a society where we’re all guilty of considering many possessions as consumables that are discarded when they’re showing signs of age or are simply out of date and have to be replaced by the latest model, there’s a growing belief that by the time a car’s approaching its 10th birthday, it’s only good for recycling. Just remember again, this wasn’t a showroom fresh, 5 Star Euro NCAP crash-tested, 7-year warranted, low emission, fuel efficient award winner – it was a 14-year old, part service historied, not especially well looked after, visually tired car that cost just £500. Or looking at it another way, less than an iPhone 4.
So, what’s next? Well, the Rover will soon be de-stickered and put up for sale next week, while it’s still able to bask in its fame and glory. When the online ad’s live, I’ll publicise it so the bidding frenzy may begin. But I’ve got the taste for these drives of epic proportions and have got ideas buzzing around in my mind. How’re your diaries looking for late October for starters?
Finally, a huge and warm thanks to my co-driver and fellow Four Cornerer, Trev – it was a pleasure, especially the debate about Ben Nevis not actually being Ben Nevis because it was too short…
© All photographs are copyright Keith WR Jones 2011