So I've figured out what I want – nay, must – do with my life. It's called the Mongol Rally. As the name implies, it is a rally involving Mongols.
On the surface it doesn't seem all that exciting; participants must drive from London to Ulan Baatur, Mongolia. Deserts must be crossed, bodies of water forded, unpaved terrain traversed, blah blah blah. Pretty standard Executive VP Who Shops at REI road rally stuff.
But here's the catch: all entrant vehicles must be complete pieces of shit and there is no support crew of any kind. In the average "adventure" rally, rich people drive military-spec SUVs over allegedly forbidding terrain, and if they so much as get a hang nail the race organizers send in a helicopter (and a new truck). Not so the Mongol Rally (note the number of "no, we really aren't going to rescue you" disclaimers on the website).
Not pictured: quality automotive engineering
Maximum engine displacement is 1.0L. For the automotively declined, there are no vehicles currently on sale in the US with an engine that small. The only US-legal entrants I can think of would be 1st-gen Geo Metros (which sneak in at 0.998L). Even the friggin' Yugo had a 1.3L powerplant. Fortunately, in Europe microcars with sub-liter engines are quite common since most people use them as intra-urban commuters. Popular cars like the smart or Fiat Panda would comfortably fit in the glove compartment of an American car.
The only other requirement is that, and I quote the organizers directly, the car must "generally be regarded as crap." I love that. You have no idea how much I love it. Rumor has it that anything with a retail value of over 500 Euro will probably not make the cut.
So in summation, this rally consists of people driving on unpaved roads over the Caucuses and through two deserts using cars that probably couldn't handle a trip to the supermarket. In this year's rally, 160 started, 64 finished, 19 were abandoned, and 77 currently are in whereabouts unknown. Where do I sign? One man managed to finish in a $150 (off eBay!) 1990 Daihatsu Charade while setting a record by completing the rally without breaking down once. Them Japan fellas can make a car, boy howdy.
By the way – it's all for charity. Each entrant must raise 1000 GB Pounds for Mongolian charities in addition to footing all costs related to the vehicle and return travel from Mongolia (or wherever their car finally takes a dump).
If only we could hunt down Mike Konczal's 1994 Ford Tempo – a vehicle so shitty that rather than selling it, he had to pay someone to take it. Do photos exist of this trusty steed? Failing that, I have little to no doubt that I can make Khazakstan my bitch with an old Honda T. Who wants shotgun?