A total of 70 classic cars driven by owners from Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States were flagged off from the hotel on a rally event entitled, “The Road to Mandalay,” organised by the UK-based Endurance Rally Association, according to their website.
The drivers will take on 23 relatively easy day stages to Mandalay – from about 150 to 600 kilometres daily - passing through Malaysia and Thailand, before finishing on Day 25 in Yangon, from where their cars will be shipped home.
The oldest car is a 7,500 cc 1907 Itala 40 and the youngest, a 5,000 cc 1970 Ford Mustang, with only one car in the modern 4x4 touring category being a 2011 Toyota Landcruiser.
The classic car models include Bentley, Jaguar, Chevrolet, Buick, Citroen, Volvo, Porsche and a Volkswagen Beetle.
As the organisers say, The Road to Mandalay is going to be a highly memorable experience of driving into Myanmar, a land opening up its borders for the rally. All the days are said to be within the capabilities of a well prepared vintage or classic car drivers.
Permission to enter Myanmar took several meetings with Myanmar government officials, including the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, and a “thick wedge of paperwork,” according to the organisers.
The rally team carried out a “reccy of the route” in April and May 2014, noting the enthusiastic welcome along the way and the “fantastic driving roads.”
Mr Philip Young, chairman of the Endurance Rally Association, was the main driver in pushing through the meetings and paperwork to set up the rally, according to dispatches on the association’s website, noting that travel in some parts of Myanmar “hasn’t changed much in 1,000 years.”
Mr Young recounted the “endless meetings with ministers and officials” who were always saying “we want to help you.” As he noted, “Nothing is too much for a government eager to make things work – and reach out Westwards.”
The rally was so popular that the organisers upped the number of cars from 60 to a limit of 75 to accommodate the car enthusiasts.