Words by Scott Allen
Day 1 – 23rd April – Newquay to Taunton
Day 2 – 24th April – Taunton to Shifnal
Day 3 – 25th April – Shifnal to Kendal
Day 4 – 26th April – Kendal to Arrochar
Day 5 – 27th April – Arrochar to Nairn
Day 6 – 28th April – Nairn to Ullapool
Day 7 – 29th April – Ullerpool to Aberfoyle
Day 8 – 30th April – Aberfoyle to Belfast
Day 9 – 1st May – Belfast to Sligo
Day 10 – 2nd May – Sligo to Limerick
Day 11 – 3rd May – Limerick to Midleton
Day 12 – 4th May – Midleton to Ballsbridge
Day 13 – 5th May – Ballsbridge to Shifnal
Day 14 – 6th May – Shifnal to Newquay
Day 15 – 7th May – Newquay to Cape Cornwall
Two weeks away from work can only mean one thing! The Cape To Cape Annual Classic Car Rally.
This year takes drivers over 2700 miles of asphalt, starting from Newquay on the 23rd April and finishing in Cape Cornwall, near St Just. A good friend of Nigel and Fiona’s, Dennis Greenslade, organised the first Cape To Cape eighteen years ago, back in 2004. With his love of motor sports, cars and his fascination with maps, this wonderful rally has become one of the most challenging rallies across the whole of Europe. While competitors now drive their classic cars from one end of the country to another, they also raise money for an amazing cause; Macmillan Cancer Support.
Since the very first Cape To Cape, the rally has raised over an amazing £900,000, with the goal to soon raise over one million pounds for Macmillan.
Onto this years’ Cape To Cape. The final event organised by Dennis in his capacity as Director, sees the entourage of classic cars leave Cape Cornwall on the 23rd April where they will head towards the very North Cape Wrath in Scotland. From there the drivers will take themselves over the water and down towards Cape Clear in the Republic of Ireland. They will conclude the rally making their way through Wales and then back into England where they’ll finish (hopefully) on the 7th May back in Cape Cornwall.
The day was here. Awakening at the Bedruthan Hotel and Spa in Morgan Porth with the car park bursting with cars ageing back to the 1950’s, 36 drivers along with their navigators were eager to start the rally of a lifetime.
At one minute past eight on a sunny Saturday morning, car number one left the start line to begin their journey. Exactly ten minutes later, car number eleven joined with force. That was the 1967 Porsche 912 of Nigel and Fiona Allen.
Their welcome packs included treasure hunts to keep them occupied with hundreds of miles of road ahead of them. Nigel was driving, of course, with Fiona navigating.
With page one unveiled the beginning was clear. 160 miles in front of them and the first real pit stop at the Royal Cornwall Showground. Upon arrival, they had their first tests. However, this time both Nigel and Fiona had to be at the top of their game. That’s because the tests they were now doing weren’t simple. Either complete them, unscathed, with their cash in their pockets, or face the penalties which could lead them to having a very expensive first day.
Hit A Cone = £5.00
Touch The Grass = £10.00
Completely F It Up = £20.00
With a couple of close calls and a few beads of sweat it was a successful morning and thankfully the only money coming out of Nigel’s pocket was the full tank of fuel at 175p a litre!
With the tests complete, it was onward to their first overnight stay in Taunton. The only thing they had to do was get there. AND on the correct route. With marshals lining the route, further financial penalties could be accrued with one wrong turn. Let me introduce Tulip Navigation.
The name of this type of navigation comes from the Tulip Rally, which first used it in the 1950’s. Tulip, or ball and arrow instructions, are simple diagrams of the route junctions with the ball indicating where you come from and the arrow indicating where you are going to.
“Nigel needs to listen to the navigator more!”
These were the only words on day one from Fiona. However, taking that into account they both successfully made it to the Holiday Inn in Taunton. With a three course meal to come, and driver penalties for Dennis to hand out, all in all it was a great start to the 2022 Cape To Cape!
After a great first night it was up, bright and early, to make their way to Shifnal, just near the Midlands. This was 183 miles of road, but unlike any other road trip they were driving there via the quietest and most secluded streets of England.
The day started off at 8:30am and this time car number eleven was the fourth to last to depart. Again, as per usual, the day was introduced with the joyful Tulip Diagrams. It showed a few more tests including “Hill Starts” and the historical “Stop Car Control”.
As the mileage ticked by it would have been naïve to believe that every day was going to go as smooth as day one. So, on cue, a whining noise coming from the wheels reared its ugly head! Using his experience from the workshop, Nigel knew the noise was coming from the brakes, but identifying the issue was the next (unscheduled) objective for the rally.
After some light investigation Nigel worked out that the issue was a loose brake calliper, where it appeared that a bolt had come loose and was now lying in a back road some where between Bristol and Gloucester! Due to the unsafe nature of the issue, continuing as it was, was out of the question. The easy solution; call The RAC… well Nigel had used up his yearly allowance of call outs on his Audi, so that was a NO. When all else fails, find what you have lying around in the boot!
Luckily, Nigel was able to locate a bolt that fit just enough to “do the job”. The question was, will it make the next 2,500 miles around the country? The lone bolt once applied seemed to fix the issue, for the meantime at least, so the pair carried on to the next junction.
The day went on from that point relatively smoothly with the above mentioned tasks. Today a little trickier than yesterday and on the fence whether or not a penalty was picked up on a “Hill Start Checkpoint”. They continued nonetheless, finally getting to their evening destination around 5pm.
As they both summarised their day’s events and looked at their checkpoint card they could see a blank space where at this point in the rally a stamp should be. That in itself was a £10 fine going straight into the donation pot.
After speaking with Nigel and asking him for a comment on the day he said,
“Every time Fiona looked at it, it looked like there were 1 to many Tulips.”
