Our trip from Dover to Monaco and back in cars costing less than £500 in aid of motor industry charity BEN has really brought the motor trade out of their shell.
We thought our matt black monster – Project Stealth – was pretty special. Until the other teams turned up and trumped us that is.
I’m writing this from a soggy Dijon, France, after a 14-hour, 514-mile journey from our Gosport HQ.
Dunc and I left home at 5am, picking up snapper Dean Smith from Guildford on the way, and we’ve been on the road ever since.
The rendevous with the 20 other competitors took place at the ferry terminal at Dover – our first chance to see what the others had bought for the cash… and what theme they’d managed to pull off.
Our favourites so far, in no particular order, are:
ERAC to the Future: These guys have dressed a Saab 9000 up as the Doleran from Back to the Future. It comes complete with flux capacitor, cool after burners at the back and lots of worrying tubing. And if you’re wondering what ERAC stands for, it’s Enterprise Rent A Car (see what they did there).
The team are four up – complete with Doc Brown at the helm (roads, where we’re going we don’t need roads) and three – count them – three Marty McFlys. All with red puffer jackets and white Nikes. Special.
Swearing at Rabbits: Now we’d heard this team had made their car look like a rabbit but didn’t believe it until we saw the Nissan 100NX. It’s been covered in fur, has teeth, massive floppy ears that whistle in the wind and a fluffy tail. And the duo behind the wheel even have bunny romper suits to match. It’s genius.
Marshall Lexus: These boys dressed up as the 118 pair off of the infamous TV adverts and have been piloting a juicy V8-engined Lexus LS400 south. They get a mention purely for their outfits and having the guts to wear them all day.
Nissan Almera: The second Nissan GB team have covered their Almera in sponsorship squares with some brilliant messages written on them by colleagues. But our favourite bit is their outfits – they’ve dressed up like the Mario Bros and look superb.
Carlyle Finance: These guys have managed to amaze pretty much everyone on Bangers4BEN by rolling up in an 02-reg Audi TT. The colour scheme they’ve given it looks ace, not to mention their Batman and Robin outfits. But the best bit will be the amount of money it makes at the BCA auction we’ll be holding to sell all the cars (how we raise the money for BEN). The team think it’ll make at least £4,000. Incredible value for £500. But come on guys, how much did you really pay?
For pictures from day one, including the teams mentioned above, click on any of the images on this page for a pop-up gallery.
So what about us? Well, we’ve been decked out in our flight suits and helmets all day. We’re making it our mission to wear them for the entire 1,700-mile journey no matter how stupid and how smelly they get.
We’ve already been asked for several pictures with people, have convinced one Frenchman we’d just crash landed our F15 in a field and have had more than our fair share of odd looks.
We’ve worked out the only way to stop them staring is saluting back. So far 23 people have returned the salute including three pensioners, a Traffic Office on the M25 and two chefs on the ferry.
Tomorrow we head to Monaco for our lap of honour around the Grand Prix circuit then make the slow journey back home the picturesque way. So far we’ve been sticking to the autoroutes and they’re about as boring as cricket.
If you want to keep up to date in between my blogs, check out my Twitter feed here which I’ll be updating throughout the event and search for #bangers4BEN as a Twitter search for news from all the teams tweeting.
Right I’m off to the bar – more tomorrow!
Pics: Dean Smith