An Ode to the Auto Goulet

She went through a lot. For any of us involved, it was probably the most volatile relationship we’d ever had. There were moods, there were rough patches, even for days at a time. But our baby got us there. She got us to Mongolia.

before after

An oral history of the Auto Goulet’s epic 10,000 mile death march to Mongolia:

  • She started her life on the Nissan assembly line in 1998, and spent her first 62,000 miles in various hands throughout the United Kingdom. Life (most notably with one Mrs. Barbara Smith) was largely uneventful.
  • Her life would forever change through online dating, via Autotrader.com, when she was located by one Alex Portera of the Global Goulets.
  • She first met her young suitors, the Global Goulets, on a used car trader’s farm outside Crowley, England, one quiet July morning. Neither she nor anyone present could predict the scale of the adventure ahead. In fact, the Goulets couldn’t even predict how to drive stick shift or operate a car on the left side of the road. It would take several stalls and significant effort to even get her off the lot.
  • She would provide a fertile testing ground for the Goulets to practice their driving skills around the mean streets of London. This was a rocky proposition – after stalling in a good many roundabouts and roadways, the Goulets racked up several hundred pounds in congestion tickets, and endless angry honks.
  • In Canterbury, one Errol Wright would install a much-needed sump guard, a power inverter to charge electronics, and completely impractical spotlights on a balmy Saturday morning. Across the lot, the boys at All Things Metal conceptualized a completely innovative solution for her roof rack – they found a discarded 1,000L liquid tote tank on a nearby farm, removed the high density polyethylene container, used their welding abilities to chop the metal crating in half, and permanently bolted the bottom half of the crate through her roof. This now-famous solution would draw stares and envy from London to Mongolia for its sheer creative brilliance and unmatched practicality.
  • Outside a car wash in London, the driver’s side window would fall through its sleeve. This would foreshadow 10,000 miles of window troubles to come.
  • The Goulets would stock up in London with a new set of spare tires, headlights, fuses, and every other small car part of use. When confronted with the decision to purchase a spare replacement car battery, one Brian of the Goulets would turn to the camera and affirm, “we do not need a spare battery. They last for years, and it’s just not worth the extra weight.” This statement would directly create the foundation for a most stressful chapter of the Auto Goulet’s history in a volatile land thousands of miles down the road.
  • The day before the start of her life-defining adventure, the Goulets would plaster her with the faces of their greatest supporters back home to ride along for the journey. It was at this time that this purple 1998 Nissan Micra was branded with a new name across her hood: “AUTO GOULET”
  • After meeting 200+ other cars, the Auto Goulet and her noble riders would set out on their epic quest from Battersea Park, London.
  • On Rally Day 3, she would hit top speeds of 65 mph on the world-famous German autobahn, enjoying the open road from the right lane.
  • On Rally Day 8, the steeply graded Transfagarasan Mountain slopes would call attention to her over-exhausted brake pads, and a dutiful mechanic in Bucharest, Romania would fit her with sparkling new ones.
  • On Rally Day 10, the Goulets would finally escape Bucharest to quickly discover her completely burnt out clutch kit, an almost fatal sacrifice she made when allowing her teammates to grind her manual transmission for weeks with little experience. The multitude of driving mistakes was ultimately too much. The journey would be briefly halted as the Auto Goulet limped through Varna, Bulgaria into the hands of a quick and attentive mechanical crew, while the Goulets would worry about their girl by drinking beers and tanning on the beach.
  • The Auto Goulet’s distinctive look would change forever on Rally Day 13 in Istanbul. While crossing the Bosphorus Bridge for the historic jump between Europe and Asia, the over-heated power inverter would explode, leading to chaotic panic inside the car and a quick evacuation. The passenger door was crushed, accordion-style, by an oncoming public bus. Scared and defeated, the Goulets would drive through Istanbul seeking a mechanic to get the door back in its frame. Two noble street heroes, one Burak Kaplan and his reliable helper, found the Auto Goulet in this state and offered to help. As bus drivers (ironically), they used their oversized bus tools to pummel the door into shape with a large crowbar, a rope, and a screwdriver. Within half an hour, the door would awkwardly fit back into its frame, allowing the Goulets to apply an unaesthetic scar of duct tape down her door seam, and relegating the Goulets to one functional door for the remainder of the journey. But onward to Asia she went!
  • On a marathon drive through Georgia and Azerbaijan on Day 15, the driver side window would again fall through its sleeve. The Goulets would use a makeshift tarp to cover the open window while parked in town, a laughably unreliable solution. They would freeze with the cold wind in their long night drive. Through the language of gestures, a team of strangers at a roadside stop in Azerbaijan resettled the window for free, as thanks for passing through their village.
