‘In the years after World War II, the American continents began building a great Panamerican highway, running from Argentina to Alaska. In 1949, Mexico finished its section and decided to have a road race to celebrate. Thus was born the Carrera Panamericana Mexico – the Mexican Road Race!’
So says the introduction to Daryl E Murphy’s superb history of the greatest road race of them all, ‘Carrera Panamericana’ (MBI, 1993). It continues: ‘Run from 1950–1954, the Carrera was fast, dangerous and unlike any other race in the world. More gruelling than Le Mans, four times longer than the Indy 500 and more treacherous than the Mille Miglia!’ The Carrera Panamericana saw factorybacked sportscars battling alongside privately-built and entered ‘hot-rod’ saloons: big Lincolns and Chevrolets running tuned V8s that thundered aloing the dusty roads at break-neck speed. The sportscars ranged from the exotic – Ferraris, Porsches and Maseratis – to the more prosaic, such as Austin Healeys and MGs. Even Beetles had a class of their own in the Carrera! Often sporting flamboyant signwriting and sponsors’ logos, cars competing in this amazing no-holds-barred event had a style of their own, which has always appealed to the imagination of Porsche and VW enthusiasts across the world. Enthusiasts like Edwin Jespers, in fact.
Edwin works as the mechanic at BBT in Belgium (www.bbt4vw.com) – and has had a passion for Volkswagens since the age of 14. Over the years, he has owned a selection of cars, including a black 1963 sun-roof sedan which was awarded the ‘Radical Ride’ trophy at Bug Jam in 1998. Another of Edwin’s well-known cars was an original 1954 Oval-window Beetle with an Express dual-carburettor kit, which now resides in the offices of Takashi Komori, head of Flat-4 in Tokyo.
Edwin spends most of his working time restoring cars for Bob van Heyst at BBT and, when he was offered the chance of buying a rather sad-looking Pre-A Porsche 356, he jumped at the chance.