Dream Drive: Hunting The Bavarian Serpentine

Hello again Speedhunters! After nearly a year of hiatus, I’m so happy to be able to rejoin the team. My core role here will be to bring you stories about a subject that unites us all: marvellous machinery being driven on amazing roads. There’s just nothing quite like the feel of watching the perfect stretch of tarmac unwind in front, feeling the car’s connection with that beneath you and enjoying the overall experience that it brings. And so, since I currently live in the heart of Bavaria, I decided to kick off my series of Dream Drive stories with some characteristic Bavarian driving roads.

Somewhat appropriately, the tool for the job comes from Bavaria too: the BMW E63 M6. Packing a 5 liter v10 engine plucked from the E60 M5 and punching out a solid 507 horses, this is the ideal car for bahnstorming as well as some intense hairpin hunting.

Bavaria is peppered with beautiful lakes and great views of the Northern Limestone Alps so the choice of route was fairly easy to pick. The starting point was Stegen am Ammersee (see = lake in German) and twisted its way through the state ending up in Urfeld am Walchensee.

It was an approximately 51 mile trip, parts of which are regularly frequented by spirited motorcyclists and is a route of choice for many a petrolhead in the Munich area.

We set off from Stegen am Ammersee and headed south-east in the direction of Seefeld. The gently winding roads eventually swooped into the woods, and in seventh gear we wafted along.

When the trees give way from time to time, you’re left with a majestic view of the mountains, but with constant traffic coming from the other direction I had to be careful not to stare at the views for too long. A short time later, we drove past the second lake on this trip: Pilsensee. The roads were barely straight for longer than a hundred or so meters, and the M6 hungrily ate up the miles.

I had the car for just a few hours, so we stopped near the centuries-old Schloss Seefeld so I could take in its shape.

There are details that I’d never noticed on this model before, like the prominent ridge that follows the hoodline into the bumper, and the complimentary upturned ridges from the lower section of the bumper. The car exhibits a split personality that’s at once both at ease with and in contrast to its surroundings: the refined exterior and interior providing a stark contrast to the raucous engine note. My friend Sebastian who was tasked with driving the car for the times when I was shooting soon reminded me that we still had quite some distance to go before the sun disappeared though.

So I jumped back in and put my foot down. The roads around here are quite narrow and even barely doing the speed limit gives you such an incredible sensation of speed because of the proximity of trees that line the road.

The blanket of trees lets a sliver of evening light through, bathing everything around in a green tint.

It’s incredible how a car – a V10 no less – can be so docile at civilized speeds.

In the summertime, such a rear-view shot would have been filled to the brim with motorcyclists. Luckily it was still quite damp and chilly, so the two wheelers hadn’t taken to the streets yet.

We turned on to the B2 in the direction of Weilheim and suddenly, joy of joys, before our eyes there appeared the holy grail of any road trip: tunnels! Drop three gears, roll the windows down and bathe in the ten cylinder symphony. Ah, good times.

Eventually, we turned off the B2 and drove to the village of Monatshausen. This back road, despite being paved, was mostly used by tractors and heavy vehicles.

One has to be careful to not run into any slow moving tractors on these roads as there are plenty of blind corners.

A short while later, we passed a view which was so breathtaking, I just had to stop. In the background you can see the ‘Alpenkette’, or Alpine Chain.

And more interestingly for us, there was not one bit of straight road in sight.

From Monatshausen we drove towards the town of Tützing. I had one last stop planned til our destination at Kochel am See; yet another lake on our way.

The peaks of Herzogstand provided the stunning backdrop for our short break. This is a little parking lot where bikers and car nuts often gather as a last stop before the road gets twisty again.

The really twisty uphill sections allowed the M6 to stretch its legs properly, the ten cylinders screaming through the woods. On this track bikers are only allowed to ride back from Urfeld am See on weekends; they have to do a much longer round trip to get to Urfeld am Walchensee. This is so that there are fewer accidents when bikers overtake cars or each other and then meet in the middle. For us, it meant clearer roads, and that was a good thing…

… because just around the corner was this. One of the German words for twisty roads like these is “Serpentine” and this was our last one on the journey. The roads in this region are used for hill climb races called Kesselbergrennen and it’s not hard to see why.

This is where Hans Stuck won the 1935/1936 Kesselbergrennen in an Auto Union GP racecar and no doubt these roads contributed to him earning his nickname of  “Bergkönig” or “King of the Mountains”. Anxious to see the BMW in action, I jumped out and got myself behind the barriers to shoot the M6. The car had sounded good from the inside but from out here with the V10 howl bouncing off the rock walls, it was truly something else.

Brake, pull the left paddle, turn in, feel the front wheels bite and power on. Once the exhaust is warm enough, it crackles slightly on downshifts. It was as if the car was giggling at me after having done something silly.

Something tells me Sebastian was having a real good time driving for the camera.

After two runs he drove back to pick me up and we drove down to the lake you see in the background of the hairpins – our destination – Walchensee.

Urfeld am Walchensee has a few cafés that cater to the regular biker crowd but today it was rather empty. The silence that surrounds this place at sundown is outright eerie. As the M6 ticked itself cool I took a moment to appreciate the car that took us here. Modern cars like this M6 redefine what is accessible performance. This is a car that’s being driven daily by its owner and I can clearly see why. The programmable chassis configurations enable the character of the car to be completely altered, from a softly sprung 400 horsepower waftmobile to a 507 horsepower bahnstormer to take on the mighty autobahns…

… which made it the right tool to tackle this Dream Drive. From the curving tree-lined avenues to the majestic mountain-capped lake views, the Bavarian countryside has offered up the ultimate setting with which to challenge the car’s myriad abilities; the Serpentine providing the perfect twist in its tail.


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