THIS year’s event is very much different, though. For one, there will be no points for numbers of countries entered in the first day – so, without that task to meet, there seemed little point in picking up a 140mph+ car to drive through the night in to rack up thirteen countries (and yes, that is what I was planning). No, the organizers are playing down any road race aspect of the event, leaving us with the appealing prospect of some serious orienteering in some of the most beautiful contryside Europe has to offer.
And without the need for a quick car underneath us, we can take a more relaxed and philosophical to the Staples2Naples challenge.
That left us with the task of finding a suitable car for the event. Now, going on last year’s showing, there would be no better chariot to take than another Rover 216… except for one thing. It’s so damned competent, and so likely to make it to the end, that much of the thrill of taking a £100 banger would be negated. After all, every morning, I woke up knowing we’d make it to the end of the day without missing a beat.
It didn’t stop me thinking about looking for another one, though.
Instead, I started to think about taking something a bit flakier – something not guarateed to make it. After the shocking unreliability of Citroen BXes on the event, I did consider taking one of these, especially as I recently purchased a 16-Valve version. But thoughts of hammering this down the autobahn at 140mph (and they’ll do this) had me wondering about the ‘relaxed approach’ I promised to take this time around.
However, when Classic Car Weekly’s Richard Gunn offered me his car for the event, it seemed perfect. For one, he’s sold it me for a under its market value, as he wanted to see his car ‘go out in a blaze of glory’. At exactly £100 it represents a hell of a lot of naffness for the money.
All our problems are solved then: it’s got the whiff of underdog (beige, a black vinyl roof and a purple interior), it’s slow (so we won’t get speed trapped in Switzerland) and it’s the right price. Naples here we come!
|1975 Austin Allegro 1500 SpecialEngine: 1485cc, OHC, 75bhp
Performance: 86mph, 0-60mph in 15.5 seconds
Fuel consumption: 25-30mpg
Total cost: £100.00
Richard, we salute you… we’re already looking good for the prize for the ‘biggest pile of rubbish’ to make it to Naples. Assuming we make it – and a lot of people think we won’t!
And I’m already looking forwards to piloting it up Stelvio Pass – I’m assuming it’ll be quicker going up in reverse!