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Long distance records and adventures

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#1 Rupertlt1

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Posted 26 December 2018 - 19:07

American Automobile Racing, An Illustrated History by Albert R. Bochroch, 1974,

Page 36:


"In his bibliography Transcontinental Automobile

Travel, 1903-1940, Carey S. Bliss tells of a Mr.

and Mrs. John D. Davis, who left New York for San Fran-

cisco, on July 13, 1899, arrived in Detroit on August 19,

then disappeared never to heard from again."


I can find no evidence that they were ever in Detroit.

Check at newspapers.com

In a rather comical story it records a retirement in

Cleveland, Ohio on August 16 with the crew in a 

"state of collapse."

The wife was Louise Hitchkock Davis, from New Haven, Connecticut.

The "Touring Cart" was constructed by the National Motor Company

in Connecticut.


Report from Adrian, Michigan, car towed from Palmyra, dated September 16.  



Edited by Rupertlt1, 26 December 2018 - 19:24.


#2 Vitesse2

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Posted 26 December 2018 - 19:46

Have a look on Google Books for Coast to Coast by Automobile: The Pioneering Trips, 1899-1908 by Curt McConnell (Stanford UP, 2000 - still in print). The first chapter is devoted to the Davis expedition.

#3 Vitesse2

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Posted 26 December 2018 - 20:40

For an entertaining holiday read, can I recommend 'The Cape Record'? Claire Wilkins has been working on this for some time and you'll note that I've had some input into it  ;) . Eighty years ago this week, Humfrey Symons - then Motoring Correspondent of the Sunday Times - and 'Bertie' Browning set off from London in an attempt to break the overland record from London to South Africa. Symons' account of the trip was published in his book Two Roads to Africa in January 1940, but 'The Cape Record' is a transcription of Browning's diary of the trip, which turned up in Zimbabwe. Browning had apparently emigrated there in 1948 and died in 1959.




Symons' story is unhappier - he was on board a ship which was sunk during the Dunkirk evacuation.

#4 Rupertlt1

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Posted 26 December 2018 - 21:26

Coventry Evening Telegraph, Friday 30 August 1957 

Author Sets Record in a Hillman

RICHARD PAPE, author and

adventurer, has established a

new record for the 5,000-mile drive

from Vancouver to Fairbanks

Alaska with a 1957 Series I

Hillman Minx, the Rootes Group

announced yesterday.

The car was not specially pre-

pared, said Sir Reginald Rootes,

as it was a " spur of the moment "

decision by Pape to make the run.


The mileage was for a round trip.

Co-driver David Roat.

Pape was quite a boy it seems:




Best-selling book: Boldness Be My Friend


"In one book, Cape Cold to

Cape Hot, he told of his journey

in a car from North Cape in Norway to

the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa."



Edited by Rupertlt1, 26 December 2018 - 23:23.

#5 Vitesse2

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Posted 26 December 2018 - 22:50

Shortly before Symons and Browning made their attempt, Louis Gérard and a South African resident Czech (yes, really!) called Jack Gleisner had started out from London on a similar trip, with the subsidiary goal for Gérard of arriving in South Africa in time to race his newly-acquired Maserati 6CM there. Their unsuccessful journey - a chapter of several disasters! - was recorded in a letter from Gérard to the French magazine l'Aero. Marc Ceulemans provided us with this transcript some time ago. It's an amusing read (although I'm afraid it's in French!).




There was occasional coverage in the French daily press too, along with - naturally enough - progress reports by Symons in the Sunday Times. I've even found reports of it in The Scotsman!

#6 Rupertlt1

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Posted 27 December 2018 - 15:21

David Roat (see above) and Trevor Jones drove a Volvo across Canada from Vancouver to Halifax, 4,000 miles in 83 hours and 45 minutes non-stop in 1958.

This was used as the basis for an advertising campaign. New on the market that year the car was simply promoted as a Volvo.



Edited by Rupertlt1, 27 December 2018 - 15:29.

#7 Rupertlt1

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 02:20

Demonstration run 1953

Car: Austin A40 "Somerset" saloon.

Drivers: Alan Hess, Ken Wharton, Ronald Jeavons.

Object: to drive from the equator to the arctic.

Start: March 17, near Entebbe.

Finish: Mar 28, Jokkmokk, Sweden.

Time: 11 days

The Motor Year Book, 1954, Page 207


Book: Crazy Journey, Alan Hess (G.T. Foulis and Company, 12s 6d.)

Reviewed in Motor Sport, October 1953, Page 35.



Edited by Rupertlt1, 21 October 2019 - 02:49.

#8 Ray Bell

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 03:25

I wonder who has the movie now?

The title, Crossroads Alice, referred to a 12,000-mile figure-eight trip from the East coast of Australia to the West, then up the West Coast, back through the centre and heading back to the East cast to the starting point by a more Southerly route. It's said it was the first time anyone had crossed the continent via the centre.

Some of the details I don't recall, but the cars involved were a Morris Mini Deluxe and an Austin 1800, it was a promotional venture for the 1800 and Castrol 'Liquid Tungsten'.

The movie involved Scott Polkinghorne, 'Gelignite' Jack Murray and Evan Green among others and included scenes of heavy rain on Ayers Rock (which runs off in waterfalls) and drought in Outback Queensland with animals having a hard time finding food.

Made in 1965, as I recall, it was a 'loaner' film for Car Clubs and the like to borrow from BMC or Castrol for showings.

I see that for a while you could get copies on DVD...


Edited by Ray Bell, 21 October 2019 - 03:26.

#9 Terry Walker

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 03:49

I remember showing that Figure 8 movie at a Club night (I was the club projectionist). The waterfalls off the rock were fantastic. What the movie didn't show was that the hydrolastics on one side of the Mini failed, and they used lumps of wood to wedge the suspension in position. There are a couple of scenes in that flick where you can see the harsh jiggle of the suspension. I used to have the book; no longer.


My older brother drove an 850 Mini from Canberra to Perth in the 70s, Somewhere on the rough limestone he banged the exposed sump, damaging the gearbox, as the casting was pushed up slightly and split, dribbling oil out. He soldiered on with fewer than standard gears, with a four-gallon drum of oil on board, and made it to Perth. Minis were definitely not outback wheels.


Back in 82 I did the "round Australia" run in a 1971 Falcon I picked up for $1100, V8 with top-loader. 13,000 miles, including detours to Uluru and Wolf Creek Crater. There were the leftovers of a cyclone up north, and the Wolf Creek Crater had a lake in the middle, plus lots of thick black mud. I remember crossing a stream on the way in, which probably only ran once in ten years. It came in handy on the way out again: we washed our filthy black feet in the stream. 

#10 GeoffR

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 04:19

In January 1963 Eric Jackson and Ken Chambers drove a Mk1 Cortina from London to Cape Town in 14 days, breaking the previous record by just minutes. There is a detailed account of their trip in Eric Jackson's book 'Petrol in my Blood'.

#11 Daren W

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 04:43

Hi check this out around Australia on a 1920's Douglas 2 3/4 www.vmccwa.com/stories/cass.html and australiatrek.com/Australia-Guinness-Records.shtml Daren

Edited by Daren W, 21 October 2019 - 04:45.

#12 Ray Bell

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 05:07

And nobody has yet mentioned Francis Birtles...

Remember how his Bean was always on display at car shows?