From Australia to Northampton in a 30-year-old 4x4 - now that's a Top Gear challenge
An adventurous Northamptonshire man is set to put Top Gear's staged intercontinental 'challenges' to shame by driving from Australia to England in a 30 year old Land Rover.
Mechanic and carpenter Jamie Billson is half way through a year long expedition to bring a beloved second hand 4x4 vehicle “back home” from the other side of the globe.
He and fellow traveller Rainer Slezak, from Germany, are aiming to bring the 1989 V8 Range Rover they bought in Australia back through Indonesia, China, Mongolia, Russia and mainland Europe back to Northampton by Christmas.
Irthlingborough man and former Scout Jamie says the trip is not a charity expedition - it is simply a tribute to the classic vehicle, which only recently went out of production.
He said: “The Land Rover Defender stopped production just recently so we wanted to bring this one home.
“For me it’s about my passion for cars really - it’s a very British thing.”
Jamie is still currently in Australia where he has already travelled more than 10,000 miles traversing the country by way of Sydney, Perth and Melbourne. At each stage of the journey Jamie and his travelling partner have picked up others to join them on the journey.
Jamie, who initially only flew out to Australia to visit an uncle before deciding on adventuring home, has called the challenge “Low Gear” and has been charting his journey through via a Facebook page of the same name.
But he said his expedition is far tougher than anything carried out by the likes of Jeremy Clarkson and BBC’s Top Gear team, who were accompanied round the world by support vehicles and a production crew.
“We don’t have a massive budget here,” he said, “we are only moving on when we can afford to.
“I’m actually working out in Sydney at the moment so I can afford the next step of the journey. This is a real expedition.”
Jamie and Rainer say they may come across difficulty travelling through China as the country has strict laws on driving licences.
With 300,000 kilometres on the clock, he says the Land Rover has also proved challenging to maintain. By that stretch it has already been around the world seven-and-a-half times.
But he said: “For me I cannot think of anything better to do.
“It is so out of my comfort zone, but it has been amazing going to all these different places.”
The Land Rover Defender originally launched ion 1948, but production of the British made vehicle halted in December 2015 after a continuous run of 67 years.