Below is a little story that provides a little context to the whole trip from Barry’s perspective . It’s about the history of Mollie … Barry’s 403 .
In 2002 my wife Tina saw a small article in our local paper advertising for entrants for the 50th Anniversary of the Redex in 2003. She showed me and I was eager for us to be part of it. I remembered seeing the Redex cars travelling through Mt Isa as a young child. We managed to purchase a very good rust free 403 Wagon from Kalgoorlie. The body had been repainted and the interior reupholstered, but mechanically there was much to be done requiring me to learn a lot about 403 engines.
In 2003 ‘Mollie’ was ready for what was to be the first of many adventures. We participated in the Redex 2003 Rerun which Graham Wallis had organised, all up that trip was 20000kms including the drive from Perth to Sydney and return. It was a wonderful experience and gave us the taste for more.
Over the next twelve years ‘Mollie’ has travelled 80,000kms, 8,000kms of these in New Zealand in 2006. Mollie has been part of many of Hank’s Adventure’s, which is where we have clocked up most of the rest of the kilometres – including Cape York, The Tanami, Gibb River Road, The Great Central Highway plus six Nullarbor Crossings to name a few.
For years I have had the idea of driving overland to Europe and with ‘Mollie’ being such a reliable and capable car on the highway and also on the corrugations, I could see no reason not to take her on yet another adventure. After much discussion and obviously a lot of planning, this idea came to fruition in April of this year when my brother Mike and myself had her shipped to Kuala Lumpur together with Peter’s 504.
After driving through Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Lao, China (including eastern Tibet), Mongolia, Russia, Kazakstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Austria, Germany and France, over three and a half months Mollie has clocked up another 25,500kms, both cars arrived in Paris. This involved 18 border crossings , one taking ten minutes & another six hours entering in Russia, plus the car being stripped and X-rayed getting into Bulgaria !
Over all these kilometres ‘Mollie’ never missed a beat other than a loose connection on the condenser and minor brake problems. She will definitely need a new set of points before her next trip!!
In Chinese Tibet we drove the cars up to 4,700 metres on three occasions, one of these climbs we were in first gear for at least an hour on a rocky road that was supposedly the main highway with trucks travelling in both directions.
In Mongolia the main road was so bad that on two consecutive days we drove for 10 hours each day and only managed 250kms each day.
Unfortunately due to some very bad road conditions in parts of Laos, Tibet and most of Mongolia, the front shock absorbers blew their seals, including those of the spares we took. I managed to cushion the front suspension with rolls of rubber truck inner rim sleeves and they have been held in place for the last 10,000kms with cable ties!
In preparing the 403 for the trip I replaced the motor with a new short motor which I obtained from a previous Peugeot Club member in Perth, (Bob MacFarlane) who had rebuilt the motor in 1972, he had never used it but put it in storage for 40 years. It cost him $200 to rebuild at the time and he let me have it for the same price. The head which I had redone with new stellite valves and seats cost a lot more than the motor. The springs were reset with new bushes including the front spring. The shockies were rebuilt a few years previously and I replaced the diff for one with far less kms on. New 8 ply light truck tyres were purchased, a very worthwhile expense as we did not have one puncture. I also had Kerry Torpy recondition the carburettor, which worked perfectly.
After this latest adventure ‘Mollie’ will have a well deserved rest and be garaged in England until next year when we plan to have her shipped to America and then drive across Canada and into Alaska and down the west coast of the USA before returning her back to Australia.