Destroying a three wheeler on the Mongol Rally
December 9, 2019
Category: Mongol Rally
A Mongol Rally car needs to be small and it needs to be crap, otherwise what’s the point? It’s not an adventure if it’s too easy. If you’ve got the crappest small car there is, you’re going to have a proper adventure. You can’t argue with that. It’s a fact, like the earth being round and bears shitting in bear toilets.
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Patrick and Devan from team Only Fools and Hummus chose a three wheeled 1986 Reliant Rialto, in a charming shade of dysentery beige, for the 2019 Rally.
Jeremy Clarkson said about the Rialto: “It’s a hoot to drive because you know if something goes wrong, you will be killed immediately”.
Rather than gently coax this vehicular marvel East they decided quite early on it would be best to go full throttle balls to the wall. We think they may have set the all time record for most breakdowns while still somehow managing to make it all the way to the finish line.
Here’s what happened…
They broke down. A lot
Pat and Devan broke down on the way to the launch and got towed across the start line. Once they set off they broke down in every country they passed through, on pretty much every day they were on the road. Their head gasket failed in Turkey so they had to limp to Georgia to wait a week for the replacement they’d ordered from the UK.
Other breakdowns included:
– Brake failure in the Pamirs
– Broken suspension (caused by driving into an escape lane due to the failed brakes)
– Their engine brackets failed so they had to hold the whole engine in place with ratchet straps
– Cylinder failure on the Pamir Highway
– Front wheel bearing failed in Kazakstan
– Rear shock snapped on Russian Roads
If you don’t know anything about mechanics and don’t want to get your hands dirty, this probably isn’t the car for you. On the flip side, with all those breakdowns think about how many locals you’ll get to meet. Especially mechanics.
Driving off-road was quite tricky
Particularly in sand it would seem. The front wheel digs itself into whatever surface you’re driving on and gets stuck in potholes or behind rocks bigger than a tennis ball. Luckily because they’re plastic, they only weigh 430kg so are easy to lift and push. Also getting stuck so often gives you ample opportunity to stop and admire the scenery.
The Rialto overheated. Regularly.
‘Only Fools and Hummus’ had serious overheating problems with their plastic pig. The radiator had to be constantly topped up and the oil kept boiling over. It’s also highly possible the heat led to the ancient plastic windows and chassis becoming brittle, not ideal when you’re going over very bumpy terrain with fucked suspension and shocks. To keep the car cool they tried to drive at night, which led to them crashing.
They had a shitload of fun
Despite or because of their faults these things are a lot of fun. They might not be the safest of machines for turning corners, but because they’re so light they’re also pretty nippy. On the looks front turn more heads than a Ferrari, so by our reckoning they must be better.
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