Banger rally Rover 216GTIs and I have history. Alexander Boucke, Declan Berridge and I competed in Staples2Naples 2004 in one (and came second!) and enjoyed every minute of it. I then sold the car for charity to another S2N’er Les Hedaux, before getting it back a couple of years ago. Then I sold it again… and got it back again… then sold it. I think H23 GDF may well have finally gone to that great scrapyard in the sky. But you never know.
Anyway, bear with me on this. Regular readers might know that Team AROnline was supposed to take part in RatRod 2011, a banger rally to Brasov in Romania – but due to work deadlines, and my own shocking lack of organisation, it never happened. My team mate, Andrew Elphick hitched a lift with Alex Sebbinger and Rhydian Edwards in their Montego 1.6L. And from my ‘phone call last night, it seems the chaps have made it to Romania, and are on the home run to Brasov right now. My involvement with the rally has therefore been, er, minimal… and I’m feeling a great sense of loss.
But Elphick came up with a plan that involved me. And I’m not complaining. So, on Saturday morning, I’m flying out to Bucharest (about 100 miles from the rally’s destination in Brasov), where I’ll be meeting Elphick, and driving home one of the rally’s cars. Before you get excited, I’m not bringing back the Montego , but I seem to have teamed up with Andrew to drive back a Rover 216GTI (nicknamed – for some daft reason – SLEGTi) that has been driven out by Steven Ward and his happy team. You can see a picture of that car above – which like all 216GTIs around AROnline seems to have lived a yo-yo life between friends during the past decade.
What is it about these cars?
I have to say that the plan fills me with way more excitement than it should. After all, it’s a one-way ticket to Bucharest. I’ve not set a rendezvous with Elphick, and we don’t really have a plan. So I am flying in blind, and we’re driving this 20-year old 216GTI through the wild East. In true Banger Rally fashion, I’m not worried in the slightest. The 216’s reliability is better than average, and on the back of its 1700-mile trip out, I reckon we’ll be fine. What else excites me – more than ever – is visiting a country I’ve never been to before, and seeing what I hope are more interestingly alien backdrops to drive through.
Early reports that driving through the country aren’t as scary as they might be. ‘Like the south of France but less skilled,’ says Elphick. But when we chatted, he’d yet to find his way off the main roads. We shall see. Personally speaking, I can’t wait – and although I hope the 216 causes no problems, it’s a nagging doubt in the back of my mind. And that adds to the excitement.
If I get the chance, I’ll blog my way back. If not, expect lots of words and pictures next week. If we get back!
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.