This Porsche 356 on Skis Could Set a Land Speed Record in Antarctica

After trekking 356 miles across the snow and ice, of course.

byJames Gilboy|
Porsche News photo

Later this year, amateur rally driver Renee Brinkerhoff will race across her seventh and final continent by crossing 356 miles of Antarctica. While it's not a trip that can be made in just any vehicle, she will try in the same car in which she competed in the Carrera Panamericana; her 1956 Porsche 356A, which she has had specially outfitted for the planet's southernmost clime.

Brinkerhoff's team Valkyrie Racing collaborated on the car's development with Kieron Bradley, senior chassis design engineer at Lotus who himself held a record for the fastest overland trip to the South Pole. Bradley started by reducing the Porsche's risk of plunging through the ice, which he did by expanding its footprint using skis in place of the front wheels, and tank treads on the rear. Despite adding weight, the mods cut the Porsche's ground pressure per square inch to as little as 1.2 pounds—apparently less than four percent that of the stock vehicle. And should the unthinkable happen, they increase the Porsche's buoyancy, too.

Skis, treads, and supporting mods are far from the only tweaks to the 356's chassis, which has a roll cage and a crevasse bar with solar panels capable of generating 150 Watts. It can power an onboard 12-volt low-temperature air compressor, presumably used to fill the equipped four-ton bag jack for lifting the Porsche in soft snow. Near its rear-mounted engine is a winch point, and if it comes to abandoning ship, there's a rear-window exit as well as cabin access to survival gear, water, and comms equipment.

After Brinkerhoff's 356-mile trip, she will attempt to set a blue-ice land speed record on the runway at Union Glacier, presumably after switching to the spiked ice tires her Porsche has been designed to accommodate. Having had her journey postponed a year by COVID-19, Brinkerhoff will be all too glad to hit the ice this December—and hopefully, traverse it safely.

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