Many of the cars we handle here at AutoShippers have an interesting history, but the history behind a 1972 Mercedes SLC 350 we shipped recently goes back further than most… all the way to 31 January 1907, in fact!
That’s when French newspaper Le Matin enthused, in an article about these new-fangled motor car contraptions, “As long as a man has a car, he can do anything and go anywhere. Is there anyone who will undertake to travel this summer from Peking to Paris by automobile?”
That article inspired a handful of enthusiasts to set up the first Peking To Paris motor race, in which 40 teams competed later that year. This was a time when paved roads were a rarity in most of Asia, and when fuelling stations had to be set up along the route by sending teams of petrol-carrying camels on ahead, so it’s unsurprising that the race has gone down in motoring history, and since 1990 there have been several re-enactments.
The car we shipped took part in the seventh, which took place this summer. The modern race begins in Beijing, as Peking is known today, then traverses northern China and Mongolia before crossing the former USSR – taking in a sizeable chunk of northern Kazakhstan along the way – to St Petersburg. The route then hugs the north European coast as the teams race through Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany and the Low Countries, before finally arriving at the finish line in Paris, roughly five weeks and 8,500 miles later.
The race is organised by the Endurance Rally Association, and “our” car finished 12th out of a field of 105 two-man teams, of whom only 72 completed the race. That’s pretty good going for a 47-year-old motor, we’re sure you’ll agree – but then this particular motor has form, having competed last year in both the Trans-America Challenge (where it finished 24th) and Australia’s Classic Outback Rally.
All of which makes this Mercedes one of the best-travelled we’ve ever encountered! Where owners Bill and Kathy will take the car next remains to be seen: we were just happy to make sure it got back home to Adelaide safe and sound, ready for its next adventure.
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