The Hi­malayan Chal­lenge saw a to­tal of 40 pre-1976 cars en­ter the 21-day en­durance rally, in­clud­ing a bunch of Bent­leys, Porsches, Mercs and more

Evo India - - CONTENTS -

Forty vin­tage cars take on The Hi­malayan Chal­lenge

SSEEING A BENT­LEY DRIVE BY IS A RARE oc­ca­sion. See­ing a vin­tage Bent­ley akin to what the ‘Bent­ley Boys’ drove is a some­what of an ex­cep­tional sight. The odds of see­ing six of these beau­ties of vin­tages be­tween 1925 & 1929 travers­ing the North Western In­dian Hi­malayas are ex­ceed­ingly im­prob­a­ble.

Con­versely, folks in Manali town were in for a once in a life­time treat when these prized mar­ques along with other vin­tage & clas­sic au­to­mo­biles wel­comed ar­rivals in the last week of Septem­ber 2018. Un­prece­dented rains had wreaked havoc on 23 & 24 Septem­ber, for­ever chang­ing the land­scape of Hi­machal. Pre­vail­ing di­a­bol­i­cal road con­di­tions were cer­tain to pro­vide many an anx­ious mo­ment to even the most in­trepid of driv­ers. Evening of 23rd brought these drenched & weary souls to our Cas­tle, The Hi­malayan in the Kullu val­ley. Af­ter a few stiff Gin & Ton­ics by a log fire, moods were el­e­vated & the day’s re­mains dis­cussed.

Not­with­stand­ing the con­tin­u­ous del­uge the fol­low­ing day, teams made good use of a makeshift tarptent we had set up for mend­ing their au­to­mo­biles. Roads lit­tered with boul­ders the size of an av­er­age house & trick­les ex­pand­ing into tur­bu­lent rivers had left bat­tle scars on most of the car­riages.

Con­sid­er­ing the ex­ten­sive dam­age to the roads at Manali & north to­wards Spiti, the route de­signer & clerk of the course de­cided that the Kaza leg be omit­ted & the rally head south onto Shimla in­stead. The sole life­line con­nect­ing Manali to the rest of the world was the ag­ing sus­pen­sion bridge over the Beas River at Rai­son. The flight in­volved was some whiteknuck­le driv­ing through a sharp switch­back lead­ing down to the Bri­tish built bridge, which in it­self was a tight squeeze for most of the cars.

UK based ERA (The En­durance Rally As­so­ci­a­tion) were the or­gan­is­ers of The Hi­malayan Chal­lenge 2018 be­gin­ning in Delhi on Septem­ber 21 & fin­ish­ing in Agra on Oc­to­ber 11.

The 21-day com­pet­i­tive en­durance rally was open to pre-1976 cars with a to­tal of 40 en­tries, the old­est be­ing a 1925 Bent­ley 3-4½, one of the six WO Bent­leys that par­tic­i­pated. Only three of these man­aged to fin­ish the gru­elling event. Rest of the line-up com­prised of a cou­ple of 1931 Chryslers, a 1932 Rockne Six 75, sev­eral Mercedes-Benz clas­sics, a 1960 Mor­gan Plus 4, three Porsche 911s, few Volvos, a lone 1965 Ford Mus­tang, a 1966 Saab 96 V4, a 1968 Tri­umph TR250, a cou­ple of 1971 Dat­sun 240Zs and a 1973 Citroen DS20 among oth­ers.

The 4444km rally con­cluded with the spec­tac­u­lar Taj as the back­drop. Car 31, a 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280S took the over­all win­ner tro­phy.

Con­tes­tants un­equiv­o­cally agreed that they had come for ad­ven­ture & the route did not fail to de­liver. The chal­lenge was open only to vet­eran ral­ly­ists with a ma­jor­ity of them hav­ing com­peted in the Peking to Paris rally. Al­most all of them were in agree­ment that the bru­tal con­di­tions made for the tough­est rally they had ever par­tic­i­pated in & they will cer­tainly not want to re­peat The Hi­malayan Chal­lenge. ⌧

Nishat Mohi is Keeper of the Keys at The Hi­malayan cas­tle re­sort in Manali (www.the­hi­


61: Older gen Dat­sun Z’s were known to be bul­let­proof 2: 1966 Saab 96 V4 3: A lot of prepa­ra­tion was re­quired to tackle the ter­rain 4: Land­slides, roads cav­ing in, a com­mon site up top 5: 1929 Bent­ley 4½ Le Mans 6: 1960 - Mor­gan Plus 4


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