The year was 2008. Two British wannabe adventurers decided the world needed an adventure as never seen before. One so foolish and noble that it would redefine the future of adventure travel. And one with a very British twist. So they decided to mount a red Telephone Box on top of a 998cc Classic Mini and drove it from London to Mongolia, through 18 countries in just 4 weeks. To stun the world, have a hell of a good time and to raise money for charity!
Well done boys. you officially had a kickass trip.
Lewis Woodcock and Ben Kemp are the heroes who realised this kickass trip. And they described their trip so well it would be foolish not to stick to their personal description about the Why? When? and How? of this mighty undertaking. Their story goes as follows:
On the nineteenth day of the seventh month in the year of Our Lord 2008, two young gentlemen, both alike in dignity, will set off on a journey. This journey, like no other, will be a quest so great it makes Sir Ranulph Fiennes shudder, and even Phileas Fogg (the protagonist in Jules Verne’s ‘Around the World in 80 days’) would choose to stay at home much less attempt it.
Essentially, imagine the Long Way Round. Only take out the motorbikes, the BMW sponsorship, the support crew, the Ewan McGregor hollywood superstar good looks and charm, and add in a battered old mini, a red phone box, a china tea set, fancy dress and a good bottle of gin. Ok, so they aren’t that similar but you get the idea!
This journey has certain key ingredients; one would be foolish to attempt such a pilgrimage without them.
The Trusty Steed: a Classic Mini
If we look back through history, pioneers have always had their trusty steed. Alexander had Bucephalus, Hannibal had his elephant and Shrek had Donkey. And we are no different. The Mighty Steed that carried the two Gentlemen Adventurers halfway across the globe is a 1989 F Reg Classic Mini. Initially it had many rust spots, needed loads of welding and a bit of comestic work done. But then again, Noah’s Ark wasn’t build in one day either!
More Pictures of the car before and after can be seen here.
A Weighty Burden: a Red K6 Telephone Box
Noah took two of every animal, Moses struggled with the ark of the convenant and Tony Hawks – ‘the fridgehiker’ – had his fridge. We decided upon a slightly less spiritual burden and decided upon the unparalleled beauty of a Red K6 Telephone Box!
Once it was decided that a Phone Box had to be transported 10,000 miles, reality set in. The original red K6 phone box has a concrete base and weighs around 750kg. This had us fairly stumpered until an old episode of Dragon’s Den provided the shining light. The Phoney Box (www.thephoneybox.com) is a company which builds exact replicas of the K6 Phone Box but at a fraction of the weight! In fact only 90kg! We contacted The Phoney Box Company and they very generously agreed to donate a phone box to the cause.
Now you would think it would have been a good idea to really explore the practicalities of the challenge before committing to it. But that’s just not how we roll. It was only after we’d signed up for the adventure, agreed donation of the phone box and bought the car that we decided to draw some concept diagrams “just to see how it might look” and to figure out “if it could really work”.
I’m sure you’ll agree with our initial thoughts: “It looks ridiculous! How on earth we will get that to Mongolia?!”. But therein lies the adventure, if we wanted an easy drive we’d just take a Land Rover!
Clearly, and logically, not your average pair of blokes
- Lewis Woodcock
Born a couple of hundred years too late, Lewis was raised by wolves. He eats only wood and drinks only vodka. He can swim through sand and hear a pencil being sharpened over a mile away. His aim for life is to solve the great question of why there is always a white spot on the bottom of burger baps. He also likes to think he could take a badger in a cage fight. Luckily he also cares a great deal about children and only wants to help.Strenghts: Ability to think of genius ideas and ways to make the rally far harder than it has to be
Weaknesses: Kazakh beggar girls with gold teeth
- Ben Kemp
Ben is allergic to clothes. He is a pacifist at heart, but, sadly, has not been in touch with that particular organ since swapping it for an award-winning fish. He longs for the days when beer will grow on trees and people will not snigger when they hear the word knickers. In the meantime, he keeps himself mentally and physically sharp by arm-wrestling snakes. Ben enjoys long walks in the country and quiet nights in. GSOH.Strengths: Ability to stop Lewis’ so called “genius ideas” before he gets too carried away.
Maps/GPS/Compass/Directions/Tattoo pointing to dry land
Navigation. This point we were a bit hazy on. Not to worry, we have a pop-up atlas covering bits of Britain and a large chunk to the east that just says ” ‘Ere be Dragons”. That should get us in the right direction.
Some say happiness is a journey not a destination. We say it’s Ulaanbattar in Mongolia. And we attempted (and succeeded) to follow the following route:
Fame and Glory
We would be lying if we said we weren’t chasing it. Every explorer is. However, the real aim of this adventure and the real prize at the end of the tunnel is to raise as much money for charity as possible.
Under the team name: “A very British Adventure” the Mini set off for Ulaanbattor in Mongolia via Germany, Hungary and Romania. Ground clearance proved a problem so the wings were hacked away to give clearance for VW Polo wheels. Also the replica K6 red telephone box strapped to the roof might have been great for winning the “Largest non-functional object” award but not for aerodynamics! So the 998cc engine was duly fettled and a Swiftune SW5 camshaft fitted to improve performance.
The adventure was all for charity and was part of the now infamous Mongol Rally 2008 rally. Previous kickass contenders in this rally were ‘the Rolling Cones’ who drove an Ice Cream Van to Mongolia.
En route, the team visited their chosen charity, SWORDE-Teppa in Tajikistan, attending an ambassadors party thrown in their honour, and they became the first Mongol Rally team to drive the Pamir Highway.
Amazingly, they reached Mongolia safely within their 4 week target. And with the phonebooth still intact!
What a kickass journey!