Maserati International Rally

In Reports by Mickael

The Maserati International Rally (MIR) was a gathering of the Italian manufacturer organized to commemorate its 99th birthday. Throughout a journey in the most beautiful regions of Switzerland, Maseratis from all over the world would gather a Grande Finale in the famous city of Montreux, on the shore of Leman lake. Living just a few minutes from Montreux, we had already planned to meet the event up there but while I had been looking for other events at the same dates, I found out another one. The Ferrari Owners Club Switzerland (FOCS), a mostly swiss german non-official Ferrari club had planned their annual rally in the swiss french part of our country accordingly to be able to see the Concours d’Elegance organized by the Maserati International Rally. Their official plan was to arrive at a small hotel, called Hotel Victoria, in one of the villages overlooking Montreux, Glion, during the morning and head out for the Concours in the afternoon. Thus, we decided to catch up with the FOCS members around 10 AM, and would go down to Montreux when we wanted. Text : Mickael B. Copyright Images : Thomas Z. & Mickael B. Copyright

A little remark, that if certain pictures look like very low quality, it is because I had some technical problems with my Canon DSLR on that day. Actually, I had forgotten the battery home, and could only use my small Lumix Panasonic to shoot, although Thomas saved as much as he could with his Nikon DSLR.

Part 1 : Ferrari Owner’s Club Switzerland Meeting

The small village of Glion is famous for its view on the Leman lake, and the alps. Overlooking Montreux, it is as well home to one of the most prestigious hotel school in the world, but is actually quite isolated from the world. The road to get there is very steep, full of twisty hairpins, but offers all along the way one of the most beautiful sights. The only way to get there if you don’t have a car is a slow typical cog train, which works all year. While we had just passed Montreux and were heading to the roads getting to Glion, we wondered if the members of the Ferrari Owners Club Switzerland had already arrived to their hotel, and not knowing the answer we decided to go already and have a look. If they hadn’t arrives we would then wait for them somewhere on the road, finding an ideal spot. The thing is though, while we were at around 800 meters of Glion, we noticed that something, which sounded like a car, was making a lot of noise underneath us. Thus we decided to wait, and not even five minutes later, we understood what we had heard. The first Ferraris were arriving, lead by a 599 GTB, a California and a yellow 430 Scuderia, which was the car that had actually the most significant sound. Jumping back into our car, we followed them to their hotel, and found a parking spot a few meters upper.

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While I was trying, in vain, to seek for my camera battery, Thomas saw an incredible Ferrari arriving and had just the time to rush for a picture. A yellow 275 GTB had appeared. I barely had the time to see it. Accepting the defeat, I took my Lumix and just as I started to catch with my friend, who was now almost at the hotel’s parking entrance, a white Ferrari 458 Spider showed up. Just time to snap in my first picture for the Lumix, and I rested a few minutes, admiring the place. The hotel Victoria is a small family picturesque hotel that holds a sublime atmosphere, with an impressive view. It is a very typical swiss hotel that likes to preserve the privacy of its customers, while offering them the best service in a charming little place, with stunning panoramas. Inside the parking a first very nice line-up had already been achieved with the first cars we had seen, the Ferrari 599 GTB, the California, the 430 Scuderia plus a Ferrari 360 Modena Coupé.

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As we were still waiting for the other participants to arrive, trying to impregante ourselves from the place, discussing the best photo spots, a strange yellow form caught our eye in the upper non-hotel customer parking. From the distance we guessed it could probably a Chevrolet Corvette, as we only saw a very small part of the car’s front. Since no cars seemed to arrive, we decided to have a glimpse and check out what was this car. Can you imagine our surprise ? Boom ! A yellow Lancia Stratos. Looked like it was the yellow day, with the Scuderia, and especially the 275. We wondered if this car was there by pure coincidence, but I doubted it. Still it was in a particularly good shape…

