The Schauinsland Klassik Winterrallye proves that classic cars don’t always need to spend their winters in heated storage. Matijs Jutte took a trip to The Black Forest for his first classic rally experience.

I shared the long cherished wish to put my Alfa to the test on some genuine winter trails with a good friend of mine and somehow convinced him to become my co-pilot for the day. Dedicated venue, the Schauinsland Klassik Winterrally at the end of January. So december was all about getting the car ready for winter; snow tires on steel rims, all levels checked and the underside inspected and greased up where necessary. All ready for action. In the beginning of January I was presented with some fresh snow to test the car on the roads of my hometown near Munich. Even in these conditions an Alfa Bertone like this is a great car. Easy to handle and very manageable.

‘Don’t you think it’s a shame to drive a classic in these winter conditions?’ the journalist of the Badische Zeitung asks, while I’m once again cleaning my windshield during lunchbreak. Since 09:14 exactly this morning we proudly carried our number 12 without any delay. Without the burden of any rallying experience, nor having a trip master or even a decent stopwatch. Let alone the usability of the foot operated windscreen washer on the Alfa. ‘These cars are made to drive and well, they had winters back in the days, didn’t they? It just involves a lot of cleaning afterwards.’ Maybe my answer came a little to quick…

The day before we travelled from Munich to Freiburg under a magnificent blue sky. We passed the beautiful Bodensee, where the filtered sunlight and the foggy mist gave an extra dimension to the adventure. On arrival at the museum Volante in departing location Kirchzarten, the car had its technical inspection (where the windscreen washer was found to be sufficient, by the way) and we received the rally-documents (stickers, route book and control card). After which we trodded on and finally reached Freiburg for the night. A city well worth a visit, with is nice restaurants, bars and brewery.

On this beautiful Saturday morning a group of over fifty old- and young timers gathered for breakfast before, from seven thirty on, taking of one by one on the Schauinsland Klassik Winterrallye. The remains of the plentiful snowfall earlier are still largely available, although most roads are freed of snow and ice. Higher up in the hills and on the lesser used B-roads we find snow covered tracks that clearly show the good use of snow tires. Luckily we don’t need to get out the snow chains, since we didn’t actually pack those. Nor is there any use for spikes. Most contestants, mainly local or from Switzerland, show a lot more experience with their precision trip masters and multitude of stopwatches. They know all about their dots and arrows and neatly timed passages.

Reading the map is pretty successful, the odometer fairly reliable and the engine is running like a sewing machine. What can possibly go wrong? Well ok, in the early hours we’re not running like clockwork yet. We miss out on some junctions before we realise we have to go the other way. Maxed out on penalties we reach lunch to find ourselves a spot amongst the Porsches, NSU’s, Opel Kadett Rallye’s etcetera. After the lunchbreak our driving becomes much more accurate and gives us the time to enjoy the beautiful scenery and the challenging roads. Only at the finish, at four in the afternoon, we realise how fast the day has flown by. How challenging it all has been.

In the nicely arranged Volante-museum we find a buffet and the awards ceremony, where per category a top three is awarded. Alas there is no category for cars with yellow headlights, or we might just have competed for the highest honour. This event absolutely makes us want more of this. With the right preparation and gear we might be in for some serious action. The atmosphere amongst the competitors is, as you often hear, indeed very relaxed and collegial. Everyone suffers his own moments of doubt, anger, dispair or inattentiveness, which lead to the most magnificent stories afterwards. The organization is spot on, the documentation is fine and the infrastructure during the event is great.

The following day we slowly return home by the Bodensee-route, passing the Zeppelin museum in Friedrichshafen. Fortunately there is a temporary exposition on the theme of aerodynamics we can’t miss out on. To depict this theme they used a great collection of pre-war classics: from Mercedes and AutoUnion Grand Prix cars to a stunning Peugeot Darl’Mat and a Touring bodied BMW 328. The museum itself is well worth a visit anyhow. With a full size rebuild of part of the Hindenburgs interior and many original pictures and films on the development of the zeppelin and even some saved original parts of the Hindenburg itself. The many interactive presentations will make this trip worth the while for younger visitors as well. Truly a must see.
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Matijs Jutte