70-yr-old American on "Mission Ladakh" with his 1923 Rolls Royce

Posted: August 29, 2012 by admin

Leh: After visiting 59 countries on his 1923 Springfield Silver Ghost Rolls-Royce, Rick Brown, a 70-year-old American, has a target to prove his mettle in highest and dangerous roads of the India - the daunting Manali - Leh highway.

After being surrounded by hundreds of curious people in Manali for a whole day, Rick’s dream journey to drive on Manali-Leh-Srinagar highway, along with driving his vintage car to Khardungla pass and Changla pass, started on Wednesday.

Most of the people not belonging to mountains would be terrified only with imagination to drive on Manali-Leh highway with some of the highest motorable passes of the world like Marsimik-la and Khardung-la. But, this elderly American is going to do this with his 1923 make vintage car.

He has successfully cleared first and hard leg of the tour on Wednesday. When many modern high efficient jeeps had given up before bad condition of Manali-Rohtang road, Rick drove his car like he was enjoying a ride on super highway.

He would stay in Keylong (Lahaul) and start his second leg to Sarchu on Thursday and cross 16,050 feet high Baralacha pass.

“I love riding my second wife (Silver Ghost) and I will keep exploring the world till I die,” Rick said, while giving a ride on his car which he believes is the most driven Rolls-Royce of the world. “I purchased it in 1996 and have driven it over 3.5 lakh kilometers.”

Tom Stevenson, a 59-year-old Canadian, has joined Rick in his adventurous journey. They are fishing friends and have travelled many countries together.

Despite being the oldest model, the duo -- Rick and Tom -- came first place in the pioneer division of the 17,000km Peking China to Paris Motor Challenge 2007.

Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Ceuta, China, Columbia, Costa Rica, Denmark and many more countries, Rick and his Rolls-Royce have experienced driving in various climates and altitudes.

Rick has never had an accident or major break-down in his car so far and he can fix all problems himself. To make car to be able to run on and off roads, extreme weather conditions, he has made some modification in his car.

He replaced its electrical wiring, put some good seats and made lots of space to carry spare parts and his luggage.

“It has a good ground clearance and a fuel tank with capacity of 83 litres and extra tank to carry 20 more litres. It runs on petrol and gives mileage of around 3km per litre. We are now all set to conquer the highest roads of the Himalayas with this magic machine,” he said.


Rick’s Himalayan expedition

Rick Brown has had a dream to drive his car across the toughest and highest Himalayan mountain passes a long back. He attended the marriage of his grand daughter and got opportunity to live his dream and left for India where Tom joined him.

His expedition to India’s Himalayan regions started in second week of this month when his car arrived in Mumbai port. After six days of paper formalities, he finally started his car and left for Manali via Delhi and Chandigarh and it consumed his two weeks.

“I reached Manali on August 27 and made strategy for successful Himalayan tour with my organizer Suresh Sharma, who runs a travel agency Discover Kullu Manali.

We made lots of shopping and collected enough fuel, medicines, water, food and necessary things. Sandeep and Sanjeev have been given the task to guide us all the way. We are enjoying challenging the mountains and my Silver Ghost is performing well as usual,” Rick said.

Tom, the navigator of Rick, works in oil field and he always remain worried about the Ricks health. He said, “Rick told me his plan to drive on highest motorable passes and I agreed to accompany him. He is wonderful person and keeps smiling always. India and its people are beautiful and I’m already making plan to revisit Manali and Ladakh soon in future.”

According to sources, if everything goes right, Rick would be the first person to drive a vintage Rolls-Royce on Khardung-la (18,380ft) in Ladakh. Before this adventurous journey, Rick has driven his car to a maximum altitude of 13,000ft.

He is expected to reach Leh on September 1 when Ladakh Festival is going to begin. The Leh tourism department has appreciated his efforts and would give him a warm welcome in the festival. Discover Leh Ladakh will coordinate the adventure expedition in Ladakh.


Rick loves to lend a ride to people

Manali: Rick spends most of his time getting clicked with his admirers and lending them joy rides in his car.

When he reached Manali, tourists and local people started following him and surrounding his car. He somehow managed to reach his hotel. But people started gathering here to get them clicked with Rick and his wonder car. He also offered short drive to many of them.

“I was staying in hotel Park in Mumbai and I was bit confused that how to fulfill all formalities to get my car out of the port. I sought many helps from hotel staff and stayed there for six nights," he said.

"Whenever I get help from one, I promise him to give a ride with me. And it was seventh day when I got my car and I ended up giving 40 rides to fulfill my promise,” he added.

Rick said he knows that people stare at his car on road and they wave hands to express their love and curiosity.

“I can have another comfortable and modern car but I won’t because Rolls is Rolls. Visiting countries with my wife (Rolls-Royce) is my passion and this passion would finish with my last breathe,” he adds.

After India, Rick and Tom have planned to drive in Nepal and Bhutan in their wonder machine.

Update on September 3

Rick and his Rolls-Royce cross Khardung-la; make history

Rick Brown’s 1923 Rolls Royce has made a history after successfully crossing the 18,380ft high Khardung-la in Ladakh on Sunday. The 70-year-old American who is visiting India in his vintage car to drive on some of the toughest and highest passes is not yet contented; he wants to test extremes of Himalayas.

Though Rick said he can proudly said that India is the 60th country he has visited on his Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost but he was upset as he could not obtain permission from Defense Ministry and Home Ministry to drive on 18,634 feet high Marsimik-la on September 5.

“Now I can drive only up to Pangong Lake. Still I’ll be driving on some high altitude mountain passes here till next five days,” he said.

Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah met Rick, his friend Tom, their coordinator Sandeep and Sanjeev and wished the team all best for this unusual adventure jeep safari to Ladakh and to take part in Ladakh Festival.

Hundreds of people thronged Polo Ground to meet Rick and his car. Sonam Dorje, assistant director, Leh tourism, said Ladakh is lucky to have such guests who would be inspiration for lakhs of others. “The elderly foreigners have shown the courage which very few people do practically. Feeling bad that he would not be driving to Marsimik-la. His expedition will encourage many others to plan a jeep safari tour to Ladakh,” he added.

According to Rick, he has so far driven his car 3.5 lakh kilometers in 60 countries in 15 years and his car is the most driven Rolls-Royce of the world.

“Driving and caring my car is my passion. I want to drive it on all possible roads. Though I’ve successfully crossed the Khardung-la but I want more.”

---Stay tuned to get fresh updates---


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