Posted On 06th September,2017
Richard Gwilliam & Mark Allan, two childhood friends from Hampshire, with a combined age of over 100, have decided to embark on an adventure of a lifetime. They have entered the PandaRaid event on March 2018, a rally starting in Madrid and ending in Marrakesh. Seven nights through the Moroccan landscape in March, temperatures from -7 to +35, through snow, rocks and sand. The only rule for the rally is, it must be completed in a classic Fiat Panda! Richard is our Managing Director, Mark is an IT Project Manager at Portsmouth City Council. Both being IT geeks, the challenge is huge; first getting their 1991 Fiat Panda 4×4 through an MOT, then the modifications required to withstand the challenge. Richard explained “we are not mechanics but our general approach has been – how hard can it be?” Richard added “we found out just how hard it was – especially with a car that was not built to last more than 10 years, especially in a wet UK”.
Richard said “we are both fathers and our children are lucky enough to be loved dearly and they are rarely left wanting for anything. It is very sad that so many children do not have the basics and they often exist in an environment that will suppress any aspirations they could have. We feel these children need inspiration and the belief that they can have ambitions – and they can fulfil their ambitions – but they need a helping hand..
We decided to embark on this adventure and raise money for a fantastic local charity “Wave 105.2 Cash for Kids” which helps disabled, disadvantaged and neglected / abused children. The entrance fees and car preparation has been funded by us and our very generous sponsors. All donations received will go directly to the charity.”
This picture shows Richard repairing the brake switch at a service station on the M6. Mark said “our brake lights had stopped working which meant we had to drive with great caution, we stopped at a service station on the M6 and Richard showed off his soldering skills to repair the wires. An ongoing problem with this Italian beauty – the wiring is just so corroded”.
Richard & Mark have faced many challenges; Richard added “We have found many helpful folk who have given their time to help us with all aspects of the project. I would like to extend my special thanks to the classic Panda enthusiasts on the Fiat forum who have provided so much help and guidance on repairs, parts, modifications and inspiration – and a shoulder to cry on. I am surprised Steve Varley from the Fiat Forum has not blocked my number – I owe him many beer credits.!”
Panda meet, Masham, North Yorkshire, 1-JUL-2017
what happens next?
The Panda build is nearly complete. Richard & Mark will be meeting up with twenty other Pandas from the Fiat forum in late September to expose the vehicle to some of the roughest terrain in the Peak District. Mark commented “This will provide an excellent test for our Panda, it will expose our weaknesses which will give us an opportunity to make further modifications before the main event”.
Richard and Mark will be launching a website soon which will provide many updates and include live satellite tracking for when the rally starts.
We will be adding links to the website for any donations which would be very gratefully received.
Our very special thanks go to our sponsors who have kindly provided their products and services to help make this challenge a reality.