Faith drives MAD Odyssey

ONE of the cars that will be on display at this year’s The Herald World of Wheels Nelson Mandela Bay Motor Fair might not attract much attention at first glance. Port Elizabethans Colin and Marilyn Stock will displaying their1956 Series II Morris Minor 4-door saloon with an 803cc engine, bumps and scratches and all.

Their “Morrie” named Ukholo (Xhosa for faith), along with two other Morris Minors, completed an overland trip through Africa to attend the 2008 Diamond Jubilee in the United Kingdom.

The others who did the daunting trip were Brian Clark from Port Elizabeth, Australian Phillip Evans, and Mark and Sheila Masters from New Zealand.

Phillip, a fitter and turner by trade, once ran the Morris Minor Centre in Adelaide, South Australia.

The trip, considered by most to be “mad”, started from Cape Agulhas, the southern tip of Africa, north through Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, the Sudan, Egypt and Libya to Tunis. They then sailed to Marseilles, drove through France, and caught the ferry across the English Channel in time to reach Stanford Hall for the 60th anniversary celebrations.

World of Wheels asked Colin Stock about the “MAD Odyssey” trip.

“In 1998, Brian Clark wanted to go to the UK to attend the Golden Jubilee of the Morris Minor,” Stock says.

“He was studying at the PE Technikon at the time and could not go. Brian decided when the Diamond Jubilee was celebrated in 2008, he would drive to England to attend. When Phil was in South Africa. he heard about Brian’s plan and volunteered to be Brian’s co-driver.

“Brian invited Marilyn and I to join them. New Zealand dairy farmers Mark and Sheila Masters got wind of the plan and then there were three Morries.

“We decided on the name MAD Odyssey, because most of our family and friends told us we were mad to do this.

“Our average age was 55, this was the average age of the three cars, life had been good to us and we were fortunate to be able to tackle this adventure, so we dedicated the trip to people less fortunate than ourselves to see if we could “Make A Difference” in their lives.

“So MAD became an acronym for Making A Difference. We hooked up with SOS Children’s Villages. We were able to generate a lot of media exposure for them and raised a few thousand rand.

“Each car had a name: Floppy, a 1949 side-valve, Alice, a 1951 side-valve, and ours named Ukholo, a 1956 OHV.

“We fitted all cars with electric radiator fans. We also fitted skid plates under the engine and gearbox. The standard 14-inch Morris tyres are not available in Africa, so we fitted 13-inch rims.

“Each car had to be self-sufficient in case of a breakdown. We carried camping gear, pots, pans, stove, food, water, clothes, tools, spare parts, oil, car water, extra petrol.

“Afterwards, Mark shipped his car back to New Zealand. Brian registered his car in the UK and left it there. I intended to ship mine back but there was a change of plan.”

Stock writes that Ron and Linda Douglas, who once travelled from their home town, Devon, England to India and back in a Morris panel van, took him at his word when he “[tongue in cheek] suggested they drive my car back to PE”.

The Douglases made it down the west coast of Africa as far as a closed Nigerian border. After shipping the car to Durban, the couple “then did an 8 000km trip through Namibia and Botswana before returning to Port Elizabeth”.

So if you see an odd-looking “Morrie” at the fair, it’s bound to be Colin’s. He will be only too glad to answer your questions, especially if you are “mad” enough to contemplate a similar trip.

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