Round Britain Reliability Run
Back in 1966 some Club Triumph members discussed about the possibility of driving from London to John O'Groats, on to Land's End and finally back to London.... in 48 hours, just to see if it could be done in an everyday car, with an enjoyable weekend's motoring thrown in for free !! During a trip to Le Mans later that same year, more members discussed about and liked the idea. So, with the help of a local Triumph dealer (who supplied a Triumph 1300) and the factory (who both supplied a 2000) the first reliability run was conceived. Other group members participated making the total number of cars running six, one of each of the models in production at that time... (1300, 2000 MkI, Herald 1200, Vitesse 1600, Spitfire MkI, TR4). The event became a regular feature for the club and is now run every two years with a charitable basis.
On the 4th October 2002, my friend Keith and I set off from Crews Hill, Enfield at 7pm. We were checked out, then headed north to Scotland via checkpoints at Blyth, Corbridge and Edinburgh Airport to arrive at John O'Groats for breakfast on Saturday. We then spent Saturday driving through the Scottish Highlands, stopping at Colon Bridge for lunch, before heading south via Stirling and along the Welsh border via Oswestry and Gordano to arrive in Land's End for breakfast Sunday morning. Then finally homeward bound, via Ashburton in Devon for Lunch and via Fleet, returning to Enfield at 6pm on the evening of 6th October 2002 (47 hours later).
The route was absolutely superb, it really made a change to be using A and B roads rather than motorways. It also allowed us to take in some of the lovely scenary in Scotland, Devon and Cornwall.
Hitches.... yes we had a few.... whilst leading a pack of cars enroute to Scotland, in the early hours of Saturday morning, the lights on the car decided to go out, not the best thing to happen when there are no street lights.... some vigorous thumping of the switch brought them back on temporarily, but they were soon to give up the ghost completely. Thankfully, another of the teams (in a white MkII 2000) saw our problem and allowed us to follow them until dawn broke. The other problem came about the same time on Sunday morning, just after joining the M5, we started to encounter dense patchy fog. I suddenly saw something in the road that was too close to avoid, so hit it. When we stopped a few hundred meters up the road, fearing the worst from the racket it made, I found the only damage to be a broken spot light and a hole in the front spoiler (very lucky !!). We then started to encounter starting problems, so had to try and make a point of parking on a hill (in order to bump start the car), however this has since been traced to a loose connector on the solenoid (caused by the previous incident).
Of the 58 cars that started, 56 finished - not bad considering the newest car was a 20 year old Acclaim (run by three lads from Avon who bought the car less than 48 hours before the start).
The experience of doing the run is one I will hold with me for a long time to come. I don't think I've ever felt so tired as I did at times, but I've never felt so attached to a car as I do now. I'm really proud of my little TR7.... How many modern cars do we think would be able to get round the course in 20 or 30 years time without breaking down ???
Finally I must just say a big thank you to my co-driver Keith Compton-Bishop. Keith has been a great help with the cars over the past few months (and hopefully will continue to be so !!) and it is a real pleasure to have a mate that shares a passion for cars. I promise when we do the run next time, I'll try not to run over the cats eyes quite so often when you're trying to sleep !!! Cheers mate !!!