The day concluded well though as they both checked into their hotel suite. They both unpacked and made their way down for the evening’s events. On conclusion, they did just receive a £10 fine for the whole day which was not a bad result at all considering the dodgy “Hill Climb”.
Leaving the market town of Shifnal, deep in the county of Shropshire, it was to be a long route of winding roads, country lanes and hidden paths as Nigel and Fiona made their way 19 miles North of Lancaster to their home for the night in Kendal.
One of the amazing features of the Cape To Cape is that the drivers are not only challenged to tests and navigation but also given the chance to see some of the amazing features that our country has to offer.
That’s when they arrived at Chatsworth House. It stands on the East bank of the river Derwent across from hills between the Derwent and Wye valleys, amid parkland backed by wooded hills that rise to heather moorland. The drivers had a chance to stretch their legs and promote the rally for just over an hour. Also, what an opportunity for a photo?!
They carried on with their journey North along with the other 35 cars. Nigel and Fiona were then lucky enough to see what the Tulip Navigation could really do to you first hand. As they were continuing through junctions heading towards the Yorkshire dales, they had seen no less than fifteen drivers in the rally doing knots with each other as the tricky navigation technique got the better of them.
The guys in the Porsche 912 were lucky enough to cut through this knot and managed to navigate their way through to the Dales and amongst the green hills of Yorkshire.
With 192 miles to cover in a single day, this proved to be one of the longest days so far in the rally. It was a race against time and at one point they were sure they’d miss the soup when it came to their three course meal.
However, they finally arrived at Castle Green Hotel in Kendal with an empty fuel tank, sore bums but above all, memories of some of the most amazing landscapes in England. They had made it on day three and, for the first time, it dawned on them just how much of a challenge the Cape To Cape could be.
Another bright and early start meant another set of Tulips. This time it showed 271 miles and across the border to Scotland and one step closer to Cape Wrath! As Fiona looked at the Tulips there was an additional challenge that they had to overcome.
The distance within the Tulip diagrams were in miles. Nigel, however before the renovation of the 912 imported the vehicle from the USA. That meant that once the distance on the Tulip had been disclosed, Fiona had to convert this into Kilometres before giving any navigation. If this was missed just once, it could mean a very long and costly diversion!
Thankfully, the day of navigation went as smooth as it could. With the teams first motorway mileage of the trip, chewing up about 80 miles of the M6 was a breeze and a chance for them to put their foot down and make a better time than yesterday.
As Fiona was thinking of the few hours in the pool and Nigel was lusting over a nice glass of red looking over a Scottish Loch, that’s when it happened. An unexpected light within the dials of the classic car.
The light was a warning, and not one you want to see when you are on a 2700 mile trip around the UK. The light showing was an oil light. As all car owners know, if you see that dreaded warning light, you must not carry on, so Nigel pulled over to see what the problem could be.
Could this be the end? Would team eleven need to forfeit with no classic car to conclude the trip in?
Nigel went deep into the engine bay of the 912. The issue was obvious. A split oil pump pipe which was, in fact, brand new prior to setting off on the Cape To Cape. With no spare pipes and in the middle of nowhere this was an issue. This was the time for thinking outside of the box.
Nigel recognised the extra filter that he had installed in the Porsche. The car could make the journey without this. That’s when he equipped himself with his overalls and got to work. By bypassing the filter, Nigel was able to use the extra pipe in replacement for the now obsolete oil pump pipe.
Nigel and Fiona continued on their journey. The light had disappeared and for now, at least, the solution to bypass the filter in the engine for the oil pump was working.
Team Allen continued through the border and amongst the hills and forests of Scotland. The routes were gorgeous through a place named Forest Drive. It was winding roads through forests and pure natural beauty! With so much to take in, it was the perfect chance to stop and take a photo or three!
The day ended well! They arrived at their hotel, which overlooked Loch Long, at the time of 3:20pm. Both Nigel and Fiona were able to relax, enjoy that swim, drink that wine and talk to the their competitors about the speed bump they had to overcome.
Day four was complete without a fine and although not as simple as once hoped, it was easy to forget about any issues they’d had with the view over the Lochs of Scotland.
On day five of the Cape To Cape all the drivers were now well and truly deep into Scottish territory. Today’s adventure had them travelling North, to the village of Nairn. Prior to Nigel and Fiona setting off, the big question was, would the classic green Porsche, now with DIY repairs to the brake callipers and oil pump, make it over the rough grounds of Scotland?
Only time would tell. Nigel was asked to comment on his repairs so far. He said,
“Always be prepared or be prepared to fail!”
At least Fiona was aware of this optimistic outlook prior to leaving back in Cornwall.
Today was all about the Tulips. You remember that mind boggling navigation technique I mentioned before?
The day started with a lot of clues to gain extra bonus points. However, as the teams were making their way through the clues, it appeared someone had moved all the signs! That certainly threw a lot of people off with answers being submitted however they were never going to get the answer right!
Anyway, they continued on with the hope that one answer was better than no answer. All drivers were making good time until they got to the latter end of the route. This consisted of more Tulips to get them to their designated hotel.
Unfortunately, just as their navigators were directing the drivers onto the correct road, what was that?
It looked as though the road that the drivers needed to use had been closed, so they had to revert to the diversion. They continued on, following signs and made their way to their incredible overnight stay in Nairn.
Nigel and Fiona got to the the Muthu Newton Hotel around 4:15pm. Again at a good time so they could relax. They were instantly mesmerised by the hotel. Huge chandeliers, lounge and incredible rooms meant that their stay in Nairn was going to be a memorable one!
As all 36 teams woke up in Nairn, on what was to be another beautiful day as far as the weather was concerned, they all knew that there was just 211 miles between them and the most Northern Cape of the UK, Cape Wrath.
