Off Down Under - in a 63 year old motor

Bob and Lynne Douglas and their 1948 MG TC sports car they are diving to China in from Barnsley 'See Story  Jeni Harvey    Picture Chris Lawton '25 May   2011
Bob and Lynne Douglas and their 1948 MG TC sports car they are diving to China in from Barnsley 'See Story Jeni Harvey Picture Chris Lawton '25 May 2011

MOST cars of its age would struggle to get to the bottom of the street. But Robert Douglas hopes his 1948 sports car will get him and the missus all the way to New Zealand.

And that’s quite an ask when you consider Robert bought the motor more than four decades ago for £150 intending it to be nothing more than a cheap run-around.

But 45 years later, Robert and his wife Lynne are set to embark on an epic 30,000 mile journey in their classic MG TC, travelling to New Zealand via Europe, Russia, China and south-east Asia.

The couple, who met two weeks after Robert bought the car in 1966, are set to depart from home in Dodworth, Barnsley, today and admit people say they are ‘totally, completely and utterly mad’.

Lynne, 60, said: “We’ve done long-distance touring in the past. We went around Australia in 2002 and in 2008 we drove from the southernmost tip of South America, through central America, up the west coast of America and to Alaska, to the furthest point you can get to in the north in a car.

“We left the car in Colorado and went back the next year, picked it up and spent three months driving around the USA, ending up in Virginia.”

On their latest trip, they will be joined by pals Mark and Sheila Masters, who own an MG that Lynne describes as ‘exactly like ours’.

She said: “We’ll be going through Europe, heading down through Venice and then through the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and entering Russia between June 14 and 17. We’re then driving up through St Petersburg, down to Moscow, through Siberia and crossing into Mongolia. We’ll then drive west to east, ending up in Ulan Bator and then south east to the border with China.

“We’ll spend 31 days driving in China, following the road south into Laos, then north to Thailand. We’ll pop into Cambodia, where we want to see Angkor Wat, then into Malaysia and Singapore, from where we’ll ship the cars to New Zealand.”

The Douglases accept their MG is bound to break down en route – but say they’re prepared for any emergency.

Extra storage compartments have been fitted to carry not only the luggage and camping equipment for their four-month-long journey, but spare parts for repairs.

“They made 10,000 TCs after the war and most of those were exported to the States. Not many stayed in Britain,” Lynne said. “It isn’t exactly rare, but it was in limited production. Back in 1966 it was a young man’s cheap run-about, it cost £150 then.

“That’s what men did then, bought cheap, old cars and got hooked. It’s a simple engine and simple to fix.”

They have also made arrangements with the MG car club in China, where modern MGs are made, to get any necessary repairs carried out.

Lynne said: “We’ve had it restored twice and they’re really easy to fix. If we did a trip like this in a modern car we wouldn’t stand a chance if we broke down, whereas with this type of car we can carry basic spares and fix it on the road.”

Robert, 64, said: “It’s taken a lot of organising, getting visas and working out how to get money. But now we’ve got that all sorted and our friends are here we’re raring to go.”