Today is (hopefully) the day that a remarkable adventure comes to an end. It’s the day that two Brits intend to drive a Fiat Panda into London after making its way from Cape Town across 11 countries in our beautiful but rugged continent.
It’s been ten days since Philip Young and Paul Brace left our Mother City, and their little Panda has covered almost all of the 16500km of African roads, road blocks, border posts and ferries – quite a feat for one of the smallest capacity vehicles available on the market today.
Going for the record
Their timing is no coincidence either – January 2013 marked the 80th anniversary of the very first record run from Cape Town to London by Alan Gilg, who made the trip in a Morris 8 with a 900 cc engine. Then, two years ago, a team of three made the same trip in a Land Rover Discovery and set a record of 11 and a half days. This non-stop cross-continent trip has attracted many adventurers over the years – even staff at this very magazine – but none have been so brave as to attempt it in a Fiat Panda.
“We could take the easy option and do it in a nice big vehicle, but doing it in a small car is a much bigger challenge,” said Mr Young.
A Brave Little Panda
Young and Brace are no strangers to long-distance drives, and the Panda was prepared accordingly. This included changing the seats for second-hand Volvo 340 seats, a thick mattress in the back, “Thermawrap” in the roof and wind deflectors for the front windows as this little Italian is running without airconditioning. Mechanically, the suspension has been raised, better tyres fitted and the engine and petrol tank protected underneath with custom alloy fitments. You can read more about their modification process on their website here.
The end is in sight
So now the team is already off the African continent, and approaching Mont Blanc, France. And, while they have just over a day to beat the record, there’s little doubt that they will complete their fantastic trip today, Monday the 11th of February 2013!
Read their updates from the trip and check out great photos of the Panda here: www.AfricaRecordRun.com