10,000 Miles....Peking to Paris 2007, Hans Reinhardt Diary

Dr. Reinhardt and his wife Annick

8 June 2007


We arrived well at the harbor of Peking, Tianjin. It’s an important port with 1.700.000 containers /pa After a turn around Africa, the Plymouth started well after a few seconds, discharging a black cloud. Now it drives smoothly and we filled some gas with 93 octane, probably the best we’ll have along all the trip. All is marked in Chinese, the food is Chinese (my best substitute is Coca Cola), people speak Chinese only, no English, French or German.


12 June 2007


After some 200 miles from Tianjin to Peking we went to the Great Wall. The temperature was 104° F inside and outside the car. This was hard for us, but the engine didn't overheat, thanks to the 6 V electric fan (from Randy Rundle / Fifth Ave) which started twice - I think this was a good investment.


During the opening ceremony someone sat on the front fender, tearing away the headlight bezel including the screw (already oversize) that didn't catch anymore. Using a threaded washer from a molding this problem was finally fixed.


Tomorrow we'll go to the Inner Mongolia.


29 June 2007


"We are now in Ulan Bator in Mongolia. The "roads" in the Gobi and Mongolian deserts were very hard and the Plymouth suffered much. Twice we have perforated the oil pan with total oil loss and repairs (gluing and welding, respectively) in the middle of the desert. Also the points were used after only 2500 miles due to the fine sand which is everywhere. Yesterday we could fix all the problems in a well-equipped Nissan-Garage and the car runs fine again. The nights in the tent with thunder- and sand storms were not comfortable at all, but now we are in an excellent hotel."


18 July 2007


After 6000 miles we arrived in Ekatarinenburgh (Russia). Mongolia was hard for the cars, only sand and stones. And in Northern Siberia the roads - damaged by the extremely hard winters - were a torture. Now in central Russia (still in Asia) the roads are getting better and better, but are not comparable with the streets and highways in Europe or the USA. We always had very hot temperatures; today it's the first rainy day with much mud. I have just washed the car for tomorrow’s exposition on the main street of the city.


Many of our cars were severely damaged. Until now, nine cars (from 29) are out. On a pre-WW-1 Rolls Royce, the frame broke on one side. On a very busy road in the northern Mongolia the car suddenly made a U turn. The driver and navigator weren't injured but the car couldn't be safely repaired. On a 1937 Ford, the gearbox had blocked and broke; they wait for a replacement. Two Alvis, two Willys and an Alfa Romeo had major engine crashes. A further Rolls had an collision near Irkutsk and was unable to continue on its own. It is now on a truck and will - hopefully - be repaired in a huge repair center for trucks and trains in Kazan, near Moscow. Its sturdy, distorted frame couldn't be straightened in a normal car shop. One further car (an MG) was abandoned.


The Plymouth performs well; it was much too soft on the bad paths in the Mongolia and Siberia, but now it's very comfortable (e.g. on the 450 miles yesterday). We changed the shocks (not only leaking, but broken) and made some minor repairs.


But the engine, the gearbox (including the overdrive), the suspension and the tires are still in a fairly good shape. As on all other cars, the exhaust system is burnt out and very noisy.


26 July 2007


"After more than 7,500 miles we arrived yesterday in Moscow. The Plymouth runs well, the roads are getting better and better. The overdrive is still very useful, as we constantly drive at speeds of 55-60 mph and more. Near Etatarinenburgh (still in Asia) a 1947 Ford lost his left rear wheel, after the very bad roads in Siberia many engines are repaired now (mainly heavy break downs!) and the cars are on the road again.


Today we were on the Red Square. I don’t think that many Plymouths or other old American cars were on this politically still sensitive square.


Traffic in Moscow is chaotic, however the huge city (by size and importance comparable with New York or Peking) is culturally extremely rich with many influences from the numerous countries of the great Russian empire. Our ‘Cosmos’ hotel, built in the Breshnev era and inaugurated in 1979 by General Charles de Gaulle, has up to 2700 rooms. This evening we will visit the famous Metro stations in the center of Moscow.


16 August 2007


"August 10th we arrived well in Paris. The last kilometers (all in all 15.600 km / 10.000 miles) through Poland, Germany and France were pretty hard with daily routes of more than 400 miles, many trucks and much rain. Furthermore the 6V wiper motor crashed (new, from a Ford-A supply with weak Delrin wheels). Fortunately we had ClearView and well marked interstates. Although the electric wiper motor was more comfortable than the vacuum device, I’ll install the old one again after refurbishing it. (A new oil pan will be installed also.)


It is hard to believe, but all we changed or added broke: the wiper, the roof rack, the spotlights etc., whereas all the original MOPAR parts remained undamaged. As you know many cars had much trouble: three (from 30) resigned, 12 were severely damaged (brakes, bearings, pistons, valves, gaskets, gearbox, electric system), requiring daylong repairs and hard to get spare parts. A 1947 Ford and an MG lost a wheel in the middle of busy, dangerous Russian roads. Near the Lake Baikal the frame of a 1907 Rolls Royce broke suddenly … and our Plymouth ran without a hitch. Twice we replaced the shocks: first with some spares from Kanter, the last from a Russian UAZ (back) and a FIAT (front).


As – by accident – we slit the oil pan in the Gobi desert, all was welded and reinforced and we couldn’t perform a correct oil change. So we only controlled the levels, filled up and drove… Average gas consumption was 12.5 l /100 km (to you to calculate!), a small amount of oil and almost no water. The 15” Bridgestone tires are still in a good shape in spite of the really bad roads. The suspension parts must be controlled and probably partially replaced. The doors are loose and noisy, but all this can be repaired. The painting is well and the yellow is still shiny. I was afraid of this bold color, but everyone liked it. The interior is always sunny, even in the worst rain.




Driving the Plymouth was a pleasure, Annick enjoyed it, too. She drove half of the way. We had one of the most spacious, softest and noiseless cars, even with a burnt-out silencer (muffler). The overdrive was extremely useful, the engine generally turned at quiet 1500-2000 rpm.


Nonetheless, if I had to choose again a car for this marathon, I would prefer my 1949/50 Willys-Overland Station Wagon (well-tried on the Silk Road in 2000) or a vintage Toyota Land-Cruiser. The Plymouth was too soft, jumping and rolling on these disastrous paths and roads in the Mongolia and eastern Siberia. These cars are too beautiful to be damaged this way. But we drove it as cautiously as possible and all will be repaired ‘as new’. I hope to drive the Plymouth on Sundays and on longer distances for many years to come.


--Hans Reinhardt 2007

Fifth Avenue Facts

.37 miles per hour is the speed at which bugs begin sticking to the windshield instead of glancing off.