The story of Héctor Argiró has two well-defined chapters. The first was a thorough planning that led him to establish the starting point of his new life 33 months before starting it. With the birth of the second chapter, the day-to-day stage was opened, of living without being tied to more obligations than reaching the destination with Balboa, the Torino that became his inseparable companion. Together they left in November 2016 from Buenos Aires andn an adventure took him from Ushuaia to Alaskaand that in the middle he was able to fulfill the dream that he had also foreseen, only that it was ahead of him like a dribble of fate: being face to face with Diego Maradona was, is and will be one of the highest points of the journey.
Balboa is a Torino 380 coupe from 1969. It is the car with which this man from Tucuman – who lived in the Greater Buenos Aires area until 2016 – says he has traveled “100,000 kilometers” on a trip that currently has him in the middle of the crossroads from east to west of the United States. His goal is to get to Mexico so that the vehicle can enter a body and paint shop to repair breakdowns that he added to so much traffic in the midst of inhospitable conditions. And from there, aim for the jump to Europe and that the Bull can step on his second continent.
But the return to Mexico does not seem to be casual. Argiró was nourished on his journey by the hospitality and solidarity of many who not only opened the doors of their homes to give him lodging and food, but also even lent themselves to collaborate in different arrangements that Torino needed. It was in the Aztec country where he had many of these types of experiences but, above all, the place that brought him closer to the figure he had dreamed of as a Boca fan since he was a child. Meet Diego.
Balboa, the Torino with its own name
There were two moments that marked Héctor Argiró to kick the whole board. And the two related to his childhood, when he left Tucumán to settle with his parents in Munro. “It was in 1984. I was eight years old when I first got into my uncle’s car. I was in the back seat. My aunt told him to speed up because we might miss a flight. The guy stepped on the gas and I felt the full power of the car; I crashed into the seat. At that moment I thought: ‘when I grow up, I want one like these’”. It was a white Torino TS coupe from 1975.
The other clue had to do with a tradition of many boys who are at least 40 years old today. Those were times when the Rally of the Argentine Republic had its symbolic start in front of the building of the Automobile Club Argentino (ACA), on Libertador Avenue in the Capital, and from there it departed on a long stretch of link to Córdoba. Thousands of people crowded the Panamericana to see the cars go by.
-Dad, how far does the Panamericana go?
That brief dialogue impregnated him with the idea of one day going to the extreme north of the continent. The stage was served.
Twenty years passed from those episodes until Balboa crossed his life. He bought it in 2006: a 1969 Torino 380 coupestill in the first generation, which was an evolution of the Rambler that was also manufactured by Industrias Kaiser Argentina (IKA). Four-bank, six-cylinder, 3.8-liter Tornado engine, overhead camshaft, and (heavy) power steering, among other features. White, like uncle’s.
“I bought it at Villa Tesei -he tells Clarion-. Since I was 15 years old I looked at ads about models from Torino but more out of desire, because I didn’t have the money. I had chosen Balboa by looking at ads on a car buying and selling site and he didn’t have a photo of that one. Why I did it, I don’t know. It was just what he was looking for: a 380 with headlights built into the bodywork. I went with a friend. I checked that the trunk and the board were whole and I didn’t need to see more. It had a spoiler, sports wheels, the lights were not original. I didn’t care at all: I knew I was going to restore it.”
Argiró has an inventory of history with dates. The process of valuing the car took three years. He finished it in 2009. “In February 2014 I clicked and set a date for the release,” he said. The day chosen was November 24, 2016, half a century after the start of production of the Torino.
In 2015 he became a boyfriend, but on one condition: “I’m leaving in a year,” he asked the girl. The relationship flowed, they arrived at the day of departure still together. At work – he is a cartographer – he had given a month’s notice. Two days after quitting, he said goodbye to her partner. Y joined a caravan from Torino that was leaving for Córdoba to celebrate the anniversary. Gone are his house in Los Polvorines, his parents, sister, nephews and friends. His entire capital was 3 thousand dollars.
