125 Years of the Car - Day 1
The V8 Hotel is situated at the old Stuttgart airport and comprises of various old aircraft hangers. The hotel is privately owned and consists of 10 car themed rooms ranging from 160 euros per night to 460 euros for a room split over 4 levels including roof terrace and sauna. There are also standard rooms available for less. I stayed in the car wash themed room, which looked over the hangar containing classic and performance cars for auction / sale - quite unique for a hotel room view. A hangar further down contains hundreds of very rare cars such as Maserati, Ferrari, De Tomaso, Lamborghini, Porsche, Jaguar and so on. This is a service area and a place where clients can store their cars in secure, glass boxes. To add to the complex, a man made lake is under construction, which will include water sports. So, we have one resort with great food, drink, atmosphere, cars, water sports, close proximity to the Porsche, Audi and Mercedes museums, what else do you need. Various car clubs come to visit the facility and I recommend it for any of the UK clubs. Mercedes and Porsche were the most popular car here.
A tour of the Stuttgart city was next on the agenda and it was certainly a lot prettier than I was expecting. The route taken in the rather fancy Spillmann (18 - 56 seater) coach, revealed that Stuttgart isn't industrial at all and judging by the cars parked outside the various mansions, the locals are doing alright as well. Ferdinand Porsche built a villa here in the 1920's, which is now a family guest house - wouldn't mind being a member of that family. There are various beer and wine festivals throughout the year and I was surprised to hear about a Bollywood festival around October time and apparently they use the building backdrops in various films and music videos. A query from our group on who had the prancing horse first out of Porsche and Ferrari revealed it was Porsche that had the horse before Ferrari - Horse stud farm becomes Stuttgart and therefore the horse on the shield.
As you can see from the pictures, the Mercedes Museum is enormous. Mercedes has provided a facility that is not only for petrol heads, but great for student and group tours giving you a history of life as well as the car. The original Mercedes Museum started in the 1920's and some models are still on show, such as the first car from 1886, which is a three wheeled 1 cylinder car, noted as the model 1. A guided tour of the facility is 75 minutes long, however the audio has enough for 42 hours. I highly recommend spending a couple of hours here and more if you fancy lunch or a drink on the terrace. This complex is the most impressive spectacle for automotive history that I've seen and provided capacity for arranging conferences.
One of my favourite parts of the week was the very unexpected classic car evening. The cars included a Mercedes 280 SL, Alfa Romeo GT Junior, Porsche 911's and 914. I opted for the 2.0L flat 6, 1968 110 bhp, Porsche 911 in orange. This featured a dog leg gear box (1st is where you'd expect 2nd) non-assisted brakes and the longest 1st gear I've ever used - 50 km/h was about 3000 rpm and made hill starts quite exciting. The model I drove showed 900 km on the clock and was insured for 58k euros so I didn't want to scratch it. The old timers (German term for classic cars) and their drivers headed on a country road convoy to a very fancy restaurant in the hills. Once arrived, we shared stories of other motorists stopping midway around roundabouts to let us go and countless admirers and waves on the way. These cars might not be fast, luxurious or easy on the driver but they are fabulous never the less. Driving back I knew that you needed 4000 rpm to setoff from a standstill and that you needed to break with the gears and all your force on the pedal. The 911 includes no stereo because Mr Porsche would like you to listen to the engine note but the conversation was good with Germanys finest tour guides.