On route however, Dennis had been working hard to make sure their trip to Scotland was extra special. That morning, the drivers were in for a treat. A morning session of exploring and tasting of Scotland’s very own Highland Single Malt Whisky. This meant a tour of the factory and a look into how the finest Whisky in Northern Scotland was made… followed by a hair of the dog from the night before!
You can imagine the teams when pulling up to the factory were excited to say the least. Nigel on the other-hand was not, due to an experience that dated back 30 years, which, as it happens, involved Dennis and a recovery time of 5 days! Since then, Nigel has not been unable to take even a teaspoon of Whisky without being brought back to Dennis’ retirement doo!
Due to Nigel’s bad experience, team Allen decided to make an early exit and continue on. Three more clues within the day’s driving were to be found to avoid any penalties. One of which included getting their control card stamped in the local post office in Durness. Thankfully, the post office was aware of their request, otherwise they would have most likely had some strange looks!
The day continued on well with no issues relating to navigation, road closures or engine problems. Nigel and Fiona even had time to stop for a spot of cake!
The route today took the teams on Scotland’s very own Route 500. If you don’t already know, Route 500 is Scotland’s answer to America’s Route 66, with some fascinating roads and views to behold. The Route 500 does attract driving groups from around the world and today was no different. This involved the Porsche 912 being confronted with her younger siblings as a Porsche Owner’s Club zoomed on past!
The afternoon was coming to an end when Nigel and Fiona arrived at their hotel for the night, just after the time of 4:30pm. That meant that team eleven had successfully reached Cape Wrath and with nothing but good stories to tell from the day!
Day seven of the incredible Cape To Cape began and again the weather gods were overlooking the rally. The sun rattled down onto the cobbles of Scotland and made every landscape the drivers got to observe that little bit better!
Now almost half way through the rally the navigation sheets started to look a lot easier than they first did. Fiona went to sleep dreaming of Tulip diagrams, whilst Nigel was still thinking about his Whisky experience from 30 years prior!
You may have thought that due to this we wouldn’t need to be writing about any navigation issues… well, I am pleased to say that’s not the case (because it gives us something fun to read about). As team eleven continued on, Fiona gave the next instruction.
“Turn right at the next T junction.”
But… that T never came! There was no, “make a U-turn when possible” and certainly no diverted route! Not only are they on the coast of Scotland with nothing than the North Atlantic to their right and mountains to their left, it was safe to say, Fiona had cocked up!
Things could have been MUCH worse but after a 30 mile detour they had realised this T junction was never going to come and swiftly got themselves back on track, thankfully before any route stewards handing out the penalties could see!
Tomorrow’s schedule sees the team’s catching the ferry over to Northern Ireland and this ferry is not part of the rally, so if you are not getting there on time, it’s not going to wait for you! Let’s just hope they don’t make the same mistake tomorrow!
Anyway, that’s a reason to come back to read!
Back onto today. They were back on track and travelling South towards Aberfoyle. Before getting there though they were in for a treat of some natural phenomena. As they took a right round the narrow bends in the discreet roads that they had become accustomed to, there it was. Ben Nevis. Standing at 4,413ft above sea level it holds the record as the tallest mountain in the UK. What a breath taking view and one that could not be forgotten!
Nigel and Fiona made their way through the town of Fort William. With the summit of Nevis disappearing in their rear view mirror and the immeasurable landscape that awaited them they eventually arrived at Forest Hill Hotel in Aberfoyle.
At 8:00am on the first day of this bank holiday weekend the teams left their digs and ventured South for what would be their last day in Scotland. On the agenda for today was just a single clue to find after setting off. From there it was checking in at Loch Ryan Port, a short ferry crossing and then departing for their hotel in Northern Ireland.
The first challenge of the day came early on when the teams had to navigate around a busy Glasgow. Holding the title as the most populous city in Scotland, this was not an easy feat! As you can imagine with a ferry departure time of 3:30pm and check in closing 45 minutes before that, Fiona and Nigel were most concerned about making the 100 mile journey with no hiccups!
They managed to make their way through Glasgow in good time and onto the first motorway miles that they had seen in a while! As they made their way down the M77 and past the city of Kilmarnock they both felt a massive weight off their shoulders, knowing that they were onto the final stretch before the ferry port.
Team Eleven arrived and pulled up to the port of Loch Ryan at the time of 1:15pm. With an hour and a half to spare it certainly showed their intent and desperation for not wanting to miss the evening’s entertainment in Belfast. As well as this, they had successfully got an answer for the one and only clue for the day, so it was looking as though it was a very smooth day!
The ferry took off as planned with all 36 teams aboard! This gave them all the perfect chance to let someone else do the driving, sit down with a coffee and enter the next part of the rally, as one.
This also gave the teams a chance to reflect on what a difference they were making to so many that benefitted from the services Macmillan Cancer Support offers.
The Oxford dictionary defines the word, “Rally” as:
“Come together again in order to continue fighting after a defeat or dispersion.”
The Cape To Cape Rally is not just a way to raise awareness but to also give people hope, when they feel like they have none. By facing defeat head on, but continuing to fight, is a strength like no other and one that really did show that although all the teams were competing together, they were all working together as one. For one goal.
If you would like to show your support, please take a second to donate to Macmillan Cancer Support using the following link: https://macmillan-org.enthuse.com/pf/nigel-allen
The ferry docked successfully in Belfast and the teams made their way out of the harbour, continuing on the final miles to ‘La Mon’, their hotel for the night. They arrived at just after 6:30pm and whilst in their third country in just one week they settled down to a nice meal, some good wine and set themselves up and ready to encounter the final week of the rally.
