Carole de Gara, Siegfried Hammelehle and Rick Lomba travelled to Afghanistan and back in 1973. Leading vehicle: a 2.4-litre Porsche 911 S Targa. How did such an incredible journey come about? Now, 46 years later, we set off on a search for the protagonists of that time.
Siegfried Hammelehle is a little bit surprised. “Oh, our trip was ages ago,” he says on the phone. That’s true. Forty-six years is an eternity – especially if you consider the route of that time: three people from Germany, the United Kingdom and South Africa drove a Porsche 911 and a Volkswagen 411 from Germany over 27,000 kilometres across Turkey as well as today's Iran and Afghanistan in two months – and back again. Today it is unthinkable, but then, in August and September 1973, long before Iran became an Islamic republic and Afghanistan was an intact state – despite upheaval exactly at the time of their trip – you could dare to embark on such a journey if you had just a little courage.
That was exactly what the three did. The young British woman Carole de Gara, 23-year-old South African photographer Richard E. Lomba, known as Rick, and Siegfried Hammelehle, the 34-year-old textile entrepreneur, a great Porsche fan and owner of the car with which the trip was to be made. For 46 years the story languished in the Porsche archives – it was only published once in an old edition of "Christophorus". A coincidence brought it to light. The visual power of the few black-and-white prints and negatives and the one colour photo immediately fascinated us. And the research started. Where are these people now? The original travel notes of Rick Lomba, the trip chronicler, have unfortunately not been preserved, and he passed away long ago. Carole de Gara got married in England, but making contact proved to be difficult. This leaves the main participant and initiator: a few phone calls and e-mails later and Siegfried Hammelehle was actually located. His brother Walter established the contact and an interview soon followed.
“I was in Kabul for the first time in 1963 during a trip to Calcutta,” remembers Siegfried Hammelehle. He was there because of carpets, which he imported to Germany from all over the world. He was fascinated by Afghanistan, and wanted to travel the country in his Porsche and film it.
Text first published in the magazine „Porsche Klassik“, special edition „8 generations 911“.
Text by Thorsten Elbrigmann
Photos by Richard E. Lomba / Porsche Archives
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Date Posted: October 28, 2019