Travel: This TVR Chimaera Is Driving Across The Globe And I Hopped In The Passenger Seat

This TVR Chimaera Is Driving Across The Globe And I Hopped In The Passenger Seat

By Alvaro Colombiano
January 22, 2018

Photography by Alvaro Pinzón

It was early in the morning the day after Christmas when I headed to El Dorado airport. I was to fly to Armenia, the city in Colombia, not the country on a different continent. After arriving, I spent an hour or so between hailing and riding along in a taxi to my hostel on an unpaved road to meet with Ben Coombs, who daily drives a rarity in this part of the world: a 1997 TVR Chimaera.

It’s got British plates, it’s right-hand drive, and it’s affectionally called Kermit so it’s not the typical South American commuter car, but with a V8 and roughly 240hp produced in its lightweight package, the tight mountain roads in the Andes are a great place for this car. And this car’s been to a lot of places.

I say that because about six months earlier, Ben announced and soon commenced a pretty serious road trip. He would take his convertible sports car from a starting point 100km south of the north pole, drive down through continental Europe, to the UK where it the car would be shipped to New York before being driven across the States to California, then of course through Mexico and Central America to Cartagena, Colombia and finishing with a trip down the Pan-American highway to Patagonia. 32,000km across a total of 21 countries by the time he’s finished.

I joined him about two weeks ago, and even after crossing half of Colombia, then through Ecuador and into Peru, I am still unsure why I’m here. Sometimes people offer you a ride in their TVR on their way across the world and you just jump in for a little while. Apparently.

I’m not sure how much longer I can afford to continue along this route, but I have already amassed plenty of memories since I first joined Ben in Armenia, where for two days we shared in the experience of other overlanders like him who’d spent months or years traveling around the world in more purpose-built machinery.

From there we went down to the city of Buga, where we met with my friend Felipe who is in the process of restoring a couple of interesting cars like a Renault 5 and a BMW 2002 Touring among them, then continuing on our the way down we stopped in the city of Cali where we meet with my friends Cesar and Juan. They invited us to visit some garages and local car collections which we stuck around for a few of before a nonstop leg to Pasto, then across the border into Ecuador, then a few stops along the way that included the active volcano Cotopaxi. We also made a pit stop in Cuenca, where we met up with a Japanese classic car club. Eventually we made it to Peru, and in Lima we arrived in time for the start of the Dakar Rally.

The TVR was recently dropped to be inspected by a Land Rover garage, but hopefully it will come out in fine shape and its journey will continue along the final chapter of that ambitious route.

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K Pawley
K Pawley
5 years ago

My sticker made it into a photo on a petrolicious article. My life is now complete.

Great to spend Christmas with you guys, Cheers!

5 years ago

I would love to do even a small part of Ben’s journey! I’m interested in his chariot of choice though. Is the TVR noted for it’s reliability or is it just the car Ben happened to own at the time? Is that the Buick/Rover V-8 under the hood? Good luck Ben, and as a Jazz D.J. once said, “Here’s wishing you blue skies and green lights.”

Horacio Romeo
Horacio Romeo
5 years ago

I had my share…and still have, of road trips in South America, the longest was Buenos Aires to Lima, back in 1986. Now, for the last 15 years, regular trips between Buenos Aires and Rio de janeiro, Sao Paulo, Curitiba, and Florianopolis.

A 32.000 km. endeavour is admirable, and even more in a car in age of respect, and not intended for the long run as…a diesel W123.

I’d enjoy so much such a trip,or at least part of it…if i could, if I had time…hope he finishes the trip with no incidents, and collect a lot of memories to share.