stuttgart


Competing in the legendary MM is the dream of many classic motorsport fans, but getting an entry is very difficult indeed. To enter you need a car of a type that actually ran in the MM in period – preferably a car that actually competed in the race. As the idea of speeding through some of the most beautiful places in Italy in the footsteps of the likes of Moss and Fangio is so appealing, cars that might get you an entry attract a premium. So, for example, a works MGA with MM provenance will set you back over half a million pounds, five times its value without the MM provenance. And don’t think you will get an entry with a non works MGA – you won’t, the event is just too oversubscribed and preference is given to cars that actually took part in the race in period or which have an interesting history. Moving up market and buying a Jaguar XK120,  Aston DB or even Mercedes SL Gullwing won’t help you much either for the same reasons. In fact, as the MM is sponsored by Mercedes and (UK purveyor of Jag XK’s with provenance) JD Classics, trying to get an entry in a Merc or Jag is even harder as most available slots for those marques are taken by the sponsors.

The upshot is that the modern MM, a very competitive regularity rally rather than a race, has increasingly become the preserve of very rich individuals from all round the world who are able to buy genuine MM cars with the crucial provenance to guarantee a MM entry. Many of those cars, the Ferraris and Maseratis et al, are worth well in excess of £5m.  But they do make the old works MGAs seem like remarkably good value!

I had never thought that I would be able to take part in the MM as I did not think I could afford it. Yes the entry fee (7000 euros) is steep but that does cover some excellent organisation, good hotels, a variety of receptions and – crucially – a rather nice limited edition Chopard watch. Indeed the watch alone is worth nearly as much as the entry fee. So you could say that the entry fee for the MM is actually pretty reasonable. The real problem is the cost of buying a car that could guarantee an entry.

I knew my ex Gregor Grant Autosport Magazine MG YB saloon (UMG 662) had led an eventful life between 1952 and 1954. As well as being the office hack it was rallied on the Monte (see other posts) in 1954 and the Scottish Rally in 1953 and it was raced at Silverstone in 1953. I knew it had also been a press car on the Monte in 1953 and at Le Mans, Goodwood and elsewhere. I knew it had not competed in the MM but some diligent research pointed to it having been a press car on the MM in 1953 when Autosport journalist Anthony Hume covered that year’s race from Brescia and Rome.  I checked the regulations and found to my surprise that the organisers had a “special list” for interesting cars of a type that could have raced in the MM in period but did not. I thought it was worth applying for a place in that category and stuck a speculative entry in.  I was under no illusions that getting a place on the list would be tough as it was restricted to only 27 cars (out of a total of over 450) and I did not think my little old saloon would be interesting enough to the organisers. As such I was very surprised when in March I was told that my car had secured a place.

As UMG 662 had just successfully completed the Monte Carlo Classique Rally without problems I did not need to do much to the car to get it ready. Given that summer in Italy promised to be a lot warmer than the Alps in January, I fitted a Kenlowe fan to help with cooling. The regulations also specified an accurate trip meter so a retro Brantz was fitted. Then all I needed was a co driver! Luckily Brian Mackrill, an old friend and fellow MG enthusiast from Australia, was keen to join me.

The car was shipped to Brescia on a transport with a number of other British competitors and we flew out in early May to meet the car.

mm2

All shiny at scrutineering in Brescia, Healey Drone on left.

mm7

This Works MGA competed in the original Mille Miglia in 1957. Now in Fitzwilliam Team colours it is a regular participant on the retrospective MM.

mm20

The day before the start all participants parade through Brescia to the Plazza della Vittoria for the sealing ceremony. A lead seal is attached to the steering column of each car to show it has been scrutineered and is ready to go.

tutti_moto-251

On the start ramp in Brescia. After the glorious sun of the previous few days the heavens opened and it rained for the first two days of the rally – sometimes very heavily.

tutti_moto-359

The route of the MM this year took competitors from Brescia to Rimini on the Adriatic coast for the first afternoon and evening of the rally. This is Sirmione in the torrential rain.

tutti_moto-255

Following a late night arrival in Rimini there was an early start the following day. The first main check point was in the centre of the Republic of San Marino. The weather was little better on the second day of the rally.

dsc_4293

By the time the cars made it to Civitanova Marche in the late afternoon of the second day the weather had started to clear. Note battle scar on nearside front – reversed into by a vintage ambulance!

