Pied panda rescues rescue after stranded in Sahara desert

image source, William Davies

image caption,

Mr Davies joked that an adventure in North Africa was the perfect answer to a mid-life crisis

  • author, Louis Barry
  • stock, BBC News, Buckinghamshire

A man has described how he and a friend averted disaster in the Sahara desert when his 25-year-old Fiat Panda blew its radiator.

William Davies and Duncan Kite competed in the Panda Raid International Race in March.

Mr Davies, 55, from Buckinghamshire, said the pair had „arranged transport home” when a local man in Morocco offered him an old Panda radiator „in the back of his van”.

They drove one of the 405 Fiat Pandas that competed throughout the 3,000 km (1,864 miles).

„It's the most battered radiator you can imagine,” explained Mr Davies.

„Somehow we fixed it in our car and we were back racing.”

image source, William Davies

image caption,

Mr Davies described the trip as „tough” but an „incredible experience”.

Mr Davies told BBC Three Counties Radio how the couple bought their Fiat Panda from Italy at an „unseen” auction and took six months to register it in England.

„When we first got it it didn't go away,” Mr Davies recalled.

But after changing a couple of brakes, raising the suspension and taking out the rear seats, it's good to go.

image source, William Davies

image caption,

1999 Fiat Panda updated to cross the Sahara desert

They flew south to Spain before catching a ferry to Morocco for a week-long rally.

On two occasions, they thought the race was over: when the radiator blew and when the car overheated after the fan stopped.

image source, William Davies

image caption,

After the car radiator exploded, the pair were dragged to their next camp by a local Moroccan.

Joking the rally was a response to a „mid-life crisis”, Mr Davies described the experience as „brilliant fun – an incredible experience” but also „extremely difficult”.

„We got lost many times, but we weren't the only ones, and you're in the middle of nowhere as far as the eye can see,” he said.

„We got very little sleep. We would always set up our tent in the dark, fix any problems with the car, and then crawl into bed.

„But 400 pandas outside and the sound of them working on cars, revving engines or snoring!”

They raised £14,000 for Alzheimer's Research UK.

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