Four of us share ownership of this lovely Commer van. We are;

Me (Alex)

Me, cheerful in Poland

Me, cheerful in Poland

Suresh (Suz)

Suz vs Exhaust

Suz vs Exhaust

Andrew

Chic in safety specs

Chic in safety specs

Stig (Stephen)

Stig 'no hands' in a tux

Stig 'no hands' in a tux

We are a bunch of twenty somethings sharing a vague interest in older cars and adventure. The twins, Stephen and Andrew, have already participated in a past Mongol Rally event fairly successfully (Until abandoning the event after being robbed by Ukraine police).

The Commer is our third campervan. The first was an ill fated affair with a converted Ford Ambulance which was naively bought as a runner. It turned out to be a deathtrap and was subsequently scrapped.

Vanbulance - death trap

Vanbulance - death trap

After we took the vanbulance to a local garage for an Mot, the mechanics nervously told us that we were lucky it had made it to the garage without the engine falling through the chassis. The weird guy that sold it to us has a lot to answer for!

We have since learned that his kitchen burnt down after his dog caught fire on fireworks night. The dog was scared by the noise and managed to run into the fireplace and catch fire, then run into the kitchen. Now this had nothing to do with us or the van, and I consider myself an animal lover…but even so, some of us smiled a little when we heard this story.

After the Vanbulance failed its Mot we had one week to find a new camper before our planned summer road trip in 2007. Stephen and Suz tracked down a new vehicle in the form of a Leyland Sherpa camper, complete with toilet, sink and shower.

The Sherpa was a raging success and we travelled across Europe in it, through to Poland. The exhaust started blowing as we left the UK and by the time we started heading west back across Europe it was in a sorry state. On route to Italy, we were turned away by the Austian border officials due to the noise and had to return to Slovakia to patch up the flagging exhaust, the Slovakian border officials jokingly calling us vandals as we trundled back into their country. We eventually improvised a repair with jubilee clips and baked bean tins and rode triumphantly into Austria.

Repairing the exhaust

Repairing the exhaust

Our happiness was unfortunately short lived. Doing roughly 50 mph on an Austrian autobahn the right rear wheel sheared off and the van crashed and rolled into the central reservation, throwing the three passengers in the back clear.

The living quaters of the van fell to pieces, effectively cushioning the passengers in the back from impact with the road. The cabin stayed solid and protected Suz and Stig in the front. Everyone was fine and laughing almost immediately after it was clear everyone was ok. The Austrian public were very helpful and kind and provided us with immediate assistance. The fifth member of the group, Caolan, has since moved on to look into participating in the rickshaw run.

Stig with the wreck

Stig with the wreck

I would like to add, a further member of our group deserves mention as he has recently assisted in applying paint stripper to the Commer. His prize? Mention here. Take a bow, Nick.

Nick finds conventional sofas passe

Nick finds conventional sofas passe

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