An old Mini to Kabul, a new one to Istanbul

Friday, 24 May 2013


▲ 1972 – our Mini in Eastern Turkey with Mt Ararat in the background, that’s where Noah landed the Ark

Back in 1972 Maureen and I drove a Mini we’d bought in London for £65 to Kabul in Afghanistan, sold it for a small profit and carried on all the way to Sydney in Australia. The book we wrote following that trip, Across Asia on the Cheap, was the starting point for Lonely Planet, 40 years ago.

Tony, Maureen, Oliver, Christa & Mini 542

▲ Fast forward to 2013 and Oliver Smith and Christa Larwood from the Lonely Planet magazine are about to follow our tyre tracks, well at least as far as Istanbul. They’re standing to the right of this shiny new Mini, Maureen and I are the much older pair to the left. That’s Hammersmith Bridge across the Thames in central London in the background.

They’ll be driving it as far as Istanbul, then flying to Dubai and on to India, kicking around India and down through South-East Asia for a spell and finally diverting to Papua New Guinea before making their Australian arrival in Cairns. Back in 1972 Maureen and I made our landfall (off a New Zealand yacht) at Exmouth on the other side of the country. I went back there in 2007 to swim with the whale sharks.

And in 2011 I had some more Mini fun, thanks to BMW China who invited me to join in at the launch of the Mini Countryman in China.