Mongol Shoebox. Driving a Suzuki SJ from the UK to Mongolia and back! From Ocean to Everest in a Auto Rickshaw!

adventure the world
If only she knew what was about to happen!
Lining up at the start.
A pre-departure publicity event.
Its never going to fit!

The Car

To conform to the rules of the Mongol Rally the car could not have an engine larger than one litre! There were some glittering choices that were available to us but in the end, the Suzuki SJ410 was our preferred steed of choice. Yes, we knew they have a habit of falling over at the first sight of a corner, the five speed gearbox has the fragility of glass and they have a top speed of 40mph but it was the ground clearance that sold it to us. In the end, our trusty vehicle was the four speed option and actually reached a stupendous 70mph down a very long hill, when empty; not that she ever was empty! As far as the falling over problem went, we discussed outriggers for a while but in the end plumped just to avoid any curvy stuff wherever possible.

She was purchased in the South Hams area of Devon. Despite us being told, by one obvious believer, that she wouldn’t get ten miles, the drive back to Essex went off without a hitch.

Now began the task of getting her fully rally prepared.

In terms of essentials for equipping the car to tackle a 15000 mile journey, we packed a couple of 20ltr jerry cans for petrol to cover the longer gaps between petrol stations, fitted new seats, extra spotlights, a snorkel, a fire extinguisher (Red Box Fire), an extra battery and split charge system (Driftgate 2000), a racking system in the back, a custom made over-sized radiator (Colchester Radiator Specialist), changed the brake pads, fitted all new tyres (Trident Tyre & Vehicle Services) and gave the old girl a full service (Pegasus).

It was then just a question of trying to fit all the spares (Marks Tey Auto Spares, Jubilee Clips and Pegasus), camping gear (Camperite) and as many tools (PrimeTools) as we could muster into what is essentially a very small space. Yes there was a period of time when it looked like one of use was walking!

We were finally ready at 3.30am on the morning of departure. With three hours sleep under our belts, we headed up to Hyde Park for the official launch of the 2006 Mongol Rally.

Hover over photos for large versions

Life After the Rally

Uniquely, for a Mongol Rally car, our little brute is back in the UK and being used on a daily basis, still bearing all its sponsorship but not its shovel!

Obviously, before she was fit for the UK roads, there were a few repairs to complete and an awful lot of cleaning to do. Whilst carrying out the work the master brake pipe blew on us completely, leaving us, rather worryingly, with zero brakes! Also, we had a tinny whinny fire due to some doggy wiring we had rushed through in Siberia. Why these problems didn't come up during our trip, no-one will know. I

In Poland on the way home, some drongo pulled out in front of us without looking; that brake pipe should have gone then but for whatever reason didn't. Interestingly, we never thought the brakes were much cop, a new stainless braided master pipe and hey presto, we have brakes! Oh well, better late than never!

There is no better way to get your Christmas Tree home than with an ex-mongol rally car!