Pedro is in the UK and has cleared customs! He has to be MOT’d, UK registered and taxed before I can drive him so it’s off to the docks with a trailer.
Sponsorship for rallies is always hard to find so I couldn’t believe my luck when Mark who formed specialist engineering firm Dreamshack volunteered to rally prep Pedro. An ex-army REME engineer, Mark has worked in research and development, battlefield mechanics and since leaving the army has turned his hand to hot-rod building and preparing expedition Land Rovers. He also has a love of the simple mechanics of the VW Beetle. He was the ideal man for the job.
Mercifully, being Californian, Pedro was totally rust free. All that was required in that department was a little under floor strengthening to ensure he’d be up to the rough terrain ahead. The wiring was immaculate and just required a little more tidying.
The 1776cc engine was switched for a stock 1600 unit for the journey, partly because it was a stronger unit but also so replacement parts would be easier to come by in far flung places. While the engine was out, Mark decided it was time I got my hands dirty and set me the task of under-sealing the whole car to make sure he stayed rust free for a good long time!
Then came the fun part! When driving across the Sahara desert in a Beetle some years before, I hit a bump and the roof rack lurched in front of the windscreen! The following year, driving across Mongolia in a friends Micra our roof rack had again parted company. Pedro’s roof rack was great for regular road use but I couldn’t see it staying with me all the way to Australia.
Mark had an idea, first he built a small internal roll cage around the front seats. Then he made much stronger side nudge bars incorporating jerry can holders. Next came a heavy duty roof rack with a side ladder for access to the spare wheel mount on the roof and bars across the back window to join on to the rear cage.
Essentially what we would have would act like an external roll cage, giving bags of extra strength.
“You’ll be able to roll it down a Himalaya and, as long as you get out before it bursts into flames, you’ll be fine” Mark joked. In all seriousness, as I planned to visit Mount Everest this was a distinct possibility!