RIP in Europe 2013 Part 1

Photo for RIP in Europe 2013 Part 1

There is an Australian MGA Roadster that has been driven over 120,000 miles in the past ten years.  Purchased in 2004 by Dave and Laurel Godwin, members of NAMGAR and the Gold Coast MG Car Club, this MGA has license plate "RIP" - definitely not "rest-in-peace" for this car.  Here are some of the car's travel highlights:

2005 - the car was shipped from Australia to the UK, and joined the Around Britain Tour.  From the UK, RIP toured western Europe for 2 months.
2006 - car shipped back to Australia for a rebuild.
2007 - driven around Australia towing a trailer shaped like a coffin, covering 10,500 miles
2008 -traveled around New Zealand before going to South Africa. Trip covered nine countries from the Cape to the Equator and back.
2010 - RIP became the first MGA to drive from Shanghai to Abingdon. The almost 13,000 mile journey covered 11 countries en route.
2012 - the car led a group of MG's driving from Cape Town, South Africa, to Cairo, Egypt, and on to Abingdon. Click here for articles relating to this trip.

This year the car continued north in Europe going to North Cape, Norway inside the Arctic Circle.  This is the tale of that journey written by Dave Godwin, during which RIP's speedo turned over 120,000 miles since purchase in 2004. (The article is in 2 parts.  Part 2 will be posted in the coming weeks):

"Last November, RIP arrived in the UK, having left Cape Agulhas, the most southerly point of Africa in September 2012, with 10 other classic MGs.

She had survived The Road from Hell in northern Kenya and enjoyed the comradeship with the other classic MG Adventurers along the way. However, a coming together with a taxi in Nairobi meant that RIP had to spend the winter in the UK at a panel beater, to return her to the condition she has become accustomed, while Laurel and I returned to Australia.

So, we returned to the UK in the summer of 2013 to rescue her and decided to take her on a Last Fling in Europe before shipping her back to the Gold Coast, Australia. We set about giving her a well-earned major service, changing all her oils and vacuuming a bag full of African dust out of her carpets. The compression on cylinders 1 and 2 was found to be slightly down, so I decided to replace the head gasket. However, on a closer inspection of the head gasket, no fault could be found, so the two exhaust valves were removed and found to be pitted – possibly due to the poor grade of fuel RIP drank in Africa. A quick valve grind soon fixed that problem and RIP was ready for her next adventure. Who says classic cars have to be high in maintenance? RIP has covered 22000km through terrible conditions and other than two pitted valves and a fuel pump failure – which was entirely my fault as I had forgotten to replace the sealing tape when inspecting the points before leaving for Africa – she has been absolutely trouble-free! Long may RIP enjoy her adventures…

Fuel pump

RIP, having visited 3 of the 4 southern-most towns on the globe – namely, Invercargill in New Zealand, Hobart in Australia and Cape Agulhas in Africa – we decided this was a good time to visit the northern-most town of Europe – Nordkapp (North Cape), Norway. So, in the company of the Slater’s and Fowler’s in their MGBGTs (they had both accompanied RIP through Africa in 2012), we set off on a ferry to Esbjerg, Denmark, the start of the Artic Highway.

Laurel and I have heard and read a lot about Scandinavia in the past but we were not prepared for the orderliness and beauty that we witnessed. The mountains, some still snow capped, lakes and forests covered much of the land not taken over by farming. Motorways and minor roads were generally in perfect condition, all houses and buildings looked as if they had just received a coat of paint, not a rusty car was seen – nor an obese person – the Vikings sure are a grand race! We quickly found that the cost of living is astronomical but were told that the wages are in line for the majority of the population to enjoy their lives…

GPSGPS Confirms Nordkapp

Where do I start! The purpose of the trip was to visit Nordkapp, which is latitude 71deg 10min North and 2000km from the North Pole, before the midnight sun started setting. We failed miserably – we left the UK too late and took too long to traverse Sweden from South to North – then through northern Finland into Norway and on up to Nordkapp. There was so much to see, not the least being Santa’s Office on the Artic Circle 66deg 33min North! This gave us an opportunity to thank Santa for the gifts he has given our children and grand children over the years (in the hope that he will continue to be generous, of course!)

The Team at Nordkapp

Reaching Nordkapp was a special time for RIP, Laurel and I. To stare northwards over the Artic Ocean and imagine nothing between us and the North Pole but water and ice, was awesome. We duly took our photos and popped the cork of a bottle of champagne when there was a thunder clap and the heavens opened and we bolted for shelter. We had been on the road for just over a week and had experienced the best weather that Scandinavia could offer us – sunshine and more sunshine!

Our trip south through Norway offered us the best MG driving – EVER! The scenery; mountain passes, mountain passes, mountain passes – just UNREAL! Towards the top of my personal list must be Stelvio Pass in Italy, but I believe the Trollstigen Pass beats it for beauty. Driving around 27 hairpin bends is awesome, but doing it alongside a roaring river, waterfall and over an ancient bridge is double awesome! And the best is still to come – we had to drive down the pass on the other side of the mountain, crossed a fjord by ferry before doing it all again – over and over. Does this constitute heaven for an MG driver? I think so!

Trollstigen PassAwesome Trollstigen Pass

MG heaven for our wives was arriving at the Artic Circle Raceway at 5pm one day and finding it open and ready for racing… This is the most northerly race track in the world and after a few tentative laps, the Girls loved the thrill of passing each other – we couldn’t wipe the grins off their faces for hours afterwards!

Arctic Circle RacewayArctic Circle Raceway

Thanks heaps to Sue and Nigel, who did a lovely job of planning and leading us through the best parts of Scandinavia. They organised the weather perfectly and even found a moose for us to photograph – albeit due to RIP stopping to pick up something that had blown off the windscreen!

Co-incidences often come at the most unexpected times. While I was booking into the hotel on our last day in Norway, a chap sauntered over to Laurel sitting in RIP and said “I know this car. RIP has traveled from China to Abingdon and Cape Town to Abingdon – I have read all about her!” A good pick-up line, yes, but good friends are never more than a brief conversation away and Are, who is on the committee of the Norwegian MG Car Club, took us to his house to show us his beautiful black MGA – called Black Lady – which is in better condition than it was at birth – and a good time was had by all!

We also met Eric, a mad classic motorcyclist who rides a Ural with sidecar, who befriended us in Bjerkvik and showed us a Junker, a German WW2 plane, essentially intact, as it had landed on a nearby lake in 1940 and couldn’t take off before the ice melted, so ended up under water for 60+ years!

We said our goodbyes to the Fowler’s in Lubeck, Germany and headed off to our next appointment with Piero and 70 other classic MGs on the Island of Sardinia.

At this point, RIP had covered 7200km since leaving the UK – I didn’t know that it was so far to Nordkapp!

Over the next 10 days, the Slater’s led our now-diminished MG convoy through Berlin (Germany), so much history!; Cesky Krumlov (Czech Republic), a really quaint medieval village; Vienna (Austria), coffee and chocolate to die for; Cinque Terra (Italy), a long walk to 5 remote, coastal villages not reached by road for centuries and The Leaning Tower of Pisa – another 2000km journey for RIP – en route to Livorno, near Rome and our over-night ferry heading for Sardinia with 70 other classic MGs from around Europe and the UK.

Click here to read Part 2 of this article.

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Last updated on November 5, 2013.