The Paris to Peking Challenge

Project Proposal

The 2002 Paris to Peking Challenge
e-mail:    Tel: 07789 674167     Fax: 0208 699 3238


In March 1907, Le Matin printed a challenge, "Will any one agree to go, this summer, from Peking to Paris by motor-car." Thus began the first, and probably the most famous international car rally in history.

Amongst the cast of characters who assembled in Peking to meet the challenge was one Prince Scipione Borghese. The Prince was driving an Itala motor car, and he was accompanied by his chauffeur, who had the heavy responsibility of repairing and maintaining the car, and by Luigi Barzini, a well-known Italian newspaper reporter.

It took them two months to drive the 7100 miles to Paris and they experienced many hardships and mishaps along the way. Throughout the journey, Luigi Barzini sent back regular reports via telegraph for eager newspaper readers in Europe, and afterwards he wrote a popular book about the adventure called Paris to Peking. At the bottom of this page you can find a link to more information about Barzini's book and the 1907 rally.

In the summer of 2002, ninety five years after the Paris to Peking rally, Jose Oostveen and Rob Godfrey will retrace the route of Prince Scipione Borghese, all the way back to Peking (which is now known as Beijing).


Jose Oostveen (from Utrecht, Holland) and Rob Godfrey (from London, England) will be driving a 1940's CitroŽn Traction Avant. As with their previous adventure, The 2CV Alaska Challenge, Rob Godfrey will be sending back regular reports to The Paris to Peking Challenge web site, so that people will be able to follow the journey live, almost as it happens.
In these reports, Rob will make use of Luigi Barzini's book about the 1907 journey in order to draw a comparison between conditions along the route at the start of the 20th century, and conditions now at the start of the 21st century.

As well as being educational, the Paris to Peking reports will be a humorous diary of a marathon road journey half way around the world. The reports will be accompanied by photographs and will record the trials and tribulations, the triumphs and achievements of this road journey, just as Luigi Barzini's reports did almost 100 years previously.

Route map     Itinerary     Costs/Paperwork

1907 Paris to Peking rally     CitroŽn Traction Avant    


In the summer of 1999, Rob and Jose carried out The 2CV Alaska Challenge, a record breaking journey that involved more than 3000 sea miles and 8000 road miles. This project attracted sponsorship from 13 different companies, including Sara Lee, a big multi-national company. The 2CV Alaska Challenge was covered by more than 60 newspapers, both in the United Kingdom and North America, as well as tv and radio stations. Throughout this epic journey, Rob sent regular bulletins to the 2CV Alaska Challenge web site and thousands of people all around the world followed the adventure live, almost as it happened.

To see the Alaska Challenge bulletins, photographs, press cuttings, etc, click Here.


Rob Godfrey was born in London on 21st March 1964. He is a published poet and the author of eight novels, as well as numerous articles and travel stories. A UK publisher is presently waiting for him to finish his book about the 2CV Alaska Challenge.

At various times, Rob has lived in Dieppe, Calgary, Vancouver and San Francisco. He has also travelled throughout communist eastern Europe and North Africa, and in 1992 he travelled across Russia, Siberia, Mongolia and China.

Rob is currently living in London and is seeking sponsorship for his next adventure, The Paris to Peking Challenge. To see a newspaper article about Rob click Here. To see a television news piece about Rob click Here (Note: this is a 2.25Mb Mpeg file and might take a while to download. While you're waiting you could perhaps take a look around the rest of this site). Rob also runs a political campaign and you can click Here for a newspaper article about it.

The 2002 Paris to Peking Challenge
e-mail:    Tel: 07789 674167     Fax: 0208 699 3238