An aging Daihatsu Cuore which completed an epic 10,000-mile marathon to Mongolia has returned home with help from the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.
The 847cc car, which was swapped for a packet of smoky bacon-flavoured crisps in November 2015, travelled from the Isle of Man across Europe to the border between Mongolia and Russia as part of a charity fundraising challenge.
Dubbed the ‘Purple Turtle’, the car was entered into the Mongol Rally by The Donatellos, a team consisting of Douglas woman Kirsty Russell and American JD Beideman.
The incident-packed adventure took much longer than the planned five weeks, but against all the odds the Purple Turtle made the finish line, helping the team raise more than £5,000 for its chosen charities, Wish Upon a Dream Isle of Man and Cool Earth.
Among numerous incidents during the adventure, which began last July, the team drove on just two cylinders from Turkey to Azerbaijan, spent five days waiting for a ferry in Baku, were deported from Uzbekistan when a visa ran out and were forced to take a diversion through Kazakhstan due to border issues which saw them driving for 21 hours per day for four days.
Unfortunately at the end of such an eventful and demanding journey the team was unable to drive back. Instead the car was transported by train from the Mongolia/Russia border to Estonia and then placed in storage while plans to bring it home were made.
Kirsty arranged for the Purple Turtle to be shipped to the UK and then travelled over from the Isle of Man to collect the car and drive it back.
She explained: ‘The Steam Packet Company was really supportive assisting us with the cost of travel to get off the Island to start the rally and was quick to come to our aid again when we finally made plans to bring the car home.
‘It was an incredible, demanding journey, which often saw us driving for up to eight hours a day and normally not on proper roads, but the little Purple Turtle just kept going and made it to the end. It seemed wrong to leave a member of the team behind, so I’ve been working away on plans to return the car to the Island and am delighted that, with the Steam Packet Company’s help, its back.’
Kirsty plans to repair the Daihatsu before deciding on what’s next for the Purple Turtle; it could be put on public display or even taken on another adventure.
She added: ‘We’ve had incredible support which has allowed us to raise an enormous amount for charity, and I’d like to thank everyone who got involved and especially the Steam Packet Company for going the extra mile to bring our missing teammate, the Purple Turtle, home where it belongs.’
Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘It was an ambitious and challenging adventure for two deserving charities which we were pleased to be able to support. Reaching the end and raising so much for good causes was a tremendous achievement, so when Kirsty asked us to help with the cost of bringing the car home, we were delighted to be able to assist again.’
Photograph: Kirsty Russell brings the 'Purple Turtle' home with help from the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company