Four years ago, I was on-board a boat in the South China Sea, voyaging through Vietnam's incomparable Ha Long Bay. It was the culmination of a dream which had taken seed years before; a dream known simply as 'V8Nam'.
Get a car with a V8.
Drive it to Vietnam.
As we gazed on the karst scenery of Vietnam's greatest natural treasure, drunk on a heady sense of achievement - and on Saigon Export - thoughts were already turning to the next adventure. But where on the planet was calling us?
Simple. The Americas.
But to simply pop across the pond and cruise through the Americas just wouldn't do, for all the best road trips need a purpose; an objective. With V8Nam, it was reaching Vietnam at the helm of a V8 Corvette; but what objective could we build a road trip across the Americas around? On that day in Ha Long Bay, we had no idea. But we knew the answer would come.
Months passed. Imaginatively, we rode motorbikes across Vietnam. I visited Burma, then carried on across Asia to Singapore, where my indefatigable Corvette was shipped home after its 14,000 mile Asian adventure. I followed by plane, returning to life in the UK, catching up with friends, starting a new business. And as I'm want to do, spending far too much time pouring over maps, tracing routes, stringing together cool-looking roads and places of interest, and dreaming big. And then, on a bar stool in my Dartmoor local, it came to me. The objective which would come to dominate my life for years.
Why not travel from the northernmost pub on the planet, to the southernmost?
This idea, which began as an idle thought on a barstool, gradually gained momentum. The more we researched, the bigger it got, and the more potential for adventure we saw. For years, the idea was always there, growing, becoming ever more real, dominating my life even more with every passing month, and morphing into what it is now.
One of the most ambitious road trips ever imagined; a 30,000 mile, car-based odyssey across continents, countries and cultures, which will be hitting the road in July, and running until we reach the last pub on earth, early in 2018.
But what car are we taking? Well as our previous big trips have seen us crossing Africa in a Porsche, and Asia in a Corvette, it had to be a sports car. Ideally, a British one. My first thought was to source an AC Cobra replica, but funnily enough, my attempts to get a kit for free from one of the many manufacturers failed. Months passed, and morphed into years, with the car question remaining unanswered. But it turned out the right car for Pub2Pub had been there all along, waiting, in a twist which comes straight out of the plot of that Fast & Furious film.
Throughout said towering monument to high-brow cinema, Vin Diesel's character has a mighty Dodge Charger in the garage. He never takes it on his adventures, because the prospect scares him, so it just sits there, waiting. Right through the film, other cars take the limelight, are raced, crashed and enjoyed. But the Charger just lingers patiently in the background, waiting for its inevitable call up, at the end of the film, when simply no other car will do.
I don't have a Dodge Charger. But I do have a TVR Chimaera. It's sat patiently in my garage for six years now, seldom venturing far, while other cars hog the limelight of my life, like the Corvette that went to Singapore. Or that Rover P6 we took to Morocco. Or the Jag I nearly sank in the Baltic while driving an ice road a few years back. Many cars have came and gone, but the TVR is a constant, patiently waiting in the background until it was called up for an adventure so big, that only it would do the trip justice. Ultimately, when it came to Pub2Pub, there could be only one choice.
So there we have it. Starting this July, we're going to be driving a TVR across three continents, from the northernmost bar on the planet, to the southernmost. Stay tuned to see how it goes. And fingers crossed, the TVR won't meet the same fate as the '69 Charger in the Film...