Using a 875cc Fiat Panda as their triumphant steed, British adventurers Philip Young and Paul Brace have just driven from Capetown, South Africa to London, England finishing at Marble Arch just 10 days, 13 hours and 30 minutes later. Their record-breaking run beats the previous record of 11 days, 14 hours and 11 minutes set by Mac MacKenney, Chris Rawlings & Steve MacKenney in 2010 by more than an entire day. During the 10,300 mile drive Young and Brace averaged 43 miles an hour over 1,000+ mile days through the African continent.
When asked about their choice of vehicle, a small displacement but fuel efficient Fiat Panda, they said they had “no regrets” about the £7000 (~$11,000) vehicle. Phillip added “It is one of the smallest cars you could possibly buy on the British market but it has been perfect, nippy and powerful enough to do the job of crossing two continents.” The Fiat proved itself in virtually every condition imaginable, from the infamous Road to Mars in Northern Kenya, and warn-torn roads of Libya to a harsh snowstorm in Northern Italy.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the expedition, a national fuel shortage in Ethiopia nearly left them without fuel, despite the stellar economy of the Italian Twin-air engine. Heavy rush hour traffic in Central London, and a delayed Eurotunnel train also threatened their record-breaking run, but only ended up adding a short amount of time to their journey.
The duo also became the first car to cross the border of Sudan and Egypt by land, which previously had to be done by ferry.
Prior to the succesful 2010 record attempt of Mac MacKenney and crew, the record for the iconic overland route was set by Brigadier John Hemsley and his wife in 1983, driving a V8 powered Land Rover Range Rover. Perhaps the most impressive record was set in 1963 by Eric Jackson and Ken Chambers, both rally drivers and owners of Ford dealerships. They succesfully piloted an untested, new-to-market Ford Cortina from London to Cape Town in 13 days, 8 hours and 48 minutes when the majority of roads were unpaved, and the maps unreliable.