Introducing Miss Daisy

Miss DaisyI wrote the following introduction to Miss Daisy before I took off on this road trip...

Miss Daisy is a 'Caterham Super Seven R300'.   In all likelihood, you've never heard of a Caterham. I can't blame you because it almost isn't a car. Take a modern car's list of features - ABS, power windows, power-assisted steering, air conditioning, automatic gear shift, and the like; strike everything off this list, and what's left is a Caterham. Except one - it does offer 'keyless entry'. That's because it doesn't have doors.

And yet, or maybe precisely because of this, Caterhams offer the world's purest and most exhilarting driving experience. What's more, it makes anyone who sees it smile and perk up. A friend put it best: 'I've never owned a dog, nor had a child, but a [Caterham] Seven can outcute either.

And that's why I chose Miss Daisy to go driving in China - because it attracts people, it makes them curious, it bespeaks passion, adventure and freedom.

It had better do all this, because there couldn't be a worse car to be doing the journey I'm going on. With a road clearance so low that its floor pan will give furry rodents a crew cut when running over them, driving speed will be reduced to sub-walking speed on many an occasion. And without a heater near the source of the Yangtze in the Tibetan highlands, I know I will curse the day I've had this silly idea, despite wearing not one, but three layers of long johns.

So, will Miss Daisy make it? In truth, I've got no idea. I suppose we'll just have to find out.

 (In case you're curious, Miss Daisy is a descendent of the Lotus 7 designed by Colin Chapman in the 1960s. Miss Daisy is powered by a 1.8L, 160bhp Rover engine which, ironically, is now being manufactured in China. Miss Daisy weighs about 600kg with a full stomach. For another perspective on a Caterham, I can recommend John Griffith's recent Financial Times article "A Hoot to Drive". I wrote the following introduction to Miss Daisy before I took off on the journey..."

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