Sharing a bed for a night with your brother in law, on valentines day and the week thereafter. Driving on the German Autobahn at otherwise highly illegal speeds, with no muffler. Lacking time to sightsee all these beautiful places because there’s another mountain pass to conquer. The Carbagerun requires sacrifices.

Update: links to all the other chapters added below.

The Carbagerun is a rally through Europe for street legal €500, 1998 or older bangers. Every year there’s a winter edition, a summer edition and a moped edition. I participated in the 2016 winter edition. Start: February 15th, the Netherlands. Finish: February the 19th, Andorra. After entering Switzerland highways were mostly avoided. We took about 1400 pictures, most from a moving car, most not that nice.

Not the actual route as we mostly took B roads, but the stops I made are all included. The dots in Belgium and near Luxembourg are there to guide Google Maps into the right direction.

I described the preparations we made for participating in this rally on Oppositelock before. Short summery: I bought a ‘97 Mitsubishi Galant wagon for €500 in December 2015. It’s a slushbox and NA 4g63 engine equipped rational choice, but one I haven’t really regretted. Much. More on that later.


Day zero: February 14th. Destination: Gorinchem, the Netherlands.

Way day zero? Well, my brother in law had been using the Galant as his daily driver because his crappy Hyundai decided to, well, crap out. He also lives about 6 hours from me, we had to be present before 8 am and I needed to take a 3 hour train ride to reach the starting location. So we booked a hotel. It being February 14th and being somewhat paranoid I informed the hotel this was a business trip with a colleague. Everything to avoid rose pedals on the bed.

Day one: February 15th. Destination: Basel, Switzerland

At shortly before 8 am. we arrived at the huge parking lot turned starting location. Even though the Carbagerun winter edition is dwarfed by the summer edition, I was amazed by the amount of cars. 281 participating cars.


This Panorama shows only a small subsection of the available cars. Most cars were parked on the left, behind the building on this L shaped lot.
This vintage ‘Camel Trophy’ Opel Ascona probably didn’t really meet the €500 rule, but it did somehow win the originality price. Yes, the stuffed Camel stayed on the roof during the whole trip.
Our Galant, with some of the required safety items on the hood, ready for inspection. Note the horrific fuzzy dice. 9:33


Lots of American cars participated. There were more American cars on the lot than I tend to see in a year. Oddball cars you never see in real life. Probably lots of car for very little money.
Lots and lots of Volvos.


VW/GMC A-team campervan, joined by some guys in questionable A-team outfits doing a weird dance.
This most certainly didn’t meet the €500 rule. However, after checking the plates it’s registered as a relatively mundane Peugeot 205 XS.
Citroën Xantia. Had it not been sold the day before I went to see it I would’ve bought a Xantia Turbo C.T. wagon instead of the Mitsubishi.


Jaguars, Jaguars everywhere. Some people are braver than I am.

Lots more pictures where those came from, but there’s a story to tell. So off we went. We had a trip consisting of mostly highway ahead of us. Destination: Basel, Switzerland. A route through Belgium and France.

We also had two assignments to do that day, both of which seemed to have been thought out during a drunk night. It turned out the assignment wouldn’t get better during the trip. Interview someone on camera previously interviewed by an infamous Belgian interviewer (Jambers), and photograph yourself in specific female Belgian superhero outfit (including boots and everything) that was targeted at 6 year old kids (Mega Mindy). We called a carnival shop to ask if they had an outfit. The shop owner tried to lynch me right through the telephone, as I was supposedly the 80th caller with the exact same question that day.


Mega Mindy. An idol for 6 year old Belgian girls.

After about 100 km disaster struck. Well, a stroke of bad luck. Despite our best preperations the famously crappy Belgian roads took their toll. Our muffler decided it needed a divorce from the rest of the exhaust. Loudness galore. Note that the muffler was still air tight after Christmas, as a leaky exhaust would have failed the mandated inspection it had then. The muffler did still seem to be mounted solidly to the car, so we continued on. To a DIY garage in Heidelberg Germany my BIL knew about, as he lives in that city. We wanted to make sure we could continue our journey safely, and wanted to know if the damage could be fixed



The red arrow indicates where the muffler rusted through. Sadly there’s no better picture available

It turned out where was nothing we could do to fix it without a spare muffler. It was late in the afternoon, so there was nothing to do. Luckily the muffler was still mounted solidly, so there was no risk of launching a muffler on a tailgater. We left, heading for Switzerland.

