Notes on Touring in (Part of) Europe
(by guest blogger, David Divall)
For the brave is the centre of Brussels, tunnels that run for miles beneath the city, fun but often crowded. The old city is great, pavement cafes etc. I am told that car clubs gather in one of the market squares, the fish market, but have never seen this.
Leading to Brussels is the E40 past Aalter, a famous dead straight dual carriage way used for many films and car company speed tests (including E-type and F-type). Sadly for us, it is splattered in speed cameras.
Here there is a great “oldtimer” car club. We have attended Sunday meets and have always been made welcome. The locals are keen to look at UK cars.
Twice a year Hotel Grundlers books the hotel for old and classic cars. Over the weekend the town shuts down and they run a hill climb to the top of one of the mountains. The drive is not as scary as the Stelvio Pass but it is a buzz. The route is up to the small village and lake at Zauchensee.
The Alte Post is a proper hotel, open all year and caters mainly for the skiing and walking types. What is great is that in the basement car park is the owner’s private collection of cars and bikes. The collection was started by the current owner’s father. There are so many cars and bikes that they do not know how many there are! Everything from Rolls Royce to gull wing Merc’s.
Grossglockner High Alpine Road
Often used by the street rally boys, it is currently owned by a British chap and is only open in the “dry” summer months. For a car it’s about £30.00 to drive it. Very scary but often congested.
Car and Bike Museum, Gurgl
Top Mountain Museum is the biggest car and bike museum in Austria. Great exhibits and as always with Austria, spotless and well run.
Despite a disastrous fire in early 2021, their website says re-opening on 18th Nov 2021 with an expanded collection!
Hotel Votters Museum, Kaprun
Again another private museum/collection. Open to all for a small fee. Built in the basement of the hotel (see here).
This is a bit left of centre, but there is a strong car culture right across the valley. Many UK car clubs have members in the area. Night time car cruising (kiddy car culture) to full on race spec and classic cars. Pick a town and check out the car clubs and facilities.
The obvious attraction is driving or simply standing track side looking at the top end cars being tested, but there is far more to offer. The on-site museum is great, full of race cars and prototypes. Also, have a look at Camp for Fun. It is not what you are expecting. This is full-on off-road in a disused quarry. Awesome. We (my daughter and I) parked a Vitara in the deep pond and had to be rescued by the local army. Nearby is a café called Hohe Acht. They always welcome car clubs, etc. To stay in the area one hotel with a great atmosphere and secure parking is the Blaue Ecke, it will be booked well in advance if there is an event on.
This is one of two museums run by the same team. Amazing. Although the Sinsheim is listed as an aerospace based facility, it has five large halls, one of which has Concorde and Concordsky on display on the roof. There is a cinema showing transport based media all day. We spent a full day and walked about 60% of the sight. Rarity value, Hitler’s Mercedes and the only smashed Porsche 356 in the world.
Porsche Museum, Stuttgart
An obvious pick, linked to the main factory. Great place to spend a few hours. Good but, it is a copy of the three pointed star on the other side of town…
Mercedes Benz Museum Stuttgart
Being brutal, this museum much better than the Porsche Museum. As you enter, you go up an escalator and from the top walk down a continuous spiral which is a timeline. A great piece of history, not just the cars.
Porsche Automusum Gmund
One for the purists. Ferdinand Porsche continued working for ‘the party’ during the war, designing tanks, etc. before moving on to the Beetle. As an obvious target, he was moved to a small farm where he then worked. The farm is now the museum. The owner, Helmut, loves to tell the stories and show the exhibits. Porsche swap cars with the museum to refresh what is on display.
Again left of centre, but worth a visit. The Harz region is low rolling hills, awesome driving roads and not too many speed cameras. Most pubs, hotels welcome cars and bikes alone or in a group.
Think of Halfords x 100 and start again. DW is a tuning firm that supplies across Europe. The headquarters in Bochum in the Ruhr Valley, is like the biggest automotive playground that you can imagine. As you walk in past the burger bar, you enter a glass tunnel with a Porsche on one side and a Ferrari F40 on the other. Cool. New is the Californian beach bar outside. They love car clubs and mass visits. D&W Store Bochum (duw-shop.de)
Harzer biker schmider
This is totally off-the-wall, but worth a few hours looking and wondering. It is like backwards hillbilly meets Tokyo drift. East German mend and make do to keep it going at its best. Numerous examples of kerb side repairs including a Suzuki GXR made into a farm pick up truck! Also OCC themed choppers, etc. Upstairs in the main house is mainly racing themed, stunning exhibits. Strike up a conversation with the owner and you may be allowed up to the attic. This is the private club area. House rules, no cameras in the attic but stunning custom bikes. Nearly forgot, they have a panzer tank engine V8 diesel that is fitted into a bike. You have to ask, how and why.
We always love it when Petrolheads Welcome members get in touch, especially when taking the trouble to write a piece for us like this one. Well done and thank you, David!