Speaking of wheels

10000 miles (approx), 1/3 of the Earth (the long way round, whichever way you look at it) a few deserts, moutain ranges, and after that, a long life serving Go Help’s wonderful projects in Mongolia.

Getting some good advice

“Hey, we are doing the Mongolia Charity Rally next year”

“The what??”

“Have a look at www.ribbonandbeard.com/the-rally

“Ah that’s cool. What are you driving?”

“Ermmm, I don’t know!”

That is, in a nutshell, how 99% of our conversations go when explaining what we are doing next year.

During the last 2 months, we have been given a lot of advice on which vehicle we should take with us. This is just a small selection:

Get a Skoda Yeti – 4×4 high ground clearance, ugly as a bat’s butt but it will not break down, ever.

You don’t want to be driving one of those urban ambulances, those wheels are not made for long distances.

Can you get a helicopter? It will be quicker.

But the ~~best~~ craziest advice so far came in last week. I think we may have to pass on this one:

Hang on, what if you drive to Mongolia the other way around? You know, across the Atlantic and into the US, Canada, Kamchatka…

The rules

The rules are simple: we can drive pretty much anything we want.

Go Help recommends that:

Only vehicles useful to the Mongol people should be driven as these will be donated on arrival.

And we think it makes perfect sense since, after all, this is a Charity Rally.

Having said all that, certain vehicles will incur import taxes. This will depend on what the V5 says about the vehicle, but two things are to be watched out for:

  • Vehicles older than 9 years will incur hefty import taxes, starting $6000, and increasing with the engine size.
  • Anything that is designed to carry passengers in small numbers will also come with import taxes depending on how old the vehicle is and the engine size.

Which means that generally speaking pick-up trucks, normal trucks, vans, lorries, fire engines, ambulances, motorcycles and campervans are safe from the dreaded import tax.

The Research (with capital ‘R’)

With some many options, we decided to have a look at what the teams from previous years have actually driven. We have collected data from the last 3 years which should provide a nice sample.

After a few hours and a couple of arguments with Google Spreadsheets we now have charts. And charts don’t lie.

First, by vehicle type:
Vehicle Type

(I deliberatly chose not to use a pie chart, pie charts are evil you know)

Amongst the vans, by far the most popular is the Ford Transit, followed closely by the Renault Movano. On the pickup front, the Ford Ranger is sitting at the top of the chart together with the Mitsubishi L200.

It is also worth noting that approximately 2/3 of the vehicles did not have 4 wheel drive.

And then of course, there are some teams which are off every chart you could imagine. Take the guys from Desert Lions, our heroes, who in 2012 drove a city bus all the way to Mongolia:

A School Bus

So, what are you driving then?

I told you, I don’t know!

We do want, however, to bring the most useful vehicle we can possibly find. And as such, this is going to be our priority order:

  • 4×4 Emergency Vehicle
  • Pickup
  • Van

Things like type of fuel (petrol/diesel) or vehicle brand are probably to specific at the minute and should not influence our search.

Judged by the data from previous years, 4×4 ambulances come in the form of Land Rover Defender or Mitsubishi L300.

Aim for the stars they say… well, this is what the stars look like for us:
Land Rover Ambulance


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