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The five greatest driving stories ever told

African Road Image

Driving is one of those few things in life that lend itself to great stories. There’s something about being behind the wheel that leads to fantastic tales that can be passed down through the generations – take Kerouac’s On The Road, okay it’s not really about the driving but about the journey, in more sense than one.

Driving is something that a lot of people love and a few people hate. But we all (well most of us) do it and here are just some of the great driving-related stories that will be passed down through families – and over the internet – for years to come.

Around the world in a 1984 Vanagon

Many couples talk about their dream of ditching their jobs and setting off on a life defining trip around the world but few actually have the courage – or money – to do it. The Van Ordens are an exception though. Brad and Sheena have driven from Arizona to the southern tip of Argentina in a 1984 Volkswagen Vanagon, which they’ve customised specifically for the trip.

The couple will eventually head to Greece, but are currently in Asia, with the plan of travelling through Cambodia, Laos and China – not the most direct route but this isn’t a trip that’s about getting from A to B.

But there have been problems: a Chinese driving license set them back around $19,000 somehow, and saving for the trip in the first place wasn’t exactly a doddle. The couple have set up a website, which is useful for anyone looking at doing something similar, as it includes their savings plan as well as a blog and some other general tips. It’s a great, inspiring read that’s for sure!

Gunther Holthorf’s 23 year road trip

There’s something very Forrest Gump about Gunther’s story (“I just kept on running…”), for he and his wife set out on an 18 month drive from Germany just after the Berlin Wall was coming down. The plan was to tour Africa in their Mercedes G Wagen. As if an 18 month plan wasn’t long enough and tricky enough to plan for, the couple have never returned home.

Quite incredibly, they and their car – “Otto” – have travelled around the globe the equivalent of 20 times – and have more than 800,000 miles on the clock.

Around the world in a taxi

If you’re wanting to stay low profile, going around the world in an iconic London black cab isn’t the way to do it. But three lads from Aston University didn’t care about that and set off during their third year of university on the trip of a lifetime.

They got back to the UK in May last year having done 43,000 miles over 450 days and having used 8,000 litres of fuel.

Their trip wasn’t without drama though, as they were arrested in Red Square, Moscow, for drinking. They also dodged the Taliban in Pakistan and – perhaps even more incredibly – managed to take the cab to Everest base camp, making it the world record for a car at the highest altitude.

Siberian road trip

Okay, so driving across Siberia might not be as long a journey as driving round the world, but it must still be a pretty epic experience. Chris Raven is one of the many people who have taken on the challenge and managed to complete it.

It might not be the length of a round the world trip but the challenges faced in Siberia would scare the life out of many people. Chris and his brother took a clapped out Ford Sierra for their trip (making it harder, no doubt).

What’s more amazing is that the brothers didn’t plan their route, or their destination: they just started driving. They first hit Poland and eventually, after 11,000 miles, made it to the eastern Russia city of Vladivostok. Cracked tarmac and potholes aplenty, not to mention vodka with Chechan criminals, theirs is quite a story.

Cape Town to London in record time – and in a Panda

Fiat Pandas have their fans – admittedly they’re few and far between – but there are some. It’s fair to say that Philip Young and Paul Brace are probably among them, as in February this year they drove from Cape Town to London in just over ten and a half days – knocking more than a day off the previous time.

While there’s no doubt this is a fantastic experience, you do have to question whether they had the chance to enjoy Africa and the scenery as they drove. Given their astonishing time, you’d think maybe not.

Offbeat  23/08/2013 09:46:01

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