After the meeting in the Cordovan capital, he went down to Tierra del Fuego to formally start the journey. Balboa was not yet plotted like today, which shows off the name of the trip, El Mundo en Torino. He started in ushuaiatook Route 40 and, among other points, was in Santiago de Chile, Mendoza, La Quiaca, Ciudad del Este, Misiones, Corrientes and Entre Ríos. In this way, he said, he had already passed with Torino through all the Argentine provinces.
Then it continued through Rio de Janeiro, crossed the Mato Grosso to enter Bolivia and from there bordered the Andes Mountains through Peru, Ecuador and Colombia until it ended in Central America: Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Belize. they received it before entering Mexico.
Aníbal and Balboa advanced through the West coast of the United States and Canada to the final point of that stage, Prudhoe Bay, in Alaska, where the Panamericana starts. It was already 2020 and in Montreal he was surprised by the coronavirus pandemic. “There I made the decision to leave Torino in Toronto, stored in the house of people who received me, and I returned to Argentina.”
He was in the country until the restrictions were finally lifted. A) Yes, in November 2021 he was reunited with Balboa. He went down to Miami to avoid the harshness of the northern winter-“the cold and the salt that they throw in the streets hurt the Torino”-and when the weather was more benevolent, he headed north again along the east coast . New York and Philadelphia were the most emblematic points. In fact, Clarion found it in Brooklyn, before heading west again and emptying into Mexico. The country where he fulfilled his dream.
The meeting with Diego Maradona
When Héctor Argiró started the trip, Qatar was already working to set up the venue for the 2022 World Cup. “I had even imagined -he remembers- being in Qatar for the World Cup and having the chance to find it there. At that time he was still living in Dubai. And in addition to being close, he was not going to miss the World Cup. But everything changed”.
Indeed, fate put the path of Hector and Balboa in the same direction as Diego Maradona He was in Sinaloa, as a coach for Dorados de Culiacán. The man from Tucuman is a fan of Boca. Born in the late 1970s, he is part of a generation that experienced the soccer exploits of El Diez. Faced with that, having been face to face with the best player of all time was not another fact in the midst of this adventure.
“I went to the stadium, where they were training, without any certainty that I could see it. But Torino was a caller. Diego’s assistant, also Argentine, saw us and was interested. ‘He came from Argentina to see you,’ he warned her. At that moment, he walked towards us slowly, limping because he was dragging the problem in his knee, and for me it was like seeing Moses while the waters of the Red Sea parted for him. I hugged him, and luckily some friends brought cameras because I was in a trance. It was a dream within a dream”.
Precisely that last sentence is the title of the post that Argiró made on his social networks to give testimony of the meeting. “I cried a little before I saw it”confessed. As he also did on November 25, 2020, the day Diego became a myth. “He signed a flag for me that an ex-combatant made for me. And he signed it on my chest”, he points out.
How the journey of Hector and Balboa continues
Those 3,000 dollars with which he left in 2016 are already part of history. But the trip is self-sustaining. By various edges. As is often the case on this type of journey, travelers have the solidarity of locals who give them food and shelter. They even provide repairs to the car, which are already necessary in the face of such wear and tear and because, on the road, it is difficult not to suffer setbacks.
There were also nights, the least, in which he slept in the Torino. The financing of the trip has different aspects. The donations made to him, for which he promotes his accounts on his website and on his social networks, and the sale of merchandising. On certain occasions he had to do it himself in a city square to have the money to eat and refuel the car. He also takes advantage of car fan meetings to go with Balboa and tell about his experience. But there is another way…
“I was able to find an activity for my dad, who is retired, and he helps me. He is the one who goes to events in Argentina to sell t-shirts, hats and other items that we have on the trip. And he sends me the money. He is retired, that’s how he stays busy and allows him to help me.” The prints on the clothing were designed by a friend. Everything in El Mundo en Torino is managed like this, as if it were a small SME.
Their social networks are the travel log. She there tells about everything that happens to her, the bad -problems with the car, some mistake and minor incidents- and the good, which generally goes through the local hospitality and the places she was able to visit. The narration of his experiences, the photos and the videos – which he mostly edits himself – are also his way of promoting himself. That is why it is a journey through the time without end. He does not have planned a return to the country, but “go around the world”.
-And if Balboa breaks, he says enough?
I fix it and move on.