On 14th and 15th September 2013, between two small swiss villages occured a classic hillclimb retrospective. Just a few kilometers away from the lake of Geneva, starting in Ollon and up to Villars this typical and unmistakable event is always a nice moment to spend time meeting passionate people, admiring some classic racing cars come back to life and their drivers enjoying as much their time as their machines. A few of our members decided to do the trip to see just how good this edition of one of the most famous swiss hill climb was going to be. Text & Images : Mickael B. ©
First part : The arrival
For the first day, on Saturday 14th September 2013, we decided not to take the usual highway on the way to Ollon, thinking that there might be some of the hillclimb entrants which would have the same idea, preferring to enjoy the seaside of the shore of lake Geneva. And we weren’t wrong. While arriving in Vevey, we found this replica of a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO and one of the 400 Ferrari 575 Superamerica, especially interesting in this grey and red leather combination. Both cars were waiting for refilling their tanks at a petrol station, ready to feed their V12s with the precious liquid.
The other interesting cars included these two black Ferrari F430s, a Spider and a Scuderia. Knowing that the Garages Zenith, which sell Ferrari and Maserati in Lausanne and Sion, we were expecting to see a few italian supercars, but seeing these four in the early morning, completely unexpected was a real pleasure and a warranty we were going to have a good time.
“Before even arriving, we had seen two Ferrari F430, a 575 Superamerica and a 250 GTO replica. Quite a nice way to start the day…”
We parked our car in the village, while most of the competitors had already arrived, and decided to go to the first parking lot, just under the train station to see all these cars in detail. I started with two american cars, a first generation 1964 Ford Mustang, coming from France, which had been slightly prepared to perform a bit better on these twisty swiss roads and a nice replica of a Shelby AC Cobra, which looked great under the blue shining sky and the mountains.
I swaped up to some more italian cars when an Abarth 1300 OT started its engine, breaking the religious silence that reigned throughout the surrounding mountains with its four stroke engine. The owner jumped in, and simply left, probably for the next petrol station, the nearest garage or maybe just for warming up his car’s engine and tyres, letting the silence seize the place over again. I started then to look at one of the most legendary italian rally cars, a Group 4 Lancia Stratos, in its most famous Allitalia livery. Although I never liked the design of the Stratos, finding it too compact, strangely proportioned, and not really considering it as a model of aestheticism, I have always been admirative of the technical achievement and its racing prize list.
It is always difficult to focus on a special car when there are so many beautiful automotive around. This is why I try to capture more the ambiance of the place, when I take pictures. I have never been nor wanted to become a photograph, and therefore the pictures I take are mainly for the memories, to remind me the cars I had the opportunity to see. And the ambiance of an automotive event in the early morning is always very special, with the silence, the machines at rest, you can almost feel all the power waiting to be unleashed, the sun rising away in the sky, caressing the bodyworks with its red and purple typical morning light. The surroundings of Ollon, with both the lake of Geneva on one side and the mountain peaks of the Alps on the other side, just a few kilometers away increased even this unique atmosphere, making it truely special.
“The beasts, the silence, the sun rising through the mountain heights, and the lake…”
An Aston Martin DB6 with a typical James Bond swiss numberplate was sitting next to the two Renault Alpines and the Ferrari 246 Dino GT. I couldn’t resist having a closer look to it, and I have to say it had been very well preserved with some very nice interior patina, as I suspected the exterior paint to have been restored. In this grey over red combination it looked very desirable.
A superb 1961 Alfa Romeo Giulietta S2 with the four stroke 1300 cubic centimeter alongside a Porsche 550 Spyder replica, both waiting for their owners, and already volunteer to hit the road up to Villars. Although the Alfa Romeo was very neat and clean, the Porsche replica had been quite badly made, and for real automotive enthusiasts it was a bit of a shame such a car was admitted to race. The debate between real or replica has always heavily animated the discussions between car passionates, and I think it will need a longer article dedicated to this theme, and whether it is good or not to build or buy a replica of a car.
Next I went to search for some pre-war cars, and found one of the most expected car of this event : the 1930 Stutz DV32, with its 5.3 liter V8. At rest it was already very impressive, and I couldn’t imagine what kind of men could drive such big and heavy machines, which passes a Bugatti Type 35 off as an anorexic. I could already imagine the number of kids this car must have given nightmares thanks to its huge front radiator grill.
