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Bill Barriere’s 1978 Pan American Trip

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UPDATE II: There’s an additional photo of Bill on eBay, this time with him on top of the jeep.

View all the information on eBay



Original Post January of 2019 …. UPDATE: I discovered another photo of Bill Barriere and his jeep on eBay (see below). That find sent me once again on the pursuit of the question, “What happened to Bill Barriere’s jeep trip?”. It turns out, he didn’t make it very far. During the early portion of his trip, he crashed into a bridge in the Yukon, which left him with a $7000 repair bill and $1700 tow bill (Yukon to Fairbanks). He decided to abandon the trip idea and, instead, become a mercenary fighter in Nicaragua (and drive his jeep there). Maybe some day I’ll figure out how his life as a mercenary fighter panned out. 

View all the information on eBay

“1978 Press Photo William Barriere wipes down Jeep in California. This is an original press photo. California – William Barriere will attempt to drive solo from the Arctic Ocean to the Antarctic Ocean. Photo measures 7 x 10.25inches. Photo is dated 11-25-1978.”

1978-11-25-william-barriere-cj5-1 1978-11-25-william-barriere-cj5-2

This is a January 4, 1979, article from the Palm Spring’s Desert Sun newspaper that explains why he cancelled his trip.






Original Post September 3, 2015: In 1978 Bill Barrier attempted to become the first solo driver to complete a Pan American Trip, Alaska to southern Argentina. This article was published in the November 11, 1978, Milwaukee Sentinel.

A 1976 article discussed some of his early plans, as did this article. Here’s an example of an advertisement he put in newspapers regarding the trip. Unfortunately, I could not find any word on whether he completed it or not. Note that the jeep was actually built for a London to Singapore trip that never occurred. There are some interesting mods.




11 Comments on “Bill Barriere’s 1978 Pan American Trip

  1. David Eilers Post author


    I’ve been hunting for answers to that question, but haven’t found anything yet.

    – Dave

  2. Terry

    He said he was going to Nicaragua to fight with the Communist Sandinistas ,they probably killed him and gave his Jeep to a Party member .

  3. David Eilers Post author

    If he really did go down to fight, I can’t imagine he made it out, let alone made it out with video of the fighting as he’d hoped to do.

  4. SE Pennsylvania Steve

    I’m very skeptical of all this, it almost sounds to me like he was some sort of con man. An engine ramming forward in an accident? Hot air blowing on a radiator? $27K for a jeep in 1971? And he’s endlessly searching for sponsorship money. Maybe the sponsors he thought he had were pulling out because when they looked into his background he wasn’t what he said he was. Maybe he realized they were catching on to him and wanted to disappear so he made up a bullcrap Nicaragua mercenary story. If don’t find anything more about him, Dave, I bet I’m right.

  5. David Eilers Post author

    Steve, the thought had crossed my mind, too. I’ll keep an eye out for updates.

  6. Bill

    Had Alaska or Rust not worked out so well, I too was planning on becoming a mercenary fighter in Nicaragua.


  7. David Eilers Post author


    Then, you’d likely to be fighting on the opposite side of Bill Barriere. President Ortega was a senior member of the Sandinistas when they began the civil war against the Samoza regime. Now, Ortega is the one playing dictator, jailing news employees, arresting demonstrators, and disbanding civic groups. And then, there are all the kidnappings to complicate things. In short, I’m glad you didn’t have to try your hand at becoming a mercenary! (But, if you do go down, I will happily care for your jeeps until your return).

  8. Bob in nc

    I’ve been thinking about this a little more.

    “First crossing of the western hemesphire” and the clown didn’t make it through Alaska?

    He pocketed the rest of money for trip, sold the jeep and moved on to next scam in another state. Probably married an older wealthy woman. An early low budget scammer.

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