For the complete photo gallery, please check out the last page of this report !

I never went to the AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix and amongst one of our members insistance upon coming to this event, I had chosen to book a train ticket at the last minute. While at the entrance of the famous Nürburgring Formula One Race track, I was doubting if I had made the right decision, wondering if there was going to be some nice cars. There were no listing available on the internet so I thought it was a little risky travelling so far for an event without even knowing what there were going to be, but I trusted our member Luca, and what he had already told me about it. Text : Mickaël B. © Images : Mickaël B. & Luca W. ©

Part 1 – Arrival and visit of the paddocks

Well it didn’t take long to convince myself that I had been right to come all the way from Switzerland. We hadn’t even got in the Nürburgring itself that we had seen a few amazing car while approaching the track. The first one was an original 1968 Dodge Challenger Convertible V8, which in Europe is one hell of a spot. Even the Coupés are a rare sight here ! As we had first to get our press accreditations, which we had to claim in a hotel in the surroundings of the track, we continued our route, finding a Porsche Turbo 3.3 and an Alfa Romeo 2000 GTV Bertone on the opposite side.

The hotel for the press registration was near a petrol station where we were actually quite happy to have come to, regarding the cars refueling or simply stopping by for a quick pause. A pre-war Maserati, probably a Type 23, was waiting for a free pump, and the nearby parking included two Porsche 911, a lime green 911 T and a last generation burgundy red Turbo S 991, a magnificent blue Aston Martin Vanquish, and a De Tomaso Pantera GTS.

Having our press accreditations, we went to park our car, and headed on foot for the track, crossing the Motor Klassik guest car park which had a few interesting cars. This Datsun 240 Z and this yellow Ford Capri were amongst the most notable ones.

Finally arriving at the Nürburgring itself, BMW had chosen to display an M4 Coupé in the E46 classic green presentation color. Strangely though, the side deflectors indicated it was a US – Specification M4, which seemed like a strange choice from the brand’s marketing team in its own country. Is really the americans the main visitors of the Nürburgring ? Still it felt at home here on what we can assume to be most BMW’s adoption land and one of the world’s most famous track with Le Mans. It felt like a glad welcome.

Inside, typical automotive shops were preparing their stands, ready to sell goodies, books, or automotive parts to all the passionates. Face to them, the track’s shops were wide opened and awaiting for visitors. There is an official Nissan dealership and an official Nürburgring outfit shop for instance. In a classic car dealer amongst these shops, we found a stunning, and one of only 19 Iso Grifo 7 litre amongst other beautiful oldtimers, such as an original Fiat 500, an Alfa Romeo 1600 Spider, and a pre-war De Dion Bouton. I have always been a huge fan of the Iso Grifo 7 litre, for the same reasons I had always appreciated the AC Cobra 427 or the Aston Martin V12 Vantage. All of them use the same automotive recipe : big engine, small car. The Iso was designed to fit with a 4.7 litre engine, which is really already enough to give the italian car a very sporty behavior, but the introduction of the 7 litre made it brutal and so distinctive thanks to its huge – some might say ugly – bonnet. Like the 427 Cobra compared to the 289 or the V12 Vantage compared to the V8 Vantage, the 7 litre Iso Grifo became as well more desirable.

We continued our walk to the paddocks and stumbled across a Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL on the road underneath us. Luckily for us, the driver was heading in the same direction, so we had only to follow the sound of that incredible V8 to find it back. It was a truely amazing sight as I don’t recall seeing any 300 SEL before that day on the road. After a few static pictures, we decided to move a little and officially start our visit of the paddocks.

Already the atmosphere was incredible. Looking around, it felt special. Truely special. Sights, with this amazing Maserati barchetta awaiting to fire up its engine, sounds of the cars on the track, smells of oil, burnt petrol, and clutch, the pilots preparing themselves for their races. I had seen some pictures of the previous editions, thinking it might help me to prepare myself but the thing is you’re never really prepared. You might have been to thousands of automotive events, each one is different, and exciting in its own way. It is the same with the AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix.

The first glance I had into the paddocks confirmed my impression. You instantly feel at the right place. There were classic V12s Formula Ones about everywhere, waiting to enter the track, and outside the paddocks, cars were being prepared for their respective races, such as this magnificent yellow Porsche 2.7 RS. There were cars everywhere and I have to confess, trying to stay focus on every car, and not to run from one place to another was a real challenge.

In the next box, one of the Ford GT40s of the listing was missing its bonnet letting every of its mechanical part including the V8 masterpiece to the sight of any visitor. Is it necessary to introduce the Ford GT40 ? I don’t think so. It is such a legend, designed by Eric Broadley, who owned Lola Cars after Henry Ford II had an argument with Enzo Ferrari while attempting to buy the italian firm. Produced at 126 units, the first car was finished on first April 1964 and was raced at Le Mans the same year without going further than the practices though, due to important design problems. Ford had its revenge winning in 1966, 1967, 1968, and 1969.

