A couple of weeks ago I have the opportunity to visit the Nürburgring with a some friends. As a car-guy I couldn’t say no to that and so I found myself behind the wheel of 99 BMW 523i on the almost empty highway at 7:00 AM on a Saturday heading south. First stop was a small town near Eindhoven, where I met up with Dennis and Walter and I became a passenger in a lovely 1985 Mercedes 500 SL. Strictly speaking it’s a two-seater but it had a rear seat so the smallest of us, Walter, volunteered to sit transverse in the back. It wasn’t a very long journey anyway, some 220 km (130 miles).
What we did do beforehand was to put on the hardtop and it fitted like the door of a vault. The 5.0 liter V8 pulled strongly and with a little help from Dennis to select the right gears on the autobox, we left lots of modern quick cars far behind on the Autobahn. The last hour was off the Autobahn and went from the undulating hills on the border of Nordrhein-Westfalen and Rheinland-Pfalz to the more mountainous Eifel. The SL is not suited for high cornering speeds, but with excellent brakes and 295 lb.ft. (400 Nm) of torque we had some good fun.
The small hotel, which we had arranged a couple of months earlier was located in the village of Leimbach and was easily found. After checking in and a coffee, the Merc roared towards the circuit, through Adenau, where there was a main street classic car display planned in the evening. Free and no hassle.
But first the (in)famous Nordschleife. At Start/finish it was pretty crowded and besides the bikes there were exotics and track-prepared cars. With a 911 or an M3 you didn’t stand out. A few Lamborghinis, some VW Polos and how about Fiat 127s! I saw 3 at least. Also the Aston Marin V8 was a favourite and a lot of UK number plates were to be seen, due to the cult status the Nürburgring Nordschleife has in the UK.
Next stop was Brünnchen, a short straight between 2 fast righthanders situated in a valley like setting. The viewpoint was perfect, also for picture if you had a zoom lens, 300 mm proved to be OK. Most drivers took it easy and apart from some tire squealing little happened. There was a Renault Megane RS which suffered badly from understeer and used the grass run-off area, which kicked up some dust, but nothing more.
With Dennis and Walter being here before, they knew exactly where all the car clubs were situated and where to spot some more exotic cars. The trick they did last year to park near the GP circuit with other Merc R107s on the allotted parking space didn’t work, you needed to a printed reservation. Oh well, at least we tried.
The road along the start/finish straight of the GP Circuit is a normal road, but this weekend it turned into a boulevard where proud owners paraded with their cars, especially at the end of the afternoon. Some cars passed us by 3 times. And there were cars for every car guy. A BMW M1 for example, but also an Isdera Imperator, a De Tomaso Pantera GTS and a racing version of an MG Midget which I have never seen in a book before.
After diner, which was a Schnitzel with fries and a Radler to drink, we went to Adenau for the Classic Parade on Main street. We were welcomed by a very friendly person, who explained the meaning of this event. He need not to have bothered, this was one of the reasons to come here with the SL
We walked up and down the street a couple of times and drank some beers, at 23:30 we had enough, drove to the hotel and went straight to bed.
After a reasonable night’s sleep and a proper German breakfast we went to the GP circuit, where we checked out the huge Event Hall. As it was still relatively early, there weren’t too many people around so we could check out the stands with brochures, prospects and models. We saw some nice things, but prices were way too high to be fun.
Our next stop was the Dottinger Höhe, where cars with almost empty fueltanks came of the Nordschleife. Conveniently there was a fuel station here and there was a cue of Astons, Porsches and M3s. Next to the fuel station there was a small cafeteria where we got some coffee. On the parking lot there were some Alpinas and a bright green Lamborghini Aventador SV Limited Edition (1 of de 600).
We would see the Aventador again, but now on the Nordschleife. We were at Brünnchen again, our last stop before returning home. It took a while before we saw any cars, apparently a there was an accident somewhere else on the circuit. About 25 minutes later there was another one, right before our eyes. A Peugeot 206 entered a corner with way too much speed, one wheel hit the grass and the car spun, hitting the barrier and came to a stop. Some cars behind stopped to check if the driver was OK. Luckily he was, but the 206 was scrap metal now.
We decided not to wait for the tow truck and decided to head home. Traffic was not too bad and thanks to the Dennis’ local knowledge we managed to avoid a huge traffic jam. Just after 7:00 PM I parked my car at my house, some great memories and 800 photos richer.
Marketing wise there was little to be learned this weekend. The Nürburgring continues to be, even if it financial bankrupt for about 2 years now. The public will continue to visit here, for its history and the feeling to be a little part of it. Most cars we saw were in good condition and properly cleaned. Owners are proud to be here and want to be seen. So I guess that’s my marketing tip for dealerships: be proud of what you have on your lot and convey that online. You will sell more cars and faster. Want to know how. Contact me for a 30 minute free consult on skype.