8r0_0515

At the end of the second day on the ramp in Rome. A police escort took us round the sights of the Eternal City late at night at high speed with blue lights flashing!

mm28

Early morning check point in Ronciglione

img_1650

The MM route took us through the centre (often pedestrianised) of many ancient towns and villages. This is Viterbo late in the morning on the third day of the rally.

mm31

August British company! The D Type Jaguar is the real deal. Nice Aston Martin DB2/4 behind. This is the lunch stop near Buonconvento on the third day.

mm36

Priceless 1939 BMW 328 Mille Miglia. This car won the race in 1940 (whilst much of the rest of Europe was in flames..). In 2016 it was factory supported and was crewed by the boss of BMW UK – nice perk of the job!

mm37

1957 Porsche 550 Spyder. Usually resident in the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart it was crewed this year by legendary Belgian racer Jacky Ickx. Every morning he would pass us with his entourage of Cayenne support vehicles at about 11. We would pass him pulled over at some nice cafe for lunch at 1230 and he would re pass us at 3pm (we sadly had no time to stop). He was usually through with dinner and in bed long before we made it to the final check point each day. But not on the last day.. The Porsche broke down an hour outside Brescia and I can now say I have beaten a multiple Le Mans winner in a motoring event!

_fab2368

Motoring through beautiful Tuscany

244

Old loyalties don’t fade – San Quirico D’Orcia

img_0795

Check point in the historic centre of Sienna

mm41

The biggest challenge on the third day was climbing both the Futa and (1000m) Raticosa Passes – at the hottest time of day and in the Summer. Despite the heat (over 30 degrees centigrade) we got to the top with no difficulty but we were grateful for the new Kenlowe fan!

mm42

The only problem we encountered was a recurring blown fuse that knocked out the temperature gauge (!) and, more seriously, the brake lights. Here Brian utilises our last fuse.

img_4777

An evening check point at the great Ferrari family works in Modena. A shame we had no time to look around the superb new museum.

mm44

A priceless trio! Early morning on the last day, just before the start in Parma. The short nose D Type Jaguar again, a Ferrari 250 MM Berlinetta and a pretty little OSCA MT4 roadster

img_1656

No embarrassment to be passed by such a beauty – 1954 Maserati A6 GTS/53 Fantuzzi

img_2641

In the tyre tracks of the greats – on the old banking at Monza for one of the tests.

_mcb2062

Trying harder on the road course at Monza, on the rumble strip. Don’t like my line!

mm57

At the finish in sunny Brescia. Special list cars have no handicap and as such we had no chance of winning. As it was we came a creditable 271st out of 456 cars, 12th of the 27 cars in the Special List and 5th out of the 10 MGs!

Advertisements

Some interesting new iron (aluminium, carbon fibre …) at the FoS this year. Highlights below.

20140629-093547-34547143.jpg

The new Ford Mustang – finally available in right hand drive. Aggressive retro styling looks good – shame about the awful colour

 

20140629-093544-34544116.jpg

More “motor show” colours on the McLaren stand. Am I the only one who prefers the simple look of the MP4-12c nose to that on the new 650S nose? Must be as apparently there was so little continuing demand for the old car once the 650S was launched that they have now stopped making it.

20140629-093545-34545657.jpg

The Jaguar F Type Project 7 is an important car for Jaguar. Based on the slightly more extreme concept shown at last year’s FoS , the Project 7 is actually a production car – indeed the fastest production Jaguar ever. Its V8 is tuned up to 575 bhp – 25 more than the R Coupe. It also has bespoke aero, and trick suspension and diff with standard carbon ceramic brakes. The screen has a greater rake than the standard convertible and it has an D Type imitating faring behind the drivers role hoop. Inside it looks fairly standard and weather protection consists of a rather impractical clip on hood like the recent Boxster speedster. Its a striking car and they hope to sell 250, and only 60 in right hand drive. But what’s it for? Too comfortable and therefore heavy for a racer (and the rollover protection looks too scant) yet too uncomfortable for every day use. Is it therefore just for collectors and occasional track days?