Alongside the GT40, a Porsche 906 was almost ready to get raced, with its doors open, letting us have a little glimpse of the very spartiat Porsche interior, compared to the Ford’s one. Almost half as powerful as the Ford the Porsche, Stuttgart’s creation had to compensate in an other way which meant by being lighter, with a weight of only 580 kilograms.

Moving on to the next paddock we found one of James Hunt’s car. A McLaren M26, which was also raced by Frank Lyons, from 1976 to 1978. Since the famous Rush movie, there have been an important interest over this Formula 1 period, and needless to say, people were very keen to take a closer look at this car, including ourselves.

Outside the paddocks, most competitors had installed tents to protect their cars in case of rain. In the second tent, we found a Bizzarrini 5300 GT Strada, which had obviously been converted to some more Corsa or racing specifications. I have always been admirative of the work of the italian engineer, his sheer character, and his passion for cars. He was a brilliant mechanics, and his cars were equally brilliant, just as this 5300 or the 250 GT Short Wheelbase Breadvan, for instance, which was as well at this AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix Edition.

In the same tent, two classic 70s Porsches were waiting for their run. Another Porsche 906, and a Carrera GTS, its predecessor. Also called Porsche 904, it was launched at the end of 1963 after Stuttgart’s brand failed attempt to tenter the Formula One championship in 1962. Produced at 106 units, it was the beginning of the Porsche sports car series which ended with the 917 and is probably one of the most significant car of the brand. It introduced the world to what Porsche was really capable of, and still today is a real inspiration model.

Few brands have their own stand at the Nürburgring, but even few do have their own private dedicated race. Actually, only two brands had this chance : BMW and Opel. But BMW had surely one of the best stand, with Porsche. They had brought about every M model of the history including a curiosity I had never heard about : an E30 M3 convertible. Their racing division had chosen a few DTM E30 M3, a 635 CSI and the legendary FINA McLaren F1 GTR, which I had to stop by and admire. A McLaren F1 is a a rare sight, but the GTR was an even greater sight. Imagining Nelson Piquet and his colleagues having their epic battles at Le Mans in 1998 against the great Porsche 911 GT1, which luckily for us was just a few blocks away in the Porsche stand.

We got disturbed by a nice, yet typical V8 sound coming from a 1964 Ford Mustang, which had been obviously nicely prepared for some track racing. It had what could probably be its original United States Californian number plate. It felt just like a good refresher of what the AvD is all about. Cars are not here to be exposed, they are here to be raced, to be what they were designed to be. Passion source to children and fast moving, loud, smile dispenser objects.

Getting back to our BMW occupations, we found ourselves face to face with another Munich’s legend. A very nice white over black livery M1. The M1 is still today BMW’s only rear-engined supercar and is considered a myth upon all the M fans. It introduced the famous 6 in line engine, and all the legendary Motorsport models afterwards. Its value has considerably grown throughout the years and will continue to rise considering the increasing interest in this model there has been.

Getting to the second tent, we found a superb US – Specification Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona in a very original purple color. I was truely impressed finding such a car in that rare color, as it was the first one I ever saw in purple. Most of the Daytona you usually see are red, as most Ferraris, but I have had the chance to see a light blue, and a Giallo Modena examples as well. As it was simply parked in front of a paddock containing two Bugatti Type 35, I assumed it must have been the owner’s « daily driver » to come to the Nürburgring, and couldn’t help myself imagine what an amazing journey it must have been for him, wherever he came from, enjoying this great Grand Tourer, with the V12 being probably one of the best motoring company you could dream of.

Another typical AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix atmosphere : a young mechanic driving back a Formula 3 back to its paddock, or a Porsche 911 S 2.4 getting to the pit lane for its racing session. As a newbie here, everything seemed to surprise me, but looking to the other people, it looked like it was perfectly normal. Just a question of habit, and although I had already seen some similar sights at some other events such as the Grand Prix de Montreux, I still am completely surprised and pleased to rediscover these atmospheres at every automotive events.

Arriving to the Parc Fermé, where the cars which had raced were displayed all together to the public, BMW’s classic race had just ended. The creations from Munich feel at their right place, almost at home, here at the Nürburgring. You just have to watch them racing on the track to understand that the Motorsport department or M division of BMW almost designed their cars for this track exclusively. There were a few Procar M1s, with racing E30 M3s and 3.0 CSLs amongst notable cars.

If you’re expecting some italian beauties at the AvD, you might be a little disappointed, as they aren’t just as much as Le Mans Classic for instance. I have never been to the LMC; but I have seen many pictures and could already tell that the Italian were not really well represented here. Still there were a few classic Ferrari and Maserati, but Abarth or Lamborghini were a hard spot. So patiently I waited to see what were the italian cars on the track and was very pleased to stumble across my first Ferrari, a 250 GT SWB Passo Corto. It had a rather funny little sticker on the back… So, just for fun ?

