Written by Ben Coombes
Following the success of the Pub2Pub Expedition, an epic 27,000-mile drive from the northernmost bar on the planet, to the southernmost, the longest journey ever made by a TVR sports car, Pub2Pub Adventures was born.
Giving others the opportunity to enjoy their own Pub-based travels, Pub2Pub Adventures are running three great trips this year – the Eagle Rally, the Camembert Run, and the Space Race, with many other exciting projects in the pipeline.
ClassicLine are delighted to be a main sponsor of Pub2Pub by providing insurance cover for the fleet of cars including the TVR Chimaera, the Volvo 240, plus another exciting vehicle which is currently top secret… Ben and the Pub2Pub team are going to be keeping us updated here in their regular blog feature over the coming months with news on their travels and adventures!
In celebration of our partnership, Pub2Pub Adventures are offering you the chance to save £50 on your 2019 trip when you insure with ClassicLine. For more details, click here.
When does the winter end, and the summer road tripping season really start?
For shows, it’s an easy question; the springtime clock change beckoning in a plethora of meet-ups, cars n’coffee events and for us this year, even a Volvo-based world record attempt. But to put an exact date on the road tripping season is more difficult. Did it begin with our two-week trip to France in April? Not really, as that was more of a camping trip which we happened to undertake in a TVR, rather than a drive for the sake of it. No, I’d say that generally, May is when it all kicks off.
Except this year, having driven 1,400 miles to The Eagle’s Nest in Bavaria only to find it closed due to snow, it felt like even May could have been a bit pre-emptive.
The story of our drive to the far side of Germany began five days earlier, when the entrants to our first trip of the year – The Eagle Rally – gathered at Gatton Manor in Surrey, ready for the off. And a fine selection of motors it was too, with a mix of front and mid-mounted engines, an average cylinder count of eight and nearly 5 litres being the swept-volume middle ground.
Our convoy’s first destination was one of the finer displays of automotive greatness which Europe has to offer – the Autoworld museum, in Brussels. Here, a vast collection of perfectly preserved machines from the car’s early days rub shoulders with the big hitters of the golden age of motoring – cars like the Ferrari 275GTB, AC Cobra, Porsche 904 and Jaguar E-Type. During our visit, the museum was running an exhibition celebrating 100 years of Bentley, and so was flooded with everything from the glitzy, up-to-the-minute Continental to the doesn’t-give-a-damn blower Bentleys of the 1920s.
From Brussels, we headed south through the Ardennes, where the landscape began to ripple for the first time, gently at first as we crossed the River Meuse near Leige, before gaining real drama for the first time as we hit Luxembourg, and followed the twists and turns of this country’s border with Germany before reaching our overnight stop in Germany’s oldest town – Trier, before continuing on to the Auto and Technik Museum, in Sinsheim.
And quite frankly, what we found there wasn’t just any old museum.
Because let’s face it, you know a museum means business when it has not only a genuine Concorde mounted on its roof, but a Soviet TU-144 ‘Concordeski’ as well. And inside, the excess continued, with everything from Europe’s largest collection of F1 cars, to the Blue Flame land speed record car on display. But it wasn’t just speed machines. There were tanks, warplanes, vintage Bugattis, old locomotives and even tractors; if it’s mechanical and interesting, it’s probably on display in this overgrown man-cave in Germany.
The Porsche museum was next and as always, it offered a clinical display of the marque’s quest for engineering perfection and racing success. Central to this was the display which celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 917 race car – an unfathomably intimidating flat-12 beast which boasts one of the most successful records of any racer, ever, as well as some of the coolest liveries ever seen at the track. Gulf Racing blue and orange, or the famously quirky ‘Pink Pig’ scheme – you choose.
From the Porsche museum, we headed wet to one of Europe’s great drives – the Black Forest High Road. This is road tripping dream territory; for mile after mile, the perfect tarmac rose through forests in sweeping bends, climbing to heights higher than Ben Nevis, before dropping back down carousels of hairpins to roll through chocolate-box villages. For many, it’s the highlight of their European road trip, but for the doughty folk of this year’s Eagle Rally, it was merely the warm-up for the main event.
The legendary Deutche Alpenstrasse.
This 280 mile grand tour along Germany’s southern border has it all. Everything from long straights to spaghetti twists, dripping down hillsides. Quaint villages, soaring snow-peaks and gurgling river valleys. Nights in Alpine lodges, fine Bavarian restaurants and fairytale castles. And then, there were the tunnels.
Oh yes, in a convoy which sported everything from bellowing TVRs to a theatrical Lamborghini V10, the tunnels were definitely a highlight.
For two days we swept along this dream-like highway, the cars flowing as one, exhaust music echoing among the forests and mountains, our destination getting closer. And then, with 1,400 miles completed in the five days since we’d left the UK we were there, at the base of the mountain on which the Eagle’s Nest is perched.
And that’s when we found that the place we’d been driving to was still closed, thanks to a late-season dump of snow. Damn.
Fortunately, the nearly Rossfield Panoramastrasse saved the day by providing a gloriously scenic drive through the mountains, the road lined by high banks of snow which glistened improbably in the sun. It may not be what we’d driven all that way for, but it certainly made for a memorable experience with which to mark our far-point from the UK, before we headed back west, returning home to the UK as the summer took hold.
So, that’s the highlight of May here at Pub2Pub – a 2,400 mile drive across the continent and back, shared with great people and amazing cars – we’re already looking forward to next year’s rally. However, we’ll probably be knocking the event back to June, just to be safe.
Photos by Caroline Grubb Photography