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News > Alumni News > Anthony Goodwin (OWL '56) The remarkable story of Anthony's car

Anthony Goodwin (OWL '56) The remarkable story of Anthony's car

Anthony left Windlesham House in the 1950s and continued his education at Cheltenham College, Reading University and London University. This is the story about his remarkable car!
1 Feb 2016
Written by Lee Haines
Alumni News
Anthony Goodwin (OWL'56)
Anthony Goodwin (OWL'56)
I bought my car on 29 November 1983 from the brand’s Paris export salon, built to my ‘personal’ specifications. I was then serving in the Commission Delegation in Amman, Jordan, and wanted a car suited to rocky, desert terrain. 

I owe a huge debt to the institution, not only for facilitating its adventures over 30 years but even paying its multi-continental fuel bills from grubby little pieces of paper. 

Let me explain. 
I arrived in Amman at Christmas 1980 to be given a smart new Renault car by the Delegate within a couple of days. This did not allow for family needs and after one year a departing delegation adviser sold me his old Peugeot 504 saloon, a model I’d learned the robust value of as a dirt-road taxi when living in East Africa in the 60s. I had soon driven this car back to England on first leave with my wife and ordered through Jordan’s Peugeot dealer a new one with ‘Jordan specifications’, i.e. strengthened undercarriage. 

I ‘raced’ - scrupulously observing the new car’s ‘running in’ period and 500 km first service needs (the latter at 6.45pm in an accommodating Peugeot Trieste garage to ensure reaching the ‘Slovenian’ border before closing) - from Paris to reach Amman in five days and 5,400 km. The experience included 19 hours on the Yugoslav/Greek border in deep snow when a landslide closed the crossing, and a bleak night in the open on the Syrian plateau below Aleppo, a ravishingly beautiful city now reduced of course to near rubble. 

It was a joy to drive this lovely shaped and very comfortable car (the 504 has exceptional seats) over the desert fort trails of Jordan and down to the Gulf of Aqaba through Lawrence of Arabia country and, at the end of my tour in 1984, to take it back to Essex, this time via a ferry from the Syrian coast to near Thessaloniki in Greece and across the Adriatic to Italy. 

My next Delegation was Nigeria and the car sailed from Tilbury in a ‘ro-ro’ ship - as carriers were in those days - where it offered up its clock to thieves at Apapa port in Lagos, this being its only ’extra’ (before leaving, Mercedes had fitted air conditioning and an alarm). 
 
Crossing the Sahara as part of a 30-year institutional road-trip

Three years later, October 1987, just as Nigeria’s northern border re-opened after the Biafran war, the car set out across the Sahara Desert, a large roof rack added for jerry cans of fuel and all the means of warding off getting stuck or lost in the featureless/road-less terrain, as well as ‘sand rails’ and a sump guard. 

Somehow, armed with Lonely Planet guides and prior chats with intrepid souls who had done the same journey (but none, alone, from south to north), I set off with a heavily-laden car. 

My next Delegation was supposed to be Jamaica but it changed because of late staff movements and, instead, the Trinidad delegate demanded that I arrive within 10 days of leaving Lagos. There was no desert sightseeing, just nine days to navigate 6,800km of Niger, Algeria, Tunisia, a ‘DFDS’ ferry to Genoa and on to the channel ports. 

The dramas, deep buryings in the sand, unloading of every stitch of possession to extricate and then reloading - and dismantlement and reassembly of exhaust parts and brakes - tested man and motor. 

The car travelled by container ship in early 1988 to Point Lisas in Trinidad, home of the first ‘Mittal’ (Lakshmi) steel plant outside India and, four years later, went back - part of a cargo ship’s load of a million bales of lavatory paper - to the coast of Venezuela. 

It then travelled 9,700km and 21 days to the border of Brazil and through the Amazon rain forest, picking up my son in the capital of Amazonia, Manaus (where England played their opening 2014 world soccer cup game). 

On we went to the cities of Brazil’s east coast and to Brasilia, Ouro Preto (famed for emeralds) and Rio de Janeiro, courtesy for part of the way of a sometimes violent six-day float down the Amazon to Belem on the sea, by barge carrying just two camions and a couple of hammocks for the travellers. 

Through southern Venezuela’s ‘Gran Sabana’ with its good roads, past El Dorado and Conan Doyle’s ‘lost territory’, northern Brazil and the rainforest mostly on a dirt track, deeply rutted, with no cars for hundreds of kilometres, the car limped into Manaus at 04h00 in unseasonal rain with three parts of the exhaust fallen off. The remainder of the journey was straightforward. 

This was November 1991. I shipped the car from Santos, the port of Sao Paulo, to Bangladesh, via Sri Lanka, for four hectic years of rest-time travel from the local Delegation around neighbouring India. This was undoubtedly the most joyous of its adventures, including to the Himalayan foothills with my wife, the imperial hill-town of Simla and once to Darjeeling, of tea fame, and Sikkim on the China/Tibet border, joining my daughter in a wonderful afternoon of Buddhist ritual among ochre-robed monks at a hilltop temple, before, in December 1995, beginning a 12,700 km journey to England. 

After spending a month of the Himalayan winter en route in a kindly-lent garage in Islamabad, and then traversing the now US counter-Taliban-occupied Pakistan border Province of Baluchistan (where on a mountain road I was mistaken for Sir Ed-mund Hilary, on an official visit to Pakistan), we experienced the extreme religious, atmosphere of the Ayotollah’s Iran, the wind- and snow-swept plains of Anatolian Turkey - where the radiator froze one night because anti-freeze was a rare commodity not anticipated at its preparation in hot, humid Dhaka, Bangladesh, and arrived in early March. 

In all, the car has covered 30 countries and five continents. 

Anthony Goodwin left Windlesham House in the 1950s and continued his education at Cheltenham College, Reading University and London University. He went on to have a short military service (RMA Sandhurst) before moving on to a long international career in agriculture.  Sadly Anthony passed away suddenly in 2017

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