Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Another Roadside Repair Story: Emile Leray

One of the aspects of motorcycling that I find most fascinating is the possibility of doing roadside repairs to get out of a stranded situation.  Just a few weeks ago, I had a flat tire on the road and had to improvise to get home. Actually, I didn't really do much, as I drove the bike on the flat tire to the nearest gas station. Eight years ago, I got stuck in my Toyota Matrix while off-roading in Baja Mexico, and was rescued by a nearby camper who spotted the plumes of sand the car was kicking up. Recently I found a story that tops everything I have ever known up to now for getting stranded.

Emile Leray gets the award for all time most unbelievable roadside repair.  My only problem is which category to make the award in: motorcycle or car?  Emile's roadside repair started with a broken down car and ended with a motorcycle.

Emile was driving off road through the Sahara Desert, alone, when his 2CV car broke an axle and swing arm.  Apparently he decided that his only chance of survival was to cannibalize the car to build a makeshift motorcycle.  This project took him 12 days, after which he drove the motorcycle back to a main road where he could be arrested and fined for driving an unlicenced vehicle.  (His modifications were too extensive for his original licence plate to be legal - although the plate was affixed to the makeshift motorcycle.)

I have checked this with a few different sources, but although it seems legit, it is so over the top that I am still harboring a suspicion that it might be a hoax.

Picture: OK I'm also surprised that Emile also had the time and/or mental wherewithal to take pictures during this episode.


  1. Well, no one seems to have stepped forward to debunk the story. So, despite its improbabilities (e.g. he would risk death from a failure on this improbable conversion project rather than attempt to walk out the 20 or miles or so) it's quite possible that this is a true story. The police ticketing him, though, seems too much like 'gilding the lily' for me.

    By the same token, I expect that few other cars would lend themselves to this kind of transformation ... those 2CVs being extremely simple machines. Anyone who spent time in France had much affection for those little 2CVs, which never really appeared over here.

    And the 2CV had its moment of glory when it became James Bond's escape vehicle ...

  2. That is a very funny car chase. I need to see that movie.

    The police ticket is actually one of the more believable parts, I forgot to mention the reason he was so far out in the desert in the first place, was to avoid a police checkpoint. So he already knew he was in some trouble with the fuzz even before the "unauthorized" repairs.