English, mad and very, very proud...
Julia returns home in her 1954 Fiat after epic drive
by Lyndon Whittaker, Melton Times, May 18, 2000
The Mad Englishwoman from Wymondham has returned safely home three months
after setting off on an epic mission to drive her 1954 car back from India.
After 7,500 miles in all weathers across deserts and mountains and through
ten countries at a top speed of 45mph, Julia Moores little Fiat now
stands as bright as a new pin in the driveway of her rambling stone-built
It had a few breakdowns including one in the middle of the desert
a couple of flat tyres, a dynamo on the blink, an oil leak, and
problems with bits of metal falling off, but Julia is immensely proud of
what she calls its courageous performance.
Her own performance was equally noteworthy but she brushes aside any
suggestion of courage on her part.
The wacky adventure began in mid-February when she set off to bring back
the car she had left behind after living in India for six years and at
the same time raise £8,000 in sponsorship for homeless children in
I know some people said I was mad and expected me to be frightened
but I had a fantastic time and people in all the countries I visited were
kind and helpful.
I was often surrounded by people. I think they were absolutely amazed
that this mad woman from England was driving this old thing across the world.
People went out of their way to make her feel welcome and Julia never felt
any hostility towards a western woman travelling without her husband.
The first part of the drive a five-day journey through India from
Bangalore to Bombay looked decidedly unpromising. Mechanics who
overhauled the car had botched the job.
Within half an hour it began making terrible grinding noises which indicated
the suspension was up the spout. But she got it patched up and made it to
Bombay a fantastic journey over beautiful countryside
where mechanics did a proper job this time.
A brush with officialdom was encountered at the docks, where the car was to
be shipped across the Arabian Sea to Bandar Abbas on the southern coast of
Iran, ready for the overland journey through that country and on into Turkey
and through Europe.
Julia was told the Fiat would have to be parked outside overnight before
being loaded. But she had other ideas and threatened to spend all night in
the car on the docks rather than leave it to the mercy of thieves who might
have smashed the windows and stolen anything of value.
Eventually, after much shouting, they found a solution to keep this
mad woman from spending the night in her car and opened up an enormous
warehouse full of cardboard boxes for the Fiat.
Several days later the car was shipped to Bandar Abbas ready for the next
bit of the journey. Julias stepson Alexander (20) joined her at this
stage and drove with her until they reached Istanbul.
The car wouldnt start and when it did it quickly broke down. No oil.
People are so scared of breaking down they dont go anywhere.
But when it happens theres always somebody on hand to help,
I believe in the fundamental goodness of man and the local people were
always willing to help me.
When we broke down in the middle of the desert on the way to Shiraz a
police car came along and stopped. I had the spare part needed, the police
flagged down a lorry, everybody helped and we were off again.
Julia stayed in cheap hotels, always where she could keep an eye on the Fiat.
The car came first and I wanted to make sure it was off the road and I
could see it, she said.
There were hazardous journeys through a cloudburst, across snowcapped
Turkish mountains when the windscreen wipers froze to the windscreen and
badly potholed roads in Bulgaria.
But there was a lot of fun, too. We spent three days in Shiraz where
there is such a lot to see. And Iran and Turkey are fabulous places. The
mosques and the ancient ruins are sensational.
To comply with strict Muslim tradition in Iran Julia (44) wore a long Indian
dress and had to keep her head covered with a shawl. When she crossed into
Turkey a border official pointed at her shawl and said: Take it off,
youre in Turkey.
A sedate 35mph or so is a good speed to travel if you want to admire
the beauty of the countryside, said Julia. Overtaking wasnt
an option, especially since the car is right-hand drive. It purred like a
pussycat and I bought some polish in the middle of Turkey and spent two hours
washing and cleaning it.
Its courage knew no bounds as it climbed 10,000 feet into the mountains.
It was panting at the end but it made it.
Julia pressed on through Bulgaria and Romania into Hungary where she saw
prostitutes standing in the countryside outside Budapest exposing themselves.
And on to Vienna where she was reunited with husband John before driving
through Germany to France and home.
She says she never doubted she would get back to Wymondham with the car.
There were plenty of problems but you have just got to keep going. I
couldnt have come back and told the homeless kids in Bombay they wouldnt
be getting any money because the car had broken down.
But I did get excited when I reached France because I knew then Id made
it. That was a joyous feeling.
She completed the journey from Calais to Dover in beautiful sunshine before
driving to London to a party where no-one was expecting her to turn up.
As for the car that Julia could not bear to be parted from after returning
to England last year, she plans to use it to get around Rutland and drive to
the shops in Melton.
In India its only worth a couple of hundred pounds. But theres
no way I would ever sell it.
still not too late to contribute to Julias effort to help
homeless children in Bombay. Send donations to:
Rescue a Child, Mrs J. Moore
PO Box 6013
Leicestershire LE14 2ZP