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Around the World in a 1957 Mercedes-Benz 220S Ponton

Geplaatst op 1 september 2015

De grote reis is begonnen ! Hierbij het verhaal van Fred en Elisabeth.

Introduction
Imagine driving across five continents through unforgiving terrain in a 1957 Mercedes-Benz.
In 2014, seasoned motoring pioneers Fred and Elisabeth will embark on a ground breaking worldwide driving adventure. They will venture some 90,000 miles from New Zealand, through the Americas, Europe and Russia, by way of India and Malaysia to Australia before returning home in 2019.
The intrepid couple will leave their beloved family, risking breakdowns, corruption, robbery and muggings, as they travel unsupported in a 55-year-old vintage car. The team will brave inclement weather and challenging driving conditions and will spend five years living in a specialised, light-weight tenttrailer, all in the name of adventure.

The Objective
During their globetrotting adventure, Fred and Elisabeth will pay homage to the historic success of 1950s Mercedes cars, particularly the Ponton series.
The team will visit important locations that celebrate the unequalled achievements of the Mercedes racing and rally cars of the era, including the 300 SL, 300 SLR and the iconic gull wing. They will retrace famous rally routes, including the Carrera Panamerica in Mexico, LeMans, Paux and Monte Carlo in France, and Mille Miglia and Targa Floria in Italy.
The couple will visit famed racing tracks, including the Nuerburgring in Germany and the Brooklands and Silverstone tracks in England. They will tour Mercedes-Benz factories in Brazil, Mexico, the USA and Germany, as well as museums reflecting cars of the era.
Along the way, Fred and Elisabeth will savour the culture, history and geography of the diverse countries they visit.

The Experienced Team
Fred and Elisabeth are the ‘ultimate travellers’.
Originally from the Netherlands, they migrated to New Zealand with their three children in 1985 and currently live in Wellington. The couple has travelled the world extensively for work and as tourists, visiting many places in Europe, the Americas, Asia, North Africa and the Pacific.
Fred, a geotechnical engineer, has worked in various countries as a contracts’ manager for major onshore and offshore civil engineering projects. He also has experience managing a fleet of marine research and exploration vessels.
The team is well qualified to deal with any world-wide shipping and customs/immigration issues that may arise.
Fred and Elisabeth, a trained nurse, have driven extensively in the Americas and have experienced the rough road conditions of Africa and Outback Australia.
They have driven their 1957 Mercedes-Benz 220S Ponton in many vintage car rallies, often in demanding off-road conditions and off the beaten track.

The 1957 Mercedes-Benz 220S Ponton
The 1950’s Mercedes-Benz Pontons were Mercedes-Benz’s first totally new series of passenger cars produced after the Second World War. Production began in July 1953 and continued through 1962 and during this time, more than 585,000 cars were produced. The 220S six-cylinder, was the more luxurious and up-scale version of the Pontons; 55,279 were manufactured.
Fred and Elisabeth bought their Ponton in 2003 and have travelled some 24,000 miles in the car throughout New Zealand. The car was imported and registered new in Invercargill, New Zealand in January, 1958.
The body and part of the mechanicals were professionally restored in 2001-2002 and the vehicle is now again being completely overhauled by a classic car restorer.
Fred and Elisabeth conduct all of the maintenance work and most of the repair work on the car.
The Mercedes Ponton series, and its successor the Fintail, were well built and exported internationally and many are still around. Replacement parts are still being manufactured and are easily obtained worldwide.

Tour Preparations
The 220S is currently undergoing an all-inclusive electrical and mechanical rebuild in preparation for the expected 90,000 miles (~140,000km) journey.
The car’s drive train, rear axle, suspension, steering and engine are being restored to as-new condition. Every bearing, bush, spring and rubber part is being replaced and all critical parts are being crack-tested.
The electrical system will be enhanced to accommodate the increased demand on the car for the tent-trailer.
These modifications will also help deal with extreme weather conditions, by way of cooling fans, fog lights, rear-window heaters and additional insulation.
A comprehensive list of required tools and critical spares to be carried has been compiled.

The Tent-Trailer
Fred and Elisabeth visited Europe in September 2012 to investigate to purchase of a sturdy, light weight tent-trailer to become their home during the 5-year tour. They had explored the options of Australian, US, and Danish manufactured tent-trailers, but settled on the Dutch award-winning, glass fibre enclosed, highly versatile Zambezi Cross-Road as manufactured by Aart Kok of Heemstede  (aartkok.nl/producten/original/zambezi-original)

The Zambezi includes an all-inclusive kitchen, high-quality queen-size bed with mosquito nets, and a large lounge, and has adequate capacity to carry luggage, including wet and cold weather clothing. The trailer has a small fridge unit, a small chemical toilet and many other travel necessities. Its total maximum weight is 500kg.

The unit’s compact size allows for easy handling of the trailer with a clear rear view when driving.
The tent is designed for an as-easy-as possible set-up and collapse, even under adverse weather conditions.
In early 2013, the tent-trailer will be prepared for the tour. Modifications will include addition of battery packs, fixed wiring, lighting and power points, heating, bracketing, fixed storage, small fresh-water tank and insulation.

Transport Tent-Trailer to New Zealand
Early December the Zambezi left the Netherlands and is now on its way to New Zealand for further preparations for the Tour.

Sponsorship and Acknowledgements
Fred and Elisabeth are not seeking financial sponsorship.
However, acknowledgement will be given to the substantial support provided by suppliers and partners, such as Aart Kok Zambezi, insurers and specialised clothing suppliers.
Acknowledgements will be on the tour’s website, blog, in presentations and any suitable media cover.

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