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Old 6 Aug 2010
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Gently Used Limousine Looking for Good Home in Bamako

Gently Used Limousine Looking for Good Home

A Lincoln Town Car five-ft stretch limousine named Vegas: how’s that for rolling in style through the muddy by-ways of Bamako?

Born in 1988, Vegas lived her youthful years at the beck and call of various celebrities in the Hollywood area. She then spent some 15 years in Las Vegas, plying the strip as a limo for hire.

For most cars, that would have been the end of the road.

But not for Vegas: in 2008, an intrepid team from San Francisco bought her and prepared her the excursion of a lifetime.

The Plymouth-Bamako Challenge (The Plymouth-Dakar Challenge - Official Web Site) is simply to drive the 3,600 mile route from Plymouth, England to Bamako, Mali, in Africa on a limited budget, with the principle aim of helping charitable causes in developing countries. The San Francisco based team added in a cross country road-trip at the front end, trans-Atlantic shipping and a diversion to Timbuktu at the back-end, just to keep things interesting.

It was an amazing journey – winding through the tiniest of alleys in the Medina of Marrakech, off-roading through the soft Sarahan sands and along the beaches of Mauritania, ferrying across the Niger river, and the brutal road to Timbuktu to name but a few. Fifteen vehicles left London, twelve made it to Bamako – the losses included one rather hurried abandonment in the Sahara under the watchful eyes of reported Algerian rebels.

Vegas turns out to be an excellent global travelling vehicle. With seating for up to nine passengers, or more accurately five passengers and thousands of pounds of gear, the limousine combines the carrying capacity of a pickup truck with a luxurious air-conditioned interior including tv and minibar.

And despite tipping the scale at over 8,000lbs fully loaded, gas mileage is better than your average SUV due to the low frontal area. Of course this assumes that you can keep that right foot under control - as the big 5.0l V8 puts ample power to pull away from most everything on the road in these parts. The team can vouch for the utility of good solid

American horsepower as digging a limousine out of a sand dune is not an experience that should be repeated. Provided you’re still moving you’re not stuck!

The team was within a few hundred miles of completing the return to Bamako from our postrally excursion to Timbuktu (that road!) when the poor much abused rear wheel bearing gave out stranding poor Vegas in Djenne. Despite bringing a complete set of tools and many many spareparts, that particular $6 rear wheel bearing was not among them.

After returning to the States the bearing was shipped and in mid-2008 Vegas was finally returned to Bamako for intended sale by auction to raise money for charity.

The full story of the experience is told here:

Limo To Africa

and photos are on flickr under the limotoafrica tag here:

LimoToAfrica - a set on Flickr

But the story does not end there….

Through an unfortunate combination of aborted sale arrangements and the inevitable longdistance miscommunications, Vegas sat unused since early 2009.

In late July team members Mark Sinclair and Brian Dunn decided that the unresolved situation had to be dealt with. They jumped on a plane with one small bag of clothing of two large bags of spare parts and tools and pieces. 48 hours later they arrived in Mali (worst flight ever) with a scant six days to resolve the situation.

Fortunately Vegas had been well-cared for by our good friend in Bamako, Dagnon Souaybou and family.

With a tune-up and a new battery she was purring like a kitten again, ready to find a new home.

Sale proceeds will benefit the Rotary Club Of Bamako Amitie.

Working with the Ministry of Education they have initiated a computer education project in collaboration with the World Computer Exchange (World Computer Exchange | Helping to give hope).

They will furnish and supply 400 refurbished desktop computers that will benefit 5,000 school children in the Bamako

District spread over 70 schools.

The sale is being handled by Mr. Sunny Akuopha of the Rotary Club Of Bamako Amitie who may be reached at +223-65747477 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +223-65747477 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or email: niger_sahel_energie@yahoo.fr

It will also be available for viewing at the Banque Internationale du Mali (BIM) Headquarters at Bolibana.

The vehicle comes with a set of tools including a high-lift jack, several boxes of spare parts including rebuild kits for many major components and four spare rear wheel bearings.

Receipts are available for over $9,000 in pre-departure repair and modification work.

For a complete list or for any questions on the vehicle please contact Mark Sinclair +1-415-286-1578, or email:


Direct tax-deductable donations to the computer project may also be made through the World Computer Exchange, here:

Invest in the World. Support WCE | World Computer Exchange



1. Seats six in luxury, and nine in comfort. Bench front seat for third front


2. Luxury features include TV, cocktail bar, fridge, strip lighting, sunroof, six

speaker stereo system with separate inputs for front and rear

3. Very large trunk, roof racks for extra carrying capacity.

4. Many spares included with vehicle, see separate list available.

5. Built by best US limousine builder – LCW Automotive – company is still in

operation today.

6. Vehicle is heavy and robust – heavy-duty suspension, handles well on dirt or offroad.

Although heavy, it was built with weight saving features such as aluminium

bonnet and fiberglass roof.

7. Ford V8 engine – very common, parts are readily available and cheap in the US,

should also be available in Africa and Europe if the correct supplier is found.

8. Mileage is better than you might expect, provided you drive with a light right foot.

We measured 18 mpg or 13 liters/100km on the highway. The engine passed

strict California smog requirements in 2007. To pass this test the engine must be

in good running order - good compression, oil pressure, etc.

9. Limousines are generally operated at low speeds, on good roads, and are well

maintained by commercial operators. The vehicle condition is therefore better

than that of a typical private automobile of the same age and mileage.

10. The vehicle sat unused for about 18 months prior to this sale. It has been recently

restored to good running condition, however some electrical switches, contacts

and relays still need to be cleaned to return them to operation.

Many receipts available for work completed prior to coming to Africa. Including the


1. Front shock absorbers

2. Rear shocks and replacement springs

3. Alternator (100amp) and regulator

4. Heavy duty batteries (2)

5. Front disc pads.

6. Three new tires, includes two spare wheels

7. AC condenser

8. Rebuilt heavy duty automatic transmission (includes transmission cooler)

9. New power steering pump

10. Replacement rear differential

11. Air conditioner compressor

12. Radiator and water pump
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