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Peking to Paris May update

Time for an end-of-May update on our Peking to Paris 356C, now christened “Lola”

The whole car has effectively been disassembled and inspected.

Not unlike a typical restoration, all the removed parts have been subject to close scrutiny. Then we made the decision made whether they have a role in carrying us from Peking to Paris.

We have been shedding weight in a very deliberate manner, with care not to diminish the civilized ride too far. Part of the appeal of the 356C was the disc brake package, the other was the relative comfort and quiet that the Porsche can offer for such a long haul.

Sound insulation is pretty heavy, and also prone to water saturation or provide fuel for a fire, so we have stripped the engine bay of all the combustible materials like the cardboard liner and the bulkhead sound pad. To balance the loss of insulation on the engine side, we have added two styles of modern, lightweight sound insulation on the cabin side of the bulkhead. The weight reduction is in the order of 10 – 11 lbs, I will have to tell you later, whether the noise level has risen appreciably….


We have also stripped the sound insulation from the front compartment, in part to lower the fuel tank a critical 5 or 6mm to allow our second spare tire to fit under the hood and in part to reduce weight and clutter wherever possible.

The rear bodywork had a bit of a trim, with a crescent of material removed under the rear bumper to improve our departure angle by a few degrees and to eliminate the effective sugar scoop the existed under the back of the car. This also allows free passage of the skid plate to raise up to the underside of the rear bumper and make a really durable mount and skid on a car with such low ride heights.

The engine has been completed by Alan at “The Stable” in San Francisco. A healthy 84hp at 4950rpm and over 100 lb/ft of torque from 2200 to 5000 rpm. These figures on 87 octane. The motor spec is no secret, just very careful build quality, 1600cc, Zenith carbs, 7.5:1 JE pistons in steel barrels and a special Elgin camshaft.

The transmission has been inspected, a couple of new bearings, new seals and a LSD installed, new mounts and a general clean up to make everything look new and clean. Plus a breather tube to allow for deep water crossing and prevent the hot transmission from gulping in water if the breather is splashed or submerged in a water crossing.

The fuel tank has been stripped, cleaned, soda blasted and painted. An AN6 fitting has been welded to the bottom to marry to the complex Enduro fuel system. Our 26 liter long-range tank has been delivered and final fitted, our twin fuel pump set-up and secondary fuel filter system installed, the primary filters/ water separators with their glass inspection sections are being manufactured now and will be the final part of the whole fuel system. The system is plumbed with Nomex braided, Teflon lined lightweight hoses, filters, valveds, one way valves, a diverter valve, switches, relays, fuses etc. It seems complicated, but in essence is necessarily so to offer the versatility of range and tolerance to dirty fuel. With a total of 78 liters, I hope we have a range of over 320 miles on unpaved roads. Testing will tell.



The brakes have received a dual circuit master cylinder from an early 911, with new rubber hoses and some new hard lines where necessary. The dual circuits require new master cylinder reservoirs – these are over size to offer some safety range if we crack a brake line and have a slow leak.

We sent seven 4.5″ x 15″ steel wheels to Harvey Weidmann for blasting, inspection for true and straight. Harvey sent them back lightly blitzed with silver, enough to look respectable, but not enough to conceal a developing crack, or make it difficult to clean for a weld repair. Our 175/70-15 rally tires arrived from the UK, with 6 now in the USA and 6 more on the shelf in the UK awaiting deployment to a tire store point along the rally route.

The car will run on stock torsion bars at elevated ride heights, the dampers are custom built Ohlins units with valve configuration that we have developed over a number of different cars and we will carry one spare front and one spare rear.

Many parts in the engine and suspension having been magnaflux crack checked before considered clear for re-assembly.

The electrical system of the car has all been completely scrutinized, with about 50% of the thicker 6 volt wire replaced with modern lightweight wire. The battery has been relocated to a position behind the drivers seat, with a short and light primary power cable direct to the starter – perhaps no more than 15″ away. The lighting system has been rewired to take the load away from the headlight switch and period style Marchal driving lights have been added to the front and a single Marchal flood light to the rear for reversing.

The engine oil cooler from ARE in Brisbane Australia, has been added to the rear decklid, along with a SPAL fan that is switched by a thermo-switch on the cool tank of the oil cooler. The engine bay is plumbed with a full flow oil cooler and Mocal thermostat, once again using lightweight Nomex braided hoses.

The interior has been stripped of the original seats, the rear seat backs and bases and the rubber floor mats (weight!) The floors will be covered in our WEVO trademark aircraft plywood style floors finished with black stain. The seats are sporty mid 70′s Recaro recliners that have been re-covered in black leather with black Mohair velour seating faces for ultimate all-climate comfort and durability. The seat bases were a day long project of their own, to allow for safe installation of the dual lock adjustable seat rails, with the option of some rake and height adjustment.

The dashboard has benefited from a Km/hr speedometer, sundry toggle switches for driving lights, fuel pump selector and screen washer pump. The passenger side of the dashboard is now mostly obscured by the mounts for the GPS and Brantz rally computer.

There are still plenty of small jobs to do,  but the car is expected to be on the ground and testing before the end of June. I dare say we will continue to refine and adjust right up until the car is due at the dockyards in Longbeach in the 3rd week of July.

It is hard to underestimate the nature of an event like this. It takes a lot of thought to find the right solutions and to deliberate on how, if at all the OE 356 systems will be deficient. I know we will arrive at the start of the event with the right preparation to deal with a lot of very predictable circumstances along the route. This is our best preparation to have the time to deal with all the unexpected – of which there will no doubt be plenty!

More at the end of June, more with photos of all these assembled systems.

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