A. F. Tschiffely was a Swiss born teacher, professional footballer, boxer and adventurer who in 1925 set off on a journey from Buenos Aires in Argentina to Washington DC in the USA…. by horse !
Tales from this epic journey, described as impossible, absurd and mad in contemporary press reports, recounted in Tschiffely book “Tschiffely’s Ride” published in 1933 inspired British teacher John Coleman to retrace Tschiffely’s steps in 1959 driving today’s featured 10hp, 45 mph, 1925 Austin Seven Chummy.
With the aid of Austin agents across the America’s and a little backing from the Montagu Motor Museum at Beaulieu John, who spoke no Spanish and refused to carry a gun, set off from Buenos Aires on the 10th of November 1959 11 months after his hero Tschiffely had died.
Along the way John was involved in a collision soon after leaving Beunos Aires, he traversed the Andes with the door of the Austin left open in case he had to jump out, so narrow were the steep sided roads he feared he might go over the edge. when he got to Peru his route was blocked after an earthquake.
When he got to Peru his route was blocked after an earthquake and so he continued by train, in Ecuador in the middle of the rainy season the little Austin was rescued from the mud by a passing bus. John then followed the Panamanian Highway with 40 rivers to cross at a time when only 10 of them had bridges.
11 month’s after setting out on his 11,000 mile journey John arrived in New York City where shortly afterwards he appeared on the television quiz show ‘To Tell the Truth’ in which he won sufficient funds to take time out and write his recollections of the adventure that were published in Coleman’s Drive in 1962.
As late as 2005 John drove a lap of honour at Silverstone at the wheel of this car which still belongs to the Coleman Family.
John died at the wheel of his Morris Minor, in which he had recently completed and written about a journey around Scotland, on the way back from his printers on January 5th, 2010 coincidentally 51 years to the day after his hero A. F. Tschiffely died.
Thanks for joining me on this Coleman’s Drive edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !