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Discussion Starter #183
Almost 2 years later................! A lot of water has passed under my bridge !

Well, it is now April 2016, and I am still on the road ! I did all that I planned - Anacortes, Alaska, Churchill Manitoba (for polar bears), then straight down through the middle of the USA in 5 days (USA wasn't the target this time). Then after a while with friends in Texas, across to Mexicali, down Baja, across to Mexico, and then all the way down through central America to Panama. Ship car to Columbia, and keep going, criss-crossing the Andes several times (because they were so stunning !), and on down to Patagonia, up to Torres del Paine and Mount Fitzroy before heading down through Tierra del Fuego to Ushuaia. Then up the east coast, seeing the killer whales beaching themselves to grab baby seals, up to Iguazu Falls, then near Rio before dropping down to Montevideo. As both the car and myself were still OK, decided to keep going so shipped the car to Europe, travelling on the same car carrier commercial vessel with my car, which was rather interesting. Got to Europe in June 2015, and then drove up to the top of Norway on the Russian border, then down through Finland and all the Baltic States down to Italy, then back to UK for Christmas. In January we went off down through Spain to Morocco and had a ball playing in the Atlas mountains and out in the Sahara - What a fantastic country !
Now back in the UK, and on the 22nd April my car is being shipped to Halifax Nova Scotia. While the car is on the water for 10 days, I am flying to Iceland and renting a small camper for a week, and going to search (yet again) for the Auora Borealis ! Then I fly to Halfax to meet my car, and plan is currently to spend a month or so around NS and Newfoundland before dropping down to Niagara, then down to Indianapolis before driving back to the west and the Rockies and Alaska (I love that place) but with a route not yet planned. Then in about Sept or Oct 2016 plan to ship the car from Seattle home to Australia. After that ? Hmmmm, not sure !

Point is, anyone on my route who would like a beer or a chat about Lotus and life, would love to try to arrange a meet up. And if anyone has any suggestions of an interesting way to cross from Niagara to Alaska, I would be open to ideas. Thinking at the moment of going through Yellowstone again, since it was all closed up due to snow last time I was there in the Lotus !

And as you can perhaps imagine, I do have a couple of ideas of what to do next ! As I will be 69 this year, I feel that to return to another Elise would be to go "backwards", and I can't really afford to go bigger (ie Evora). But then I started thinking about the newer Europa that, like the early Elise, never came to America, like the one in the photo below. I looked at them when new and I kind of disconted them, but they produced only about 400 cars, about half of which were LHD, which makes them pretty rare. Given a 2 litre turbo engine with 195 or an easy 225 upgrade, plus usual light weight, and it makes for a pretty exciting drive, and, given my age, with a hard top and A/C and a slightly more comfortable interior, it starts to look quite attractive. So I am starting to look around for a suitable one.........And if I find the right one, I will have to get it back to Australia from UK, so I might just have to drive it across the USA again !! Now THAT would be a one off !!!

Anyway, just thought I would say g'day to all my friends in USA, and see if anyone on my approximate route wants a beer or get together.

Cheers, Giles
 

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More than a year has passed since I last posted - I have been a bit busy rebuilding a car, so time has certainly not stood still for this old man ! I have now owned my 2007 Lotus Europa for a year and absolutely love it. So rare, so quick, and yet so civilized - Big grin inducer !
More interestingly, my Big Trip continues but in a totally different direction. A very good Lotus Club friend in Australia has invited me to be his navigator / co-driver in the 2019 Peking to Paris Classic Marathon Rally. In a 1954 Austin Healey 100 / 4 !! This will make going up the Haul Road in a Lotus Elise look like child's play !! The deal is that because Ashton, the owner of the car, still works, because I am retired I would do the car preparation. When we started I thought it would just involve polishing and maybe changing a couple of wheel bearings or springs - WRONG !! Over the past 9 months we have had to TOTALLY rebuild the car !!
I won't bore you all with the details, but if you are interested in seeing what is going on you can see our blog here http://https://austin-healeypekingtoparis2019.blogspot.com.au/

The Rally website is here The 7th Peking to Paris Motor Challenge 2019

And if you want to see the kind of conditions we will encounter, try this You Tube clip

Life is good - Even past 70 !!

