Seven years ago last week, some of the more monumental occurrences in the history of 80Breakdowns were playing out. The start of the week saw our deepest low – Following 5 straight failures to bodge a tricky repair to a lower suspension ball-joint failure, we found ourselves stranded in the middle of a pitch-black Namibian desert, sheltering in our vulnerable cars as electrical storms strafed the empty plains all around.
But we didn’t give up. We carried on fighting, escaped the desert, and pushed on to our biggest high – rolling into Cape Town in our lashed-together Porsche and parking beneath Table Mountain, tension giving way to elation as we looked back upon a long cherished trans-African journey, and a thousand memories which will never fade.
In many ways, the AfricanPorsche Expedition was defined by the problems we faced. It was a continuous battle to overcome a challenge most people had declared impossible before we left. ‘You can’t drive across Africa in a Porsche; you need a Land Rover, not some flimsy sports car’ was the standard response we got whenever we shared our plans before we departed. And if AfricanPorsche was an exercise in ‘can we do this?’ then its sequel – V8Nam, was defined by the question ‘how easily can we do this?’ For while our choice of vehicles for the drive from the UK to Singapore fitted in with the 80Breakdowns philosophy (an inherent unsuitability for intercontinental travel, offset by an all-round awesomeness) in other respects the goal was to make the journey as routine and as straightforward as possible; to prove that you don’t need a 4×4 to effortlessly traverse the globe, a sports car would do just nicely, thank you. So if the last two trips were defined by ‘can we?’ and ‘how easily?’, then what question will define the forthcoming extravaganza – Pub2Pub?
Simple: ‘How Awe-inspiring can we make this?’
If you’ve already read the philosophy behind Pub2Pub (here), you’ll know where we’re going with this. We want to make the expedition more than merely yet another road trip; we want to go way beyond that. From the vehicles we use and the route we plan, to the way we record it, it’s going to be as close to overlanding perfection as we can get.
So, what does all this mean? Well on a mundane level, it means that the level of pre-trip planning we’re undertaking is an order of magnitude greater than on previous trips. On V8Nam, we pretty much woke up one morning, climbed into our over-engined steeds and pointed them in the vague direction of Vietnam. This time, the preparation will be absolute. And every aspect of the expedition will receive attention to ensure it’s as dripping in panache and flair as we can make it. How so?
Well, firstly, we’re going beyond the simple ‘road trip’ concept for the first time – what we’re putting together is an odyssey; an adventure in the truest sense of the word. As well as the automotive sections of the trip, we’ll also be using sea kayaks, yachts and ocean liners to achieve our goal. These changes in our mode of travel won’t be contrived, they just happen to be the most convenient and stylish way to accomplish our goals. And those sections of the journey which will be undertaken on 4 wheels will be taken to a level several stages beyond our previous trips, in every respect.
Whereas in Africa, our journey was documented on a battered old Pentax SLR, this time we’re going to be augmenting the traditional still photography with Go-Pros, camera-drones, medium format film cameras and HD video (there’s a sneak preview of our film capabilities here). In Africa, our progress updates consisted of the occasional email when the dark continents email connections allowed; for Pub2Pub, we’re planning an interactive website and smartphone app to allow easy access to all the expedition’s blog, photo, video, geotagging and social media resources, along with geocaching and real-time location updates through our GPS spot tracker. While our last two expeditions departed almost apologetically – so small was the fanfare we put in place – this time we’ll be throwing a launch party that’ll be talked about for decades to come. On previous expeditions, sponsorship has been a minor afterthought; this time, we’re seeking to align the expedition with select brands who we feel fit into our ‘lost art of travel’ ethos, with the intention of bringing the ultimate in expeditionary style to every aspect of the journey. And speaking of the journey, what of the cars?
Stylistically, the Porsche we used in Africa complimented the challenge it faced very well. Its angular lines never quite looked at home amid Africa’s deserts and grasslands, so it maintained its underdog air to the last – a fitting situation for an expedition defined by the question ‘can we do this?’ In contrast, the Rolls Royce and Corvette which we took on V8Nam projected an feeling of confident superiority. Both vehicles had an insolent air about them; a feeling that the entire journey was never the equal of their glorious excess. But what the two V8s didn’t do was gel as a team:
The Edwardian aloofness of the Rolls always jarred with the Corvette’s shock & awe, so the two cars never felt like a coherent pairing. When we make the final decision on the cars we’re taking on Pub2Pub, we’ll be aiming to put together a cohesive team; a pair of vehicles which look like natural, stylish companions on the road. We’ve already put forward some thoughts as to what character the lead car should possess here, and whatever gets chosen, the second vehicle will have to be a good complement. And while no final decision has been made, we’ve got some pretty stylish ideas on the backburner.
So there you have it. In every aspect, we’re looking to make Pub2Pub surpass everything we’ve done before. The only downside with this goal is that bringing it to fruition requires a lot more preparatory work than previous expeditions needed. We don’t see this as an issue; indeed, planning the route, wrestling with the logistics and preparing the vehicles is half the fun of these trips. However this commitment to make Pub2Pub the most awesome vehicle-based expedition the planet has ever seen does mean one thing – it can’t be rushed, because to rush the preparation would be to compromise. And this time, compromise has no place in proceedings. Because of this, we’ve made a big decision – we’re knocking the departure date back by a year, from next summer to summer 2017. Because, well, perfection takes a little longer.
So, watch this space, enjoy the journey, and see you at the start line in 18 months!