Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

'Dalek' taking on charity challenge

Clare Brookes, dressed as The Doctor, is part of a team tackling the Wacky Rally across Europe in their specially modified Dalek car, raising money for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
Clare Brookes, dressed as The Doctor, is part of a team tackling the Wacky Rally across Europe in their specially modified Dalek car, raising money for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

A group of Doctor Who die-hards have transformed a battered old car into a Dalek for a charity rally across Europe.

Four friends have spent months turning the seven-year-old Fiat people carrier into a four-wheeled likeness of The Doctor's arch-nemesis for the Wacky Rally, starting Friday.

Clare Brookes, a funeral director by trade, is hoping the eye-catching car - which has a loud hailer jammed in the sun-roof that emits "exterminate" on demand - will help them raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

"It smells a bit like a man's armpit inside already," she said.

"And there have been tears, trying to get it ready.

"But if you're going to do a job, you might as well do it right and hopefully we can raise some money."

Ms Brookes will be sharing driving duties over a course stretching from France to Spain with travelling team-mates "The Doctors"; Michelle Orton, Martine Smith and Lesley Sheppard, all from Nuneaton, Warwickshire.

She said the "unusual looks" of the Fiat Multipla originally led to the idea of a Dalek car.

Among the new additions are arms mounted on the bodywork fashioned from broom handles, a kitchen whisk and bathroom plunger, and a Dalek eye made from an old walking stick, fitted with an LED light.

Spheres of polystyrene chopped in half and painted black also adorn the bonnet, boot and door panels, while the vehicle maker's badge now reads "Obey".

On top, there are flashing blue lights either side of the roof-box, completing the likeness of the BBC television science fiction villain which has terrorised generations of youngsters down the years.

However, the 1.9 diesel car which - as the rally rules specify - cost under £300, came with 188,000 miles on the clock and a host of mechanical problems.

"Last week, I couldn't get it in gear and I just thought 'we're not going to make it - the clutch has gone' but fortunately we fixed it," said 40-year-old Ms Brookes.

"The man I bought it off even gave us the £300 back when he knew what we wanted it for.

"But it's cost about £600 to fix."

The front suspension has been re-built, although one back wheel is still "a bit wobbly", while the underside and electrics have been refitted - including a PA system which plays sirens.

Ms Brookes said road-testing "Dino the Dalek" near her home has earned "a few funny looks".

"He can basically do everything a Dalek can do - except climb stairs," she added.

However, she is no stranger to driving eye-catching cars, running Volkswagen Funerals with Ms Orton, which operates a fleet of VW camper vans as hearses.

Organisers of the Wacky Rally's Barmy to Barcelona event will safety check every team's cars before the start in Lille, northern France on Friday.

The Dalek car, and about 70 other modified motors, must then survive a gruelling four-day 1,500-mile route through Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and over the Alps into Italy, before heading along the French Riviera and on into Spain.

"It's passed an MOT, but it won't pass another," added Ms Brookes.

"We're just hoping he'll make it, and the Alps won't cook his brakes we've got everything crossed."

In any case, the rally organisers advise all the teams to drive their cars to the scrapyard after crossing the finish line in Barcelona, to save the hassle of getting the cars home.

However, Ms Brookes said after six months knocking the car into shape, they will be "sad to see him go".

Donations can be made at www.justgiving.com/wackyrallyteam or by texting Darl53 followed by a space and then £1 to 70070.

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