Vintage Cape Horn 2013
An epic 6,000 kilometre adventure drive from Buenos Aires to Cape Horn through Argentina and Chile.
Day 03 - Cordoba to Mendoza
The extra altitude of Cordoba made the morning departure the freshest one so far. Car 11, the Ford Model A named Evita by her crew David Cooley and Ross Lilleker was off again hauling herself out of the car park at 6.00am to start her own lonely trek into the hills. The rest of the rally left at a slightly more civilised 8.00am. Sadly as we reported last night we left without the Alvis of Francis Galashan and Michael Brooks. The round the world round the clock operation that is Cars Europe had spirited it away overnight and it was well on its homeward journey.
Before we leave the hotel though special mention must go to the chocolatier and the pastry chef of the Cordoba Sheraton who put on a bravura performance last night with a fantastic selection of desserts. Any weight lost through careful refining and re packing of luggage was regained at the sweet trolley. Leslie Roy however did have an excellent excuse as it was his birthday.
Lying in store for us today however was a 630km Route through the Sierra to Mendoza where we will also spend our rest day. But first had to negotiate the bumpy road out of Cordoba on a sleepy Sunday morning where the loudest thing was birdsong. Within 25 km we'd cleared the town and the main roads and were onto twisting blacktop, billiard board smooth with great lines of sight through the bends. Two time controls within 8km on a hill leading to the observatory kept the crews on their toes as they crested the 1000m summit. From then on it was down ...... Sinuous and narrow but the pressure was off for the moment.
10km down the road however it was back on again as a medal section began. The road plunging up and down helter and skelter for another 8km through a red rock boulder field. Not quite a Martian landscape, there were too many trees but at 1200m altitude and still climbing we were getting there as we skirted the Quebrada del Condorit. National Park.
Sightings of condors were reported along the road but what caught my eye was a magnificent display of garden gnomes for sale at a roadside cafe. Clinton Smith and Trevor Finn the 1938 Chevrolet Coupe had stopped next to them and looked to be showing some interest as Bruce Selbie in his Chrysler P6 wheezed his way past them on the hard shoulder.
A quick coffee and pastel at the Parilla Condor at 2134m restored our equilibrium but a few more km along the road the same could not be said of Bruce Selbie who was spotted being attended to by the ace sweep mechanics Andy Inskip and Tony Jones. A lack of power caused by running too lean was the symptom, the probable cause - an electric fuel pump being used in tandem with the manual one. Ten minutes of tinkering improved things and tomorrow Bruce can get to the bottom of the situation properly.
It's been a seriously hot day today and on a spectacular downhill run we drove through many small towns and settlements with honey, olive oil and bread on offer by the roadside. But, it's very dry this side of the mountain and the landscape quickly changed to scrubby outback with a wide sandy strip at the side of the road. The last 60km into the lunch halt in Lujan was arrow straight and bone dry and we passed Charles and Missy Menteth hunkered down against the sun in their open cockpit. At the fuel station next to the Passage Control cafe we spotted Udo Bichler topping up his coolant - again, luckily he’s got a boot full of the stuff.
A satisfying bocadillo with ham and cheese took care of lunch and then it was onto Mendoza, through the high desert of the Quebracho de la Legua nature reserve before spotting Arthur and Anna manners at the side of the road in the process of removing the bonnet cover. Their fuel was boiling in the carbs according to Rob Kitchen so the extra airflow might be just the solution. We then found the Ford Model A duo of Noddy and Betty (cars 9 and 10) cooling off at a fuel station, with their bonnets open. A little further along the road this overheating / bonnet removal craze seemed to have really taken hold as we heard that Catherine D'Andrimont was seen in the process of doing the very same to her 1937 Chevrolet.
Tonight though the leader board stands the same. David and Sadie Williams, Chevrolet Fangio Coupe head up the Vintageants whilst Alastair Caldwell and Laurel Smith, Mercedes 280SL, lead the Classics. (see the Results page for the complete listing)
Mendoza is where almost half of all of Argentina's wine comes from so it should be a good rest day. In fact we glimpsed our first vineyards with 75km to go along with some olive groves and soon after we were just able to trace the outline of the high Andes through the haze. Never mind the wine though. An ice cold beer is top of tonight's wish list.