Silvretta Montafon Classics: A Highland Feeling in the Alps

Low-lying clouds move in front of the huge mountain peaks. The sun fights against the clouds and seems to slowly gain the upper hand. However, heavy rain strikes against the windshield of our 500 SLC. The crew is in high spirits as the rich green meadows shine and the wet asphalt shimmers brightly in the backlight.

You could almost think you were driving through the Scottish Highlands. However, we aren’t heading from Inverness to Ullapool, but from Ischgl to Gaschurn. Our V8 coupe is traveling through the Paznaun Valley in Tyrol. The crew consists of Ralph Alex, Editor in Chief of auto motor und sport, and myself. I’m currently at the wheel of an SLC. Although the car was built in 1981, its odometer only shows 4,885 kilometers!

On the road with classic cars

My “co-pilot” adroitly navigates me along mountain roads and through the time trials for the Silvretta Classic Rallye Montafon 2018. Ralph Alex is a veteran in such things, having taken part in innumerable regularity rallies. That’s a huge relief. My job is to look after the journalists who have joined us in driving along the route of the Silvretta Classic rally.

I share my seat in the 500 SLC with our boss, Christian Boucke. The silver C 107 from 1981 isn’t the only car from Mercedes-Benz Classic that is taking part in the Silvretta Classic. Six classic and vintage cars from the organization’s collection are reserved for the three-day rally, which covers around 600 kilometers. In addition, two vehicles are being contributed by ALL TIME STARS, the vehicle sales unit of Mercedes-Benz Classic.

Racing legend Jochen Mass and Hans-Jörg Götzl, the Editor in Chief of Motor Klassik.

Mercedes-Benz Classic is also the rally’s main sponsor. The vehicle with start number 1 is an SSK from 1928. The car is masterfully driven by the brand ambassador Jochen Mass and Hans-Jörg Götzl, the Editor in Chief of Motor Klassik. The car is one of the oldest automobiles among the 183 classic vehicles taking part in the rally.

Another former racecar driver steers start number 22, which is a silver 190 SL motorsports car from 1955. The open cockpit is occupied by a purely Austrian team, consisting of the brand ambassador Karl Wendlinger and Wolfgang Buchta, Editor in Chief of Austro Classic, who proudly defy the changeable weather.

Another car, a 230 SL from 1964, is a deep red, but at least has a hardtop that protects the occupants against the weather. This six-cylinder sports car modeled after the “Pagode” rally vehicle driven by Eugen Böhringer has an international crew: Giosuè Boetto Cohen, an editor for Routeclassiche and Corriere della Serra, from Italy drives start number 23 alternately with Simon Charlesworth, the author of Classic and Sports Car, who comes from England.

Fashion icon Magnus Walker and his Partner, the Bloomberg motor journalist Hannah Elliot.

Our “guest star” is Magnus Walker, a fashion icon, blogger, and passionate Porsche collector. He came here from Los Angeles at our invitation. Walker experiences several premieres at this event: Not only is it his first vintage car rally, it’s the first time that he’s come to this part of the Alps and his first time behind the wheel of a gullwing car. Says Walker:

I love this black Gullwing, absolutely fascinating. It’s so cool driving this sports car legend on the alpine roads! Thank you so much for inviting me!

Walker, who sports a beard and long dreadlocks, shares the car with his partner, the Bloomberg motor journalist Hannah Elliot. Both of them literally bubble over with delight and gladly take the time to sign autographs and have selfies taken by participants, spectators, and helpers.

The last car from the Mercedes-Benz Classic collection is start number 28, an E 60 AMG from 1995. It’s a 381-hp sedan of the W 124 model series. My social media colleague Michale Abele, Patrik Gottwick, Head of ALL TIME STARS, and photographer Philipp Rupprecht take turns in steering this rare classic car.

Last, but not least, are the two ALL TIME STARS vehicles, which are also taking part in the mountain tour with an interesting crew. The moss-green 280 SE 3.5 convertible from 1971 has the start number 24. It is driven by Horst Handschuh and Roseli Ower, who purchased their starting position during a charity event.

The car is a legendary 230 GE from 1985. It has the start number 26 and has room for three occupants. The legendary writer Malte Jürgens from auto motor und sport has two readers on board: Andreas Hilgarth and Christopher Roth. Both of them gladly listen to Malte’s stories and anecdotes. Like his colleagues Ralph Alex and Hans-Jörg Götzl, Malte Jürgens has plenty of rally expertise.

Silvretta Montfon: Famous for its tricky trials

The Silvretta is known for its tricky trials that require the skillful use of stop watches, gas pedal, brake, and steering wheel. Mistakes rapidly cause one to fall behind by innumerable tenths of seconds, which also result in penalty points. However, the main thing for most participants is the enjoyable ride across mountain passes and along picturesque country roads.

Everyone is impressed by the wide variety of classic vehicles, which hail from many different eras. The range of automobiles extends from an SSK compressor touring car to a VW Beetle and a BMW M1. And who has actually ever seen an Intermeccanica Indra or a Singer Gazelle with his or her own eyes?

Mercedes-Benz Drivers Night

The vehicles drive through small villages as well as glamorous ski resorts such as Ischgl, Lech, and Zürs. The long, 375-kilometer stretch on Day 2 extends across the Albula Pass and along the Silvretta High Alpine Road. People who take challenging drives, can also celebrate big parties. That’s why all of the Silvretta Classic teams who drove a classic car bearing the three-pointed star are invited to take part in the Mercedes-Benz Drivers Night in the Montafoner Hof Hotel.

Host Christian Boucke, Director Mercedes-Benz Classic and Chairman of the Managing Board of the Mercedes-Benz Museum GmbH emphasizes:

We’re very happy to be in the starting lineup for the Silvretta Classic. This is the first time that we have supported this rally as the main sponsor The event takes place in this fantastic landscape with a great lineup of competitors. We are very happy to be able to welcome so many journalists and friends of our company.

Talking about motor sport in an informal atmosphere with Vorarlberger gourmets — the evening was a huge success. The three exhibition vehicles from the ALL TIME STARS offer the appropriate setting. Patrik Gottwick, Head of Classic Car Trade Mercedes-Benz Classic, says “We’re showing the variety of ALL TIME STARS with our five vehicles.” We’ve been able to make lots of new customer contacts at the Silvretta Classic.”

And we shouldn’t forget, my colleagues from Classic Events are doing a top job. From the accreditation and accommodation of the participants to the vehicle logistics and the successful evening event, everything has been perfectly organized down to the last detail. The same goes for the rally itself. The organizer, Motor Presse Stuttgart, has impressed us with efficient planning and implementation. Event head Harald Köpke and his many helpers have had their hands full.

You can see how all of these experts have developed a routine, after all, the Rallye 2018 was the 21st time the event has taken place. This makes us hungry for more, and next year Mercedes-Benz Classic will once again support the Silvretta Classic as the main sponsor. P.S. The overall winners were Peter Göbel and Melanie Gumbl in a Fiat 850 Sport Coupé.

The best team from Mercedes-Benz Classic was Jochen Mass and Hans-Jörg Götzl with the SSK in 48th place. We finished the rally with our 500 SLC in 140th place. Being there is everything!

Frank Mühling is responsible for the press Mercedes-Benz Classic. He was a motor journalist for many years and also worked for Mercedes-AMG as well as Mercedes-Benz passenger car, commercial vehicle and business communications.