The thought today of suggesting fourteen countries bind together to build a 30,000km highway to link two continents together is just ridiculous. It’s hard enough today to reach a consensus with two countries, especially those not bound by an economic union.
To suggest that same road skate across frozen tundra and frozen seas, down over deserts, through jungles, and up over high-mountain plateaus is simply ludicrous. And to suggest it all happen at the tail end of the biggest financial depression the world had ever seen would simply be laughable. Yet it happened, all of it. And the Pan-American Highway (or the Vía Panamericana, if you’re on its southern end) is still there, from Prudhoe Bay in Alaska down to either Quellon in Chile or Ushuaia in Argentina, depending on whose argument you prefer.
It links the southern end of South America, close to the nearest continental point to Antarctica, with the Arctic expanses of Canada and Alaska.
It’s an adventure in driving like no other in the world and all it takes is patience and a lot of fuel and time.
As with all roads, there’s a record. The fastest recorded time has been 24 days and a Mexican cyclist even whipped over it in 117 days, but most people take a year or even two years to take it all in.
The idea stretches right back to 1889 and the basic route was penciled in before 1925. It was old before it was new.
Nothing specific was done in Canada or the United States. After all, their roads were already built.
But the Latin American states saw it as an opportunity to link themselves with the richer countries to the north and took to it with enthusiasm.
And then, eventually, the US followed suit in 1966 by designating the entire Interstate highway system as part of the Pan-American Highway, so it could now be stretched out as long as 48,000km, with diversions to any city in the US.
The Carrera Panamericana ran for five years, grew quickly from being a race for five-seat cars to being an all-out sports car race. Its average speed boomed from just over 140km/h in its first year to more than 220km/h just five years later. Deaths rose along with the speed and it killed 27 people.
The first Carrera Panamericana ran from just below the Texan border at Ciudad Juarez to just north of the Guatemalan border and climbed from 100 meters above sea level to 3195 meters high.
Known as the deadliest race in the world – in an era of astonishingly deadly races like the Mille Miglia and the Targa Florio – the five-day event was won by Hershel McGriff’s Oldsmobile.
The all-new P A N A M E R I C A N A Chronograph brings in a new phase to our watch design. The clean dial details are contrasted by vibrant color schemes from across the Americas, all housed in a bespoke Stainless Steel case. Features include a matt dial, anti-reflective sapphire glass, and Swiss movements.