La Carrera Panamericana – also known as the Pan Am – is said to be the last open, top-speed road race of its kind in the world. As many as 100 vintage race cars, each with a driver and co-driver, line up in southern Mexico to race nearly 2000 miles back to the Texas border. Seven full days of full-speed racing over paved roads, through some of the most spectacular countryside north of the Equator, is peppered with luxury hotel stays and parties in some of the most fabulous settings Mexico has to offer.
If you’re looking for a serious test of a driver and his classic car – with more fun than anyone is capable of remembering – probably nothing else comes close.
It takes a particular type of classic car racing enthusiast to whom this sort of thing appeals. And as you’ve probably guessed by now, one of them is a client of ours.
Hailing from Switzerland, our client asked us to prepare a Jaguar XK120 Roadster to help him collect a lifetime of memories in just one short, amazing week. For our client, this meant not one, but two jobs he needed us to do.
For the XK120 itself, a total rebuild was necessary to help it not just endure, but also excel throughout the high-speed chase across Mexico. And with race vehicles as prestigious as this, we took extra care to ensure we retained the original patina on the bodywork.
But to survive a race like this – a challenge that has left several combatants in hospital and even more vehicles in the knackers’ yard – you’ll most likely need a support vehicle. So our client had us custom-build a Toyota Land-Cruiser, as well.
This involved a total strip-down, fitting a roll-cage inside and modifying it to cover every eventuality. Leaving space to carry two passengers, we designed it so that it’s fully equipped to carry every spare part our client might need.
By the time you read this, the vehicles will probably have been flown out from Stansted airport, ready and raring to go.
So how do you survive a fearsome legend like the Pan Am? We’ll let you know if we’ve been able to answer that conundrum once the race finishes in early November…
The results are now in! Classic car enthusiasts from 10 different countries pitted their skill and resolve against each other in an attempt to be the best in their respective categories.
And, on his first attempt, our client did much more than just finish. We came a hugely respectable second in the 'Sports Mayor' class – just 25 seconds behind the category winner – and 38th overall.
Our guess is that this is probably just the kind of performance that will tempt him back behind the wheel next year. High enough to be competitive, but tantalisingly short of glory. But as we haven't heard from him on this just yet, we'll have to let you know what he thinks nearer the time...