After a very successful meet at (and on) the Spa and Nurburgring tracks last March, featuring about 18 people, we decided June 2017 would be a great moment to do another meet weekend. In the Austrian/Italian/Swiss Alps this time. People of 6 different nationalities showed up. Here’s what happened.
After a number of posts on oppositelock we decided on a route and a date. It had to be somewhat limited in days and with Munich airport close by the start/end flying in was feasible. We decided on 23-25 June and initially decided to drive this roughly 1000 km route in 3 days:
Friday the 23th some of us started at the Hahntenjoch (Hahnten mountain pass) in Austria, northwest of the start on the map above. Most didn’t though, due to time constraints we skipped the first hour and went straight to the Austrian town of Imst, on a parking lot next to a super market and a fast food place. This was our ‘official’ starting point.
The trip started well. It didn’t take long before our brakes were put to the test. A cow decided to cross the road, right when we were about to pass. It wouldn’t be the last cows we encountered on our trip.
After about an hour and a half we arrived at a town named Mieders, where we used the lift to go up the mountain. We took an alternative way to go back to our cars though. Because of the very strict no-pictures (and no go-pro) policy there are no pictures we made, but internet can be a valuable source of media. The top of the lift had a restaurant, where we had a very Austrian lunch.
The video above shows how we went down the mountain. It was a lot of fun for the first half. We then encountered an obese babyboomer couple in front of us going incredibly slow, spoiling the fun for the rest of us. I did feel bad for the husband (who was behind his wife) though. For being married to something so scared/scary.
After lunch and the trip down the mountain we continued on to the Penserjoch in (the German speaking part of) Italy. On top of the Pensenserjoch the newly purchased 1990 Opel Senator (with its 3.0 24V straight six, which was the basis for the legendary Lotus Omega/Carlton) showed its first signs of not being able to deal with engine heat all that well. It decided to let some coolant escape from the reservoir. It was to be an omen for things to come...
Out of solidarity for the GM boat others decided to open their hood (or frunk) as well.
After adding some distilled water to the Senator we went on our way. We took a ‘short cut’ detour via the little mountain villages Oberinn and Kastelruth because google maps showed that the roads there looked interesting. And they were! Unlike the previous roads that had some tourists, these roads were empty. The roads were only driven by locals living in the mountain villages. And us.
The Google Maps insert above shows average roads through this part of the trip.
It was about 8 pm at this time so we decided to skip the Dolomite loop from our route and go straight to the hotel. But not before taking one last mountain pas; the Sellapas.
We arrived at the hotel in Campitello di Fasso somewhere between 9 and 10 pm. This meant it was time for pizza. And German beer.
The next morning started with a relaxed breakfast buffet in the hotel. Given our experience from the previous day we decided to cut the route for this day short. The Senator would also skip one of the more strenuous mountain passes due to its tendency to overheat and its sketchy brakes.
The trip between breakfast and lunch didn’t yield any pictures that I could find, it also was relatively boring with lots of slow tourists clogging up the streets. There were many R8s, 911s and other flashy cars driven by old men though.
Later in the day the roads became even more interesting.
We eventually drove up the Gavio pas in the direction of Stelvio. As this is a famous pas we encountered many cyclists. They seemed a bit suicidal to me, but what do I know?
While we were waiting for the rest of the pack we resorted to taking pictures.
The other finally caught up.
This location was a great location to take some pictures of the cars. Yes, the GLA was a rental. I’ve sat in all cars and if we ignore the broken seat in the Senator the seats in the brand new GLA were the worst imho. They seemed to be designed for the obese; the seats were bolstered, but the distance between the bolsters was so wide I slid from side to side while cornering. With the seat in the lowest position my hair would still hit the headliner. The car was clearly designed for shorter fatter people than me. But I digress.
Time for something to drink next to a wooden statue of a big alpine marmot.
Oddly enough I suddenly recognized an old friend who had just cycled up that mountain. Small world, I guess. He was doing a similar thing as what we were doing, but on a bicycle. One central hotel and cycling long loops each day. To each their own I guess.
And on we went.
At the hotel that evening the Senator had problems again. This time it was worse.
It turned out one of the radiator hoses had ruptured. Probably because the electric fan in front of the radiator wasn’t working so it rapidly overheated after the engine was switched off. As we didn’t have spare hoses and it was Saturday night in the middle of nowhere on top of a mountain in Italy we weren’t going to get this fixed. So the German ADAC was called, and a flatbed showed up during diner.
After diner a few of us went up the Stelvio when it was getting dark. No cyclists in the dark, that was nice. We did pass a Citroën 2CV going downhill though. The roads themselves weren’t as fun as what we’d become used to. Too many slow hairpins.
Day three started with horrible weather. Lots of rain. Quite the opposite to the excellent weather we enjoyed the days before. After breakfast we said goodbye to mister mk1 MR2 driving 505 -morphine not found. He had to go back to Hungary, so he created his own route that allowed him scenic and spirited drives while allowing himself to be at work the next day.
He shot the following video. It’s in Hungarian.
The rest of us went towards the Swiss border. A few hundred meters from our hotel (way up the mountains) the tax-free zone surrounding Livigno in Italy started. This is where we found the Senator still on the flatbed and, from our perspective, amazingly cheap gasoline. Gasoline in Germany is about €1.30 a liter, in Italy it was about €1.50-1.60, but here it was €0.98 a liter. An utter bargain. Yet, when you calculate that the pre-tax price in the taxed areas is around €0.50 a liter, you can imagine the Italians in the tax free zone are making a huge profit.
After not finding anyone at the tow shop that had the Senator and leaving a note reading ‘please don’t fix it’ (as in: have it towed to Germany free of charge, so we don’t have to come back for the fixed car) we left for the Berninapas in Switzerland.
For Lunch we stopped at a little mountain village. The village was cute, the pizzas were decent and the lunch bill was draconian. Welcome to Switzerland. Pizzas were about 3 times as expensive as in Italy.
Our restaurant had odd ash trays at the toilets. Finding an ashtray at a toilet is something I can’t remember ever finding to begin with (I was born in the 80s...), but these had a design I hadn’t come across just yet. Every toilet had one. They were clever though, and perfectly suited for up to 6 smokers pissing in the same toilet at the same time. I can’t image what those Swiss did some decades ago, but I bet it was interesting. The whole area was rather vintage, the door posts were about as high as my nose.
At a parking lot on the Albulapas the rental Mercedes momvan was taken offroad slightly. The Scandinavians in the camper van that parked next to it found it amusing, so mission accomplished I guess. It’s a crossover, so it’s designed for offroad use, right?
Soon after the Megane left us. Back to France it went. We went on, to the Swiss/Austrian border town of Martina GR. The mk3 MR2 continued with its Alps trip, the rental Mercedes went to the Munich airport (including Senator owner) and the BRZ went to the south of Munich.
The route we actually drove in the end. The original route was (probably) great, but too long to actually do in 3 days including the trip from/to home/Munich to and from the start/end. 4 days would’ve been more appropriate, maybe 5.
I guess it’s safe to say this trip was a success. It, together with the one at Spa and the Nürburgring this March, will hopefully be the start of a series. I would like to ask those that participated what they thought went well and what needs improvement. I’d also like to ask others to contribute ideas.
All pictures either by me or 505 -morphine not found