20140629-093546-34546818.jpg

This stunning Jaguar SUV concept is far more likely to make JLR lots of money. Aimed at rivalling the Audi Q4, BMW X3 and especially the Porsche Macan it should perform well and in a different segment to current Land Rover products. I would certainly buy one. The bad news is that we are unlikely to see one for sale until 2018, with a hot version not to follow until 2019.

20140629-093547-34547566.jpg

VW ran their diminutive XL electric car up the hill. It looks like the future for urban transport but is very very small and very very expensive.

 

20140629-093544-34544825.jpg

The new Renault Twingo Sport looks like great fun. Based on the same platform as the new Smart 4-2 it has a rear mounted 1L turbocharged engine. Hot versions later this year should have 140 bhp making the car a mini 911!

There is always a fine selection of Le Mans sports cars at Goodwood ranging from those from the earliest days of racing to the very latest winning machines.

20140629-094853-35333085.jpg

Andy Wallace is reunited with his 1988 Le mans winning Jaguar XJR – 9

20140629-094850-35330440.jpg

This year’s Le man winning Audi e-Tron. Havings stumbled in the early rounds of this year’s World Sports Car championship they managed to win the race that really mattered. Sound familiar Peugeot?

20140629-094852-35332669.jpg

1970 Ferrari 512, just like in the film Le Mans..

20140629-094850-35330856.jpg

Mercedes high speed transporter carrying the fabulous Uhlenhaut Coupe (see previous posts from Stuttgart)

 

20140629-094850-35330033.jpg

This year’s Le Mans Toyota hybrid

20140629-094851-35331306.jpg

Gorgeous Jaguar D Type Le Mans winners – 55, 56, 57. This Ecurie Ecosse car won in 1957 and provided the design inspiration for the Project 7 Jaguar

20140629-094853-35333708.jpg

Vast V12 Sunbeam racer from 1920 and even bigger 1911 Fiat

Due to restrictions on testing (!) there were no contemporary Formula One cars tackling the hill at Goodwood this year. That did not stop some of the teams bringing cars for static display or bringing cars from previous seasons for their drivers and test drivers to run up the hill. Even then runs were restricted to demonstration performances with plenty of doughnuts and burnouts and very little speed. We had to look to the historic guys for real pace.

20140629-100008-36008323.jpg

Jenson Button in the McLaren MP4-26 he drove in 2012.

20140629-100008-36008646.jpg

Max Smith Hilliard in his 1972 Surtees TS9B. Seconds later he stuffed it into the bales at Molecombe corner. He was unhurt and at least he was trying!

20140629-100008-36008482.jpg

Legendary Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi driving the McLaren M23 with which he won McLaren’s first world title in 1974.

One of the best things about the Festival of speed is the close access to the drivers available for fans.

20140629-100412-36252976.jpg

British GP winner Johhny Herbert sharing a laugh at the Williams pit

20140629-100414-36254139.jpg

John Surtees was celebrating the 50th anniversary of his world championship with a class of cars and bikes associated with his career in action on the hill all weekend.

20140629-100413-36253643.jpg

An immaculately turned out Paddy Hopkirk reunited with his Monte winning Mini Cooper

20140629-100413-36253316.jpg

Twelve time World Motor Bike Trials champion Dougie Lampkin in action

20140629-100412-36252813.jpg

Felipe Massa reflecting on his good fortune to no longer be at Ferrari

20140629-100413-36253966.jpg

I had a good chat with Andy Wallace about Le Mans in 1988. The XJR made 250 mph down the pre chicane Mulsanne Straight. At night he could see so little as the lights were mounted so low that he had to pick out his braking points by calculating distances from land marks as they flashed by. To this day the XJR is the fastest car to have driven at Le mans. Andy has no desire to ever drive that fast again – he said it was something you could only do when young, fearless and lacking in imagination.

After my enjoyable trip to Retroclassics Stuttgart last spring, this year I thought I would visit the mother of all German (and indeed European) shows, Technoclassica. Cheap airfares courtesy of Easyjet made a day trip viable but the show is so huge (probably three times as big as the NEC Classic Car Show) that you really need two days to do it justice. Here are some highlights of the fantastic cars on show.

