Ever wondered who’s driven the furthest? Or the highest? Or even who pulled off the tightest parallel park?
Here are eight world-beating feats performed by daring drivers and their trusted cars. Each of these feats have put the vehicle’s’ reliability and performance to the test, and earned a spot in the official Guinness World Records Book.
Longest driven journey
The record for the longest driven journey may still be ongoing. It began on 19 October 1984, when Swiss couple Emil and Liliana Schmid set off in a hardy Toyota Land Cruiser, and never came back. The last entry in the Guinness World Records was on 4 April 2017, at which time the couple had traversed 741,065 km (460,476 miles), taking in 186 countries.
It’s not clear if this epic trek still continues, but the latest report found them in Iran in October 2019. This was only a few days shy of their 35th anniversary since leaving home, and approaching the half-million-mile mark.
On 18 September 2013, Alaska resident Irvin “Irv” Gordon’s car clocked up an astonishing three-millionth mile. He was driving his 1966 Volvo P1800S, which he’d bought brand new when he was 25 years old. Driving his car mostly to car shows and events around the States, he was adding approximately 140,000 - 160,000 km (85,000 - 100,000 miles) to the odometer every year. No wonder Volvo’s slogan used to be “For life”.
Irv retired his car the following year with 3,039,122 miles on the clock. That’s the equivalent of driving the circumference of the Earth 122 times, or six times to the moon and back.
Highest altitude driven to by car
This one’s enough to make you feel a tad lightheaded. On 21 April 2007, two drivers took a modified 1986 Suzuki Samurai an incredible 6,688 m (21,942 ft) up the Ojos Del Salado volcano in Atacama, Chile.
Chilean nationals Gonzalo Bravo and Eduardo Canales were the ones laughing in the face of vertigo to achieve this accolade. And yes, the volcano is active.
Largest individual GPS drawing by a car
The largest individual GPS drawing made by a driver (as opposed to a drawing put together by a team of drivers) is just over 7,163 km (4,451 miles) long. It was created by Japanese motorist Yasushi Takahashi on 9 June 2010.
The image itself spanned the length of Japan, and took the form of an elaborate proposal for Mr Takahashi’s girlfriend. It spelled out ‘Marry Me’, with the island of Hokkaido being covered by a massive heart. And you may be pleased to learn that her answer was “hai” – which means yes in Japanese.
Fastest overland journey to the South Pole by average speed
On 20 December 2012, British duo Jason De Carteret and Kieron Bradley arrived at the South Pole having driven 1,114 km (692 miles) in 15 hours and 54 minutes. They started in Patriot Hills, at the edge of Antarctica, driving a Thomson Reuters Polar Vehicle - a purpose-built green car.
The team managed an average of 27.9 kmh (17.34 mph) over the course of the journey. This is no small feat, considering the extreme climate and snowy landscape. Plus they had to stop every hour to check the heat of the wheel bearings, fluid levels, and that the car hadn’t sprung a leak.
Tightest parallel park
The world record for the tightest parallel park was set on 8 January 2015 by Alastair Moffatt. The Gloucester-born stunt driver squeezed his Fiat 500C into a space just 7.5 cm (2.95”) longer than the car.
And if that’s not enough pressure, he did it in front of an audience at the NEC in Birmingham, during the AutoSport International show.
We don’t recommend you try parking in such a tight spot, but it’s still worth watching Moffatt’s valiant effort.
Most countries visited by an electric car on a single charge
This one was bagged by Belgian Frederik Van Overloop on 8 July 2016, in a Tesla Model S. Just one charge propelled him 585.7 km (363.94 miles), and the overnight journey lasted a little under 16 hours.
Frederik’s journey began in Switzerland, and he took in the sights of Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, Italy, and Slovenia. He ran out of juice in Croatia.
First mass-produced car in space
Boldly going where no mass-produced vehicle had gone before, a Tesla Roadster was launched into space on 6 February 2018. It accompanied SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy on its maiden voyage from Cape Canaveral in Florida, USA. Test flights require a dummy payload, and the car jettisoned into the void was chosen by SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk.
Musk also chose a dummy ‘driver’ called Starman to navigate the car around the solar system, to the soundtrack of David Bowie’s ‘Life on Mars’ and ‘Space Oddity’. The Tesla Roadster will be orbiting the Sun for the next several million years.