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Peking to Paris 2010

Many of you know how the plans of Steven Harris and I to participate in the 2009 London to Casablanca Rally were scuppered by the logistic incompetence of the freight company who failed to deliver Mexicar to the start of the event in London.


As we executed a series of Hail Mary attempts to intercept Mexicar and make all efforts to start or join (late) the Rally, it eventually became clear that 2009 would pass without the enduro Rally experience that Steven and I had prepared ourselves for.

As Steven and I parted, miserable in Amsterdam Schipol airport on November 9th 2009, he closed by suggesting we would find a way to make it right…….

This was Steven’s second false start on major Classic Rally events, as his 2008 La Carrera Pan Americana efforts to race the roads of Mexico were foiled by a last minute change of circumstance for his co-driver, resulting in withdrawal just days before the event. His appetite for a world class event had now gone twice unfed.

So now, just 115 days later, “make it right” has been conjured into an entry in the 2010 Peking to Paris Marathon. What was an 8 day hi speed run in Europe and North Africa in a 1967 911S, has been converted to a 38 day marathon across Asia, the Middle East and Europe in a 1964 356C. In terms of adventure and commitment, this is a huge step up and Steven and I are suitably nervous and excited by the challenge.

We have acquired the 356 and set about converting a charming little well preserved classic street car into the pack horse and tractor that we will need to cross the high deserts of Mongolia, the mountains of Kazakhstan, highways of Persia and the valleys of France. If ever a vehicle needed to be a swiss-army-knife of versatility, the Peking to Paris event is the test of that capability. Attempting to do all this in a car with little space and load carrying capacity is an added challenge.


We are only a couple of weeks into the event preparation -so far mostly research and dis-assembly. Some decisions have been driven by the stern recommendations from the event organizers, some by the necessities of packaging, component scale and weight.

The very poor fuel we will be able to buy in central Asia demands that the engine have a low compression ratio, therefore less power, add to that the Altitude often over 3000m and I know we are in for some slow and patient motoring in what is likely to be a 65hp drivetrain in a 1150kg (fully laden) package.

As we resolve the design and execution of the car build, I will cover some of the details in this blog. Many will be 356 centric translations of systems we built into Mexicar in 2008 and can trust to perform reliably in all the conditions we have been able to imagine.

This is not only a technical event, the travel planning, logistics, provisioning and navigation are also major aspects of the event, needing no fewer than 11 different currencies to purchase fuel and acquisition of visas to allow for 10 controlled border crossings.

We have already discovered the support of scores of 356 enthusiasts and other Porsche enthusiasts, plus suppliers and vendors providing or manufacturing special parts for “Lola” as the 2010 Peking to Paris 356 has been christened.

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