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Crossing the Darien Gap

4 months ago

Writer:

Ben Oliver | Journalist

Date:

10 June 2022

Fifty years ago today, two rather second hand-looking blue Range Rovers arrived at Cape Horn, the southernmost point of Chile’s Tierra del Fuego. After seven months and 18,000 miles they had become the first cars to drive the entire length of the Americas, from the frozen wastes of Alaska to the Land of Fire. They stopped their engines and Captain Jeremy Groves, the British Army officer leading the team, sent a cable back to base stating simply, ‘mission accomplished’.

The British Trans-Americas Expedition of 1971-72 was an extraordinary public relations coup for Land Rover, which needed to prove the endurance of its more luxurious new model, launched the year before. The journey – and especially the crossing of the Darien Gap, the 250 miles of roadless virgin jungle on the border between Panama and Colombia – is still referenced every time the Range Rover regenerates. It just has again, and the expedition has played a small but significant role in the extraordinary global success of what has now become a range in itself.

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