L is for Emile Leray

I am again focusing on the famous, the forgotten and the misbegotten for Round 25 of the popular ABC Wednesday meme. But finding suitable characters is getting harder, so apologies in advance if there are repeats of previous posts.
Leray today with his makeshift bike

Leray today with his makeshift bike

A story emerged in 2012 of an amazing feat of extreme auto engineering by Frenchman Emile Leray that allowed him to escape being stranded in a Moroccan desert back in 1993.

Leray had been driving from the city of Tan-Tan in his battered Citroën CV when he was stopped at a military outpost and told he could go no further because of the conflict between Morocco and Western Sahara, in the area beyond Tilemsem.

Undeterred, Leray went off-road to drive round the restricted area which was when his troubles began. He crashed into a rock, causing the Citroën’s swingarm and axle to snap, making it undrivable.

Leray and his improvised Citroën CV shelter

Leray and his improvised Citroën CV shelter

The nearest village was twenty miles away and Leray didn’t think he could make it on foot in the harsh conditions. After giving it some thought, he decided that his only option was to devise his own transport from the wreck of the CV.

Luckily, he had a small supply of food and water and a few basic tools, so he started by removing the car body which became his improvised shelter as you can see on the right.

Leray and his bike in 1993

Leray and his bike in 1993

Working under the scorching sun in a short-sleeved shirt, he protected his arms by making sleeves out of a pair of socks while he tinkered with a design that was straight out of Mad Max.

Using fairly basic tools, such as a hacksaw, Leray shortened the car’s chassis before reattaching the axles and two of the wheels, as well as installing the engine, gearbox and petrol tank in the middle and fashioning a seat from the bumper.

Emile Leray's BikeLeray thought it would take just a few days to create his motorbike, but it was twelve days before he was ready to drive it by which time he was down to his last half a litre of water.

After a day he had made his way back to the highway where he was picked up by the Moroccan police who drove him to the nearest village. They also slapped him with a hefty fine because his vehicle no longer matched the registration documents!

Although his story appeared briefly on French television at the time, Leray did not publicise it further until it appeared on a motoring website. He now has his own site, although it is in French so you might need Google Translate.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

4 comments… Add yours
  • Jackie 25th September 2019

    Now that story is worthy of a movie!

  • Roger O Green 25th September 2019

    A recent(ish) story of a living person!

  • Su-sieee! Mac 29th September 2019

    It is a wonder his story hasn’t been made into a movie yet.

  • ABC Wednesday 29th September 2019

    Although much more recent than your other stories… never heard of this before 😉

    Have a heartwarming en splendid ABC-Wednes-day / -week
    M e l o d y (team ABC-W)


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