“Pick a teammate. Buy a car for a thousand euros or less, but make sure the engine is fed by a carb’. Drive across France on B-roads down to the Bardenas Reales desert in Spain. Take some pictures and get home in one piece”. That was pretty much the whole extent of our plan when we first discussed the idea of putting together what was yet to be titled the Blenheim Carburetor Rehab Run. To be honest we had no idea how it was going to turn out, yet somehow - almost a year later - there we were with a dozen teams, all lined up and ready to go. In true cross-country style, we were given a list of checkpoints and a map. The rest was up to us.
Most of us had spent a fair bunch of our week-ends over the last six months making the cars fit for the event on a very tight budget. And so, somewhere in the mountains above Clermont Ferrand, just before midnight, a weird looking convoy - including the likes of a Citroën BX Sport, a Volvo 142 and a Ford Fiesta - set out for the most intense three days of driving any of us had experienced so far. Within minutes from the start came the first breakdown : the engine of our BMW 316 had fallen off its mounts and was resting on the steering rack. Since there was no way we were giving up so soon, the bloc was hoisted up, strapped back in and on we went, maybe with a hint of anxiety. Next up to get into trouble was a Citroën CX that overshot a hairpin, only to encounter a tree. Luckily you can bend a lot of metal on these barges before doing any real damage. And so it went on; shot wheel bearings, clogged carbs… Over the 1500 kilometers we covered, many of which were at night or in the early hours of the morning, we all had our fair share.
By the time it was over, no matter how tired we were from driving up and down mountains - and through a rather muddy desert - we had made our point : even cheap, beaten, and somewhat unreliable cars can take you on great adventures. And by doing so we had also brought together a bunch of proper petrolheads, done something none of us will ever forget, and had a bloody good time doing so.