With a double page spread in the Sunday Times, the ‘It’s on the Meter’ global taxi challenge is now gathering attention and entering its final stage. And, we’re proud to say, the world-beating journey was only made possible thanks to a weird and wonderful motoring awards scheme created by Performance Direct.

Non Standard Awards - It's on the Meter - Covent Garden

Currently in Israel following a trip across America, the world’s longest taxi journey is concluding its circumnavigation (or should that be leapfrogging?) of the globe in aid of the British Red Cross.

Non Standard Awards - It's on the Meter - Tower Bridge

The ‘It’s on the Meter’ global taxi challenge team, Paul Archer, Johno Ellison and Leigh Purnell has already driven from London to Sydney, Australia in a classic London Black Cab but they’re now preparing the return trip from San Francisco, via Europe and back to London.

Non Standard Awards – It’s on the Meter – Performance Direct - Paris

Since they set off from Covent Garden, in February 2011, they’ve covered three continents, thirty-nine countries, ten times zones and 32,000 miles. They’ve seen the northern lights in Norway, been detained by secret police in Iran and driven to Everest base camp.

Non Standard Awards – It’s on the Meter – Performance Direct - Mechanics

“We couldn’t have got this far by ourselves,” says Paul. “Winning the Performance Direct Non-Standard Award got us going and now, as a result, other sponsors have come on board including Get Taxi who are sponsoring the next leg of the trip.”

Non Standard Awards – It’s on the Meter – Performance Direct - Snow

The ‘It’s on the Meter’ challenge started as a hair-brained scheme dreamt up during a long (and expensive) taxi ride in 2008. The team, who all studied at Aston University in Birmingham, wondered what the longest and most expensive taxi fare actually was, and decided to try beating the record – which stood at 21,690 miles.

Non Standard Awards - It's on the Meter

So, in 2009, the trio bought a 20-year old London Black Cab for £1,500 on eBay. It already had 100,000 miles on the clock, but they named her Hannah (after the Ella Fitzgerald song about the man-hater Hard-Hearted Hannah) and set about planning their route and, crucially, applying for a Non Standard Motoring Award.

Non Standard Awards - It's on the Meter - Performance Direct

“We were really excited to get the call from Performance Direct to say we’d won an award,” says Leigh. “Quite apart from the financial backing, it gave us faith in the project. Non Standard Awards have helped some brilliant projects so it was good the know the judges thought we could do it!”

Non Standard Awards - It's on the Meter

So far the ride has taken in the UK, France, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Turkey, Georgia and Armenia. Then it was on to Iraq and from here across the mountains into Iran and into Pakistan, through India and on to Nepal where they drove the Friendship Highway into Tibet.

Non Standard Awards – It’s on the Meter – Performance Direct

“Tibet was definitely a highlight,” says Paul. “The place was mind-blowingly beautiful. We drove the taxi to Everest base camp, so perhaps we have also set the record for the world’s highest taxi journey.”

Non Standard Awards - It's on the Meter - Performance Direct

From Tibet the team then travelled into China, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Singapore. Here they shipped Hannah over to Darwin, Australia, and finally reached Sydney on December 10th 2011.

Non Standard Awards – It’s on the Meter – Performance Direct - Sydney

The epic 296 day journey covered 32,000 miles and racked up a bill of £57,000 on the meter. Hannah has been welded back together six times and suffered countless break-downs, but with a new gear box and brakes she is ready to take on the next leg.

Non Standard Awards - It's on the Meter

“I can’t think of many worse cars to drive around the world in!” says Paul. “It’s very uncomfortable, but it has a bomb proof engine which is solid and good for thousands of miles.”

Non Standard Awards - It's on the Meter

Starting in San Francisco in February 2012, the team recently drove through America, before heading over to Israel. They now plan to head back to Europe before crossing the finish line in London… hopefully in May.

Non Standard Awards - It's on the Meter

The team has already raised £15,000 for the Red Cross’ work helping vulnerable people in a crisis in the UK and overseas, and needs your help to collect a further £5,000.

Non Standard Awards - It's on the Meter

The ‘It’s on the Meter’ expedition is recorded in video blogs and regular updates on Facebook and Twitter.

For more information and to donate please visit the Team’s website: www.itsonthemeter.com

Performance Direct Non Standards Awards

That’s how ‘It’s on the Meter’ did it and now’s your chance! How would you like to realise your motoring dreams; to make that once in a lifetime road trip, to undertake that long delayed classic car restoration or to explore one of those weird motoring ideas you had down the pub?

Performance Direct is famous in the insurance industry for helping motorists with unusual insurance requests.

As well as standard motor insurance, Performance Direct looks after the drivers of what the industry calls ‘non-standard’ vehicles – classic cars motorcycles, imports, modified and high value vehicles.

Performance Direct helps so-called non standard drivers too – this doesn’t mean anything unusual; the self employed, drivers with points on their license or individuals who use their car for work are all, in insurance terminology, ‘non-standard’ cases.

Through our work we often come across people with unusual motoring ideas and dreams, could be vehicle restoration projects, original road trips, record attempts, charity events and challenges. In many cases, however, these ideas remain untried, often because the individuals lack the basic finance to make their ideas happen.

That’s why we invented the Non Standard Motoring Awards.

The Non Standard Awards Work – How they Work?

Whether you have dreams of driving from around the world in a taxi, restoring a classic VW Camper Van or painting your car to look like the Sistine Chapel, if you need assistance to help realise your driving ambitions or slightly mad projects, then the Non-Standard Awards are for you!

The more different the idea the better – we don’t want anything irresponsible or dangerous – just original, achievable ideas (they should be associated with motoring and if there’s a charity element that’ll be good, although it’s not essential).

Take a look further on our website, you’ll see details of some of our previous winners and the ideas they put forward. We like variety so be creative!

Performance Direct will need to know exactly what finance is required, why you need it and you’ll also have to persuade the expert judges that you’ll be able to carry out your idea. The judging process will be rigorous, so forget it if you can’t deliver!

How to Apply?

Applications for the next round of Performance Direct Insurance’s Non Standard Awards will be accepted until 31st Oct 2012

In the first instance, click here to apply.

This should explain, in no more than 200 words, your idea and the amount of money required to make it happen.

Then, also in less than 200 words, we’ll also need to know about you. We’ll obviously need proof that your idea is realisable and, as far as you can, that you can ‘pull it off’! Please include any supporting photos or information with the application.

Every application will be acknowledged and an initial shortlist will be sent out by 30th Nov 2012. Short listed candidates may be asked to attend an interview with an expert judging panel in London (Some Terms and Conditions will apply).

Performance Direct is prepared to receive applications for up to £10,000. However, applications for smaller amounts will be looked upon favourably. There is no minimum application and we are happy to act as a co-sponsor of an idea.

Remember, to become a Non-Standard Award Winner with Performance Direct, you need to apply by 31st Oct 2012.

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