Two British drivers have set a new world record by driving from Cape Town to London in 10 days, 13 hours and 28 minutes — more than 24 hours faster than the previous record.
Granted — a Fiat Panda isn’t a motorhome, but the drivers did take it in turns to sleep on a foam mattress across the back seat, so I reckon it can be given honorary campervan status in view of the impressive journey the pair made!
Philip Young and Paul Brace set off on the gruelling 10,300-mile trek on 1 February with the intention of raising money for the charity Farm Africa, and drove relentlessly through 13 countries and two continents in the almost standard Panda.
To complete the trip in their target of under 11 days, Philip and Paul had to average 1,000 miles a day at 40mph, a task they felt confident of completing in their 0.9-litre TwinAir-engined city car. The popular hatchback was showroom specification apart from a few vital modifications, such as extra fuel tank, two spare wheels, sump guards, stronger springs, and an air intake moved to the top of the engine bay.
The pair decided against using a large 4×4, saying it would be “too easy” – choosing the Fiat Panda for its lightness, performance and fuel economy. And despite the car’s compact size, the co-drivers’ bed was a cut down foam mattress across the back seat.
The long and tortuous route to Britain included tough, unmade pot-holed roads and treacherous, dry desert tracks through South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia before the pair crossed the Mediterranean for the final run up through Italy and France to London’s Hyde Park.
“It has been a remarkable time on the road – exciting and exhilarating – and the Fiat Panda was amazing,” says Philip Young. “The roads were treacherous, the heat unbearable and the timetable exhausting, but the car never missed a beat. This was an extremely tough journey, and Fiat can be proud of its reliability and ruggedness.”