This day, 26 October 2017, is a notable one. Sunrise and sunset will be separated by almost exactly ten hours. Ten hours and 47 seconds, to be exact. That’s how long we have to get from here to the Welsh coast, a simple enough task were it not for the fact we have an awful lot to do today besides drive from east to west.
It looks tight. The Google Maps app on my phone reckons the journey will take 7.5 hours, but on this occasion Google Maps is wrong. It thinks we’ll be travelling by car, you see. In fact, we’re going by Nissan GT-R. Call it seven hours, then, which leaves three hours for the day’s errands but no time whatsoever for traffic jams, missed turnings, lunch, non-critical toilet breaks, punctures, breakdowns or any other such delays.
As I pad about on the pebbles at Aldeburgh, waiting impatiently for Luc to finish his sunrise shot, I can’t help but think the game’s already up. But why attempt this journey at all, and why today of all days? It was at this time of year that Nissan first unveiled the R35 GT-R at the Tokyo motor show in 2007. And so, on a ten-hour day, we’re marking the car’s tenth anniversary. In the time it takes the sun to rise out of the North Sea, sweep across the sky and extinguish itself in the Irish Sea, we’ll drive from Aldeburgh to Aberystwyth, stopping along the way at a number of places that will help us tell the amazing and unique story of a game-changing performance car.
With the sunrise shot committed to memory card, we crunch our way across the shingle and eventually hit the road just after 8am. We’ve already lost 25 minutes and covered only a few metres, which isn’t encouraging. As keen students of astronomy, though, you’ll have worked out by now that our day will actually be a bit longer than 10 hours and 47 seconds because of the distance we’re travelling.
In fact, the 241 miles that separate Aldeburgh and Aberystwyth, as the notably adventurous crow flies, put another 19 minutes in our pocket. Those 19 bonus minutes will prove to be crucial.
Much as I would love to drive from coast to coast on nothing but country lanes and mountain passes, we just don’t have the time. We’ll pick up the multilane A-roads and motorways wherever possible, but for now the only way to get from here to the main road is across Suffolk’s gently heaving countryside, over B-roads and back lanes that rise and fall gradually with the landscape. Through sleep villages we slip along slowly and quietly but, the moment the derestricted sign passes, it’s down two gears, foot to the floor, engine wound out to the limiter one ratio after another. The frantic, vision-blurring speed the GT-R hits you with point to point is even more dazzling now than it was a decade ago.