Neil Hopkinson started his driving career at the wheel of a pedal Land Rover at the age of four. This vehicle was a subliminal force that shaped Neil’s future.
For as long as I can remember the idea of travelling in a Land Rover across the immensity of Africa was uppermost in my mind. I used to sleep without a pillow so that I would be able to be happy traveling with only the necessities in the African Bush. One memory of great significance was when my father picked me up from the station in deep snow with a Navy Land Rover.
My first car was bought by my father for £10 from a scrapyard. It was a car that was older than I and I spent many happy hours during my sixteenth year rebuilding it ready for my driving test, yes, it was a Series 1 Land Rover and I passed my test after three lessons only a couple of weeks after my seventeenth birthday.
Key events throughout my driving career include starting the Warwickshire Agricultural College Off-Road Driving School, which resulted in me appearing in a Tomorrow’s World special on off-road cars.
My next adventure in life was as a Land Rover Test Driver, a dream job which I enjoyed immensely, culminating in me being one of the team developing the P38 Range Rover.
Competition was never very far from my mind so with an old Land Rover Series 2a my brother and I demolished a field of more modern cars to win the Warn Off-Road Championship twice. This success led to a race in Morocco which started the beginnings of Impala Adventures and my track and road instruction career with Jonathan Palmer’s Motorsport Experience and Porsche over the last twenty or more years. One of the greatest highlights was when Porsche gave me a Cayenne Transyberia to race around Russia and Mongolia. Great fun to say the least.
Impala Adventures started in 1989 (it was called Hopkinson Off-Road then) which has enabled me to lead adventures deep into the Sahara, Namib and Kalahari Deserts and the Ice Forest in Russia. I have also run off-road challenges in Great Britain, Morocco and The Pyrenees.
In 2002 I became an ADI (Approved Driving Instructor) which enabled me to broaden the experiences that I could offer and has enabled me to teach road driving skills.