20140413-180759.jpg

Mercedes Benz celebrated 120 years of motor sport with an amazing display of competition machinery from the earliest 19th century race cars to Hamilton’s car from last year. Many of the cars are not on show at MB’s excellent Stuttgart museum and the display as a whole would have required half a day to do it justice.

20140413-180819.jpg

Mercedes Grand Prix Racing Car – The car that broke French hearts at the French GP in July 1914 in a rivalry that was to find its true intensity a month later when the world descended into the Great War

20140413-180843.jpg

This is the Team Johnson Rally Wax Mecedes Benz 280E driven by the British crew of Fowkes and O’Gorman that finished second (behind another 280E) in the 1977 London to Sydney Rally. I saw this car depart London as a 8 year old, there to cheer on the Lotus Cortina of my Uncle. He sadly only made it to Iran in what is still considered the toughest and longest rally ever held.

20140413-180910.jpg

Vast 1996 Paris – Dakar Unimog service truck

20140413-180932.jpg

DTM Touring cars as far as the eye can see

20140413-181002.jpg

Sports racers headed by gorgeous 1955 300 SLR

20140413-181041.jpg

An unusual Brit – 1958 Frisky Sport. 16HP and 0 to 60 in 35 seconds..

20140413-181109.jpg

There are always plenty of Pagoda Merc’s at German shows but few in this condition…

20140413-181133.jpg

Hmm, may need a bit of work..

20140413-181024.jpg

Or maybe sir would like a Gullwing ? This dealer had four..

Across town from the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart is another striking modern building dedicated to motoring history. The Mercedes-Benz Museum is, like its owner, on a different scale to its Porsche rival.  Entering through the ground floor you are required to take a lift to the top of the hollow concrete drum that houses the Museum and work your way down to the bottom on a long spiral ramp.  A sort of motoring version of the Guggenheim Museum in New York!

MBM 1

Mercedes Benz Museum, Stuttgart

The Museum starts by looking closely at the work of the company’s founder and the inventor of the high-speed petrol engine, Gottleib Daimler.  Daimler was a pioneer of the internal combustion engine and with his business partner, Wilhelm Maybach, founded Daimler in 1890. The company merged with Karl Benz’s eponymous company in 1926 to form Daimler Benz.

MMoriginalbenz

Daimler Motorised Carriage, 1886. This is the world’s first four wheeled motor vehicle and was powered by the “grandfather clock” engine.

The Museum holds an example of the first petrol engine that Daimler and Maybach produced in 1885, a 264cc single cylinder air-cooled engine, nicknamed (because of its appearance) “the grandfather clock engine”.  Initially Daimler were more concerned with licensing the designs of their innovative engines than in building their own cars. In France Peugeot began installing Daimler designed engines in their early motor cars and in 1894 British industrialist Frederick Simms bought the UK  licence to the latest Daimler engine and the right to use the name Daimler. This led to the establishment of the British company, Daimler Motors, now a dormant brand owned by Jaguar Land Rover, but until recently responsible for producing luxurious cars much favoured by the British Royal Family.

Mercedes-Benz is now a division of the industrial behemoth that is Daimler AG.  The Mercedes part of the name stems from the name of the daughter of Austrian motor dealer, diplomat and racing driver, Emil Jellinek.  He had ordered and modified a racing Daimler in 1901 which he used to win many of the early French motor races.  He called the car Mercedes after his daughter and the name soon became associated with success.  So much so that Daimler changed the name of their cars to “Daimler Mercedes”. On the merger with Benz it was the Daimler part of the name that was dropped.  Mercedes-Benz motor cars have long been favoured by the wealthy and powerful. Hitler was very fond of them, obviously not seeing the irony of driving a car named in part after a young Jewish girl.

MBM3

Mercedes Simplex 1902. This is the oldest Mercedes in the existence and bears the name of Emil

Jellinek’s daughter, Mercedes.