Besides the noise there was another downside. Due to whatever reason related to the two muffler parts being in a certain position from the other the Galant lacked all power in the 3000-3500 RPM range. Below 2700 RPM and above 4000 RPM it was fine, but at that cruising sweet spot of 3000 RPM it was dead. And extra loud. Did I mention I managed to buy a Galant with an automatic transmission? Ugh.


These exhaust problems resulted in a significant loss of time. We decided to skip the scenic route trough France and go straight to the finish in Basel Switzerland our money-saving hotel in Lörrach Germany, 15 minutes from the finish location in pricey Switzerland.

Day one was a bit of a letdown. Mostly higher speed (~170 kmh) Autobahn cruising. Something I do frequently already. Boring, but inevitable here.

Day two: February 16th.

After breakfast we went to the starting location to fetch the route and assignments. There were told there were two routes we could take, and we should take the short 8 hour one as we were supposedly ‘late’ (9:30 am?) so the long 10 hour route would be too long for the day. In hindsight we would’ve picked differently, but that’s hindsight. So we took the short route. Before we knew it we were driving through the Alps. From Basel via Breitenbach to Balsthal.


Progress was halted quickly. A maintenance crew was blocking the road, causing a traffic jam consisting of mostly carbagerun participants.
15 minutes after the jam cleared we found this lot with a view. The first of many during this trip. 12:00

The mountainous drive didn’t take too long, probably about an hour excluding the stop and traffic jam. We soon found ourselves on the highway.



Luckily our highway stint didn’t take too long. Way past Bern, at Bulle, we got off the highway. B roads, that’s what it’s all about! From Chateaux-d’Oex to Aigle. From Aigle to the big Saint Bernard tunnel, but with a slight detour over the pass through Champex-Lac.

Dacia Duster with Swiss plates, Unimog snow clearer on snow chains, Subaru Impreza wagon carbagerun contestant, mountains. 14:16


Snow! 14:25
Fresh-ish snow on the road. The only time we actually had somewhat slippery roads. 15:58


Pass nearby Champex-Lac. 16:12

Right before the Saint Bernard tunnel, which we were supposed to take, we also spotted a sign for a Saint Bernard pass. Interesting. So we followed the sign.


This is what it would’ve looked like:

This is what we actually saw. Notice that it’s the exact same mountain.

Saint Bernard pass entry. 17:02


No entry. The roads had not been cleaned. Too bad. Tunnel it is then.

Tunnel entry between the Saint Bernard pass and Saint Bernard tunnel on the Swiss side of the border. Picture time stamp: 17:04

In the tunnel we crossed the border. I cross national borders at least once a month, usually more often. This was the first time in a decade that I had to stop for a border. Switzerland not being part of the EU might be a reason. The hideous fuzzy dice on the rear view mirror? Or was it the loud exhaust? I didn’t take long though, with us being the neatly shaven formally dressed exemplary citizens we are.


And suddenly: Italy. First observation: this isn’t as clean as Switzerland.

One of the first pictures we took in Italy that day. Picture time stamp: 17:27

We were on the highway shortly after. The planned route for the day was over, our navigation would guide us to our hotel. Even from the highway this part of Italy does offer rather nice views. With lots of small castles on hilltops.


Is that a carbagerun Chrysler Vision in front of us? Why yes, yes it is. 18:08

Our hotel was Hotel Galant. When I saw that name I knew I just had to book it. Our car didn’t result in a discount, sadly. Looking back I should’ve asked if they wanted to sponsor us.


The three star Hotel Galant was actually a rather nice hotel, considering the cost. €62 for a roomy double room including breakfast buffet and parking. Not bad.

Being an Italian hotel it did have its quirks.

The hairdryer was both Elite and Basic. I’m sure this contradiction never occurred to the manufacturer.


After having installed ourselves in the hotel we headed to the finish location. We skipped the assignments as they were unrealistic or too time consuming (trunk full of snow... we had a wagon; photograph a teammate driving a Lamborghini tractor; photograph a teammember close to a row of actual (full size) Fiat 500s arranged like the Italian flag, with the right colors in the right order).

The finish location was in a biker bar. La Sacra Birra Saloon. Translated as the holy beer saloon, I bet. There was a live cover band, cheap food and obscenely expensive drinks. The place was packed with Dutchmen. We stayed for food and left shortly after. Not really our crowd.

(picture time stamps as provided by the camera. I’m unsure about the accuracy. It was probably still featuring summer time, so it’ll be 1 hour off)