Getting your Porsche ready for winter takes on a whole new meaning with this 1956 356A coupe. Is the owner expecting a particularly bad cold snap or what? In fact, she is getting ready to drive it 356 miles across the Antarctic.
For an ice marathon like that you need a darned sight more than a set of winter tyres. You need skis up front and half-track behind, a wildly jacked up and reinforced body, and “crevasse bars” – the bit that sticks out at the front to help prevent you from falling to an icy oblivion.
The result is a machine that will hopefully glide across the Antarctic at speeds up to 40mph. The skis and track spread the weight so that the whole thing should make less of an impact on the snow and ice than a footprint. The ski and track combo is said to increase flotation by 300 per cent compared to even the expedition’s 4x4 support vehicle on massive 42-inch tyres.
It is all the idea of a US race team, Valkyrie Racing in Denver, Colorado, and the race driver and philanthropist Renee Brinkerhoff. A veteran of events like the Carrera Panamericana, Renee wanted a suitably spectacular way to conclude her 20,000-mile challenge to raise funds to end child trafficking around the world.
“By racing our ’56 Porsche in extreme rallies that have never seen this type of vehicle before, we are a unique anomaly and use this recognition to give a voice to put an end to child trafficking,” Renee Brinkerhoff says.
Renee’s navigator for the drive, due to set off on 5 December 2021, will be someone mercifully familiar with the Antarctic, the polar explorer Jason de Carteret. But not even he has tackled the ice in a classic car before. Has anyone?
To survive the world’s most unforgiving environment, the little 356A is indeed a special machine. It was re-engineered with skis and half-track in a process that took 18 months and which was masterminded in the UK by the chassis engineer Kieron Bradley.
Apart from the obvious substitution of wheels, potentially life-saving enhancements include solar panels, roll cage, rally-spec steering and suspension and an emergency exit through the rear window… just in case. The 356 also had to be able to run on spiked ice tyres with no wheel alignment change.
All in all, then, it was quite an engineering challenge, especially when you consider that everything must work at temperatures down to minus 50 degrees C. We just hope the air-cooled Porsche’s notoriously iffy heater is up to the task!
This might be the maddest classic car adventure you have ever heard of, but there can be no more worthy cause than helping protect the world’s most vulnerable children. Go to Valkyrie Racing's donation page if you want to support Renee and her intrepid team.