A British man has completed a uniquely British challenge of drinking in the world’s northernmost pub and southernmost in a single epic road trip.
And he did it all in a TVR Chimera.
If you’ve never heard of TVR, don’t feel too bad—even at their height, they were never more than the third largest manufacturer of high-end sports cars. Today they’re still an independent supercar maker, but their lineup includes a single mode: the TVR Griffith. At 500 hp from a 5.0-liter V8 engine, the Griffith certainly qualifies as a supercar even if it doesn’t get much traction outside of the UK.
But this isn’t a story about TVR. This is a story about Ben Coombs and his adventure around the globe. Coombs took a 20-year-old TVR Chimera (the precursor to the Griffith) across 25,000 miles, 22 countries, three continents, and several oceans for the privilege of sipping whiskey at the highest and lowest bars in the world.
Actually, we don’t know what he drank and it probably varied based on where he was at the time. But again, this is about the road trip and not the bars.
Although we do have to start at the bar since that’s where Coombs’ journey began. As per the Pub2Pub website, "The northernmost bar, and hence journey’s start, is the hotel bar of an obscure former mining settlement called Pyramiden, on the remote island of Svalbard, deep in the Arctic about 400 miles north of Tromso, Norway."
Pyramiden used to be a Russian mining town but has long since been abandoned. Now it has a tiny hotel that only opens a few months of the year to cater to scientists and tourists traveling around the Arctic.
Also, the Griffith didn’t make it here—the road trip didn’t begin until Coombs made it back to mainland Norway. Then it was highway cruising from Norway all the way back to his native Great Britain where he eventually hopped his Chimera on a ferry to New York.
Coombs then drove West across the continental US, mostly sticking to the Southern states, until he hit California. Then he veered south, traveling through Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and then Panama.
After hitting South America, Coombs through Columbia, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina to finally wind up in the last bar in the Southern Hemisphere at Tierra Del Fuego.
Surprisingly, Coomb’s Chimera didn’t really break down much at all. In an interview with TVR, Coombs explained how surprised he was at the car’s resilience. “I guess I always saw it as too fragile; too handmade. After all, on previous, similar trips I'd had all manner of problems.
“But frankly, I've been amazed at what the plucky little car is capable of. From 50 degree heat in Death Valley, to altitudes of almost 5,000m on the Bolivian Altoplano; from the precipitous jungles of Bolivia's Death Road to the gravel tracks of Patagonia, it's just kept going, completely unphased. And all the while, it's proved its fantastic credentials as a grand tourer, maintaining the TVR traditions of comfort and space, combined with effortless performance and a heroic soundtrack.”
Coombs recently finished his journey, and most likely will produce a book. Why else would you journey across the world in a little-known convertible?