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Jüchen, 3rd - 5th of August, 2018

New and established...This might be the slogan of the Classic Days in Schloss Dyck between Moenchengladbach and Düsseldorf. Situated in the urban sprawl of the river Rhine and near the border to the Netherlands and Belgium the 3 days festival once again attracted more than 40000 visitors despite the heat wave affecting most of Europe at the moment. For the (un)lucky 13th edition the volunteers of the Classic Days Club have set up the festival on burnt steppe-like meadows to fill the dry dusty field with colorful highlights, many of them proven over the years, some of them a first. With a mix of action on a small closed off demonstration track near the castle, a concours in the orangery, annual features like the classic camping section, the cars from the German economic miracle time after WWII or the thousands of spectators cars located in the miscanthusfeld there is pretty much something for everybody and one can easily spend more than one day exploring everything and meeting like-minded people or collect autographs from current and former race drivers.

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One of the cornerstones of the festival are the racing legends, when the cars of the different eras can be seen in their natural environment, the road. Divided in several classes ranging from pre-war sports-cars to the cars from the 1960s including bikes the track is highly frequented during the weekend. Beside the standard classes (the established) several special themes create new highlights every year to avoid a wear out of the concept and animate for an annual return. But known does not necessarily mean dated as the annual appearance of the Benjafield´s Racing Drivers Club from the UK shows when the Bentley Boys arrive with their toys after making it all the way from the UK to be shown in a separate run. If one asks what it is like to travel all the way in a Cricklewood Bentley in today’s traffic one might be even more stunned by the arrival of the American LaFrance from the southern part of Germany and Switzerland. Originally constructed as fire trucks these huge chain driven speedsters a certainly a handful to drive both on the round course as well as on the motorway where one could see them on Sunday evening on their way home. These simple trucks were certainly a highlight of the weekend and left a lot of spectators speechless when driven in anger.

Even bigger in displacement was a trio of very special aero engined cars making their debut in Dyck led by the famous Napier-Railton from the Brooklands Museum. The W12 24 litre Napier engine is giving the monster a speed of about 270 km/h and the rear-brakes-only Railton is the record holder on the outer lap in Brooklands averaging more than 230 km/h. Even more extreme is the toy of Chris Williams, the Packard-Bentley called “Mavis” is driven by a V12 torpedo boat engine with no less than 42 litre displacement. The lack of a proper exhaust system but 12 flame spitting tubes on each side fed by the two exhaust valves per cylinder did not only give the local fire brigade and the organizers a headache but also guaranteed the most spectacular performance of the weekend.

Smaller flames could be seen on the current Audi A5 DTM driven by Mike Rockefeller to promote the races at the Nuerburgring next month. It was accompanied by several historic DTM cars ranging from the Ford Sierra and Capri to the Mercedes-Benz C-Class of the 1990.

But apart from that both sponsoring partners VW and Mercedes-Benz were a little bit quieter this year. Although the Autostadt showed the famous Auto Union C-Type as driven by Hans Stuck in the 1930s at the hill and the latest Pikes Peak record holding VW ID R both the screaming supercharger and the whistle of the electro engine remained silence ass both cars remained static display. Audi was celebrating their heritage of 150 years of August Horch and both on the track and at the concours an own class featured the noblesse elegance of the straight-eight engined luxury cars. Mercedes-Benz brought the Prinz-Heinrich Wagen to Dyck, the car from 1910 delivered a healthy 100 hp as piloted by Jochen Mass and Klaus Ludwig who were present in numerous autograph sessions alongside Hans Herrman, the former silver arrow pilot and first Porsche Le Mans winner in 1970. Volkswagen once again brought the legendary rally duo Röhrl/Geistdörfer piloting several cars from the Autostadt collection including a twin engined VW Golf intended for Pikes Peak where Röhrl had one of his most famous victories in the Audi Quattro.

For the Italian moments in Dyck there was again a special run of the FIAT-Alfa Romeo Group spearheaded by Arturo Merzario who brought the 1975 Sports Car Championship winning Alfa Romeo 33TT12, with whom he achieved several victories including the famous Targa Florio. One year after presenting the Ferrari shark nose the sympathic Italian racer once again was one of the spectators’ favorite.

Steve McQueen might be a movie star but his appearance in the legendary Le Mans movie made him a trademark in the classic car scene as seen on numerous auction records for his former cars or even movie accessories. Aside Le Mans certainly the movie “Bullit” is trend setting as it features one of the longest car chases in movie history decades before the “Fast and Furious” series was released. The German car dealer Chrome Cars brought the original Dodge Charger from the movie but unlike in Goodwood it was not chased by the original “Bullit” Ford Mustang but by a similar car of year and color as in the blockbuster. Furthermore the original “Eleanor” from the movie “Gone in 60 seconds” was chased around the block by two police cars.

A little bit quieter was the setting in the orangery for the concours, a good mix ranging from early Ford Model T to a wild Gemballa Porsche 930. As mentioned before the featured class was dedicated to the work of August Horch and 4 cars were lined up in front of the castle. Although a recreation of what is supposed to be lost, the Horch 853 Streamline Coupé originally bodied by the Berlin coachbuilder Erdmann&Rossi for the racing star if its day Bernd Rosemeyer was the favorite of the public winning the Best of Show awards. The trophy was presented by the countess Metternich host of the castle.

The 2018 edition certainly will remain in the memory for a long time because of the extreme temperatures that might have spoilt the fun to a degree as one was more into hiding in the shadow than walking the endless lines of cars in the miscanthusfield for example. But as the organizers were able to get the event done in a very smooth way despite the circumstances and the unlucky No.13 there might be almost nothing they have to fear for the future. The German garden party is going strong and is highly accepted over the borders as one could hear from the different languages spoken and one can be curious what the highlights of next year might be when the first weekend in August is again reserved for the Classic Days.

Report & images ... Peter Singhof