Glenn Barron

There are road trips…and there are soul filling journeys.  

We love the automobile for the freedom it affords us: freedom to come and go as we wish, freedom to get away from everyday life, and freedom to roam faraway places.  We have all taken road trips, some begrudgingly, some enthusiastically.  We also dream of getting away to exotic places or interesting locales in our cars.  Some of us have even planned and completed said trips.  But just how many of us have completed an epic journey we always dreamed about?  Meet Philippe Delaporte and his sons Thibault & Baudouin.
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Philippe and his two sons before departing Paris
Philippe is what you would call a bit of a nomad.  

In his early years, Philippe converted a Renault 4 for touring duty and set off from his native France to Iran.  He was a mere 19 years old and undertook the adventure solely on his own.  Philippe completed 3 more extended road trips in the Renault 4, partially alone, partially with his then girlfriend/now wife before he settled down into a career & married life. 

2010. Philippe’s sons who had grown up hearing all about their dad’s outlandish adventures proposed a redo, but this time in something more comfortable than a Renault 4.  Being an avid car nut, Philippe allowed his sons to pick from either the family Jaguar, Land Rover, or his beloved and pristine 1989 Porsche 928 GT.  

The answer was obvious.
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Touring through Russia
Philippe and his sons set about modifying the car for duty.  Most of the modifications were structural and for comfort.  The rear seats were removed and storage compartments installed in their place.  In keeping the factory staggered wheel set-up, the front spare would ride in the hatch, the rear spare would have to ride on the roof.  Front seats were replaced with more comfortable Recaros for the long days of driving.  A few extra gauges for monitoring necessities, increased ride height for clearance, skid plates for protection, a roll bar for safety, and custom stone guards for all the lamps.  

Six months later, the car was deemed fit.  

As the 928 is realistically a 2-adult car at the best of times, Philippe’s sons would split the journey between them.  The first test for the 928 came in 2011 when they traversed 24,000 kilometers through 27 countries with the final destination again being Iran.  The replay of Philippe’s journey many years before was a complete success.
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Stopover for the night in Mongolia
The 2011 trip garnered interest from the President of Porsche France.  How the car held up over the varied roads and terrain encountered without any support vehicles whatsoever was intriguing.  Talks of another trip started to circle; murmurs of an even bigger undertaking began to surface.  Why not use the already modified 928 for the ultimate durability test?  

Eventually, plans were cemented to completely circle the Northern Hemisphere.  Paris to Tokyo, Anchorage to New York.  It was set.  With the help of Porsche France, the car received a thorough check-up and all wear items were refreshed.  Maps were drawn, bookings made, and shipping containers reserved.  Philippe and his son Thibault set off from Paris on May 28th, 2016.  

The road trip of a lifetime had begun.
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Travelling the Alaska Highway
I had the good fortune to meet with Philippe and his son Baudouin (who took over from Thibault upon commencing the North American leg) on their way through Vancouver, BC Canada.  

The local 928 owners in the area arranged a day of touring around the city then an evening get-together to share stories.  Upon meeting Philippe, it is readily apparent he is passionate about the journey and life in general.  He fielded multiple questions about the trip and was more than enthusiastic about sharing the details.  The car was amazing to see in person, and the fact that they were confidently driving a 27 year old Porsche around the world was inspiring. 
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Arrival in Iran, 2011
The 928 has a bad reputation for reliability and when asked about it, Philippe replied “nonsense, this is a very strong car!”  

So strong in fact, that in the 22,000 kilometers since leaving Paris in May, they have only had to replace the electric fuel pump…twice.  Otherwise, the car has performed flawlessly.  He explained how poor maintenance has led to the reliability myths.  In his opinion, the 928 was the toughest Porsche ever built, and he is setting about to prove that.  Porsche Germany has shown interest in their latest journey and possibly using the car for some promotional material. 

“nonsense, this is a very strong car!” 

Upon returning to Europe, Porsche France has plans to display the car at the Porsche Experience Center Le Mans for a special event.  They want to convey the message of longevity and durability within the Porsche brand, and Philippe’s 928 will fit the bill nicely.  As well, Philippe spoke of plans for next year’s 40th anniversary of the 928 event being held in France where the car will be proudly displayed alongside himself and his 2 sons.
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Navigating the Trans-Siberian Highway
The 928 owner’s community is a passionate lot, and after spending a few hours with Philippe it is easy to see why.  

When asked about another trip in the future, Philippe was coy on details but did share one of his dreams, namely the Pan-American Highway.  From Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic Ocean to Ushuai at the very most southern tip of South America, this would be another amazing adventure, and certainly soul filling.  He is an inspiration to all of us car aficionado’s, and in the words of Philippe,

“don’t put off anything you can accomplish today, we never know what the future holds for us.” 
The pictures I have used in this article only scratch the surface of Philippe’s extensive collection.  You can see more photos and all the details about their first trip in 2011 here:

http://www.porsche-928-expedition.com/accueil/

You can follow along on the current trip here:

http://raid2.porsche-928-expedition.com/accueil/

…and here on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/Porsche-928-Expedition-323345104684285


*images by Philippe Delaporte
 


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