Silvia rides again! Paul Hickman’s 2019 Peking to Paris

Mainmark Chief Executive Officer and car enthusiast, Paul Hickman, has again taken part in the famous Peking to Paris rally, behind the wheel of his lovingly restored 1953 Bristol 403, “Silvia”.

Paul was joined by friend and co-pilot Sebastian (Bas) Gross, a recognised Bristol car restorer, who has dedicated many hours to preparing Silvia for the Peking to Paris.

The Bristol 403 is a limited-edition luxury car manufactured between 1953 and 1955, featuring a BMW-style radiator grille and two extra headlights at the side, which is unusual in cars of that era.

The annual event is a re-enactment of the famous 1907 Peking to Paris automobile race organised by the Endurance Rally Association, and is only open to cars produced before 1976. It is the longest and toughest driving challenge for vintage and classic cars.

The 2019 rally got underway in Beijing (formerly Peking), travelling through an impressive 12 countries and covering 13,695 kilometres over 36 days before concluding in Paris, France.

As is tradition, the 2019 event brought participants to the Great Wall of China for the official start on Sunday 2 June. Paul, Sebastian and Silvia joined 119 other teams, reconnecting with old friends and rally enthusiasts, and meeting a few newcomers.

Team Silvia achieved their goal to drive an average 450 kilometres per day, with the longest haul being 664 kilometres into St Petersburg.

The epic journey once again brought many new friends and millions of adventure stories. Paul recalled travelling up a very steep gravelly mountain in Mongolia, when it started raining, then sleeting, then snowing.

“Several attempts were needed to get enough traction on the gravel to ascend, but at least we didn’t need towing like several other participants. The biggest delight was to come across a Mkll Jag, pulled along the side of the road, with good ol’ Brit participants stopped for their scheduled Sunday sandwiches,” said Paul.

There were also plenty of “bar” stories from the journey, usually about how quickly they ran out of alcohol. On one occasion an enterprising well-heeled gent solved the situation when he came back with all of his many inside and outside pockets crammed with little bottles of whisky, vodka etc – like the biblical loaves and fishes story!

Paul and Bas maintained an impressive 9th position overall in Classic Cars (72 cars) and were awarded 2nd in Class D (31 cars), receiving a trophy at the prize giving gala dinner on Sunday 7 July. They also received one of 20 gold medals for cars which completed every stage of the rally in specified time, and successfully undertook all the many daily “race tests”.

”I’m very lucky to have the opportunity to partake in something as remarkable as the Peking to Paris – there’s a thrill in life that is worth taking. You walk away with a bag of new stories and some great people who will be friends forever.”


By Claire Hartley

Claire is a strategic senior marketing and communications professional who joined Mainmark in 2015. She has extensive experience gained in a range of organisations across the APAC region and the UK; from large multinationals and start-ups to industrial B2B, IT and online businesses.