From the Arlberg Classic to the Mille Miglia to Goodwood – here is an overview of my favorite vintage car rallies
There are so many vintage car rallies that you could spend all year going to them. As a fervent motorist, classic car fan, and photographer, I have been to many such events. Here are the six vintage car rallies that I have enjoyed the most, then and now.
The Arlberg Classic has now been around for ten years. his is the most family-friendly vintage car rally. eople love to go there because it’s a beautiful drive through the Alps, and the weather is usually lovely. The rally is held in late June, which is the best time: the snow and ice have melted away, everything is bright green, except for the mountain peaks, which remain white – it’s quite a view!
And the Alpenrally has an insanely beautiful supporting program, a really great welcome evening in one of the most beautiful mountain huts and a really fantastic and elegant award ceremony. You stay in style at one of the great hotels (my favorite is the “Hotel Arlberg”) and party in style for three or four days.
In addition, the Arlberg Classic has tricky tasks – it is made difficult to get among the first 120 vehicles. But due to the fact that there are only 120 participants, you can still make it… 😉
Although the slightest mistake will set you back light years… It’s already narrow there, and angular. If I didn ‘t want to drive a car there, it would be some great old Rolls Royce or some heavy pre-war car. My favorite car for this is the Porsche, the red 911 Targa from 1974 – as fast as possible, as sporty as possible, as agile as possible.
I’ve been along ten times now and will go again next year. The Arlberg Classic is a meeting among friends – and driving in dream settings. You can find many of the Arlberg Classic Cars in my book “Classic Cars”
Goodwood is the rendezvous of passionate collectors, not only of motorists and automobiles, but above all what hums and ticks. There you come in contemporary outfit and land with the JU52. And the program is full of SPEED and FUN.
I have not been to Goodwood myself yet – I was invited several times, but it never worked out. This year my chances are better for the legendary classic car meeting: I was at the “Kilomètre Lancé” in Sankt Moritz the other day with the Earl of March’s son-in-law, and we’ve talked about it before.
Goodwood is “the place to be,” and anyone who rides there drives with a knife between their teeth.
If I actually went, I would still have to think about which vehicle I would use – it would have to be something special.
I have a nice old 1965 Austin Healey 3000 MKIII that might be true to style.
This Austin Healey would be my favorite to ride at Goodwood
London-Brighton has to be experienced. I was lucky enough in 2017 to tour with a charming chauffeuse in a 1903 Oldsmobile.
Being able to take part in this classic car event is 80 percent of the challenge: Only vehicles built up to 1905 are permitted to take part in the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, so the youngest car is 117 years old. That’s where most enthusiasts lack the right vehicle.
London-Brighton is the oldest motorsport event in the world.
We started at 7 a.m. in the ice and cold – the race takes place on the first Sunday in November. Start at sunrise in Hyde Park in London, and then 54 miles (that’s 86 kilometers) to Brighton, on the English Channel.
The vehicles – and their drivers – can hardly be expected to do more: Topping up the oil every five miles is part of the mandatory maintenance interval. We stopped twelve times along the way, plus the two official stops along the way.
Those who finish before 4:30 p.m. will be honored with a medal.
The other disciplines of the London-Brighton are the so-called electric cars, they existed at that time. They last a little longer than five miles…but not ten either.
And the steammobiles have even more stress: They already start heating up their vehicles on Thursday, with coal and briquettes. It’s crazy when you think about how easy driving is today.
The history of the London-Brighton Rally is interesting: this very special classic car meeting dates back to the time when there was a railroad law in London, the Locomotive Act.
The stated that motor-driven vehicles could not travel faster than four miles per hour, or about 6.4 mph.
In addition, each motorized vehicle had to be preceded by a pedestrian with a red flag to direct them. (The law is therefore also known as the Red Flag Act ).
When the Red Flag Act was overturned in 1896, the first car enthusiasts celebrated with a race – and then full throttle from London to Brighton. At that time, full throttle meant about thirty kilometers per hour.
To date, therefore, vehicles on the London-Brighton are only allowed an average speed of 20 miles an hour, about 32 mph.
And to this day, a red flag is symbolically torn at the start of the rally.
There are many beautiful stories about the Mille Miglia – the famous thousand miles through Italy. Among other things, the one about how Porsche works driver Hans Herrmann drove to victory in 1954 by ducking his head at a closed railroad crossing and speeding his Spyder through just ahead of the train below.
I last drove the famous classic car meeting in 2015 – exactly 60 years after Stirling Moss’ legendary overall victory: The British racing driver completed the route in 1955 (one year after Hans Herrmann) in the best time that still exists today.
What do you guess his record is – for 1,600 kilometers across Italy?
Small tip: We drive today for about two and a half days, sometimes three. (And are flat afterwards).
Stirling Moss and his co-driver did it in ten hours in 1955.
In 2015 I did my book on the Mille Miglia, and Stirling Moss was there again.
Somewhere on an avenue, I was driving my red 300 SL gullwing at 220 kilometers per hour, and all of a sudden I thought an airplane was going to land on my roof.
There was the Stirling Moss behind me, with the legendary Mercedes 300 SLR with which he had won the race sixty years earlier.
In the avenue, I barely fit through with the 300 SL Gullwing, but somehow Stirling Moss didn’t know any better and squeezed through next to me to overtake.
You’ve got to be kidding me.
You won’t be able to take a picture on the side….
In 1957 there was a bad accident at the Mille Miglia, after which the historic race was discontinued.
Since then, the classic car meeting has been a rendezvous of the old days, when gasoline-powered vehicles still thrilled the masses.
The Mille Miglia is still really demanding and really fast, with lots of special stages. But it will be driven in stages, in groups of no more than 50 vehicles, and of course regulated quite differently than in those days.
The funny thing is: At the Mille Miglia you actually hardly see anything of Italy. Because either you’re driving full throttle or you’re at a control somewhere.
Or it’s raining, or you have up to three meters of snow in the Apennines – and in Rome, depending on what the weather is like in early May, maybe already 25 degrees. Then you’re stuck there in your gullwing, with your overalls, no air conditioning, can hardly breathe – and when you ask yourself in the evening where we’ve been everywhere today, you can only think of certain things because you’ve been so stressed.
Anyone who drives the Mille Miglia must have time. Many great impressions of Bella Macchina and Dolce Vita can be found here in my book about the Mille Miglia.
And there is also a short film about Leica on Vimeo about it.
The classic car market has been booming for years, partly because many people invest their money in “garage gold”. Some of these are large, professional investors who invest seven- or eight-figure sums in classic vehicles. Mostly, however, it’s classic car fans like me who have a passion for beautiful cars – and for whom the preservation or appreciation of value is a welcome side effect.
By the way, the most expensive car in the world is the Mercedes 300 SLR that I had in my studio – see Mille Miglia: This is the coupe in which Stirling Moss took the victory in 1955. A private collector bought the legendary car at auction this year for 135 million euros. Here it goes to the picture.
The North African counterpart to the Mille Miglia – the Mille Maroc. One thousand miles through Morocco, for one week.
A tourist trip to another world, with chic classics from the 30s to the 80s. Fabulous landscapes, great impressions, very friendly people – and the great hotels, which are almost palaces. (Once we had a bed that I think was three meters wide).
The contrasts at this classic car meeting are particularly interesting: On the left, you drive past a high-tech park, roads, buildings, everything is new there. And then on the right, right by the road, is a zouk where lambs are traded. And a tannery where the leather is still tanned as in the 16th century.
Mille Maroc is organized by Jean-Jacques Radelet, an architect who contributes great stories from his profession on the side. For each day of the rally, he thinks up new surprises… a very unique and stubborn guy. He does it because he simply enjoys it.
The tour goes through a different landscape each time and is very familiar, only 25 vehicles, i.e. teams are allowed to participate. If one stays down, they all stay down. And when someone stops because he sees something beautiful, the others all stop too.
The Mille Maroc is like a family outing – only without the fights.
Cars at the Mille Maroc must be at least 20 years old. Last year one went with an old Bugatti from 1930, but most have “more modern” cars. We are comparatively comfortable on the road in our 1984 Porsche 911 Targa 3.2. Of course, you could make it even more comfortable by driving a newer car – but then you’re missing the point.
Cool location, cool guys and cool drinks already at the welcome evening. Unfortunately, clearly small – and booked out for years in advance. I’ll be back next year for the fall ride as well.
Actually, Samedan is known as the highest airport in Europe.
So much for my top six classic car meets – and aside from that, I’d love to go somewhere I haven’t been yet. Scotland, for example, or the Loire valleys.
The special thing about the classic car meetings is also that you do something that you don’t know yet – either the people or the region.
And the rule is always: don’t go there alone. You must participate in at least two or three people to be your own clique. Then it’s great. Especially if you’re lucky enough for the car to last.
Car brands with G are often searched on Google for the crossword puzzle. But did you know that the brands often have a super interesting story? I have compiled five carmakers with a G and the most important information about them here for you.
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