Gallery: an urban London car safari
We set off to hunt for some London’s hidden cars. In a Safari Rally Porsche. Pith helmets not required
Posted: 05 Aug 2012
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...