When Toby Harris showed his friends and family the car he would be driving across Europe in, it raised a few eyebrows.
Covered in stickers, with a suitcase mounted on the roof and rubber chickens on the front and back, the Daewoo Matiz became a familiar sight in Littlehampton as Toby and his friend Simon Clube prepared for their road trip through 16 European countries in a week to raise money for St Barnabas House Hospice, which cared for Toby’s sister.
And the eye-catching vehicle won them many admirers on the continent when they finally went on their journey, starting at Mewsbrook Park on Saturday, May 19.
A thousand pounds worth of fuel and 3,562 miles later, the pair got back at 4.30am on Friday, May 25.
Speaking after they got back to the UK, Toby said: “People were always around the car whenever we pulled up, taking pictures, and we chatted to lots of them.
“Everyone we met was so welcoming and accepting.
“We were on an adventure, and we were happy to speak to everyone.”
The first stop of their journey was France, followed by Belgium and Luxembourg before arriving back on French soil for their first night’s sleep, in a lorry park in France, with Simon sleeping in a tent.
Next was the winding mountain roads, tunnels and beautiful scenery of Switzerland, followed by Italy, with stops at the Moto Guzzi Museum at Lake Como and the Stelvio Pass – considered one of the world’s best hundred roads – thwarted by them both being closed.
But the detour led to them meeting three sports car drivers who were impressed by their equally eyecatching vehicle.
Slovenia and Croatia followed, with Toby having to navigate the five lane-wide roads and tram lines of Zagreb before reaching Bosnia.
Toby said: “It was absolutely beautiful; you could see remains of the war-torn areas where houses were falling to bits right next to these nice, brand-new houses. It’s something I wont forget in a hurry.”
After visiting Serbia and Hungary, Toby drove through Slovakia and its capital Bratislava before ending up in Vienna, Austria, where they stopped for a coffee that was not from a service station for once. Toby admitted that they opted for petrol station paninis and fast food because they were on the road so often.
He said: “I can confirm though that a Big Mac is the same wherever you go.”
Prague and the Czech Republic were next, before crossing the border into Germany, where they got into a bit of hot water.
They were pulled over by police and escorted to a police station in Dresden to be questioned – at which point, one officer offered to buy the car off them as a present for his wife. Once they were released, they headed to the Nürburgring, a 150,000-capacity motorsports racetrack. Their streak of bad luck continued, as the track was closed – so Toby and Simon put the pedal to the metal to head home via the autobahns. He said: “We were doing 80mph, and some cars passed us like we were standing still.”
The final country to tick off their list was The Netherlands before heading home.
The pair have raised £2,000 thanks to their trip.
To donate, visit justgiving.com/fundraising/eurodrive.