This Wild ‘Polar Porsche’ Will Drive Across the Antarctic on Snow Tracks and Skis For a Worthy Cause
Rally driver Renee Brinkerhoff is set to finish a 20,000-mile journey across seven continents in a 1956 Porsche 356.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that this “Polar Porsche” is a bonkers 3D rendering pulled from an overcaffeinated Nordic artist’s Behance page, but it’s a real, purpose-built ride designed to tackle some of earth’s most frigid terrain.
Specifically, Valkyrie Racing founder Renee Brinkerhoff will pilot this heavily modified 1956 Porsche 356 on a 356-mile unsupported drive across inland Antarctica. Inside Hook reports that Brinkerhoff only started racing competitively in her 50s, but that late bloom didn’t stop the bona fide gearhead from taking a victory at the historied La Carrera Panamericana rally event.
Currently, Brinkerhoff is attempting to complete her own Project 356 Rally by racing the classic Porsche across 20,000-plus miles on all seven continents. With six in the books, Antarctica is the final stop.
Over a period of 18 months, Senior Chassis Design Engineer Kieron Bradley reconfigured the 356 for its frozen journey. The rear tires were swapped for snow tracks, the front tires for skis, and a specialized brace and suspension system that uses a single swingarm was installed. When necessary, the skis and tracks can be quickly changed out for spiked ice tires using a pneumatic jack without adjusting alignment.
“The ski we’ve created must do 40 – 50 percent of the work, by compacting and prepping the snow for the track unit to follow over, with the underside blade guiding the direction – this ensures the tracks will not submarine under the light snow,” said Bradley in a press release from Porsche.
There’s more to Project 356 than an ambitious automotive expedition. Through Valkyrie Gives, the philanthropic arm of the Valkyrie Racing racing team, Brinkerhoff has raised close to $500,000 for victims of human trafficking around the world. What’s more, the UK’s Tuthill Porsche has helped ensure that the car remains carbon negative at each leg by implementing sustainable features, such as solar panels on the crevasse bar.
Joining Brinkerhoff on the polar trek will be British explorer Jason de Carteret, who has logged more than 50 expeditions in his career, one of which set a world record for the fastest overland journey to the South Pole. They will embark together from Union Glacier, Antarctica on December 5.
“As often has been the case when taking on a new terrain in my 356, I have had no opportunity to test the car,” said Brinkerhoff.
“The test will come when we are at Union Glacier and we are very hopeful the new design will prove itself in spades. As I have been told by Kieron, there is no terrain on earth like Antarctica and therefore no place where a true test can be taken.”