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Banger rallies - tempting fate?

Having a car accident can be, to put it bluntly, a right nightmare. Not only is there the hassle of having to repair or replace a smashed up car, but insurance premiums are likely to rise and people might have suffered personal injuries and so have to make compensation claims too.

So why, then, do some people practically invite road accidents upon themselves, risking all of the above and more? I'm not talking about fraudsters intentionally causing car crashes for the purpose of making bogus accident claims, but something a little more honest and a whole lot more legal.

To be honest, the people I'm talking about don't actually purposefully cause car accidents at all, in fact, they're probably the last thing they want. But what they're undertaking is highly likely to cause one. Either that or numerous break downs.

What I'm talking about is the latest craze to sweep the country's twenty-somethings, banger rallies.

No longer satisfied with 'expanding their horizons' by picking up a rucksack and jetting off to Australia or Thailand for a spot of backpacking, today's graduates and teens, still not quite wanting to join the real world of work, are looking for something a little different.

And what many of them are doing is certainly different.

So here's the plan, ridiculous as it sounds. Get hold of a car, the older and more decrepit the better, fill it with empty jerry cans and spare parts, find a mate who's equally adventurous (or stupid) as yourself and then drive to some distant location on roads that don't deserve to be called roads.

To a lot of people, driving thousands of miles through a desolate, bandit-infested wilderness in a heap of junk held together with chewing gum and twigs isn't really their idea of fun. Fair's fair, though, it's guaranteed to be an adventure.

And that's exactly what these thrill-seeking travellers are looking for, an adventure. It's not just about seeing exotic countries and meeting foreign nomads, but it's also the risk of car accidents, the threat of breakdowns and the possibility of ending up in some cannibalistic tribe's cooking pot that adds to the sense of adventure.

For anyone daring enough, or crazy enough, there are no shortage of banger rally challenges to undertake. There's the Ramshackle Rally which gives you the opportunity to race from London to either Valencia or Krakow, there's the Bamako Run offering the chance to drive from Europe to the West African country of Mali and then there's the big one - the Mongol Rally.

The Mongol Rally is a 10,000-mile, five-week slog from London to the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator, with no set route, no support and all in a wreck of a car that has an engine smaller than one litre. Not surprisingly, the event has seen its fair share of incidents and, with drivers journeying through places as diverse as Iran and the Arctic Circle, robberies, bribery and a whole host of other unsavoury incidents are common.

In addition, car accidents are a regular occurrence on the Mongol Rally and it is reported that during the 2005 event two cars flipped over on the Mongolian plains, one car completely snapped in half and hundreds of tyres suffered blowouts.

Now if it's adventure that you're after, the Mongol Rally certainly offers that. Find out more about this somewhat ridiculous event at but if you fancy a spot in this year's race you might just be in for a disappointment; all 200 places were snapped up in a matter of seconds.

So, it seems, the world really is full of crazy car accident-risking people.

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