The beginning of May meant the first full day over the water. Today was a 200 mile journey West across Northern Ireland as they finish their day leaving the UK for the first time and entering the Republic of Ireland. Today was a special day for the couple of Team 11 as it was Nigel and Fiona’s 35th wedding anniversary! As they both awoke on the 1st May, the only gift they were hoping for was a clean and straight forward drive to Sligo.
The day started off quickly. As the teams made their way out to the car park of their hotel in Belfast they were faced with their first challenge of the day before even leaving the exit. The teams had to complete a special test around the gravel again, with the same rules as The Royal Cornwall Showground. Penalties were given for any mistakes throughout.
The teams however had to wait for the results until a later date, but Nigel and Fiona were both confident that they left the test unscathed. They then, in full spirit, set off out of the gates and started to follow the route directions provided to the drivers. They were all just setting off when a familiar incident occurred. Another road closure! This time however it was not a simple one.
The Belfast City 2022 Marathon. Closing, as you can imagine, multiple roads and routes throughout the city, leaving all the drivers scratching their heads on how they were going to escape. With thousands of people in attendance the day got off to a slow start to say the least.
In the end all drivers successfully made their way out of Belfast and were able to pick up Dennis’ directions to continue on route. With four clues to pick up today for some bonus points it was a good job they had!
For the first time on this years’ Cape To Cape the drivers experienced weathers of all seasons, encountering heavy rain at the top of the mountains but sure enough the sun came out towards the end of the day.
Unfortunately the sun was not shining for everyone! Today marked the day that the starting 36 teams turned to 35! Nigel and Fiona were informed that due to tricky terrain and bad weather conditions one of the teams has sustained damage and had to forfeit this years’ rally. Upon hearing this, it brought it home to team Allen just how difficult some of the roads and driving conditions really could be.
Not only did they lose a team but a lot of teams were nursing their beloved classic cars. Firstly, for the second time in the same amount of days, Fiona had to start her morning by pushing the 912 to get it started. Nigel was asked if he was concerned. He said,
“Not really, it’s still going. Everything should be fine!”
Team 9 driving the 1964 Triumph TR4 had found themselves having to bleed their breaks on a daily basis. The 1955 Series 1 Land Rover driven by team Seymour/Bennett were also having problems of their own. From what appeared to be a big issue with the dynamo the vehicle seemed to be struggling whilst trying to charge its battery! This certainly was a sight when the team charged their battery up at the previous hotel and people would look at it in awe as though they had witnessed the oldest Plug-in Hybrid on record.
So, as you can see there were a few cars with, shall we say, ‘teething issues’ and with over a thousand miles of roads to still go, hill starts and special tests, the question is whether the 35 remaining drivers can make it back to Cape Cornwall in one piece!?
Nigel and Fiona made it to Sligo, very North West of Ireland, at 4:00pm. This meant that they could enjoy the rest of their anniversary in style. They were staying at the Glass House Hotel which leant (literally) over the Garvoge River. They were able to relax and go and treat themselves to a pint of real Irish Guinness and a bite to eat.
Getting to their hotel at a good time meant that Nigel and Fiona could discuss the route they had ahead of them, as it appeared that from here until Cornwall there were going to be some long passes and a lot of driving. Throw in the winding back roads of Ireland too and they had worked out they were getting nowhere fast for the next few days.
It was all steam ahead on the second of May. The teams had 268 miles to travel South to the Western Irish city of Limerick. Before then however, they had to overcome 6 clues and 2 check points meaning there was a lot of points that could be lost in a single day.
The day started with what had become the “norm” for team eleven with Fiona pushing the 912 to get it started. With the ongoing jump starting and idling at the petrol station, this had prompted Nigel to keep an eye out through the day for somewhere on route that he may be able to pick up a new battery. Thankfully, in the Porsche there is a gauge that tells Nigel if the alternator is charging the battery, and all looked good thankfully, meaning the issue must be with the battery, which was coming onto 4 years old.
The engine started, and Fiona jumped in. Nigel and Fiona were the second from last to leave today. This meant possibly a late finish and a day that could see them trailing behind the rest of the teams. That was until early on into the day it appeared that quite a few of the teams had missed a vital fork in the road which meant this gave the guys in the 912 a chance to catch up to the middle of the pack.
As they were making good time, with a smooth run through the morning, they had chance to stop for a quick photo with check point number 1. With a fantastic backdrop as well it would have been silly not to, I’m sure you will agree!
As they continued, Nigel and Fiona were able to see and read about some local heritage as they drove through the town of Ballina. Many know Ballina as the Salmon capital of Ireland. This is due to the town hosting the world famous Ballina Salmon Festival attracting over 200,000 people from across the globe.
Team eleven had a lot of miles to consume in a single day, getting them to Limerick before sun down, so they continued on. Travelling down the West side of Ireland meant that they were lucky enough to travel through the city of Galway. As many people are aware, Galway is well known for appearing in many famous hit songs.
As the day moved on and the miles ticked by, Nigel and Fiona were doing well with the clues asked of them… until one. They were asked to provide the cycle path name and all they had completed was a number. They had this answer before the control and the correct answer was actually after the control, so although not confirmed, it would be lucky if they would have got the correct answer. Phil on control had a good laugh at this when they saw their control sheet.
The day was concluded with Nigel and Fiona arriving in Limerick at a decent time and much better than they expected when they set off for the morning. Nigel was yet to locate a battery or an inverter to get them through the rest of the trip, but there was always tomorrow. So until then, the teams relaxed after a long day of driving and got themselves ready to reach their Irish Cape the following day.
Tuesday 3rd May – Nigel and Fiona were enjoying their breakfast at the hotel in Limerick as they talked about the journey that they had ahead of them on today’s date. On the schedule for today was a lot of driving, but not the driving that we are used to here in England. It was certainly no A30. Today consisted of four different passes, each one better than the last.
