Throwback Thursday – Land's End to John O'Groats on one tank, 10 July 1976

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Source : Throwback Thursday – Land's End to John O'Groats on one tank, 10 July 1976

Autocar’s Austin 1800 long-term test car covers the 867-mile trek by one end of the country to the various other – without stopping for fuel


Driving the country by toe to tip has always been an alluring challenge for motoring journalists.

For Stuart Bladon, Martin Lewis along with photographer Peter Cramer, This specific was a way of investigating the frugality of Autocar’s Austin 1800 long-term test car, which had been converted to run a dual petrol-LPG fuel set-up.

“Our Austin retained its 16-gallon petrol tank, plus a 15-gallon cylinder within the boot for LPG,” wrote Bladon along with Lewis in their account of the trip, which also raised money for charity. “With of which lot, we argued, surely This specific would likely even go by Land’s End to John O’Groats without refuelling. Or would likely This specific?”

The team set off to their departure point, Land’s End, within the middle of of which summer’s heatwave. “We decided of which a late start would likely suit best, giving us most of the driving during the night. We kept the gas tank filled up to the warning line on the gauge, which, unfortunately, is usually on the tank within the boot; there is usually no direct read-off within your vehicle. The drive to Cornwall was made on petrol, since we knew we might be in difficulty trying to refill the gas cylinder down there.”

In front of swarms of holidaymakers at Land’s End, they brimmed the petrol tank, generating their departure at exactly 5pm. “Within half an hour we were stuck within the Penzance rush hour (if they call This specific of which),” they reported. “Eventually we were clear along with able to build up the speed again, to Tiverton.

“Long before the event, we had written to the AA for a route, which they furnished with due solemnity, showing the distance as 865.95 miles. However, we noticed of which they took us by Okehampton down to Exeter, which the map clearly showed to involve extra mileage. Instead, we cut across, using Ordnance Survey maps. Once on the M5 we relaxed, switched to gas along with pushed up the cruising speed to 60mph.”

As they neared Carlisle, they hit trouble. The team didn’t realise This specific at the time, although a faulty regulator valve had been feeding an over-rich mixture of LPG into the engine.

“Stuart was attempting sleep within the back when your vehicle gave a jerk along with then started off to lose speed. ‘The gas has gone,’ came the muttered explanation. 330 miles covered on 15 gallons of gas meant we had barely cleared 20mpg, along with of which meant over 500 miles to do on the petrol.

“Could we believe the petrol gauge? If we could, then This specific might still be on. This specific was still over the half mark on the A9 near Balinluig. This specific became increasingly obvious of which we should complete the distance safely enough for the speed to be increased to 50mph.”

Panic over, the team found their arrival at John O’Groats to be “something of an anti-climax, although This specific was great to get out along with stretch along with know of which we had done This specific”.

The true distance of the route was measured at 860.3 miles. The Austin had covered 540.6 miles on 13.05 gallons to give average petrol consumption of 41.4mpg.

Previous Throwback Thursdays

4 March 1899 – Steam, electric or combustion engine? 

26 June 1906 – The first French Grand Prix

9 July 1907 – The beginning of Brooklands

14 February 1913 – 100 miles in one hour

8 April 1916 – generating post-war predictions

25 March 1922 – Caterpillar tracks are the future

4 July 1925 – Citroën lights up the Eiffel Tower

2 February 1934 – The ethics of skidding

6 July 1934 – A tour of Cowley

1 June 1935 – Introduction of the driving test

22 June 1945 – Driving through post-WW2 Europe

21 January 1949 – Tidier tails

24 April 1959 – Aston Martin enters Formula 1

27 January 1961 – Ford Thunderbird road test

17 November 1961 – TVR Grantura road test

6 May 1971 – Driving Ford’s Supervan

13 May 1978 – Ferrari 512 BB road test

19 January 1980 – Talbot Horizon road test

13 February 1982 – 4x4s tested on the farm 

17 April 1985 – Secrets of a lost British supercar

28 April 1993 – BL’s unseen concepts

16 March 1994 – Bentley’s Concept Java

16 April 1997 – When Bugatti bit the dust

4 April 2001 – 0-260mph in 6.0 seconds

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