“Perfect car to generate kid nightmares : the Stutz DV32 Racer”
I was interrupted in my search for some pre-war automobiles by a classic design by Bertone on the move : a 1971 Alfa Romeo 2000 GTV, formerly owned and raced by the famous italian racing team la Scuderia del Portello, and owned today by Raymond Moinat. It looked, and sounded great, very nicely prepared for some classic historic racing. Although not being one of the most desirable GTAm versions, which are way more expensive certainly, but way more legendary as well, this more usual GTV is still an excellent choice for this race.
Getting back to pre-war cars, I found finally what I was searching around : a 1927 Bugatti Type 35B, followed by another 1929 Bugatti Type 35B and its italian rival at the time, the 1930 Alfa Romeo Monza. Although the french cars had smaller engines, 2.3 liter eight stroke, whereas the italian had a 2.6 liter eight stroke, they could count on their supercharger to make the difference in the crucial moments of a Grand Prix, and the “Pur Sang des Automobiles” did exactly, building this car’s and probably all Bugatti’s reputation.
“The Bugatti Type 35 : Le Pur Sang des Automobiles par excellence”
Quitting the first parking and getting to the second one located in the city centre I was keen to see the first Formula One with a central rear fitted engine : a 1961 Cooper T53. This car revolutionized Formula 1 at its time, proving by winning the F1 world championship to Il Commandatore Enzo Ferrari that the horse could push the carriage instead of pulling it. It built the reputation of genious english engineer John Cooper, who proved a few years later with the original Mini he had still some more genious to show to the automotive industry.
A few meters away were aligned almost all the barchettas and prototypes of the race, including these two italian beauties : a 1971 Fiat Abarth 2000 Proto (left) and a 1968 Fiat Abarth 2000 Sport (right). A few meters away the owner of a brand often forgotten, Crosslé, was warming up the engine of his 1966 9S barchetta. Crosslé is actually the longest established constructors of racing cars, as it started in 1957, and they still build their cars in their original factory in Holywood, Northern Island.
One of the rarest barchetta at this 2013 Retrospective Ollon-Villars hillclimb was the 1967 Porsche 910, with only twenty-nine cars produced. This example belonging to Jacques Cochin was equipped with the bigger and more powerful 2.2 liter eight cylinder engine developping 270 horsepower, which is a lot, considering the 600 weight of the car. Thanks to its lightness it won several hillclimb and races on twisty sinuous roads such as the 1967 Targa Florio stealing the entire podium with a first, second, and third place finish, and the 1968 Ollon-Villars hillclimb, where they finished first and second. Sadly though, they could barely keep up on fast racing tracks such as Le Mans against its rivals at the time, like the Ford GT40.
Speaking of the devil, a 1966 Ford GT40 was parked a few meters away, waiting probably to show its historic competitor that it still could beat it on these swiss mountain hairpins. Belonging to swiss collector François Brunet, it was accompanied by another 1965 Ford GT40 Replica. We found aside another AC Cobra, but this time a very nice 289 version in its most desirable color in my opinion, a magnificent blue. Although the owner, swiss collector Philippe Gertsch should have brought his 1963 Abarth Simca, he had preferred obviously his more powerful Cobra.
“The Ford GT40 is one of the most iconic Fords of all time, with the Mustang”
Facing the Cobra 289, we found what we believe is a unique creation, a 1969 Borghi 001. With its 1.3 liter four cylinder engine, we do believe it was created by the family of the owner, Michel Borghi, with the help of the Gachnang family, for hillclimb performance. It looked like to have a fiberglass body, with a tubular aluminium chassis. Alongside was parked the 1957 OSCA Barchetta Sport from Francesco Adamoli, and the 1957 Austin Healey 100 from Daniel Zimmermann, looking great with its bare aluminium bodywork.
Hearing an eight cylinder already shouting, almost screaming its rage, we started to search for it and found it. It was the 1971 Abarth 3000 V8 Sport from Robert Fehlmann, waiting with impatience to prove its raw and savage power.