The day however did not start off well. Fiona has taken full responsibility for this already but as she was navigating through the tulip diagrams, something that she had become very used to over the last week and a half, she began to get a little too confident of her new navigation technique.
Then, a moment lapse in concentration and Fiona turned the page to continue onto the next direction. As she had done this, she had missed a clue, and with no time for mistakes, Nigel drove the 912 around the next corner, only to be greeted by Dennis standing on the next checkpoint. Dennis signed team eleven off, but with the missing clue. Fiona had cost the team a further £10!
I wasn’t actually there but I am sure she didn’t hear the end of that for a few miles.
As team Allen put their missed clue behind them they got to enjoy some of the most natural driving beauties that the country had to offer. The Irish passes were like no other. With small winding roads, infinite landscapes and gorgeous coast lines, the Irish Passes were a thing of beauty.
First was Conor Pass. A twisty, one-lane, asphalted road leads to the pass. The drive, inadvisable in bad weather, is considered one of the most beautiful in Ireland. The scenic road leading to the pass weaves its way around the sharp cliff faces and past high corrie lakes.
Next, was the Gap of Dunloe. The Gap of Dunloe was formed 25,000 years ago during Ireland’s last ice age as a result of a “glacial breach” where a glacier in the Black Valley, part of the Templenoe Icecap, estimated to be over 500 metres deep, broke through the Head of the Gap and moved northwards carving out a U-shaped valley.
Amongst the amazing passes that the drivers were taking in, they were able to stop for a much needed refreshment at Kate Kearney’s Cottage. Kearney’s Cottage is famous for being a stopping point prior to making your way onto the Gap of Dunloe.
The teams continued onto the next pass. Moll’s Gap. Like the nearby Gap of Dunloe, Moll’s Gap is an example of another glacial breach, where a 500 metre deep glacier in the Black Valley broke through and formed its pass at the same time as the Gap of Dunloe.
Finally, but certainly not least; The Healy Pass. Healy Pass (or fully, the Tim Healy Pass) is a mountain pass over the Caha Mountains on the R574 between Cork and Kerry, about halfway along the Beara peninsula. It has a maximum altitude of 334m.
As Nigel and Fiona made their way out of the mountains and onto clear roads, they were greeted near to their hotel by another vital checkpoint; Cape Clear. This marked the teams acknowledgment that they only had to reach Cape Cornwall now to complete the full Cape To Cape 2022. At this time, the teams took a moment to realise that the end of an epic adventure was near.
Nigel and Fiona arrived at the Midleton Park Hotel at 7:00pm ready to check-in for the night. It was a quick shower before dinner for the evening and, after a long day of driving, it was nothing more than spectacular. The conversations amongst the teams that night were filled with memories and stories of the Irish Passes.
Oh… and Fiona’s £10 penalty!
Team Allen started the day as they meant to go on. They left on time and on route which would be their last full day in Ireland. After a week and a half, the teams had driven through England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and tomorrow, Wales. Quite an accomplishment in a car that is probably older than most people’s houses!
Today, as they began their drive, they were lucky enough to be making their way through the Copper Coast Drive. Nigel made quite an impressive remark due to the amount of amazing roads they had driven, by saying:
“It’s probably the best road with scenic views throughout the trip.”
The Copper Coast Drive is one of the countries first “Geoparks”. This geologically diverse area contains records of Palaeozoic volcanism and the last ice age – a heritage which is interpreted locally for the visitor. The Geopark Trust maintains a visitor centre at Monksland Church in Knockmahon. It also owns an old engine house, part of the industrial heritage.
This was incorporated into today’s clues. To find the old Engine House. Nigel and Fiona successfully did, which gave them the chance to complete the 25km coastline without receiving any penalties. As most probably know, team Allen live just outside of Newquay. When asked further about the Copper Coast they described it as the closest location en route, to the scenic views of Cornwall.
Their route towards Dublin today had them passing the Fitzgerald pub, as seen in the series Ballykissangel. A series broadcast in the mid 90’s, so you’d be forgiven for not having seen it, as I hadn’t!
As they continued, the roads took them through a mountain called, “The Sally Gap”. The route passes through some spectacular scenery, including the corrie lake of Lough Tay. The road here with the distance of 27km was the perfect way to conclude their terrific driving through Ireland.
The team needed an early night tonight. With the ferry leaving the port in the morning at 8:45am, it was to be an early start, breakfast on the road and no detours.
So, an early start with no breakfast could only mean one thing. The teams left bright and early so they could make the ferry back to the UK. A few short instructions and all the teams successfully made it to the ferry ready for departure at 8:15am. With just a couple of more days left of the rally, it would have been a real shame to miss that last ferry!
The main part of the driving this time after the ferry! The ferry docked in Holyhead, North West of Wales, and from my geographical knowledge that can only mean one thing; a tour through the mountains and scenic routes of Snowdonia National Park. That means that now, the route has taken them through the three largest peaks of the UK, with Snowdon the tallest mountain above sea level in Wales.
With the increasing gradient from the docks, this was the perfect chance for a hill start! It looked like Dennis had been using his Welsh contacts to get the locals on board because straight after the hill start team Allen made their way around the same mountain to find more Marshalls looking out for any teams that were slightly off route!
Nigel and Fiona continued on through the amazing Welsh countryside, including lakes and more mountains. The guys had a few more clues to find on route to their hotel in Shifnal.
Fatigue was inevitably kicking in. Inclusive of the 146 miles the team had completed today, they’d now driven approximately 2500 miles in 13 days. An enormous amount of driving. And without the modern suspension and tech you’ll find in a car of the 20th century. To put into comparison what they had achieved so far… if you were to drive 2500 miles from the United Kingdom you would have reached Egypt. You could have also made five round trips to the International Space Station! If your car could fly, that is!