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Lancia Stratos are automotive legends, and this example was no exception. Thanks to its very short wheelbase and its Ferrari six cylinder Dino engine, it wrote the world rallying championship’s history, by winning it consecutively in 1974, 1975, and 1976. With over 330 horsepower in its most powerful turbocharged version, combined with a dry weight under a ton, it was truely capable of amazing straight line performances. But the real advantage of the Stratos HF, for High Fidelity was its wheelbase that allowed an incredible cornering behaviour, sticking it to the road even in the toughest and narrowest hairpins. Although road versions of the Stratos only developped 190 horsepower, they had almost the same dynamic abilities as their racing stepsisters, and remain both very rare sights, with only 492 units ever produced.

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We barely had the time to get down and take a quick look at the yellow Ferrari 275 GTB that the other participants were starting to arrive, including this splendid and very original 599 GTB configuration. With its Verde Inglese exterior colour it was actually the first British Green Ferrari I recall to see and was therefore very surprised. I remember wondering why the owner would choose such a colour on a Ferrari, as it is much suitable for an Aston Martin, a Bentley or a Jaguar, but considering that the 599 had not lost its elegance and presence, it was thus a perfect proof that every colour suits a Ferrari. Equipped with the 6.0 litre V12 engine from the Enzo supercar of the brand, the 599 GTB developed 620 horsepower and was capable of impressive performances in its time.

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Three other cars then arrived and parked a few meters from the others, yet another yellow car, a Ferrari 348 TS, a 612 Scaglietti and a grey Ferrari 599 GTB. In total, the most popular car of the day at the Ferrari Owner’s Club Switzerland was certainly the 599 GTB, with no less than four of them, the last one being a Blu Pozzi model which arrived minutes later. Other cars to arrive included a Ferrari Mondial convertible, which had been badly modified, especially the rims, a beautiful light grey 360 Spider, and another red this time, 430 Scuderia. As it seems that all the cars had arrived, the owner of the Lancia Stratos decided to move his car and join the FOCS meeting, which added the only not-Ferrari car of the line up.

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As all the participants were entering the hotel, taking place in their commodities and were gently moving to their lunch buffet awaiting them, we found ourselves being alone with all the cars. We were actually the only externs of the event and were very privileged that the members of the FOCS had let us take a few pictures of their cars in such a charming environment. Thus we decided to concentrate on the line-ups, to better translate the atmosphere, rather than focusing on one simple car, although it was difficult, because some of them were so attractive. We started from our favorite of the day, the yellow Ferrari 275 GTB, with its timeless design, which was accompanied by the white 458 Spider, as well as a dark grey Ferrari F12.

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A last glimpse on these three beauties and we passed on to the line-up of the 348 TB, the red F430 Scuderia, the Verde Inglese 599 GTB and the Lancia Stratos HF. The owner of the Stratos which had seen us previously, and looked surprise to see two young people admiring his car, and the owner of the Scuderia went out to chat a bit with us. We learned in this very passionate conversation, but too short sadly, that the Lancia’s owner had had a 275 GTB previously, but regretted to have sold it. He was as well quite surprised that such young people as us were more interested in the Stratos and the 275 than in the modern Ferraris.

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This Verde 599 being so intriguing, it must really surprise a lot of people, as this configuration is really not usual upon Ferrari and far from the usual customer standards of the brand. Thus, I spent a lot of time around this car trying to decrease my shock and see if really this colour suited well the 599. Looking at it now, it seems more and more evident that it does, especially with the Stratos alongside, bringing a great colour variation from the bright yellow to the subtle more soothing green. Where the Stratos seems nimble and compact, the 599 impresses with its presence, and its Grand Tourer elegance.

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We decided, as we had spent a great moment with the FOCS member’s cars, that it was time for us to head out for Montreux. Taking a last glimpse of the star of the day, which was for me the 275 GTB, we went back to our parking and took back our car, already impatient to see if the Maseratis had already arrived.

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