The first recorded drive between London and Cape Town took place in 1924, when Major Chaplin Court Treatt led a team of 25/30hp Crossley trucks from Cape Town to Cairo and then onto London. The 10,000 mile journey took them 16 months to complete.
By the late 1930's, the various overland routes from the Mediterranean to Cape Town were no longer the scene of just attempts to get there. The difficulties and dangers were still there, but they had proved surmountable, so speed replaced simple attainment of the goal as the object. This led to dangers of its own, since contempt for obstacles in the interest of haste meant taking risks.
On the 22nd December 1938, Humphrey Symons and Bertie Browning set out from London in an attempt to be the first to drive a 'high-speed' run to Cape Town. They aimed to finish in just 17 days.