Unusual Vehicles is a series that looks into the history of an unorthodox car. Manufacturers have designed weird vehicles for racing purposes as well as for the road. An example of an odd racing car is the 1984 Proto 6X4 Chevrolet. Built for the gruelling Paris Dakar rally, the car was the brainchild of French entrepreneur Thierry de Montcorge. The Proto was an amalgamation of different parts.
The Paris-Dakar rally had inspired a lot of people to get involved and Montcorge had bet his friends he could run the rally in a Rolls-Royce. His friends called him on the bet, which led Montcorge to have a specialised tube frame chassis constructed. It featured the four wheel drive system from a Toyota Land Cruiser and a 5.7-litre 350 Chevrolet V8 engine. Then, the chassis was fitted with a fibreglass replica of a Rolls-Royce Corniche body.
The car caught the attention of perfume company, Christian Dior, who were in the midst of launching a new fragrance called Jules. Seeing the Proto as a great publicity stunt, Dior acted as a sponsor.
The Proto finished the race and Dior enjoyed plenty of exposure. Still, Montcorge wasn’t satisfied and he wanted a more challenging race.
Montcorge got his wish in the form of the Peking to Paris rally, which covered a route of 9320 miles. He upgraded the car to feature a plastic body reinforced with kevlar. The Chevrolet V8 was mounted between two rear axles and combined with a Porsche 935 five-speed manual transmission. The new Proto looked like a vehicle out of Blade Runner. The car also had a rear deck for the storage of spare wheels and any other essential equipment.
The Peking to Paris rally failed to be revived, so the Jules II entered the 1984 Paris-Dakar. The race started out in a promising way, with the Jules II cruising through the Algerian desert. However, the chassis eventually snapped due to the pressure that had built up.
The Jules II couldn’t be repaired, so Montcorge sold it off to a collector as a rolling chassis. After the engine was taken out, it became a static display piece. During the 2000s, the Jules II was rediscovered and appeared in at the 2004 Val D’lsere Motor Show to commemorate the 20th anniversary of its Dakar participation. Eventually, it was auctioned off in 2008 and has yet to resurface.