To mark the 60th anniversary of the Mini Cooper, Detourist Ben Coombs has begun a massive journey. The automotive adventurer’s Mini 6000 Expedition will take the little car to new heights – 6,000 metres above sea level, to be precise!
Detour-roadtrips.com – the online destination for road trip inspiration and information – is the expedition’s exclusive media partner and will be posting regular updates on the highs – and lows – of this epic undertaking.
Coombs is hugely experienced road tripper with many of his past adventures already featured on the Detour website. “From crossing Africa in a Porsche, to driving the length of the Americas in a TVR, I’ve been hitting the road on long distance driving adventures in unlikely cars for many years now,” says Coombs. “However, distance isn’t the only metric with which driving adventures can be measured, so for this project I’ll be exploring another – height.”
During Coomb’s previous American road trip – the Pub2Pub Expedition – he reached a highpoint of around 4,700m in a TVR Chimaera on the Bolivian Altiplano. So, while he already has some experience of high-altitude motoring, the Mini’s target altitude of 6,000m represents quite a step up.
Finding the right location for the expedition proved to be a challenge in itself, he explains: “To find a road that high, you need to be willing to travel. Western Europe’s highest road tops out at an altitude of only around 3,250m, while in North America, even on gravel tracks 4,347m is your limit. There are various roads which approach the 6,000m mark on the Tibetan Plateau, but the only real chance of finding a track which will enable us to take the Mini to this magic height is through a visit to South America. Both Chile and Peru harbour towering volcanoes with old mine tracks to their summits, such as the Aucanquilcha Stratovolcano, where an abandoned mine track reaches 6,176m above sea level. We plan to explore some of these possibilities, and to try to find a dirt track on which our Mini can celebrate the 60th anniversary of its illustrious forebear, at an altitude of six kilometres up.”
The Mini being used for the expedition is a 1974 Mini 1000, which has received a few modifications for its overlanding adventure – including a bespoke roof ten. With four people taking part in the adventure, the Mini is being joined on its South American odyssey by a 1990 Range Rover, making for a duo of iconic British classics. Both cars left the UK by container in mid-October, and are now in Uruguay, about to begin their trip to the thin air of the Andes.
Expedition organiser Coombs’ previous overlanding experience spans 17 years, and includes driving the length of Africa in a classic Porsche, crossing Asia in a Corvette and, most recently, driving a TVR 27,000 miles from the northernmost bar on the planet, to the southernmost. Ben has owned the expedition’s Mini for 16 years, and has recently treated it to a full three-year, nut and bolt restoration. Ben will be joined on the South American overland odyssey by Fraser Pestana – owner of the Range Rover Classic – Darren Weeks and Aglaia Wieland.
The Mini6000 Expedition is receiving support from several sources, all of whom appreciate the adventurous side of classic motoring. These include Classicline Insurance, Somerford Mini, and Coombs’ own road tripping business, Pub2Pub Adventures. Additionally, as the trip is the follow-up to Coombs’ Pub2Pub Expedition, it was inevitable that it would be receiving its own beer. ‘Mini6000’ is an English-style IPA, which is being brewed in the UK by Bulletproof Brewing, and in the US by Motosonora Brewing. As a fun twist in keeping with the expedition’s ethos, the Mini has been fitted with a beer tap and the team are aiming to pull ‘the world’s highest pint’ when it reaches its target of 6,000 metres.