The Museum covers all aspects of Mercedes-Benz, from buses and trucks to aero engines. There is a fine selection of solid but frankly dull road cars too. But what I was at the Museum to see was the fine examples of the company’s motor sport heritage.  Mercedes-Benz have been involved in motorsport on and off since the earliest days of the company. A Benz competed in the world’s first motor race, the 1894 Paris to Rouen road race.  The 1930’s brought the glory years of the Silver Arrows when great drivers such as Caracciola, backed by the industrial might of the Third Reich and Adolf Hitler himself,  dominated Grand Prix racing.  After the war Mercedes-Benz again returned to racing and again dominated Grand prix racing in a technical tour de force that saw Fangio win the world title twice in 1954 and 1955.

Fangio's MB W196 in which he won his third world title in 1955.

Fangio’s MB W196 in which he won his third world title in 1955. Behind is Caracciola’s 1938 MB W154 in which he won his third European title.

Fangio's MB W196 Streamliner, used at the high speed tracks such as Reims and Monza.

Fangio’s MB W196 Streamliner, used at high speed tracks such as Reims and Monza.

Stirling Moss was also a Mercedes-Benz works driver at the time and, with Motorsport’s legendary journalist Dennis Jenkinson, he won the Mille Miglia in 1955 in the fabulous MB 300 SLR.  Sadly the Le Mans disaster of the same year, when Leveagh’s 300SLR collided with Macklin’s Austin Healey 100 and somersaulted into the stands killing over 80 spectators,  led Mercedes-Benz to withdraw from motor sport.

MMmossslr

The Moss / Jenkinson 1955 Mille Miglia winning MB 300SLR. This car is probably worth in excess of £50m.

The 1955 MB 300SLR "Uhlenhaut Coupe". A hard top version of the Moss / Jenkinson car intended for use in 1956. It never raced after MB's withdrawal from racing in 1955 and instead became the company car of MB chief engineer Rudi Uhlenhaut!

The 1955 MB 300SLR “Uhlenhaut Coupe”. A hard top version of the Moss / Jenkinson car intended for use in 1956. It never raced after MB’s withdrawal from racing in 1955 and instead became the company car of MB chief engineer Rudi Uhlenhaut!

For many years thereafter Mercedes-Benz concentrated on road cars but they did support those who wanted to go rallying.  The Museum holds a particularly interesting car for me, the MB 280E that carried a British crew to victory in the London – Sydney Rally in 1977.  My uncle Adi competed in the same rally in a Lotus Cortina Mk2. I can remember as an eight year old standing in the cold early morning watching this very Mercedes Benz being flagged away from the start in the centre of London.

MB 280E, winner of the London - Sydney Rally 1977

MB 280E, winner of the London – Sydney Rally 1977

Mercedes Benz returned to mainstream racing in 1987 with an assault on Le Mans and German Touring Car racing.  Examples of their diverse racing machines are displayed in the Museum alongside the car from their 1930’s and 1950’s glory days.

MB Touring Car (DTM)

MB Touring Car (DTM)

In F1, Mercedes Benz also supplied engines to Sauber and until recently part owned McLaren.  They now own the old Brawn racing team who are looking strong this year already. Given Mercedes Benz’s past record in motor sport and their recent recruitment of Lauda and Hamilton (two men determined to be winners)  I have no doubt that the world title will, before long,  again return to the Silver Arrows.

The Mercedes Benz Museum is exceptional and well worth the visit to Stuttgart alone. One comes away in awe of the company’s technical achievements and with a firm belief that they have always thrived, and will no doubt continue to do so, by adhering to Gottlieb Daimler’s famous dictum “Das beste oder nichts” (“The best or nothing”).

The new Porsche Museum in Stuttgart is a striking modernist building situated opposite the factory and a very large Porsche dealership.

Porsche Museum

Porsche Museum

Entering at the ground level ticket office (where there is also the ubiquitous cafe and shop) you take a long escalator through the heart of the building to the Museum floors.  At the top of the escalator the first car that you see is the aluminium shell of the pre war prototype Beetle designed by Ferdinand Porsche. The future lines of the Porsche 356 and 911 are clearly apparent.

Porsche Museum

Porsche Museum

Prototype Beetle

Prototype Beetle

The Museum has a relatively small selection of cars on show but each is absolutely pristine and of great historical importance.  Near the prototype Beetle there is the first 356 Roadster and near that the first 911 coupe. The basic design architecture of the 911 has changed little since the first model.  That it still works so well is testament to the design genius of Porsche. At some point I would like a 911, preferably an air cooled model. A 911 S from the early 70’s on Fuchs alloys is about as pure a 911 as there is but sadly they are now beyond my reach financially. maybe I’ll get a T from the same period or maybe a 993 S. The latter would make a great everyday classic.

