Marco Rollinger and Marianne Hengesch took on the Road to Mandalay, a brand new event organised by the Endurance Rally Association, in their 1927 Bentley 4½, which we prepared for them.
Starting from the iconic Raffles Hotel, Singapore, the rally mixed the mysteries and sophistication of the Far East with the experience of the roads little seen by outsiders.
The 25-days, three-country (Malaysia, Thailand and Burma) event will saw 70 vintage and classic cars traveling through Mandalay and ending up in Rangoon. Along the way they crossed rivers, climbed mountain passes and journeyed through jungles.
Iconic landmarks included a visit to Hellfire Pass Museum and the setting of the Bridge over the River Kwai. History was also made when the entrants crossed from Thailand over the Burma border, which was opened for foreigners for the first time thanks to the Endurance Rally Association and the late Philip Young.
Burma is opening up to the rest of the world but its land-based frontiers have remained closed to foreigners for 60 years. Now classic cars are spearheading the re-opening, with the Road to Mandalay Rally cracking open the tiny mountain frontier between Thailand and Burma.
Marco and Marianne faired really well, finishing in 12th position overall and second in their class. They were using the event as a shakedown for next year’s Peking to Paris.
Despite the rally’s length and covering about 8,000 miles, there were plenty of pre-war cars entered, their rugged construction and high ground clearance making them ideal for the rugged roads that were encountered.