Minor British Institutions: Banger rallying

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The Independent Online

Not to be confused with banger racing or with plutocratic car races such as the Gumball Rally, this is the peculiarly British practice of taking a cheap old car, preferably of home manufacture and design, to the further reaches of the planet.

The pioneering event was the Plymouth-Dakar Challenge, an automotive satire on the Paris-Dakar rally, and it has now been joined by StaplesNaples and the Mongol Rally.

These adventures are in the finest traditions of Raleigh, Cook and Livingstone, sharing that same fear that the vessel may not be up to the journey, or provide adequate protection from the predations of strange peoples.

It is tempting to imagine one of those great explorers of the past gamely taking the wheel of a 1975 Hillman Hunter and leading an armada of rusty British tin through the western Sahara.

That you would not normally trust such a banger to get you to Tesco and back is the point. While there are still men (and women) prepared to drive an Austin Allegro halfway across the earth in the name of charity, the spirit of Britain lives.