Drive Story : Cowley to Longbridge – Thelma & Louise style!

It should have been a simple easy run from Cowley to Longbridge, but plans often go awry. I’ll stay quiet for a while and let ‘er indoors, aka: my other half, explain the turn of events about PoL from her own unique perspective.

Jacky Lawler

Just before the off - Myself with Tracy and her fella Neil.
Just before the off – Jacky Lawler with Tracy and her partner Neil

Well, it all started when we got the Rover 75 back.

For the third time (lucky?) she arrived back on our drive gleaming and beautiful – within minutes our neighbours were welcoming her home, saying they had always loved the car. What can I say, I totally agree, even Stella the workshop cat jumped in and reacquainted herself with familiar surroundings and settled down for a nap. I never wanted that car to leave us in the first place, if the truth be told, but he who must be obeyed said that he needed “a new challenge” so that was that.

Pride of Longbridge was looming and naturally he wanted to the now returned Rover 75 to be part of the Cowley Convoy but he had already committed to his steed, a lovely MG Maestro called Arthur. So when I was asked to drive the 75, I thought to myself – why not? After all, it should be a nice, stress-free day and the car was in tip-top form – besides, I like driving it.

Neil and Tracy arrived from South Wales on the Friday night and we all got up bright and early for the drive to Cowley which was uneventful. Tanya and the team had it organised really well at Cowley, with tea and biscuits on arrival and maps of the planned route being handed out. However, being something of a control freak, I had brought along my trusty satnav just in case and noted the Longbridge postcode wasn’t actually on the directions so I popped back in and got this and wrote it on the paper.

This was thrusted into my hand by the boys, both with serious looks on their faces. To this day neither Tracey nor myself have no idea whatsoever about the importance of the "Big letter E". Maybe one day I'll ask his nibbs.
This was thrust upon us by the boys, both with serious looks on their faces. To this day neither Tracy nor myself have any idea whatsoever about the importance of the “Big letter E”. Maybe one day I’ll ask his nibs…

“Will you two girls be okay?” came the cry from the boys and Tracy and I looked at each other with amusement at the worried looks on our other halves’ faces. “We’ll be fine” we said and waited for the convoy to start moving. One more thing said Neil, “you’ll need this” and, with a serious face, he produced a mysterious large letter “E” on a piece of A4 paper. He didn’t say what we needed it for but it was obviously very important. Okay, then let’s go.

As we started to move, the car in front stalled and a dozen men rushed over, pushed it and with a spurt and a bang it came to life! Car horns blared, we were off and everyone was happy we weren’t leaving one behind. Off we went through a series of busy roundabouts which resulted in us being split into smaller groups.

And theyre off - Team Thelma & Louise (or Jacky & Tracey) get underway. He'd spent the best part of two days checking the old Rover over leaving nothing to chance.
Time for the off – Team Thelma & Louise (or Jacky & Tracy) get underway. Mike had spent the best part of two days checking the old Rover over leaving nothing to chance.

Our group was led by an old blue Princess, then a blue car, a yellow car, then us. (Don’t ask me what models they were I’m more into colour!) Onwards we went, avoiding all signage for the M40 which the satnav was nagging me to take. I switched it off as I knew the convoy was destined to go the country way so we followed the cars in front and chatted away.

Tracy suddenly got a call from Neil saying the gear linkage had gone on the Maestro on one of the very early roundabouts just after leaving Cowley. The police were there but they were okay and intending to head off up the M40 as it would be less gear changes and quicker. The boys had managed to fix the problem temporarily and were back on the road so we said we would carry on following the convoy and see them there soon.

About an hour later, having gone through some lovely Cotswold villages which were so pretty they looked just like the box of a jigsaw puzzle, we slowed down for a T junction. This is where it all started going rather wrong as I shall try to explain. The blue Princess at the front went left, another blue car behind him went right.

Oh dear, that’s not good I thought. I followed the yellow car in front of me a little further up the road then he went sudden right leaving me at the helm and facing me was a T junction in a country lane with no road sign in front of me to give me any clue where to go. Now what do I do!

It may look comical but this was how it turned out. But at least our hands stayed clean, unlike our blokes - ha ha!
It may look comical but this was how it turned out. But at least our hands stayed clean, unlike our blokes – ha ha!

This was not the stress free day I had planned. I pulled over and all six cars behind me pulled over too. I ran to the blue Mini behind me. “Do you know where we are and where to go next?” I asked. Blank expression “no idea” he said, cheerily. I went to the blue Mini behind him and asked the same question. Same blank look… Not a great picture this…

As a result of this exercise I ascertained no one knew where we were and no one had a clue how to get where we were going! Stunning! One guy had a satnav but said “there’s no postcode on the directions.” “No worries,” I said, “follow me.” Back in the car, I relayed this to Tracy. We held each other’s gaze and decided we can do this and it was then that we became Thelma and Louise! We turned on the satnav and headed left, I looked in my mirror and they were following me and it was a sight to see – in the words of C.W. McCall, I’d got myself a convoy!

The trusty satnav took us through village after village including Shipston-on-Stour and even the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon. As it was a sunny Saturday afternoon it was teeming with tourists and slow traffic so I admit we lost a few followers here, but were delighted when we regained them on the motorway. We finally entered Longbridge albeit late but were pleased we had got there and had a strange sense of achievement that we had brought the others with us. I now know how it feels to do a modern day cattle drive!

We made it with no serious mishap - Yay! Unlike the car that conked out in front of us at the very start and Mike's Maestro, the Rover never missed a beat!
We made it with no serious mishap – Yay! Unlike the car that conked out in front of us at the very start and Mike’s Maestro, the Rover never missed a beat!

“Where have you been?” my other half said “We’ve been here ages!” Needless to say, we ignored their questions, being drained and exhausted and needing the loo. So, as with any great adventure, Thelma and Louise walked off into the distance and the credits rolled.

Tracy turned to me and said “we never did need that letter E…”


Mike Humble

Upon leaving school, Mike was destined to work on the Railway but cars were his first love. An apprenticeship in a large family Ford dealer was his first forray into the dark and seedy world of the motor trade.

Moving on to Rover and then PSV / HGV, he has circumnavigated most departments of dealerships including parts, service and latterly - the showroom. Mike has owned all sorts of rubbish from Lada to Leyland and also holds both Heavy Goods & Public Service Vehicle licences, he buys & sells buses and coaches during the week. Mike runs his own automotive web site and writes for a number of motoring or commercial vehicle themed publications

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