If you’ve got this far, you probably have a fair idea of what this is all about. In a nutshell, we are going to drive a car from London to Sydney.
Good question. As we get further in to the planning difficulties and adding all the costs up, it’s one we’ve asked ourselves a few times!
I don’t recall exactly what the inspiration was, but I’ve kind of wanted to do something slightly challenging for a while. I did have my eye on an Atlantic sailing crossing at one stage, but a 3 day offshore race early in 2008, where I threw up about ninety million times, put me off being stuck on a boat for 3 weeks straight in the middle of nowhere. You don’t get seasick in a car.
I think it will be an amazing experience, and for both of us it’s probably a ‘now or never’ chance to do it.
The trip is something that is definitely ‘doable’. We aren’t the first people to attempt it (see the Links page under Resources) and we almost certainly won’t be the last. It’s unique enough to make it feel adventurous, but at the same time there is enough information out there that we won’t have to take any unnecessary risks.
We are brothers from Sydney, Australia. Dave lives in London, while Chris lives in Sydney.
. Chris Dave
The idea for the trip came about around October 2008. I wasn’t immediately sure who I wanted to do the trip with, but always saw it as a two person deal. (Something to do with the sense of adventure, who knows?). I emailed a small group of friends and family who I thought may be interested, and who had any chance of being able to afford the time and money. I expected that nobody would actually end up wanting or being able to commit. Amazingly, I was overwhelmed to find that a few people were actually keen. After much agonising, Chris eventually scored the co-pilots seat.
From the very inception of the trip, the plan was to take a car. It had to be a car. On almost every blog, book or forum you read, people universally recommend a 4WD. Inevitably, it’s a Toyota Landcruiser. This is by far the hugely sensible option. They are bullet proof, go anywhere and it’s easy to get parts. We didn’t want to drive a 4WD 15,000kms though- it seems like cheating, and boring.
One of the considerations for the choice of car, was what to do with it at the end of the trip. Since we are going to end up in Australia, being able to sell it there would seem to be a big bonus. Unfortunately, Australian Customs are quite restrictive on vehicle imports to Australia. Essentially the only options for us, are to take in something older than 1989, or take something newer, but take it back out of the country within 12 months.
The old option was briefly attractive, with thoughts of driving a 1988 Porsche 944 halfway across the world and then selling it in Sydney when we arrived. Very cool, but possibly not as reliable as you might like!
After a little bit of research, we’ve decided not to be quite so brave. A new, 4WD car might not be as glamorous, but it’s less likely to leave us stuck in the middle of the road half way across China.
We’ve now decided on a non-turbo Subaru Forester. These are still quite ‘car like’ to drive (they are based on a Subaru Impreza), but still have the benefit of 4WD and low range. The turbo (XT) model was also briefly appealing, but fuel economy and the ‘one less thing to break’ school of thought steered us back to the non-turbo. They aren’t exactly sports cars, but they aren’t a 2.5 tonne Landcruiser either.
Our actual car for the trip is a silver 2003 Subaru Forester X All Weather. In the UK, even the late model Foresters still have 2.0 litre engines, as opposed to the 2.5 litre engines you find in Australian spec Foresters of the same age. I don’t know if this makes any difference to fuel economy, but we don’t have a choice anyway! We’ve chosen a 5 speed manual, mainly because we’d both rather drive a manual than an automatic. I’d like to say it was after considerable research and thought, but an auto is just boring. When thinking about buying a car, we did consider buying something in Australia and then shipping it to the UK to start the trip. Thanks to car prices in the UK however, it’s less than half the cost to buy the same car in London as it would have been to buy in Sydney, so that decided things for us!
We had planned to make a few modifications such as a reinforced sump guard, and some sort of setup to carry fuel. The plan for this was some sort of roof basket and jerry cans. In the end, we decided the cost and hassle (including big loss of fuel efficiency), just wasn’t worth it. The car is exactly as it left the Subaru factory in 2003!