Porsche fan and adventurer extraordinaire Philippe Delaporte has driven through more countries than many have flown over
Here at Style for Miles we like a road trip. That combination of adventure and discovery in your favourite mechanical object tend to deliver lifechanging moments that inspire far beyond the journey.
And inspiration is certainly in evidence via two monumental odysseys conducted by Frenchman Philippe Delaporte in his trusty Porsche 928 - so who better to tap for insight into planning that lifechanging Porsche pilgrimage. But first those road trips.
Philippe cut his teeth early, with an epic 15,000km journey to Iran as a 19-year-old in a Renault 4 (yes, you read right), which has gone on to visit a total of 37 countries and remains in the stable to this day.
“This was my dream road trip at the time, though my friend wasn’t so amour’d - you need to find solutions to problems on the fly, whether it’s with the route or car, so things can get stressful.
“I then completed three more road trips over the next five years, the latest and longest was from Paris, through Africa, to Kinshasa, returning via ship.”
Porsche trip number one, executed in 2011, was inspired by tales of adventure regaled to his two sons, Thibault and Baudouin, the latter subsequently suggesting a return to the road.
“We immediately took the map out, to see where we could go, and then I asked him ‘Which car?”
In the garage was a Mark 2 Jaguar and a Land Rover Defender 90, however, there was only one car for the job to accompany Philippe on a return journey from Paris, via the Silk Road, to Iran, his beloved 928.
Philippe’s passion for Porsche began back in the early 70’s, inspired by the marque’s success at Le Mans.
“I’ve loved the 928 all the way back to 1978, when I saw one for the first time in my home town, from that day I always said I’d buy one. This car has all the qualities you need for long-distance grand touring - design, power, speed, plus that innate Porsche engineering.”
As you’d expect, the prepared 928 completed the 24,000km journey with no breakdowns.
“Driving in one of the best GT’s around with my son delivered a classic adventure. We learned that everything is possible if you want it. Of course, you must prepare carefully first, cover all the parameters, administration, mechanics, solutions to potential problems etc."
Porsche trip two began in 2016. More ambitious in every way, the original plan was to travel from Paris to Tokyo, escorted by Thibault, again in the 928.
“However, Baudouin was so moved by the previous trip that he wanted to join in, however the car has only two seats!
“So we decided to ship the car from Japan to Alaska and continue the trip to New York. It became ‘A Drive Around the World’, which meant it was more expensive and complicated to organise!”
In fact, such was the level of commitment Philippe took three months off work to ensure there was enough time to complete the journey.
Splitting the trip into two parts, to avoid sibling rivalry, Paris to Tokyo then onto Anchorage in Alaska and ending in New York, the first leg stopped off in Vladivostok and from there the pair caught a ship to Japan, with a stop off in South Korea along the way. Unloading the 928 near Hiroshima the first leg finished in the Japanese capital.
“From there we returned to France for two months, waiting for the car to arrive in Alaska, via container ship, then flew to Anchorage by plane to restart the trip, heading north to the Artic Circle, then south to the Mexican border, onto Miami and New York.”
The trip totalled 35,000 km over 104 days, again without any problems. In total, the two road trips went through 37 countries (the same as the Renault 4) for a total of 59,000 km.
As for highlights, top of the list was the primary shared joy of adventure with his two sons.
“This has been such an important part of our life, we always think about this trip and the memories it’s created. We were so humbled by the people we met along the way, particularly as we were travelling alone, to see such a car in certain environments was a surprise for many.”
But it would be churlish not to give a mention to, in no particular order, the Silk Road, Persepolis in Iran, the Aral sea, completing the Trans Siberian Road, from St Petersburg to Vladivostok (11,000 km to you), sleeping in a yurt in Mongolia, driving into Hiroshima, seeing Mount Fuji, Mt Mac Kinley, crossing the Artic Circle (via the precarious Dalton Highway), all US Parks, Monument Valley. “And the amazing sensation you experience when entering New York and completing the journey from Paris without a hitch in a 30-year-old car!"
Style's 'Drive Five'
Most memorable road trip?
All of them, but the World Tour in 2016 was the greatest and most amazing
Trans-Siberian road and Dalton Highway in Alaska - you feel so small on both.
Ultimate Road Trip
Transfagarasan road in Romania
Porsche of choice?
For a road trip Cayenne V8 to avoid taking risk, or Porsche 911 prepared off road for fun
A very, very, very good friend, because you share the journey 24/7, inside and outside the car! I could say my wife, but after crossing the Sahara desert in August as my then girlfriend, she never wanted to go out on an adventure again!
What also made the journey an even more memorable one (if that was possible) was the unique welcome experienced with fellow Porsche enthusiasts on the road.
“We met a lot, and all were so welcoming! But the most enthusiastic were the classic Porsche clubs, particularly in Moscow and Vancouver. They organised a meeting with lots of cars and dinner. I remember one guy saying ‘You make us proud to own our cars.’”
“There was a particularly special reception at Porsche Teheran, who turned out with journalists, classic cars, and a private visit to the car museum of the Shah, such amazing cars, including lots of Porsche.
“Another great moment was surprising Magnus Walker at his garage in LA, he was really cool.”
And so, with all this knowledge, what insight can Philippe bestow to those looking to plan a life changing road trip?
“Never to be discouraged by potential obstacles that stand in the way of your journey, so put simply the most important things to have are passion and patience to take time to prepare step by step, car - administration documents, insurance, customs paperwork, all these take time and focus.”
In particular, shipping your motor from one continent to another requires a special degree of dedication.
“You need lot of administrative documents, The 928 had French plates so it’s not easy, but it is possible. You have to have all your documentation and information to hand, and rules tend to change over time. For example, arriving in Japan, all documents must be completed in advance, together with a designated book for customs approval, which has to be acquired beforehand.”
Then there’s the car. Preparation maybe an obvious factor, but that doesn’t just mean an oil change and inflating the tyres.
“To prepare the car perfectly means to anticipate, change or control every point of the car, it's too late if you discover a problem on the road. In my case, I needed to upgrade the tyres and suspension to match rougher road surfaces, a good supply of spare parts and jerricans for long distances between fuelling.”
Unsurprisingly, Philippe is not standing still, with various adventures pencilled in, starting with a trip to Iceland with a friend in July, via a ship out to North of Denmark, a total of 5000km. Then there’s an ambition to cross Australia, from Darwin to Sydney, and a possible drive from Alaska to Ushuaia. And if any of that doesn’t inspire you to get the map out, then we give up…