MOTORING NEWS - "In 1936/37 a Frenchman achieved the near impossible - to travel 400 000km in the same car in 12 months.
To do this he drove a Citroen Light Fifteen (Taction Avant) across the Alps and back every day. This he did under the watchful eye of a French motor club official who had to ensure that he did not exceed the 50km/h speed limit and that everything was done according to the The Guinness Book of Records rules. The engine of the Citroen was overhauled every 10 000km.
"Although I increased the record to 500 000km in 1989, taking into consideration the road and weather conditions the Frenchman had to cope with, I still regard his record the greater achievement.
"To improve on his record did not seem too difficult. Compared to the old Alps road, our roads were in excellent condition and the automotive technology had vastly improved since the 30s. So 50 years down the line I felt my attempt was actually incomparable to the Frenchman's record.
"I managed to secure an Opel Monza GLX from Delta Motors, these days known as General Motors, to begin my onslaught on the 400 000km record. I clocked my first kilometers during a Kyalami racing day in May 1989.
"I calculated that if I could clock 1 600km every day, Sundays excluded, I could complete 500 000km in one year.
"Every Thursday I travelled from Krugersdorp to Port Elizabeth for the Opel's weekly 10 000km service and to replace the tachograph card that recorded the kilometers and everything else that had happened to the Polo. After the service it was straight back to Krugersdorp.
"Most of the time I travelled solo, as very few friends wanted to experience a 1 600km drive more than once.
"I often drove to fetch items for friends - once I drove all the way to Windhoek to fetch a set of tyres and drove back to Johannesburg the next day.
"I once had to collect a computer in Cape Town. Heading back, one of our infamous cold fronts decided to join me. I was planning to overnight at some small town, but eventually I only managed to shake off the icy weather at Colesberg, and seeing that I was only 600km from home, I pushed on.
"After all, having completed 2 300km, 600km was just around the corner! I completed 2 900km in 24 hours. Not to be recommended.
"The Opel's tyres, although small, lasted 100 000km with ease and during the 500 000km the Opel never gave any oil or mechanical problems. The reason for this was the constant speed, engine speed and temperature over long distances. The shocks were replaced, but the brake pads lasted all the way.
"After 365 days of constant driving it was with great relief that I once again arrived at the Kyalami racing day in 1990, with 500 002km on the clock. After a wait of six months I eventually received my certificate from The Guinness Book of Records - a framed showpiece that is proudly displayed on a wall in my house.
"Since then no one in the world has been brave, or stupid enough, to attempt to better my record. After breaking the record, I bought the Opel and drove it for another 250 000km before the next buyer arrived."
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