The teams today were finishing in some usual territory as they reached Shifnal. For the first time on their trip they had circled back to the same hotel that they stayed in on their trip North. The teams all made it after a long day of driving through Wales and back into England. Tomorrow is the day that the teams make it back into Cornwall so it was an early night for all as they had one long drive down from the Midlands back to the South West to look forward to.
The penultimate day was here and the teams were returning to Cornwall ready for their final day on the road tomorrow. Before getting there though the guys had a huge 267 mile trip! The route today took the teams through the Malvern Hills, through Chepstow, onto the M5 and then the A30. One thing that the teams realised by doing so many miles, was that from start to finish, how beautiful our country is and what it has to offer. When you forget about the rush hour traffic and take yourself off to the unfamiliar roads, you can really take your time to enjoy every last bit of it.
The Cape To Cape had spread far and wide and was becoming known throughout the country. That far, in fact, that even the English cows made sure that they were roadside as the classic cars went past! I’m sure if they had access to the internet, they’d be donating to Macmillan today too! As well as the odd cow, the drivers were confronted by a road full of sheep.
As a perfect way to complete the memories of “Up Country”, Dennis had planned for the drivers today to checkpoint at the Morgan Motor Company. The teams got the chance to see the most classic cars in the most pristine condition. Unlike the cars in the showroom however, the teams had certainly proven that they weren’t afraid of clocking a few miles on their classics and getting them a little dirty. Nigel and Fiona were able to have some coffee and cake just after admiring the original engineering that the classic Morgan’s had to offer.
Team 11 also had 3 clues to find today such as, “Name the pub?” and “What is the height limit?”. These were just the last few clues to get which could really count with the points total being tallied up at tomorrow’s Cape To Cape finale dinner and dance. With answers down, Team Allen were hopeful that today was a clean one and a good way to go into the final day.
The teams in the Cape To Cape were given the routes and instructions for each day of the rally apart from the final day, which they were due to receive in the morning. They knew this meant the last day was going to have a few surprises so they wanted to keep a clean sheet today, if possible.
As the 912 was driving down lane 1 of the A30 both, Nigel and Fiona recognised an approaching sign; “Welcome To Cornwall”. This gave them both that final motivational push to complete the day strong and finish in good time, back at where it all began 14 days ago at the Bedruthen Steps hotel in Newquay.
That night, spirits were high as the teams all sat down for their (almost) final three course meal together. Due to the rally coming to a close, Dennis held the famous auction with all proceeds, of course, going to Macmillan. All in all, the auction raised just over £7,000, which was a huge boost for the total!
Finally, the night finished with a bit of humour. Well, maybe humour for people that had just spent the last fortnight driving, driving and more driving.
Desserts came to the tables, once their main meals had finished. Fiona excused herself to the hotel’s facilities. While she was gone, Nigel thought it would be funny to remove the lone strawberry from the top of Fiona’s cheesecake. While everyone else at the table acted innocently and bragged about their cheesecake ‘with strawberry’, all had a laugh at Fiona while she questioned her strawberry-less dessert.
I told you. Maybe you’d have to drive 3,000 miles yourself before you find that one funny!
The day had come. Day 15. The final day of the 2022 Cape To Cape rally. Whilst most of the drivers, with their navigators, were looking forward to a long soak in the bath and a day not having to think twice before their every turn, it was also an emotional day because of the journey they’d all come on. Not just for the teams but also their partnership with Macmillan.
As I mentioned a couple of days ago, the teams were only given their routes at the start of the day, so they were in for a surprise! Only a route of 78 miles but with the biggest and most challenging tests and check points.
Team 11 of Nigel and Fiona left the Bedruthen Steps hotel and set off for their final day on the road. Although challenging, the tests did give them something to look forward to en-route before they completed the rally. First up, Trevellas Airfield Test.
As the drivers pulled up to the Airfield the weather god’s decided to put their own spin on the test. The fog dropped to windscreen level making it almost impossible to see further than 10 meters in front of the car. Dennis arrived at the Airfield and due to the low visibility, thought he’d lost all of the marshals!
Unfortunately team 11 did not get their day off to a great one. As Nigel slalomed around the first set of cones and parked straight into the first box, he looked into the Porsche’s wing mirrors and, well, because of the fog, couldn’t see a thing. The car went into reverse and made its way backwards, reflecting the blue line on their diagram, but instead of ending up in the correct place, they ended up outside of the designated box with the marshals scratching their heads.
Nigel and Fiona accepted their penalty and with £10 more into the Macmillan pot they left the airfield to continue on.
The next two tests proved to be much more successful! The first being at Stithian’s Showground and the second at River Barns. With the fog having lifted slightly and the sun overhead, the 912 was able to complete the tests without gaining any further penalties.
The time came at ten minutes to one. Nigel drove the Irish Green Porsche around the last bend. There were sounds of cheers and elation. 3,000 miles ago Nigel and Fiona set off to reach their first Cape in Scotland and fifteen days later they had reached their final cape. Cape Cornwall.
What they had experienced over the last fortnight, was nothing less than incredible. Endless mountains, infinite sky lines and panoramic landscapes. 36 teams had scaled the feet of Nevis, Scarfell and Snowdon. They had ventured through Connor, Dunloe, Moll’s and Healy. Four of the largest gaps on the West coast of Ireland.
Today was a day to admire their achievements and keep them locked away in memory boxes for years to come.
As Nigel hung the Porsche keys on the holder next to the front door the Cape To Cape really had given them stories that would last forever.
The teams enjoyed one last dinner together, starting with Canapé’s at 7:00pm that night. Prior to the rally starting on the 23rd April, Dennis had a goal in mind for his fundraising total. Since the first Cape To Cape they had raised over £900,000 towards Macmillan Cancer Support.