  • The washboard roads of Turkmenistan would churn through tires, and the Goulets spent significant time fixing flats in the scorching desert heat (although not as much time as one Stephen from their Irish biker caravan crew).
  • Reliable gas would become an issue in Uzbekistan. Traditional gas stations sold out of petrol quickly, so the Goulets were left scavenging unlabeled black market petrol from entrepreneurial “merchants” on the sides of the roads. Sometimes this poor quality fuel caused the Auto Goulet to let out a sour smell.
  • In Tajikistan on Day 26, facing a strict visa deadline, the Auto Goulet would set out into the remote, often treacherous Pamir Mountains. Hours down a windy dirt road, she turned into a rough patch, stalled, and didn’t come back. It was the battery. The Goulets would limp carefully back to the town of Kulob, praying not to stall or have to re-jump the car with no caravan on the remote roads. They would spend close to a full day with a tireless mechanic who, in front of an attentive audience of local Tajik boys and men, would make several attempts on the alternator to ultimately determine she just needed a new battery. The Goulets flagged down a working battery at the town’s massive bazaar, and the Auto Goulet sprang back to life and back into the mountains.
  • At some point in the Pamir Mountains, an unknown bump to her fuel tank would forever cut her fuel capacity in half, and cause her gas meter to fluctuate unpredictably and nonsensically. This would continue to perplex and spook the Goulets until the issue was miraculously healed with one day left in the Rally.
  • On Day 29, the Goulets would stop to make coffee in a remote but stunning landscape in the Pamir Mountains. A misguided drive into a wide crater left one of the Auto Goulet’s front tires floating over open air, and the Goulets scrambling to push her back onto land.
  • Near the high-altitude Lake Karakul later that same day, the Goulets would be so in awe at the gorgeous setting sun over the snow-capped mountains by the lake that they would mistakenly drive her straight into the deep and deceptive permafrost, getting stuck twice in the same day. A gruff townsperson would begrudgingly rescue her out with his beastly Soviet-era farm truck.
  • On Day 30, with just one day left before the Tajik visa deadline, the Auto Goulet would refuse to start after a cold, high-altitude slumber. A team of local interested strangers ultimately determined this to be a result of a faultily replaced air filter (which had naively been replaced by the Goulets just a day earlier for no good reason).
  • In Biskek, Kyrgyzstan on Day 35, the Goulets would remove all possessions from the Auto Goulet and fill her top to bottom with 50+ locally sources watermelons, putting serious strain on her shocks and risking permanent damage just to see what it would look like.
  • In Mongolia on Day 42, a misguided attempt to cross a shallow river resulted in a popped tire and a long night in the near-freezing waters. Alex and Eric of the Goulets hiked 2 miles to find a nearby yurt with a tow truck while Brian bailed prized possessions from the icy cold waters at the floor of the car.
  • On Day 44, Alex and Eric of the Goulets would track down a full set of refurbished spare tires in the town of Hovd, Mongolia, getting taken into custody by the local police for no reason in the process.
  • The rough Mongolian roads would also claim her non-functional spotlights; both would fall off the hood at various points along the steppe.
  • With just days left, her 1st gear would jam and cease to operate, forcing the Goulets to employ a running push start technique for a short time; an unknown bump later down the road would somehow fortunately fix the issue.
  • Just seconds after her wake up on Day 46, the Auto Goulet would get deeply stuck in sand upon leaving her campsite. The Goulets would spend an hour digging in sand with bare hands to rescue her out.
  • In the last stretches of her descent into Ulaanbaatar, massive potholes in the roadway would repeatedly obliterate her tires. Her driver side window again fell through its sleeve at some point along the way.
  • As the sun set on the vast Mongolian plains on Day 48 of the Rally, the Auto Goulet rolled into the capital city with her noble Global Goulets at the wheel. She would bust through the closed gate of the Graveyard Lot and proudly mount the Mongol Rally Finish Line with two completely flattened tires and no spares remaining.
  • After an epic 10,000+ mile life-changing odyssey, the Auto Goulet and her adoring Global Goulets would finally have to say goodbye. It would be a relationship that none involved would ever forget, a bond between human and car that had together seen, and conquered, the world.
  • At 73,102 miles, the Auto Goulet would be collected from the Graveyard Lot in Ulaanbaatar and shipped to Lithuania, where her metal parts would be stripped and sold at auction. Her legend would be forged within each of her metal pieces for eternity, inspiring and creating endless adventure in infinite incarnations of the Auto Goulet forevermore.

 

RIP Auto Goulet

1998-2014

 What is life like on the road with the Global Goulets? Read on for our Communist Gouletfesto.

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