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On your marks …

Half a century ago, when I was in my early teens, the winter news bulletins were replete with reports of the Monte Carlo Rally. This annual event took cars and drivers from several starting points all over Europe through snow, ice, fog, hail and gale so that they eventually arrived in Monte Carlo. There were also many “special stages” which tested cars and drivers to the limit along the way. Names like Erik Carlsson, Pat Moss (sister of Stirling Moss), Paddy Hopkirk, Saab and Mini Cooper became household words.

Later, in the 60’s (1969, to be precise), the Rally inspired a motion picture with an all-star cast – Monte Carlo or Bust!. You can still find copies on a certain auction site …

Later still, in the 10’s (and I can’t be more precise), Cuthbert Ware-Armitage (probably not his real name) was inspired by the motion picture to stage his own version of the Monte Carlo Rally entitled (believe it or not) Monte Carlo or Bust and subtitled the ultimate European banger rally adventure.

Now I always entertained visions of doing the Monte Carlo, not as a serious competitor, mark you, but just for the challenge of it. As the years slipped by I realised it just wasn’t going to happen. But now here, totally unexpectedly, is an opportunity to do the Monte Carlo Rally (of sorts) and I intend to seize it with both hands. We’re into bucket list territory, folks, so let’s be about it.

The adventure starts for me this coming Saturday, when I travel down to Telford in Shropshire to retrieve the car I just bought via that well-known auction Website. She’s a 1998 Citroën Xsara VTR 1.8i coupé in green, with all the bells and whistles necessary for a comfortable and safe journey in early summer – ABS, PAS, air bags and air conditioning to name but a few. Some “banger”!

Piccies and more news to follow.

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On your marks … from Monte Carlo - or bust!