Peking to Paris - in a 65-year-old sports car

RACQ member gears up for an epic motoring event

In 1907, five cars set off on a race from Peking to Paris, just to prove that the motor vehicle could go anywhere. The first prize was a magnum of champagne. Thus, was born the first truly “international” motoring event. June 2, 2019, sees the start of only the 7th ever Peking to Paris Endurance Rally, with 120 vintage and classic cars taking part.

The field includes everything from a replica of the 1907 Contal which took part in the first event, right up to a 1975 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow. And then there is a 1954 Austin Healey 100, a car with impeccable competition history both on track and in rallies in the hands of people such as the legendary Stirling Moss. Yet one has never competed in the Peking to Paris, probably because no one thought it could possible survive the journey.

Austin Healey ready for shipping

Perhaps that was the challenge to Ashton Roskill and Giles Cooper, friends for many years who relish a challenge.  Giles – an RACQ member resident on the Gold Coast – has even taken a tiny Lotus Elise sports car up the Ice Trucker’s Highway to the Alaskan Arctic Circle, the only Lotus ever to make it.  Surely 15,000km in 36 days, crossing from Eastern Asia to the heart of Europe, couldn’t be that hard?

To give themselves their best shot, Giles has spent two years in preparing the venerable Austin Healey for what is certain to be a trip of a lifetime.

“After crossing Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Russia, we enter Europe through Finland, then down through the Baltic States, Poland, Germany and on through Belgium to France and the finish in Paris on the 7th July,” Giles said.

Map charts the drive route

“Will Gidget the Austin Healey make it?  There is only one way to find out, and that is to follow our adventure through our blog and Facebook sites, plus we will be running a GPS SPOT tracker in the car to enable people to log on and view our progress on a live basis.  The organisers, Endurance Rally Association, will also have daily reports and photos on their website.”

Along the way, Ashton and Giles are also raising money for both Beyond Blue and the Cancer Council, charities dear to the hearts of both, with friends who have suffered, and Giles being a survivor of throat cancer. Their target is to raise $1 for every kilometre travelled, so the target is at least $15,000.

Sticking on the numbers