THIS IS HOW A NORTH-EAST WOMAN COMPLETED A 1,500-MILE TREK IN £400 CAR WITH 190,000 MILES ON THE CLOCK FOR CHARITY
A North-east woman has completed a 1,500-mile rally across nine countries in an old £400 banger, despite breaking down.
Michelle Dunbar, 38, managed to get all the way to Barcelona from her home in Oyne, just under 10 miles from Inverurie, in the old Audi diesel 1.9 with 190,000 miles on the clock.
But the motor –named the Kilted Road Hoggers – was in such a bad state of repair that she had to take it to the nearest scrapyard after crossing the finish line in the Spanish city.
Michelle and her 24-year-old brother Graeme Geddes shared eight-hour driving days taking in some of the stunning scenery along one of the Alps’ highest passes and the French Riviera.
And the musician treated other rally drivers to a touch of Scotland when she pulled out her bagpipes at one of the meeting points and played a song in her kilt.
The mother-of-one spent several weeks painting the car, which had a Loch Ness Monster attached to the roof, in the evenings after putting her four-year-old son to bed.
She said: “It took me weeks to do. I had to wait until he was sleeping at night to work on it – my neighbours must have thought I was crazy.
“I was out in the evenings and setting my alarm early in the morning to finish it.”
Michelle travelled down to Newcastle with her brother then boarded a ferry across to Amsterdam to take part in the Barmy to Barcelona Wacky Rally.”
But the real journey started in the city of Lille in France where rally drivers had to register before driving through five countries on the first day.
She said: “It was an amazing experience in Switzerland because they closed off the road and people came along to watch with a parade going down the street.
“The car broke down on one of the Swiss mountain passes. I took a difficult route and then we ended up stuck in a traffic jam for about an hour and the car started to overheat.
“It was roasting hot weather and we had the heaters on full blast to take the heat away from the engine.
“As we were going up the mountain pass, the car just conked out completely.
“The car was at a gradient and we were sitting there looking up at the sky.”
Fortunately for Michelle, her partner Colin Murdoch, 40, and his 39-year-old friend Jamie Provatos, both of Aberdeen, were travelling in another car ahead and the men drove back to help the stranded pair.
She added: “When I opened the bonnet, there was steam coming out of the car.
“Jamie is a mechanic, he initially thought it didn’t look too good but we eventually found out it had just overheated and had to wait for the car to cool down.
“It started again, thankfully, but we had to change the route in case the car gave up on me. And off we went on our travels again.
“The car was scrapped in Barcelona. It was running on fumes because I didn’t want to put any more fuel in it. Just as I was pulling up to the scrapyard, the left hand side mirror fell off and the interior rear light was hanging down.
“I think the car was telling me it had had enough – it was done.”
Michelle said she was so exhausted after driving all the way to Barcelona earlier this month that she slept for almost two days when she reached the end of the trip.
The car enthusiast has raised nearly £1,000 for the Befriend a Child charity through her driving adventure.
Donations can be made by visiting justgiving.com/fundraising/michelle-marie-dunbar