Vintage Rolls-Royces, Bentleys and Studebakers are most often seen in the confines of a classic car show, spending their days basking in warm sunshine on school playing fields, village greens and race tracks.
If you’re lucky, you might even glimpse these classic cars being driven along winding country lanes on a peaceful Sunday afternoon.
It’s fair to say that you probably wouldn’t expect to spot one of these stately motors winding its way across the demanding high-altitude roads of the Himalayas.
But if you find yourself in downtown Kathmandu on May 10th, you might just be fortunate enough to see a troupe of classic vehicles cross the finishing line after completing the arduous 3,350-mile course of the inaugural Trans-Himalayan Adventure.
The brainchild of the experts at international rally organiser Rally Round, the four-week quest begins in Chengdu – the capital of China’s Sichuan province – on Saturday (April 20th).
Leaving the Chinese megacity, the contestants will pilot their mismatched selection of mostly decades-old cars on a journey that passes through Tibet en route to the Nepalese capital.
Those that last the distance will call at the mystical ancient city of Lhasa, the lost Tibetan kingdom of Guge, Mount Kailash – considered to be sacred by Bons, Buddhists, Hindus and Jains – and the daunting Everest Base Camp.
This isn’t the first time a classic car rally has headed to the Himalayas. Other events – including the 2015 Thunder Dragon Rally, also organised by Rally Round – have tackled the southern foothills, but none has attempted to cross the entire range from north to south. Rally director Liz Wenman admits the task at hand is “not for the faint-hearted”.
The demands of such a lengthy route across such challenging terrain would present a headache to a driver behind the wheel of a brand-new 4×4, let alone a classic car better suited to gently traversing Cotswold villages than mountain passes.
Among the plucky vintage motors set to take part in the rally are three Rolls-Royces – a 1925 40/50 Silver Ghost, and two 25/30 models, one from 1938 and the other a 1937 Coupe. They will – hopefully – be joined on the starting line by a 1925 Bentley Super Sports, a 1927 Nash Roadster, and a pair of Alvis 4.3s.
There’s also an eclectic selection of more recent classics, ranging from a 1952 Studebaker Champion to a 1970 Mercedes 280SL Roadster. There are even some four-wheel drives in the mix, the oldest of which is a 1979 Range Rover.
As if the main route wasn’t taxing enough, some of the rally party will be continuing their journey at Kathmandu, heading onward to Pokhara in Nepal before crossing the border into India and making for Varanasi, the final destination.
“We have kept the entries limited due to the intense nature of the terrain as we head for the plateau of the Himalayas. This will be an unforgettable adventure for all involved,” said Ms Wenman.
“Along the way we will experience unimaginably beautiful landscapes, rare wildlife and amazing cultural sites, ranging from ancient ruins to stunning temples and monasteries.”
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