Giles
 

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David, If you look at our blog, you can see what we have done to the car to (hopefully) help it survive. Basically the car was in pretty bad condition, and when we pulled it apart we not only found some rust in there, but also evidence of 2 or 3 major accidents - one in the RH side, one in the rear, and one in the front. The main chassis rails were OK, but the outriggers and all the floor and boot panels had to be replaced. All have been strengthened through boxing in / gussetting etc, and all the suspension pick up points similarly reinforced. The Healey chassis is pretty rugged, but ours has now been christened "Sherman" after a certain tank since it is now so strengthened ! Engine mounts all reinforced, gearbox has extra front to rear stabilisers to stop it moving forwards if we stop suddenly, radiator new and fully rubber mounted to avoid vibration fractures, new alloy fuel tank + additional 8 gallon alloy tank to make 20 gals (Imp) total, twin SU fuel pumps, twin coils, twin distributors, 5.5" X 72 spoke wire wheels fitted with 195 x 80 x 15 Yokohama Geolandar off road tyres, exhaust raised out from underneath and up into the LH side to increase ground clearance, and a full alloy skid plate underneath, etc etc. New brakes, new springs, new axle, new all suspension - Basically there is almost nothing in there that is not new or rebuilt fully - Including the engine - We found that the entire engine was rubbish except the block, so that is totally new - Crankshaft, camshaft, pistons, rods, head, valves etc etc. Even the lever arms dampers have been completely redesigned by us, as has the oil sump in order to increase ground clearance. No Healey has ever attempted the Peking to Paris event before, so we have nothing we can copy - We have to work it all out for ourselves !! And we aren't going that far without a plan to finish !
Giles
 

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Almost another year has passed, and like Time, we have not be standing still either !!
Gidget the Austin Healey finally got back on the road about 3 months ago, some 6 months behind schedule. It was just one problem after another. Anyway, after getting her on the road and running, it was time to test her to see if all the work we had done to her was going to enable her to survive in the wild and very rough tracks of Mongolia. So we entered in an Off Road event for Classic Cars called Classic Outback Trial. https://classicoutbacktrial.com.au/
This event is held every 2 years and is increasing in popularity globally due to the ever increasing political correctness of our society where all things motorsport are frowned upon or are politically impossible due to instability in countries. Thus the Paris - Dakar now has had to shift to S America, and events such as the E African Safari are no more. Luckily Australia has a few wide open spaces where only kangaroos gather, and while their hopping skills are phenomenal (Hey, give credit where credit is due !) their writing and verbal skills are thankfully limited and as a result they don't complain about a few old cars rushing past their front doors ! So hopefully this event will grow bigger, although we had several international entries this year (Germany, Belgium, UK, NZ) which is a start.
To sum up the week in the Red Centre, if you can ever imagine a 1929 straight 8 Bentley special roaring past you at top speed in the middle of the Outback at dawn, then you have some idea of the experience we have had. Talk about the hairs on the back of your neck standing straight up !!
As for our faithful 1954 Austin Healey 100/4, Gidget, she performed faultlessly. (The driver and navigator however left something on the table for next time !) I think photos will tell the tale better than any words, but basically it was dusty, dusty dusty !! Full details and lots more photos can be found in our blog which is detailed a couple of posts back.

We are now back home, and a roll bar is being fitted this week, new seats that will hopefully be more comfortable, and lots of small things being done, with the plan to be finished by about March 2019 when we will ship the car to China to begin the Big Adventure !

Hope some of you will enjoy travelling with us vicariously through our blog, or via Facebook at facebook.com/austin.healey.73113
Pics 1-3 show the dusty conditions. Pic 4 shows me camping my way 3000 kms across Australia towing the Healey to the rally in Alice Springs. Pic 5 shows a 1929 Chrysler 75 that has won the Peking to Paris previously.
Cheers,
Giles
PS I throw a photo in of Gidget next to an IMMACULATE ex USA LHD Lotus Cortina that keeps this thread at least slightly relevant on this a Lotus forum !!
 

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Thats it - The Healey is in China, and I leave for China next week. We leave Beijing at the start of our 36 days Adventure half way round the world on the 2nd June, and, all things being equal, should arrive in Paris on 7th July 36 days later !
If you wnat to follous as we cross the Gobi Desert in Mongolia and the Russian Steppes, we are hoping to get our blog updated, but that will depend on connectivity. So either here https://austin-healeypekingtoparis2019.blogspot.com/ or on our Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/austin.healey.73113

But what might be more fun if you are interested is to go to the organiser's website, the Endurance Rally Association, where they will not only put up a daily report along with rally positions, but also you will be able to see our "trace" provided by our SPOT GPS trackers that are mounted in each car. We are car 77. https://www.endurorally.com/events/the-7th-peking-to-paris-motor-challenge/

120 entries, lots of Americans, and cars as diverse as a 1907 Contal MotorTri, a 1931 Ford Victoria, a 1928 Rolls Royce Phantom 1, a Rockne, a Hudson Terraplane, a Jensen, a Ferrari 208 GT4, and American XKE, and of course, a 1954 Austin Healey !

Come join us, have a smile, and enjoy the trip half way round the world !

Photo is of our Healey as we headed off to the port last month to load her on the ship.

Giles
 

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Well, we made it ! Our 1954 Austin Healey was one of about 12 cars that made it from Peking to Paris without being towed, trucked or trailered - Which is more than can be said for the others ! We ended up 16th in Class and 5th in the European section. A couple of pics attached for your enjoyment.
And if you want to see more, you can find our blog here Peking to Paris
Now time to move on again - Have now bought a VW 1600 Type 3 Fastback which I am rebuilding and thinking of taking to Alaska !! Hmmmmm.
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Congrats Giles! What a great adventure. If you go to Alaska again, please stop by Toronto again since they are nearly side by side.

Dave
 
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