Right from the off, things had not gone well with the P38, 500-mile, one-tank challenge. Besides having various repairs to deal with before so much as packing my overnight bag, a few days before the test was set to begin my ever-troublesome P38 decided to churn up its driveshaft and cough its guts up at the side of the road.
Limping back to LRO’s Peterborough HQ, the Range Rover was fired across to Alan at Avenger4x4 for some emergency surgery. Except, even with extensive professional help, the P38 still refused to embark on its Celtic trip. But, in true Austin-Rover style, the vehicle kept its extensive breakdown for the exact morning I had to hit the road north.
Starting up on Tuesday morning to a fresh clanking noise before something fell out the bottom of the engine, the idler had decided it no longer required it’s bearing and promptly collapsed. This resulted in the fan belt being shredded akin to Freddie Kruger’s favourite stuffed animal and the alternator taking a thumping. In essence, with 15 minutes before kick off, the P38 wasn’t going anywhere. Then it sprayed oil everywhere, just before the air conditioning belt snapped.
Sadly, the LRO office has a giant glass wall above the car park - so the hyenas began their laughter track as I trudged up the stairs, clasping the remains of the fan belt, having witnessed the whole event. Begging for use of one of the LRO fleet, sadly I was denied access to the keys drawer and found myself scrabbling to source another vehicle with mere minutes to locate a functioning Land Rover.
Scheduled to leave at Noon exactly, with five minutes to go before the powers that be would be calling my challenge a flop, with nowhere left to turn to, I phoned my mother. After much begging, she agreed to let me borrow her Freelander 1 Td4. The begging didn’t come from the challenge idea, however. It came from the fact that the car I would have to leave her with for a week - my only working car - would be my Rover Metro. She was, needless-to-say, not impressed.
It also meant I would have to drive to Edinburgh in said Metro, which would result in a new kind of fresh hell, to collect the Freelander and work my way up to Portavadie. You can read about that later on…
Not that the P38 woes for that week were over. With the Range Rover’s keys left behind on the LRO desks, Martin started her up and wallowed its bulk into the Peterborough arena to join the other LRO fleet cars on the magazine stand. In the process, the remains of the fan belt flew off and the coolant system had kittens. As did the power steering pump. Serious work would need to be undertaken to get the P38 home off the stand come the Sunday. Sigh.