‘With 14 horsepower through Afrika’ is a phenomenal insight into life and overland travel in the 1930s. This DVD actually includes two films by Josef Boehmer, both featuring three 500cc Puch sidecar outfits. They are movies about incredible teamwork and remarkable fortitude, aboard surprisingly reliable two-stroke four cylinder machines.
The first is the shakedown trip from Vienna to Nord Kapp in 1934, all on gravel and mud – the E6 barely imagined back then. The second records the main event; Cape Town to Cairo and ultimately Vienna, through the European colonies of East Africa and encountering barely developed routes.
It’s difficult to decide what’s the most amazing as you sit and watch: the way that the footage was captured, stored, transported and developed, or the way that the team achieved what they did, on machines that were carrying 200kilos over the manufacturer’s maximum load weight!
With fuel and oil tanks aplenty, camp beds and heavy canvas tents that must have weighed even more when they were sodden, they persevered through deep mud and sand.
But typical of the era, this was also a scientific expedition and one of their party recorded environmental conditions throughout. They were all keen mountaineers too, so in both films we are treated to footage from peak assaults, like that on Mount Kilimanjaro.
The release of all this great old footage, and the English language voiceover, is the work of Michael Schulze, who spent many years tracking it down and researching the protagonists. Josef Boehmer and his wife were committed socialists and managed to escape the Nazis in the late 30s, ending up in the USA. It’s a remarkable story and he’ll be at The Event 1st-3rd September talking about and selling this DVD. It’s one that really should be in everyone’s collection!
Reisebuchverlag Kastanienhof €19.95