Porsche 924: Adventure Baltic Sea Circle Rally

16 days, 7,500 kilometers, down to minus 22 degrees - photographer and filmmaker David zu Elfe mastered the Baltic Sea Circle Rallye in a converted Porsche 924, which he drove through snow and ice during the day and used as a sleeping place at night. A man who loves a challenge.
Text Natalie Diedrichs
Photo David zu Elfe

Together with his brother-in-law, David zu Elfe set off for Hamburg at the end of February to start the Baltic Sea Circle Rallye from there. The mission: to cross ten countries in northern Europe within 16 days. The condition: The vehicle must be at least 15 years old. No problem for the man from Rhineland-Palatinate, who without further ado converted his 1978 Porsche 924 into a rustic Overland Camper. He raised the chassis 40 millimeters higher, added snow tires with a powerful tread, fitted the roof with a sturdy luggage rack and converted the rear seat into a fold-out sleeping cabin with auxiliary heating. Not to forget the six Hella auxiliary headlamps which provided the necessary road illumination at night along with an extremely stylish look. We spoke to David zu Elfe about his adventure.

How did the crazy idea of driving the Baltic Rallye come about? Why so far north?
Last year we were on the road for eleven months with our converted Range Rover Classic and in August we were already on the North Cape. On the journey home towards Germany on the most beautiful roads in Norway you get a bit sentimental and wonder what's coming next. So you sit in your car and wait for the rain to pass, you linger on Instagram and stumble over a commercial. Normally annoying, but in this case it's interesting - a black SUV under northern lights in the snow. It advertised the Baltic Sea Circle Rally. My co-driver and sweetheart just casually said on that rainy day »Sounds great, why don't you do that with the Porsche and my brother«. Very. Bad. Mistake.

»My passenger and sweetheart commented this casually on that rainy day: »Sounds great, why don't you do that with the Porsche and my brother? Very. Bad. Mistake.«

Why was the Porsche 924 the perfect car for this?
At that time we already owned a fully developed off-road vehicle that had been restored in over 2,000 working hours. And Jonas, brother-in-law and co-pilot, had also just finished his expedition SUV. Nevertheless, we pulled out my former everyday 924 from under the tarp and took it for the job. Where would the challenge be otherwise? I've been toying with the idea of an Oberland conversion for quite some time - but without need and deadline it's hard to put time and money into such a conversion. In retrospect, I couldn't think of a vehicle that would make the compromise between everyday car and camper as good as a transaxle. I mean, we camped in Russia at minus 20 degrees Celsius. In a 42 year old sports car with auxiliary heating!

Your favorite moments during the rally?
That's probably funny now: We had a great time in Estonia when the timing belt snapped. The engine had been howling strangely from the belt drive before we left - but it was all new. But since the 2.0 is a freewheeler, you don't really have to worry about that. The chirping got louder and louder and quieter during the 7,000 kilometers, before it was finally over in Estonia. By then we had left the snow behind us for a long time and driving became monotonous and unspectacular again. We called it »boredom kaput» - the 924 simply had nothing better to do. So while a friendly team was making fresh coffee, we just changed the timing belt. The engine was running before the coffee was in the cup - that only works with the real housewife Porsche.

»The engine was running before the coffee was in the cup - that's only possible with the real housewife Porsche.«

What belongs in the travel bag of everyone who wants to participate in such a rally?
Clothing. Very few will be Porsche campers, but the equipment that we had permanently on and around us thanks to our sponsors Globetrotter was really necessary. Long sleeves made of merino wool, winter trousers and boots (with a little practice also double clutch compatible) in the car, outside then our red down jackets - basically sleeping bags to put on. Knife, lighter and emergency provisions as well as tools and maps are of course also obligatory. And since the rally has a clear No-GPS rule, a reading lamp for the co-driver is recommended. Originally, we had only installed ours for visual reasons - but it doesn't work without it.

How has this trip left a lasting impression on you?
Just do it. The car was not useful, old, and the conversion was completely untested when we left. There is always a reason not to do it, to wait. You just can't be held back.

What would you recommend to someone who plans such an adventure?
When entering non-EU countries you should have the appropriate documents with you, especially if the car is registered to a company. The Russian border officials are not very flexible in this respect. Oh, and even if it sounds obvious: knowing the PIN to your own credit card - it is not very fun abroad without means of payment. Fun aside: Preparation is important, but not everything. If everything has already been fully tested, where is the challenge?

Where is the next journey going to? With which car?
Good question. The odd circumstance may have thrown a 924 S at my door and now that the concept has been properly tested, one could think about crossing the desert. Or just diagonally through Mongolia. It's not the ideas that make it fail, it's the budget.

David zu Elfe (*1993) is a photographer and filmmaker. One of his greatest passions is taking adventurous trips in »honest« cars he has prepared himself. He shares his experiences on his YouTube-Channel »Only A Roadtrip Away«.

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