A group of friends from Castletown who drove two 20-year-old Minis 9,000 miles to Mongolia have arrived back from the trip of a lifetime.
Matthew Carter, 43, Chris Connam, 65, Rory Kimber, 21, all from Castletown and Ben Sharples, also 21, from Braddan, set out from the Isle of Man in July to complete the 9,000-mile trip, partly promoting gaming company 138.com and partly raising money for two charities, Cool Earth and Manx Miracles.
The event was the Mongol Rally which started from London’s Battersea Park and took the men through Prague, Turkey and Russia, before ending in Ulaan Baatar, the Mongolian capital.
The two cars, both dating from the late 1980s, were bought for a song on eBay and proved amazingly reliable.
‘We took probably £1,000 worth of spares with us and used about £10,’ Matthew said.
‘A stone broke a gear linkage on one of the cars so changing gear was a joint operation between the driver operating the clutch and the passenger using a set of mole grips to complete the change. It soon became second nature.
‘The only other thing was a small electrical fire caused by a short – nothing serious.’
Part of the route, which took four and a half weeks to complete, followed the edge of the Gobi desert and the teams endured temperatures of 36C and sometimes more.
Despite this the cars never overheated.
At times the terrain was so high the thin air made the cars lose power.
‘It was an amazing trip and we would certainly do it again,’ said Matthew. ‘In the dark in the desert you could see shooting stars. A massive adventure. There was everything taking part from a Ferrari to a Morris Minor but the Minis were outstanding.’
The cars will need to be collected from Lithuania and one will go to 138.com head office in London and the other will return to the Isle of Man.