The total was in as they began their presentation that night. The Cape To Cape has now raised a total of £1,198,000!!! Well over what they had expected and smashing their target! Everyone, especially Dennis, can be so proud of what they have achieved and how many people that money will help in the future.
Finally, as the results for the rally were announced Team 11 was called. Out of the 36 teams that took part in 2022 they had come a more than respectable 2nd place with just £40 in fines picked up throughout the rally!
Although another achievement, none of the drivers were there to win the rally. They were there for something much bigger. For the money that they had helped raise for Macmillan Cancer Support. Nigel and Fiona went to bed that night and closed the curtains on another Cape To Cape. With their team plaques on their bedside table, the light was turned off on what was a great rally. A great adventure. A great Cape To Cape!
As seen in Classic Porsche. Edition Number 0058.
Words by Keith Seume
When Nigel Allen decided to single-handedly restore an Irish Green Porsche 912 after years of working on Volkswagens, he had no idea just how much fun it was going to be. The end result is pretty impressive, as we’re sure you’ll agree…
“I went to have a look at the car and was struck by the colour. I looked at it and thought, well, it isn’t going to be too bad…” Those were the famous last words spoken by Nigel Allen as he looked over the Irish Green 912 being offered by his friend Matt Smith in Cornwall. “But,” continues Nigel, “I guess the fact it came with two floor pans was a bit of a clue as to what to expect…”
Nigel is well known in south-western circles as something of the go-to man for engine conversions on VW campers, as well as being an experienced production car trial competitor in his well-sorted beetle.
He’s very much a jack of all trades when it comes to both VWs and Porsches, perfectly happy to turn his hand to anything , from bodywork and paint to engine and gearbox rebuilds, running a successful business with his son, Craig, from his home workshop just outside of Newquay.
There’s no doubting his experience, but this was to be his first full-on Porsche restoration. The car in question is a 1967 912 (built late 1966) that was imported from the USA and which, at first sight, appeared to be in reasonably good condition.
“It was obvious it was going to need some work but as I poked around the carpets, it was a case of “through the floor, through the floor, through the floor…”
I could see a little bit of rot around the torsion bar area which I thought looked quite bad, but I didn’t really know what to expect.
Once I got the car back here, I stripped it out and went “Oh dear”, as you do, and so rolled the body on its side and started unpicking the welds round the floor.
Once I’d done that Nigel continues, “I looked and
realised I didn’t have anything to weld the new floors to, as the whole perimeter was missing!”
“Although a kit to repair this area was available, I made my own but realised I was running out of space where I had the car stored, so moved it into another part of my workshop and built a rotisserie so I could work on it more easily.”
Although it was to be Nigel’s first Porsche Resto, he wasn’t daunted by the work that clearly lay ahead.: “I really
like the shape of the early 911s and 912s, so that prompted
me to have a go at one.” But it wasn’t an easy transition from VWs to Porsches, not because of the added complexity –
“They’re all just nuts and bolts,” he jokes – but because, as he says, when he embarked on the rebuild of a Volkswagen, he knew instinctively what would need to be done and who to turn to for parts. “With the Porsche” he continues, “I’d make a list of the parts I needed and then have to spend time trying to locate them.
“It would be a case of “Oh, they do that bit, but
they don’t do that bit. So where do I get it from?” I can’t
believe how long it took…”
He spent the next two years restoring the bodyshell, starting out by sandblasting it back to bare metal, learning the hard way just how costly rebuilding an early 911 (or 912) can be. Inevitably the 912 needed all the usual problem spots addressing, from the fuel tank and suspension support at the front (which had been repaired but untidily), to the sills, parcel shelf and torsion bar area. “Basically, the whole bottom six inches of the car,” says Nigel. “I found evidence of some lovely repairs carried out by a former owner in the USA – the rear corners above the rear lights were monstrous, but a friend had some panels he’d cut out of a car, which I grafted in.”
The engine lid was in a bad way, too, leading our man to make up his own panels to repair the double-skinned sections of the lid. But the upper reaches of the “shell were actually pretty good. There was no evidence of rot around the windscreen or scuttle, and just a small amount at the bottom corners of the rear screen: “I bought repair sections but found they didn’t fit. I cut them into four bits and still couldn’t make them fit, so threw them away and made my own,” he laughs.
Rather than resorting to modern filler (bonda), Nigel put his old school skills to use by using lead, just like at the factory. He spent numerous hours setting the panels gaps (“They’re way better than factory”, he says proudly) but there was one thing that bugged him: the front wings that came with the car may have been perfect but they were the wrong year, having a small flare that was absent on the early short wheelbase models. This posed something of a dilemma.
“I couldn’t decide what to do. Should I sell them and try to find the correct wings? In the end, because they fitted so well, and were in such good condition, I got hold of some early wings, which were knackered but had perfect edges to the wheel arch, cut them up and grafted the non-flared section into the later wings, leadloading all the seams” The bonnet was mint, the doors almost as good, requiring only a small amount of lead work, and the front slam panel was fine, too. As far as Nigel could tell, with the exception of the later front
wings, all the removable panels were original to the car.
It was around October 2017 that he set himself a target: Le Mans Classic 2018. “From that point on, I was doing ballistic hours, working until midnight two or three nights a week, then all weekend, every weekend. I didn’t want a blemish in the bodywork. It had to be perfect.
My biggest fault he grins, “is that I won’t shop anything out to somebody else – in fact, the only work that I farmed out was the seat trim…ʼ Even then, he admits, he came close to buying a sewing machine so he could tackle the job himself.
Once the bodywork had been completed to Nigel’s satisfaction, he took the shell over to Colourworx at Newquay where owner Nick Quince let him loose in the paint booth, etch-priming the bare metal before trailering it back home.
Then followed a couple of weeks of block sanding in readiness for paint. There was no doubt in Nigel’s mind what colour it would be: it had to be Irish Green, just as the 912 had left the factory. Again, Colourworx let Nigel use the paint booth to apply the top coats, doing the main shell one weekend, the doors and bonnet, etc, the next. Building the shell back up again was one of Nigel’s favourite parts of the restoration. He prides himself in taking time to do things right: the windows, for example, wind up and down with practically zero effort required, while the doors shut with a factory-like clunkʼ that seems unique to older Porsches. I fitted the doors bare and was warned that they might not fit once the rubbers were installed. Why, I asked? “Because the rubbers will push the door out of line”
came the reply. No, I replied, if the doors don’t close properly after fitting the rubbers, then
the problem lies with the seals, not the installation. The doors shut beautifully…ʼ
The brightwork is original to the car and, while it could have been used ʻas is’ with some polishing, it didn’t come up to Nigel’s standards. Instead, it was sent off to Doug Taylor Metal Finishing in Weston-Super-Mare for rechroming, who turned it around quickly as that target of Le Mans Classic was looming large. When it came to the interior, Nigel knew he wanted to
install some seats that would offer more support than the originals, yet wouldn’t look out of place in an early car. His choice was a pair of Recaro recliners from a Vauxhall Cavalier SRI, less the headrests, but they would need to be retrimmed. “I had a pretty good idea of how I wanted the seats to look he says, “so started to scour the internet for inspiration.
I found a photo of some material that looked perfect but then thought, “OK, so where do I get that from?”ʼ Reading a bit further he saw a reference to ʻTRʼ and then discovered it was material used in Triumph TR7s. Youʼd think that would have made life easy, but think again. He rang all the TR specialists he could find, only to be told the material wasnʼt available anywhere. Not to be put off, he continued searching the ʼnet and found a company who sold tartan cloth of various types. Digging deep into the website, Nigel eventually found exactly what he was after: a green tartan identical to that used in the Triumph TR7. Great – or so you might think. The trouble was that there was none in stock. A conversation elicited the fact that another customer had talked about commissioning some more of this material, but the turnaround was going to be something like 12 weeks – a little too tight for Nigelʼs schedule. In the end, they managed to do it in 10 weeks, at which point he dropped the seats straight over to Matt Leach, a local trimmer based near St Agnes in Cornwall, who recovered the seats and door cards to Nigelʼs specification. The rest of the trim Nigel handled himself, including the dash top (ʻIt was poorly, sun-crackedʼ).
The suspension and braking systems were stripped down, cleaned, replated where necessary and reassembled using Goodridge hoses on the brakes and new bushes from Elephant Racing on the suspension, along with new track-rod ends and ball-joints, plus upgraded ʻTurboʼ track rods. After being let down by the supplier when ordering a heavier front anti-roll bar, Nigel made his own, using a pair of Peugeot torsion bars, no less. Does it work? Well, a photo of the car at Castle Combe circuit shows it ʻthree-wheelingʼ out of a corner, so we can assume it does! A rear bar is now on the list of things to do.
The car just feels so nicely balanced. We set it up here in the workshop and could only really play with tyre pressures at the track, but it felt so good. It didnʼt show any signs of wanting to step out of line at all,ʼ says Nigel. Running on 205/55×15 Yokohamas, the 912 has more than lived up to expectations on the track.
The car runs on a set of genuine Minilite wheels, 6Jx15, which had once been fitted to a car belonging to Magnus Walker that was imported into the UK some while ago. Through a friend of a friend, Nigel heard that the wheels were for sale and got a family member to pick them up for him while on holiday. Beadblasted back to natural aluminium, the period rims suit the car perfectly, although a set of steels might be in the carʼs future.
The gearbox is the original five-speed (many 912s came
with four-speed transmissions, so this was a bonus) that
didnʼt require anything other than cleaning up and being
treated to an oil change. The engine that came with the car was another matter. ʻIt came to me full of water,ʼ Nigel recalls.
ʻIt was seized solid, but we did manage to free it off. However, when I tried to start it, it ran badly, popping and spitting. I decided to hang on for a bit as my intention had always been to install a big VW Type 4 engine. However, that would take quite a bit of development work and, as time was running out, I made the decision to rebuild the 912 engine. ʻAfter stripping it down, I had the cases and heads vapour-blasted, the bottom end balanced and then it was rebuilt all stock other than a 1720cc big-bore conversion. To begin with I ran the original Solexes but then changed them to 45DRLA DellʼOrtos. The exhaust was already on the car when I got it – not sure what it is, to be honest.ʼ Despite the attention to detail, this isnʼt the final engine. In its place Nigel plans to install a 2.2-litre long-stroke Type 4 with dry-sump oiling, featuring an external belt-driven pump,
and a 911-style cooling system
The freshly-rebuilt motor was bench run first of all, and then installed in the car ready for ʻbedding inʼ out on the road. ʻI did a couple of little trips around here, then headed off to Reading and back. It was then a case of oil and filter changes, doing the tappets and sorting a modest brake fluid leak. Then we were ready for Le Mans Classic.ʼ Now with a few thousand miles under its belt, the 912 never ceases to thrill. ʻIt took me a while to get used to lefthand drive,ʼ admits Nigel, ʻbut now I just want to keep driving it and Iʼm now expanding my services to offer restoration and engine work on Porsches (see contact panel, left – KS). Some people come into the workshop and take a look, saying “How much is that worth?”, but I have no interest in knowing. I just want to drive the car and enjoy it.ʼ And, after all, isnʼt that what classic Porsche ownership is all about. Or at least, it should be…