I was walking back to the hotel reception after accompanying a host to the Sabinas El Pilar Apartments when I saw a strange pink vehicle parked right in front of the hotel, with many people around it taking pictures. As I approached, to my surprise, I noticed that the car was the shape of a pig! Instead of asking its owners if they were coming to the hotel and helping them with their luggage, as we normally would do, I couldn’t help but ask them: “Why are you driving a pig?” David Hillson, David Hillson Jr, Philip Hillson and Carlos Nighlugal (two brothers, their father and a friend) explained that they were participating in the sixth annual Benidorm or Bust Rally along with more than 200 other creative automobiles.
Blackpool (England) to Benidorm (Spain), in which all participants drive an original vehicle and give all funds raised during the rally to a charity of their choice. Once in Benidorm, several prizes, acknowledging skills and creativity, are given. We met our four friends on their way to Benidorm and we wished them luck. When they came back to the hotel, two days later, they told us that they had won one of the most prestigious prizes… for the second year in a row! I accompanied David Hillson to our garage and, as he parked, he said to his car: “Good Pig”.
Zaragoza is like London: it´s very cosmopolitan and has lovely architecture
Whose idea was it to participate in the Benidorm or Bust rally?
DAVID JR: I saw the tickets on E-Bay four years ago, and I bought them. My 12 year old son suffers from diabetes, so that´s why we decided to join the rally and to raise money for Diabetes UK.
How does the donation system work?
We pay 250 pounds to join the rally and then we pay for the hotels, the tolls and the gas. All the money that people donate along the way, goes directly to charity. There´s an online “giving” page and also you can text the charity directly from your phone. Each one of the participants decides by themselves where they want the money to go. In the last four years we have raised about 5,000 pounds for Diabetes UK.
Is there a winner of the rally?
PHILIP: There are many prizes for different categories. There’s a prize for the oldest car. Another one for the best looking car. We have been the Daily Challenge winners for two years now. That means completing a series of tasks that you are given, like checking all the checkpoints along the way, making specific photos, finding the solution to riddles and reading maps instead of using satellite navigation.
Did you get lost at some point?
We got lost all the time. But it was worse for one guy who arrived to Benidorm a day late and missed the party. He had gotten lost and drove all the way to Alicante instead!
Benidorm or Bust 2015 is your fourth rally. Why a pig this year?
DAVID: We wanted to paint the car pink somehow, so I looked at it and thought: “Why not a pig?” We cut a big barrel; part of it we used for the nose and the rest for the ears and the tail. All together it took two days to make it.
We can tell by its eyebrows that it´s actually a female pig… In fact, she looks a little bit like Peppa Pig!
DAVID JR: Yes! That’s what my 6 year old daughter said when she saw it! She liked it a lot and she was so excited that she wanted me to pick her up from school with it!
Which one of you decided to sacrifice his car to turn it into a pig?
DAVID: I bought the car four years ago from a friend of mine for 200 pounds. We all used it and when we decided that we were going to bid on this, we decided that that was what we were going to use it for. So the first two years we decorated it as a race car and last year we wrapped it in tin foil, like a sandwich.
What are people’s reactions when they see your car passing by?
DAVID JR: Everybody who drives by us, take their cameras out, and as they are taking pictures they stop paying attention to the road and nearly crash into us. So to avoid accidents we usually pass people so they can take pictures safely. When we arrive somewhere, people take photos with our car all the time.
How was the daily coexistence of four people inside an old car that looks like a pig?
DAVID JR: It was fine, but sometimes I had to get serious and lay down the law.
DAVID: Yeah, he´s the responsible one. I’m the troublemaker, but only because Carlos hides the coffee from me. He´s the team´s joker.
CARLOS: Yes, and Philip is our winch, he fixes the car´s problems.
Did the cars that participated in the rally have any problem with European police, looking the way they did?
Yes, things started to get more difficult as we approached Valencia. We were stopped several times and at one point we were about to call you guys at the hotel so you could translate the conversation with the police, but in the end we were never ticketed or fined. We did our research and were well prepared before leaving. There was a car that was fined eight times, 360 euros in total. And then there was another one that got fined 40 euros for driving too slow. It was a 1965 car that was driving 40km/h on the motorway.
Do the participating drivers drive all the way back to England with the rally car?
We do. Some others leave the car in Benidorm or they sell the pieces and fly back home. We were about to leave the car there, but we felt very nostalgic and we couldn’t do it.
Last year the rally had Zaragoza as a checkpoint, so you have been here before. Do you like the city?
CARLOS: Yes, we like it a lot. Zaragoza is like London in many ways. It´s cosmopolitan, there are a lot of people from different countries living here. And it has lovely buildings. We are all builders, we all work in construction, so we appreciate architecture.
How did you choose Hotel Sauce for your stay?
DAVID JR: Last year there were 86 cars and we all went to the same hotel in the outskirts of Zaragoza, but this year there were 215 cars and each one of us chose their own hotel. We chose Hotel Sauce and it was a very good choice: we are in the middle of the center of the city and Saray served us the best coffee of the whole trip in Mi Habitación Favorita (My Favorite Room). And that´s saying a lot, because we were drinking coffee all the time to stay awake… we drank more coffee than beer!
Are you going to participate in next year rally? Do you have any new ideas for the design of your next year´s car?
DAVID: Winning the Daily Challenge gives us a free entry into next year´s rally and the prestige of being able to put number 1 on our car. So we will definitely participate. About the design of the car, we have plenty of ideas but we are not going to unveil them yet. You will have to wait and see!