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Overland UK to Australia 1969 - John de Figueiredo and Brian Ridgway

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Renovating Fireplace Rod, Peter, John Royal Wave Rod and Peter at The Marian Royal Wave car Petrol primus stove

Preparation – Purchase of 'The Royal Wave'

In May 1969 I was living with my parents in an old farmhouse called "The Marian" in the middle of Anglesey, North Wales. We were in the process of a serious renovation.

For £180 I bought a black 10-year-old left-hand-drive Mercedes 180 saloon. For comparison a Ford Escort cost about £700 in 1969. This Mercedes had a four-cylinder 1.9 litre engine and a four-speed gearbox with column change. It had a 56-litre fuel tank and a fuel consumption of about 10 litres per 100 km, so the range was slightly over 500 km. We contemplated a Mercedes 220S which had a more powerful, more efficient engine, with a higher compression ratio, a slightly larger fuel tank and about the same fuel consumption. It was rejected on the grounds that it had two more cylinders and one more carburettor, so more to go wrong. Furthermore, the 220S had a compression ratio of 8.7:1 so would need higher octane fuel than the 180 with its 6.8:1 compression ratio.

Some friends suggested the car lent us a regal air, so it was christened 'The Royal Wave'. Brian and I bought all sorts of gear for the journey ahead. One of my best buys was a "primus" stove for 28/6, that's 28 shillings and sixpence (about £1.40). Unlike similar stoves this one used petrol not kerosene! As a result, it had some alarming habits.

Maps click to enlarge

Anglesey Map

Anglesey, North Wales

The Marian on the map

Llangefni, capital of Anglesey