Three GLOBETROTTING friends have made it safely back to Leeds after driving 11,000 miles around the world in a clapped-out old car.
Simon Kuznetsov, Vincent Cook, and Alastair Adams are back from the trip of a lifetime after taking their 1976 Austin Allegro Estate through 17 countries in just 38 days as part of the Mongol Rally challenge.
The trio from Headingley bought the old banger for £651 on eBay and spent a year transforming the 38-year-old car before its epic journey across two continents.
Simon, 26, said: “It was absolutely falling to bits and it’s just amazing that it made it to the finish line.”
Their beloved motor –nicknamed Melanie – burned through nine tyres in its last week and had faulty brakes, no suspension, no electrics, no fuel tank and no windscreen wipers by the time it limped across the finish line.
The car is believed to be one of only four Austin Allegro Estates still running in the UK.
Simon, who teaches engineering at Skipton Girls’ High School, said: “Our car was in a similar state to the others at the finish line but just a bit rustier.
“Some had to be taken to the finish line on the back of lorries.
“But ours limped there and we were determined to get it over the finish line on its own steam.”
The ‘Lost in Allegro’ team, who all met as pupils at Lawnswood School, battled temperatures of 46 degrees centigrade and came in at a respectable 118th place out of 240 teams.
During its journey, the rare car suffered a collapsed suspension and had its exhaust pipe fall off 27 times.
But even when the battery fell off and set fire to the brake lines in the middle of Mongolian desert, it didn’t stop the team, who made their repairs and battled on.
And it’s all been worth it for the three pals as they’ve managed to raise an impressive £3,000 for charities including Alzheimers Research, Friends of Alfie Martin, Cool Earth and Shelterbox.
Vincent, 25, said: “The best bits were the people we met and the welcomes we received, seeing the world from a new perspective, challenging ourselves, making light of tough situations and raising money for great charities.”
The much-loved car is still in Mongolia and waiting to be shipped home so the team can restore it.
Teammate Alastair, 25, said: “It would be way cheaper to just buy another but the car holds a sentimental value now.”
Speaking about the experience, he added: “We learned that the world is a very small place if we can drive a third of it in just over a month in a battered old Allegro.
“People are amazing all over the world, especially the lesser-travelled countries like Iran and Turkmenistan.
“We met some of the most hospitable, kind and helpful people in these countries.”
He added: “It is by far the best adventure we have been on.”
A feature length documentary of their journey is currently being edited and will be shown at Cottage Road Cinema in Headingley later this year.
To sponsor the Lost in Allegro team, visit www.youcaring.com/lostinallegro.
To find out more about their journey, you can also visit their website at www.lostinallegro.com.
Alternatively, you can follow @lostinallegro on Twitter.