The Twelve Drives of Chistmas - 09. The V8Nam Expedition.
The simple ideas are the best ones.
Ideas like V8Nam. Get a V8, drive it to Vietnam.
My friend Lee had the idea after we'd completed the Mongol Rally all those years before - predictably, when we were all sat in the pub one evening. But it had taken us about seven years to get around to making it a reality, as other big trips - such as the African Porsche Expedition - kept getting in the way. But eventually, as 2012 rolled on, finances and timings were right, and it was time to go car shopping.
At the time, I already had a rather nice V8 - My TVR Chimaera, called Kermit. However it was so nice that the idea of taking it on a big trip and risking damaging it in some desert didn't sit too well with me, so I never considered taking it. That didn't mean my first choice for a trip car wasn't a TVR though - having decided to bite the bullet and buy a trip car, I spent ages searching for a cheap and slightly tatty Chimaera to use for the trip, but none came up in my part of the world. And then, one day I was checking eBay and a Corvette appeared for sale at a ridiculously low price just north of Dartmoor.
I viewed it, decided it was the most ridiculous and tasteless car I'd seen in a long time, and so got it bought. Because lets face it, if you're going to undertake a ridiculous drive to South East Asia, you may as well make sure your car is suitably ridiculous too, right?
And the Corvette's running mate? My friend Brummy got that bought about a month later, and it was a pretty special beast. A 1978 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow. And so, we had our steeds for a trip across the planet.
Cars: 1990 Corvette C4, and 1978 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow
Cost: £3800 ('Vette), and £4700 (Rolls)
Route: 14,000 miles across Europe and Asia to Singapore, via Western Europe, Hungary, Romania, Moldovia, The Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia.
Breakdowns: A few overheating issues for the Corvette, and a few exhaust and Carburettor-related issues for the Rolls.
Ben's rating: 8.5/10. It's a Rolls Royce and a Corvette - that's gotta rate pretty highly, right? The only issue with the convoy was that the cars' characters were so different, that they never really gelled together - they never looked quite right travelling together. It was kinda like watching a baseball fan and a cricketer going for a beer together - there was something which just jarred about the pairing. Still awesome cars though!
You can read the story of the trip, and see the trip photography, here:
But what are the two heroes of Asia doing today? Well, the Rolls Royce was sold to a hotel in Laos, and having been converted to Left Hand Drive, is still in use as a high-class airport shuttle to this very day:
And the Corvette? At the end of the trip, I shipped the big American back from Singapore to the UK, and kept it for another few years. I eventually sold it in the build up to Pub2Pub, when I needed the money to make the trip happen, and it's now enjoying its new life in Poland, with its new owner Piotr. Here are a few photos if it from last year, looking very well looked after:
It's great to see both trip cars still in use, but this is how we'll remember them, back in the summer of 2013, heroing their way across Asia: