Old Times, New Heroes: Hidden Treasures

If you’ve caught Jonathan’s posts from the OldTimer GP, you’ll already know about the potential fire hazards on the track and the legendary selection of cars in attendance, so you should by now have a pretty good idea of some of the spectacular machinery that was on show during the weekend. But that wasn’t confined to just the paddock or the track – we encountered plenty of hidden gems in car parks, and away from the main displays that I wanted to share with you.

Upon our arrival on Friday, we headed to the ever-popular viewing area of Brünnchen to watch the cars tackle the Nordschleife. Here, our very first steps out of the car were greeted by this duo of a Marcos Mantula and Porsche 550 sporting James Dean’s Little Bastard 130 number. Not exactly the worst way to get started eh?

Steadily cruising through the gravel was this Morgan three-wheeler. Seriously, how cool does the passenger look just kicking back in this.

Nearby, a Fiat X1/9 proudly sported the markings of its previous visits to the area: the Swiss car had Nürburg European Meeting stickers from ’06 to ’13.

I took a liking to this retro-cool Opel Ascona B. The flat green paintwork was simple but effective…

… while the metallic red/brown of this Corvette Stingray perfectly showed off the curvaceous lines of the car.

Continuing our car park wander, we soon stumbled upon a small crowd of people gathered around and headed over to take a look. Venturing a bit closer, we recognised it as an Austin Healey Sprite Mk1 .

Although not a car I’d normally expect to draw such a crowd, one peek under the bonnet soon revealed why: this thing was immaculate! Though its diminutive 948cc engine only put out 48hp, I was having a hard time believing that it had ever been driven at all. The quality of the entire car was superb. A cool touch was the storage of the spare spark plugs that you can see in the bottom left (this was not the only car we saw them on either)…

… and unless my eyes deceive me, that odometer looks very low too! Surely not…

Our final nugget of old school goodness offered up by the Brünnchen car park was this AC Cobra 427 happily sitting on its trailer. It’s long been the older car I would love to see in my dream garage (although this event has started giving me ideas for more!), and the weekend offered no shortage of Cobras to whet my appetite either. In fact, just one 10-minute walk saw three of them drive past us. I’m liking that Cobra/per metre ratio a lot!

Even our return to the hotel threw up some surprises, with a host of weird and wonderful machines from Isdera preventing us from getting started on the Warsteiner too early. The Isdera Spyder was certainly eye-catching in its flourescent green paintjob, although it didn’t quite have the looks to make up for the attention…

… unlike its earlier cousin, the Erator GTE. This Ford GT lookalike didn’t start off with the power to match its looks though, being originally powered by a 54hp, 1,600cc VW lump! Thankfully, a few iterations later, it was at last saved from mockery with a 5-litre Mercedes-Benz AMG V8 – a far more fitting powerplant, I’m sure you’ll agree.

The futuristic wedge of the Imperator 108i cut an impressive shape (despite the periscope-style roof-mounted rear-view mirror)…

… but the Isdera badge-bearing car that was undoubtedly drawing the most attention was this: the Autobahnkurier 116i. Drawing on the styling cues of the Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahn-kurier built in the ’30s, the monstrously long bonnet (seriously, finding a parking space for this thing would be a nightmare!) hid not one but two Mercedes-Benz V8s – one to power the front wheels and one for the rears. Fancy a guess at the year of production? The ’40s maybe? Perhaps a ’50s throwback? Nope, 2006!

At last, it was finally time to head over to the circuit for the event proper, and our entry was greeted by this stunning orange Opel GT. I’d not been that familiar with the model before the trip (the lack of any RHD models means they’re rare back in the UK) but now after having seen several – including the Conrero-styled race cars on the Opel stand – I’m beginning to re-think my ‘one classic only’ mentality of my dream garage.

Nür-bus anybody? Or maybe it’s a mobile greenhouse? It must be rather warm inside on a sunny day.

Well… does it?

While you’d expect to see the Mercedes 300 SL’s racing sibling, the W194, out on the track, I wasn’t expecting to see a road version prepared for the circuit.

