Back in 1997, Jonathan and Mariam had participated in the Peking to Paris Vintage Rally in a, then 60 year old, Railton Cobham. The rally proved problematic but Jonathan, Mariam and the Railton completed the 42-day event and, in doing so, planted the seed of adventure in to Mariam’s fathers mind.
In 2000, Abdul Aziz may have been 67-year old with two hip replacements, a metal plate in his spine and undergone triple heart bypass surgery but he coughed up the necessary entrance fee for the London to Peking leg of a Round-the-World Rally for classic and vintage cars and he was determined to do it in the Railton. Probably time to inform the kids then…
Initially reluctant with the idea, both Jonathan and Mariam had to accept the reality of the situation. Abdul Aziz had already paid the substantial entrance fee and there was no turning back. Only problem being that the Railton Cobham was not road worthy. With three days before the start of the rally the Rover P5B was purchased, an overhauled engine was dropped in and the team were ready to hit the road to Peking.
Unfortunately, the road to Peking started at Tower Bridge in London and, barely ten minutes later, Abdul Aziz managed to plough the Rover straight in to a roundabout. Rally manager Philip Young, who had hitched a ride with them to the ferry, questioned if the car would ever reach Dover (never mind China) while Abdul Aziz professed lack of experience in driving on the left side of the road as the cause of the incident.
A near-miss lightning strike while crossing the French Alps followed. As did terminal failure of the suspension in Greece. Fortunately, the suspension failed during a period of rest days and new shocks were hurriedly flown in which got the team to Istanbul before a set of new springs could be fabricated for the Rover.