A forty-something Australian and old-car buff is making his way to Moscow through Africa in a 1913 Ford Model T that he has come to regard as his other half, because it needs “so much attention and maintenance”.
The journey, expected to be complete in June, is to commemorate a historic motoring epic completed almost a century ago.
“I’m single, I have no children and this is what I do – go on adventures,” said Constantine Mandylas, who has a degree in Criminology.
In 1912, two men on opposite sides of the globe set off on two of the greatest motoring journeys ever completed.
Australian Francis Birtles became the first person to make a west-east crossing of the Australian continent by car, a car mostly made from wood with a one cylinder engine.
His equally tenacious Russian counterpart, Andrei Nagel, battled against temperatures down to -20ºC and deep snowdrifts to be the first contestant to cross the Monaco Rally finish line in his Russian-built sports car.
“This year marks the 100th anniversary of this historical race, and what better way to celebrate it than by embarking on my own cross-country drive in a car from the same era,” said Mandylas.
He said his family has always known he was one for adventures, but he had outdone himself this time around and they were not surprised.
“I have been planning this journey for a couple of years now. I’ve done something similar to this before, where I drove a 1961 Russian-made Moskvitch 407 from Kharkov, Ukraine, to Corfu, Greece, via Romania and Bulgaria in 2007”.
The Daily News caught up with Mandylas after he had returned from collecting his voyager vintage vehicle from the harbour, where it had been shipped in from Perth.
“I drove 3 500km across Australia from Melbourne to Perth, where I took a flight to South Africa and had the car shipped,” he said.
Mandylas’s route from Durban will be through Kosi Bay, Mozambique, Tanzania, Ethiopia and the Middle East.
Before leaving Durban for Kosi Bay, he said: “So far I have not come across any challenges since leaving Melbourne in October, but I will face difficult times when I have to drive through the Middle East.
“Depending on the situation there I might have to ship the car from Egypt and fly to Ukraine.”
He said another hurdle he foresaw with driving through the Middle East, with countries riddled with conflict, was the bureaucracy involved in applying for visas.
“I plan on reaching Moscow in June and at this stage I am travelling alone, but I have not had car problems so far because parts for this vehicle are easily accessible,” he said.
He basked in the attention as motorists hooted at him as he was driving the antique vehicle from the port of Durban to a backpackers lodge in Essenwood Road, where he had been staying since his arrival in the country.
Mandylas said he was hoping for the same warm reception from locals throughout his cross-country drive.