As one of the most collectable Mercedes, it was certainly a brave choice for racing. But the matt black paint, full roll cage and side exit exhaust certainly made this into one mean little racer.

The eclectic mix on offer continued with this Opel RAK-2 rocket car. With wings. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

Ah, the Porsche 356 Speedster. Such a pretty car. Look at its puppy dog eyes. Okay, so maybe there’s room for one more in my garage…

Also found just casually parked up round the back of some of the numerous trailers was this Bugatti EB110 in its customary eye-searing blue.

Here’s another stunner: a Fiat Dino Spider. If the name has thrown you a little, you’d be forgiven for getting confused. The Fiat Dino was produced as an intermediate step towards Ferrari’s Dino, allowing Ferrari to achieve homologation for its V6 engines in Formula 2 racing by getting Fiat to produce the needed number of production vehicles when it didn’t have the capacity. Two body shapes were produced: the Spider designed by Pininfarina…

… and the Coupé by Bertone. Both cars came in 2.0 and 2.4-litre variants, with the 2.4s actually being assembled by Ferrari.

Which means that cars like this Coupé that we found in the car park were made on the same production line as the 246 Dino.

I’m a bit torn as to which I prefer… The Spider’s sexy lines are undoubtedly beautiful, but the Coupé has a more aggressive muscle car look to it. But those curves! Which would you go for?

The Dino wasn’t the only Italian-styled car hanging out in the car park though. Just around the corner was this fantastic Lancia Montecarlo, also designed by Pininfarina.

This is one of the rarer earlier versions, with the solid rear panels between the c-pillar and engine bay (later versions had glass panels for better visibility). It’s a shame that we didn’t spot one of its Group 5 racing cousin.

Jonathan was particularly taken by this Alfa Romeo GTV, which started him off thinking about an older base for a track car. Alfa power!

Need something to transport your old racing car parts in? This minty green Chevrolet Thriftmaster pick-up could be just the ticket.

A horde of Lamborghinis loitered opposite the Boulevard entrance like raucous teenagers hanging out on street corners…

… whilst stepping inside revealed a barrage of stalls designed to relieve you of any money weighing down your wallet. From models…

… to keyrings, there was truly something to tempt every car owner.

I was rescued from very nearly purchasing a stunning 1:18 Gulf-liveried McLaren MP4-12C GT3 car by a scolding Jonathan, only for him to get snagged by this set of Le Mans Porsche 917Ks on our way out. Damn that Gulf livery!

Jonathan touched on the enormous Porsche display in the paddock in one of his previous posts, but there was one solitary predator lurking on the corner that we just had to show you: this Porsche 912 R.

The car sported an impressive line-up of US tracks on its flanks, as well as the names of Bandini and Scarfiotti on the door. Had it been driven by the pair in times gone by?

I was particularly amused (and intrigued) by the Ferrari tally count sported both on its rear and also on the windscreen. Brand rivalry? Never…

And from an old Porsche to a much newer one, albeit with its own period twist. This Porsche 911 Sports Classic was a limited edition run from 2010 that featured several classic design cues, such as the black light surrounds…

… the fantastic duckbill spoiler, grey paint with darker grey stripe…

… a double-bubble roof and Fuchs-style alloys. It’s just the perfect marriage of old and new – as indeed was the entire OldTimer GP event. As cars from bygone eras battle it out in all their former glory, new classics continue to get added to the mix year after year. And new fans too – they can consider me a convert. Now all I’ve got to do is decide what ‘new-old’ additions I make to my dream garage…

Words by Suzy Wallace
Instagram: speedhunters_suzy

Photos by Jonathan Moore
Instagram: speedhunters_jonathan

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My god that frog eye looks great. there's one with a Ashley hard top in a village I drive through every day. sadly its been rotting in some chaps garden for longer than I've been alive!! Even a friend of mines mate asked to buy it many many years ago, and was told to "clear off"! I was told a bought the same. so sad but it's reassuring to see others being built to perfection.