Continuing our way in the paddocks, a white BMW 328 passed along us, and it might just have been probably the oldest BMW of the AvD. With its straight six engine, and only 464 units produced, it is one of the most well-known pre-war BMW, and a real icon for Munich’s brand fans. Amongst its beautiful design, the 328 was a very performant car, winning its class at the 1938 24 hours of Le Mans, the RAC Tourist Trophy, the Alpine Rally and the italian Mille Miglia. Nearby, a stand had chosen to showcase two Porsches, a real 1973 911 2.7 RS, and a replica of the same car based on a Porsche 964. Although I strongly disagree with the idea of building replicas, I do have to admit that this « 964 Classic RS » had been very nicely realised, with some very pecuniar attention to details.

One of the reasons I had decided to come at the AvD was to finally realize one of my tennager’s dream of seeing a Procar M1, but I had another wish to fulfill : I hoped, not to say almost prayed, for a Porsche 935, one of my ultimate favorite racing cars. I had never seen one as well, so it was a real consecration that happened the first day, being able to admire these two automotive legends. The third racing car I was hoping to see was a Group 4 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona, but sadly, as the official entrants list confirmed, there were none at this AvD’s edition. I have already seen one at the Galleria Ferrari, but being able to hear one in its natural environment, a racing track is still something I haven’t done.

Another typical AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix sight : pilots sleeping in their cars, trying to relax before their races, or maybe too tired after intense driving. I always found this as a huge opportunity to be here at these moments. They are truely special, and change your mind from the usual daily stuff.

Opel is having as BMW or Porsche their own official classic stand, where they showcase their greatest history and racing cars. Its main curiosity was this 1914 racing car with an enormous 12 liter four cylinder ! Looking at the bare engine size, we can easily understand why 12 cylinders engines at the time were around 40 liter displacement… The visible cams as well give this car a very bestial look, don’t you think ?

Coys is the only auction house to be part of the AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix, holding a special sale with a few interesting lots, such as this Porsche 356 Speedster, two Fiat 500 Abarth 1000, a few BMW 2002, a Lamborghini original tractor and one of the very rare Ferrari 458 Italia Nikki Lauda Tailor Made Edition. Coys is one of the most important auction house but has lost part of its prestigious reputation compared to the two automotive specialized auction house RM Auctions and Gooding & Co.

The famous Kremer automotive racing team had brought along two Porsche 935, includinga Moby Dick. Based in Cologne and founded by the two Kremer brothers Erwin and Manfred, they won the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans. They are a legendary team, and I was very honored to meet the men and women who have built this winning team.

Thanks to the presence of the of the official Alfa Romeo Germany Club, the Milanese brand was very represented, with a few GTAs, including these two Alfa Romeos 1300 Giulia GTA Junior. The GTA Junior, although it only had the 1300 cubic centimeter displacement engine is one of the prettiest Alfa Romeos ever built, its successors, the 1750 and the 2000 being much larger, much more agressive and less elegant upon my opinion.

I think I had never seen as much Porsche 3.0 RSRs as at the AvD. You could spot one about at every corner, which is understandable considering the level of performance delivered by this car. Especially on track, the more modern 3.0 RSR was the perfect evolution of the 2.8 RSR and was much easier and smaller than the 934s and 935s, which meant actually it could almost compete its more powerful sisters given a narrow and sinuous track.

I have always wondered why are the Porsche 935, the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Competizione, or the M1 Procar part of my favorite racing cars. And I think that today, almost two weeks after the AvD, I know why. Group 4 and Group 5 specifications car are in my opinion, the manliest, the most extreme track racing cars that ever existed. You just have to look at them to understand that the pilots who drove these monsters at the time must have had one hell of a pair of guts. Therefore, when I stumbled across another Group 4 car that I hadn’t have the chance to admire in the flesh, I was very excited. The Group 4 De Tomaso Pantera is probably the best illustration of how extreme cars had become at the time. You just have to look at the rear tyres dimension to understand this is no standard Pantera, and to figure out how brutal it must be to drive…

What best introduction can we give to the 1929 Bentley 4.5 Liter « Blower », so characteristic with its huge supercharger in the front of its bonnet ? Probably, a little quote from Ettore Bugatti himself who described this car as «the fastest truck in history ». Although the 4.5 Liter did win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1928, never a « Blower » won the prestigious race due to its very heavy weight, reliability problems, and a very important fuel consumption which could go up to 4 liters per minute at full charge.

We stumbled across another Alfa Romeo Giulia Junior 1300 GTA with its engine bay opened, letting us have a glimpse of what is probably one of the most iconic four cylinders in the history of motoring. Finally arriving at the end of the paddocks, a very nice Aston Martin DB2 with a typical James Bond number plate was parked alongside its owner’s motorhome. As the purple 365 GTB/4 Daytona we had seen earlier, I was pretty sure that this stunning David Brown creation had served as the Grand Tourer for its owner to come at the Nürburgring, and was imagining what an amazing journey it must have been for him.