With only a few days remaining before the annual charity Bangers4Ben Rally gets underway, we took a trip down to CarVue customer (and award-winning used car dealership) Prestige Diesels in Portsmouth to check out their entry and have a chat with owner Alexis Cassey to find out more about the bonkers mission we were sponsoring them to undertake…
CarVue: So Alexis, I guess it’s been a busy few months for you getting ready for the rally, and then we saw that you popped up on the BBC 6 and 10 o’ clock news as one of the lead stories…! Can you tell us more about that?
Alexis: Yes, you could say it’s been a bit busy! When the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal erupted a few weeks back, I did an interview for the Daily Telegraph, and then out of the blue, I got a call from a BBC TV researcher. Within an hour, they were in our showroom filming me and we were on the news that night!
C: Wow – that’s pretty crazy. Did you get many calls following that?
A: Yes, we got quite a few calls, and sold a couple of cars off the back of it. While we think there’s still a big place in the market for Diesel cars, we’re also seeing that there’s a fair bit of apprehension around diesel cars at the moment.
C: So what happens on the B4B Rally?
A: I haven’t ever been on anything like this! It’s 4 Grand Prix tracks in 4 days in a car costing no more than £750. We start off in Silverstone with a lap of the track on Saturday 10th October then head down to Calais and hop over the channel to go to Reims, where we’ll do a lap of the historic circuit there. From there it’s off to Germany and the BMW factory in Munich, then to Spa racetrack in Belgium, then back to England. I think we’re also meant to route plan it, but me and a map is a no-go so we may well end up in Timbuktu if I’ve got the map in my hands!
C: Who’s going on the rally?
A: It’s myself and Scott. We might try and smuggle the dog in the back but we might not get away with that!
C: The two of you are also a couple as well as the business owners…are you envisaging that it will be smooth rolling the whole time?
A: No! I think we’re going to fight over who’s going to be driving and when. Saying that, I’m coming down with a cold, so maybe I won’t be fighting, maybe I’ll be in the passenger seat dying actually! After all this trouble we’ve gone through in the past few months with the car, I’ve got this awful feeling that I’m going to be in the car playing dead and Scott will be driving!
C: What’s the purpose of the rally?
A: It’s for BEN, the Automotive industry charity and the idea is that we raise money to help people in the industry.
C: So it’s a great cause then. How do you ‘win’ the rally?
A: Well I think there are a few options of winning this year… I think there’s a prize for who gets the most for their car at the end of the rally when it goes to auction, the best fancy dress and a prize for the best car…I think…I really need to read up on the rules. I should know really as I do like to win things!
C: Have you done anything like this before?
A: No. And this is our first holiday together.
C: Holiday? It doesn’t sound much like a holiday…
A: No. I’m a bit concerned actually. I’m looking of it as a break but actually I think it’s going to be quite hard work! 1,500 miles in a few days…
C: And in a car that costs…?
A: £400. But the best £400 we ever spent!
C: Which leads us to your car. What did you go for?
A: So we’ve got a Mitsubishi FTO Mivec V6 Manual. Anyone who knows their cars knows that the manual is really rare; I think there’s only 201 in the country as they’re a Japanese import.
C: What made you choose that?
A: We decided to go for a Japanese car purely because we want to make it! (laughs). We want to make the full 4 days and we thought ‘Japanese, good idea, reliable’. Also, we’ve got Mitsi Art next door who are a Mitsubishi specialist and have loads of spares and know the cars inside out so it all tied together really well.
C: What are the criteria for entering the rally this year?
A: You have to buy a car for under £750 and it has to be a banger.. But in true Prestige Diesels style, we’ve taken our banger and made it ‘not a banger’!
C: Can you give us a few hints about what you’ve done then?
A: It’s based on a racing car. That’s all I can tell you. That, and it’s in Porsche colours…
C: Mysterious…! Who have you got lined up for sponsoring the car then?
A: Well obviously we have you guys, CarVue, right on the front of our bonnet. We’ve also got WMS Warranties, HPI, CAP and iVendi. We’re still trying to look for some tyre people at the moment, that’s my next mission for today to find someone who wants to give us some tyres for the car and we’ll then put their logo onto the car too. We’ve also had some amazing people help us: A & B Paint Shop in Portsmouth have fully repainted the car and Express Paints (also in Portsmouth) supplied all of the paints free of charge too. Fizzy Print supplied all of the signage and stuck them all on free of charge too, and of course Mitsi Art next door supplied all of the mechanical work free of charge. I hope I haven’t forgotten anybody there!
C: Where did you buy your banger from?
A: Billy Bob cars in Reading. We bought it from him for a really good price because it was for charity. He had it on eBay as an auction and when I phoned him up and spoke to him, he said we could have it for what he paid for it. So again, like others, they did us a massive favour.
C: Sounds like you called in quite a lot of favours then?
A: Yep, a few short skirts here and there. JOKING! I didn’t have to go that far!
C: Well it’s been a pleasure as always Alexis, thanks for taking the time to talk to us today…
A: Oh wait there, I forgot something. We’re going to the Nurburgring! We haven’t actually got insurance yet. You might not actually ever see us again if we go round Nurburgring! I’ve got this awful vision of someone crashing into the back of us. It’s not us we need to worry about, it’s everyone else coming up behind. Have you seen some of the footage of Nurburgring on YouTube…?!
C: Crumbs. Well thanks and best of luck Alexis, we really hope you win!
A: Yeah I hope we do too, although there’s some fantastic other cars entered in this year. They’ve gone for the fun factor, we’ve gone for the cool factor!
You can keep up to date with Alexis’ and the other teams’ progress in this year’s Bangers4Ben rally on Twitter using the hashtag #bfb15
To donate click here for Scott & Alexis’ Just Giving page.
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