Porsche 356 Roadster No 1

Porsche 356 Roadster No 1

The first Porsche 911

The first Porsche 911

Among the racing machinery on display are a smart Porsche 904, the fantastic Porsche Salzburg Porsche 917 in which Richard Attwood won the rain soaked Le Mans 24hr in 1970,  and Alain Prost’s 1986 turbo charged McLaren TAG MP4 -2C . This is the car Prost used to snatch the world championship from Mansell (who had been leading him by 7 points) after the latter’s Williams suffered a 180mph tyre failure on the Brabham Straight at the Australian GP, the last race of the season.

Porsche 904 Coupe

Porsche 904 Coupe

Jo Siefet's Prsche 917

Richard Attwood’s 1970 Le Mans winning Porsche 917

Alain Prost's McLaren Porsche

Alain Prost’s 1986 Title winning McLaren MP4/2C TAG Porsche

It’s a great Museum but you can see it in less than two hours. Its definately worth a visit but you would not want to come to Stuttgart just for this museum. Luckily there is another bigger car company in Stuttgart with a much bigger and more interesting museum..

It’s unlikely that Stuttgart was an attractive city even before its drastic remodelling by the RAF and USAAF,  so finding myself in an airport hotel on the outskirts of town was not a major drawback.  In fact it was very convenient for my first stop in Stuttgart, the Retro Classics show at the smart new conference centre by the airport. One of the big German classic car shows,  it has suffered in the past from being held on the same weekend as Techno Classica Essen, the biggest of the lot. This year it was held on a different weekend and that no doubt helped to explain the thousands of neatly dressed enthusiasts who joined me at 9am outside the doors before opening.

The show was a cracker taking up seven large halls and featuring an exceptional collection of vehicles on show and on sale. An excellent autojumble occupied one hall, another was devoted to the Mercedes-Benz Club and another was themed on American cars.  One of the other halls featured smaller clubs, with everything from Tatra owners to the Rover Owners Club of Stuttgart. You have to be pretty keen on Longbridge’s finest to be in a Rover club in the City of Porsche and Mercedes Benz.  The MG Car Club of Germany had a nice selection of cars on display including a fine K3.

stutt show k3

MG K3

Many of the halls were given over to restoration businesses focussing particularly on Mercedes Pagodas and early Porsche 911’s.  Scores of those particular car were on display in various stages of restoration.  The finished products were truly stunning – better than new and with a better than new price tag. 100,000 Euros plus seemed to be the going rate for a restored Pagoda.

Lots of pristine Pagodas

Lots of pristine Pagodas

stutt show porsche

…and 911’s – this is a 911S

Stuttgart marks featured strongly amongst the cars dealers had brought to sell. In amongst the German iron there were some interesting alternatives. This smart 1958 Fiat Abarth Sestiere Coupe had patina (!) but was Mille Miglia eligible and was priced at 43,500 Euros.

Fiat Abarth Sisterie

Fiat Abarth Sestiere

Manufacturers were also present. Opel brought along their new Adam hatchback to show with a smart rallying Opel Kadett from the seventies. In fact it was the fortieth anniversary of the Kadett, a car that looks so much nicer than its Vauxhall sibling, the execrable Chevette.

Opel Kadett

Opel Kadett

Amongst the more unusual cars on display was a Messerschmitt KR bubble car driven by a propeller. Not quite a ME 109 – but a KR200!

Achtung! Messerschmitt!

Achtung! Messerschmitt!

The most attractive cars on display were the Horchs brought to the show by Audi Heritage. I had not realised that the now defunct mark was the predecessor of Audi. In fact Audi is Latin for “horch” which means “hear” in English. The 1937 Horch Sportcabriolet stood out in particular with a level of opulence equivalent to any contemporary Mercedes Benz.

stut show 1

1937 Horch Sportcabriolet

All in all a fantastic show. If you have an understanding partner, combine it with a weekend visit to the Stuttgart car museums, especially if you like German cars.