An old TVR has beaten the reliability odds during a ten month driving tour visiting bars on the opposite side of the globe.
Chimaera 400 owner Ben Coombs, inspired by an idea he had while supping a pint in the Two Bridges, Dartmoor, set off from the Devon pub on Sunday, July 2, bound for the Norwegian island of Svalbard; its abandoned mining town, Pyramiden, was chosen because it was the closest place to the North Pole with a permanent population (of four people) and a bar.
“The residents all live in the only building still functioning – the town’s old hotel – which happens to have a still-functioning bar, Ben told BBC News. He added that, while there are watering holes on military and research bases further north, he only wanted to visit licensed bars open to the public.
From there, Ben faced a 23,500 mile drive to the Hotel Tulpan’s southern equivalent – Puerto Williams in Tierra del Fuego, Chile. His progress was tracked by thousands of supporters – including the TVR Car Club.
“The Chimaera’s an ideal car to take on a long distance trip. It has a bulletproof engine, a rigid frame, and, for a sports car, long travel suspension,” explained Richard Sails, TVR Car Club chairman.
He continued: “Ben’s a car tour veteran. He’s done other trips in other cars, including Porsches – and they’ve all let him down. Including the back-up cars.”
Ben’s 20-year old Chimaera 400, nicknamed ‘Kermit’, was standard apart from the stickers added for the trip. Its original clutch, a service item, gave out in Nicaragua, and a stone broke a headlamp – the only mechanical issues encountered. Neither kept the car off the road for long, apart from when it had to be shipped between Nicaragua and Ecuador to avoid a right-hand drive vehicle ban in Costa Rica and the Darien Gap, a dense jungle which separates Central America from South America.
Ben and Kermit’s travels aren’t over. They are expected at the TVR Car Club’s Burleigh Horse Power event – the club’s season opener – on Sunday, April 8. The following week, the pair will slowly head back to the Two Bridges in Dartmoor, visiting suppliers and sponsors on the way.