In front of swarms of holidaymakers at Land’s End, they brimmed the petrol tank, making their departure at exactly 5pm. “Within half an hour we were stuck in the Penzance rush hour (if they call it that),” they reported. “Eventually we were clear and able to build up the speed again, to Tiverton.
“Long before the event, we had written to the AA for a route, which they furnished with due solemnity, showing the distance as 865.95 miles. However, we noticed that they took us from Okehampton down to Exeter, which the map clearly showed to involve extra mileage. Instead, we cut across, using Ordnance Survey maps. Once on the M5 we relaxed, switched to gas and pushed up the cruising speed to 60mph.”
As they neared Carlisle, they hit trouble. The team didn’t realise it at the time, but a faulty regulator valve had been feeding an over-rich mixture of LPG into the engine.
“Stuart was attempting sleep in the back when the car gave a jerk and then started to lose speed. ‘The gas has gone,’ came the muttered explanation. 330 miles covered on 15 gallons of gas meant we had barely cleared 20mpg, and that meant over 500 miles to do on the petrol.
“Could we believe the petrol gauge? If we could, then it might still be on. It was still over the half mark on the A9 near Balinluig. It became increasingly obvious that we should complete the distance safely enough for the speed to be increased to 50mph.”
Panic over, the team found their arrival at John O’Groats to be “something of an anti-climax, but it was great to get out and stretch and know that we had done it”.
The true distance of the route was measured at 860.3 miles. The Austin had covered 540.6 miles on 13.05 gallons to give average petrol consumption of 41.4mpg.
Previous Throwback Thursdays
4 March 1899 - Steam, electric or combustion engine?
26 June 1906 - The first French Grand Prix
9 July 1907 - The beginning of Brooklands
14 February 1913 - 100 miles in one hour
8 April 1916 - Making post-war predictions
25 March 1922 - Caterpillar tracks are the future
4 July 1925 - Citroën lights up the Eiffel Tower
2 February 1934 - The ethics of skidding
6 July 1934 - A tour of Cowley
1 June 1935 - Introduction of the driving test
22 June 1945 - Driving through post-WW2 Europe
21 January 1949 - Tidier tails
24 April 1959 - Aston Martin enters Formula 1
27 January 1961 - Ford Thunderbird road test
17 November 1961 - TVR Grantura road test
6 May 1971 - Driving Ford's Supervan
13 May 1978 - Ferrari 512 BB road test
19 January 1980 - Talbot Horizon road test
13 February 1982 - 4x4s tested on the farm
17 April 1985 - Secrets of a lost British supercar
28 April 1993 - BL's unseen concepts
16 March 1994 - Bentley's Concept Java
16 April 1997 - When Bugatti bit the dust
4 April 2001 - 0-260mph in 6.0 seconds
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