I started writing a different version of this blog a couple of hours ago. The general theme was based on some of my mathematical calculations, which somehow proved I could have achieved 1013 miles on a sole 55-litre tank of diesel in my Seat Leon Ecomotive.
Clearly, as you’re reading this version instead, real maths proved my maths wrong. So I’ve got no excuses. A lot of you have been suggesting how I could have achieved the holy grail of 1000. Here are three easily achievable things how I think it could have been done.
1. Don’t take a photographer. Snapper Malcolm isn’t a big bloke, but he of course added weight after a couple of roadside burgers and camera kit. Yet without him, you wouldn’t be seeing the fine pictures below. Swings and roundabouts. 2. Do it in the summer, on proper factory tyres. My Leon has winter tyres on, which aren’t the low rolling resistance summer specials it was running before November. This, coupled with some warmer weather to let the car run in, would have made a big difference, particularly as the torrential rain on the hilly part of the M40 and in equally hilly Scotland severely dented the economy.
3. Learn how to slipstream lorries before heading north of Preston. Slipstreaming made a huge difference to the economy, but I only really mastered it around 200 miles into the trip. I’d say only around one in eight lorries is good enough to use for slipstreaming, due to size, speed etc, but there’s also a huge discrepancy in their driving styles. Find a good one to follow for the 100 miles, and the economy will improve considerably.
While I mull having another go, here are some assorted highlights from the trip. Enjoy.
The 55-litre tank was brimmed with 55.26-litres of BP Ultimate diesel. I never made it back to the BP garage next to Kempton racecourse, meaning I missed out on the welcoming party they surely had planned...
Not the best lorry to slipstream, but it was carrying some familiar-looking cars. It was soon after the M55/M6 junction that I began to learn the art of slipstreaming.
Absolutely no danger of giving this friendly chap another form to fill in.
Staring at the fuel gauge and trip computer became an obsession. It caused some odd facial expressions, too.
Thanks for this friendly advice, Scottish matrix sign. Acknowledged.
The 500-mile turnaround point just south of Brechin. Note the fuel gauge has an indicated half a tank left. If only it was to be believed.
Day one ended back in Carlisle. Next morning, the emergency £6.99 jerrycan was purchased and filled with five litres of diesel. Shame it had to make a later appearance.
Breakfast took place in the glamorous surroundings of the Carlisle Travelodge car park. If you want anything other than a roll/burger/sandwich on the route we took, you're out of luck.
An uneventful first 100 miles down the M6 on day two ended when a Lithuanian lorry driver T-boned a fellow Seat Leon Ecomotive driver. No-one was hurt, luckily. The Leon was less fortunate.
The Highways Agency closed the road to allow the accident to be moved to the shoulder. This parking spot proved to be a dress rehearsal for the events of a couple of hours later.
This message came up after 847 miles. We would travel another 78 before it finally gave up.
Having sampled Burger King, McDonalds, KFC and various petrol station offerings along the way, I can recommend a Burger King Steakhouse Angus highest. Sadly, Little Chef was unable to take part in this side story as all of them were closed.
The 900-mile milestone was not one we expected to see when the range clicked over to zero after 847 miles.
The inevitable finally happened just before J11 of the M40, almost directly opposite Prodrive's Banbury headquarters.
This looks scarier than it actually was, although it's not something I plan on repeating. This trip took range anxiety to a whole new level.
The final total - 925 miles. It was achieved in 18 hours 42 minutes, at a claimed average economy of 72.9mpg and average speed of 50mph.