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Gallery: an urban London car safari

  1. Soon after we published our Supercars of London story on TopGear.com, sightings of other weird, wonderful and priceless cars pressed into service on London’s streets flooded into our inbox. Obviously we had to follow them up, and so planning for an urban car safari to stalk some of these cars began…

    But first, we needed an expedition vehicle. Towering ground clearance (for speed bumps), major panel damage (to intimidate other wildlife) and colossal power (because it’s fun) were absolute prerequisites for negotiating the city.

    Enter… a fully race-prepared 1971 Porsche 911 rallyist. Prepared by Tuthill Porsche specialists in the UK, it’s got 250mm of ground clearance, 280bhp, and lashings of, erm, patina… Perfect. It also won the East African Safari Rally Classic in Kenya and Tanzania last year - the first time a Porsche has ever won the event - under the careful stewardship of mud-fond legend Bjorn Waldegård and his son Mathias.

    It arrived at TG HQ in much the same condition it left the EAS Rally finish line. The engine was wearing lots of desert, there was rather a large dent in the passenger side where the Swedish star had had an argument with a 20-tonne truck. The impact snapped the roll cage and A-pillar, but we were assured that it been lovingly repaired in an hour during the rally and, therefore, was probably OK.

    The left-hand-driver also had no passenger wing mirror, much gaffer tape, very little in the way of visibility, and a racing clutch, gearbox, brakes and steroidal offset dampers - the latter causing it to lunge wherever it pleases under acceleration. The perfect city companion, then.

    All that remained was slipping into the Arcadian city - deep in Olympics fever - at dawn for some big game hunting.

    Click on to see our findings…

  2. Hibernating in an underground cave was a first-gen Rolls-Royce Corniche and a Bentley Brooklands Coupe.

  3. A Ferrari F430 and Audi R8 V10 await their prey underground.

  4. A more aggressive predator hides in the cave’s deepest recesses - a Ferrari 458.

  5. The fug of Castrol 10W40 suggested this Aston Martin DB5 had recently beaten a retreat underground…

  6. …while a dusty cover suggested this Mercedes-Benz SL Pagoda had made the cave its home for at least a month.

  7. This pristine Daimler Double Six let us get unusually close before being startled by a larger predator. For safety’s sake we continued our safari overland…

  8. …where we immediately came across a Volvo P1800, Mercedes-Benz W114 and Karmann Ghia brazenly surveying their territory.

  9. We bridged London’s largest watering hole in search of more game.

  10. Our vehicle maintained its slightly erratic handling proclivities, but was an admirable companion over several vicious speed bumps.

  11. After a wrong turning we stumbled across some vivid cave paintings…

  12. …but the territory had been marked, and the smell was unbearable. We left hastily in fear of rousing the beast it belonged to.

  13. After the sun rose we discovered an injured Porsche 911 Turbo and Gemballa-tuned Bi Turbo Cayenne.

  14. We headed for the wilderness’s fringes, where we found a mutated Hillman Minx.

  15. A Simca Chambord wore more severe mutations, but was surprisingly approachable.

  16. This Alfa-Romeo Spider was less obliging, requiring a lengthy pursuit before relenting to the camera.

  17. The lesser-spotted TVR 280i Convertible usually falls prey to its own fragile design, but this example was in rude health.

  18. Despite its advanced years and obvious battle scars, this docile Morris Minor Traveler was healthily making its way around the north of the territory.

  19. We weren’t sure how much life was left in this Skoda Felicia convertible.

  20. This powerful Jensen Interceptor gave us a precautionary roar before circling us aggressively. We were forced to find high ground.

  21. After the Jensen lost interest, we forged forth to discover a warren of injured Aston Martins.

  22. We cornered the rarest creature - an Aston Martin DB2.

  23. Despite topping the food chain, this Aston Martin DB9 and V8 Vantage were licking their wounds - they’d been submerged under several metres of water.

  24. Back in the open air we discovered an Alfa Romeo 2000 GTV basking in the sunshine…

  25. …along with this Volkswagen Karmann Ghia.

  26. We journeyed to the heart of the region hoping to find more rarities.

  27. We weren’t disappointed when we found a fully armored Mercedes-Benz W126 560SEL by eighties tuner, Carat.

  28. We thought these were all but extinct, so a full examination was required.

  29. Its defenses could easily withstand a hunter’s bullet.

  30. And so ends our safari. For now…

    (Hit ‘like’ on Facebook it you enjoyed it - we’ll be back for more) 

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