We had our Volvo 850 repaired at Wondercar…

 

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Barely visible from a distance, but in need for repair, and therefore we drove our fiathful 850 to the professional repair booths at Wondercar Zaventem… 

It all happens in an automotive life. The little pole on the kerb one doesn’t see. The front door on the right side of our faithful 1995 Volvo 850 took the little blow. A dent on the lower end of the door was the result.

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So we needed a bodywork shop which specializes in small repairs, and soon we found the right address: Wondercar in Zaventem…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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A 1937 Škoda steals the jury’s hearts at the Zoute Concours d’Elégance®

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We promised you, dear reader, that we would come back to you with more reports about the delightful 2017 edition of the Zoute Grand Prix®.

The cars presented at the Zoute Concours d’Elégance® certainly turned heads, and there was one little gem, brought from the Škoda Museum, a 1937 Škoda Popular “Monte Carlo”. A rare car indeed, lovingly restored to former glory by the craftsmen of the museum, as engineer Michal Velebný explained us. We show him here with the car in the following two films, and some photos, and treat you to an interesting story…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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8th edition of the ZOUTE GRAND PRIX® proved again a resounding success…

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Very stylish participant at the ZOUTE RALLY®

The ZOUTE GRAND PRIX® has become THE automobile event of the year in Belgium, one can safely say, attracting on the Belgian coast as many as 160,000 car enthusiasts coming to see the classic thoroughbreds as well as admire the modern day stylish GT cars.

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And a very muddy but happy team at the finish! 

This ZOUTE GRAND PRIX® event is despite its size, number of participants and its numerous divisions, i.e. The Auction, the Rally, the GT speed event and last but not least the totally stunning Concours d’Elegance a perfectly organized venue, and can serve as an outstanding example for many.

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Off to a flying (and very happy) start! 

We therefore can only congratulate the organizers, and we will on these pages report in the coming weeks and months several times about the highlights of this superb event, as there was so much to see and experience for us car lovers…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

As it is becoming a tradition, automobile brands with a sporting pedigree participate greatly in the ZOUTE GRAND PRIX®, and this edition for instance BMW and AUDI came up with great cars and famous sporting drivers.

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Sven Nys at the wheel of his BMW 507 with Dr. Peter Henrich, President & CEO of BMW Group Belux as his co-driver. Christophe Weerts, Corporate Communications Manager, looks on… 

We already told you in these columns about Sven Nys taking the wheel of a BMW 507, (see photo above) but there was also heptathlete and IAAF World Champion Nafi Thiam at the wheel of the Audi “streamliner”.

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Soon we will show you a collection of photos of the cars in action on the Rally, as the organizers whisked us to magnificent spots where we could photograph the cars and their drivers “at speed” on the scenic roads along the North Sea coast.

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The cars on show on the Zoute Royal Golf Club were equally breathtaking and also here we come back to you many times to let you enjoy the beautiful contours and curves of the sometimes totally unique cars, lovingly restored to mint condition.

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Absolute gems were to be seen at the Zoute Royal Golf Course… what to think of this 1952 Ferrari 212 Export… 

We will also bring you several interviews of collectors and last but not least heritage museum directors, like Skoda who brought a 1936 Popular Monte Carlo- Coupé to the event.

So, more to follow soon…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Sven Nys, twice world champion in terrain cycling, will be at the wheel of a BMW 507 at the ZOUTE Grand Prix…

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After Matthias Schoenaerts in 2015 and Adrian Van Hooydonk, director of the design department of the BMW Group in 2016, this year, the king of offroad cycling will have the honour and the pleasure to enjoy classic motoring in a BMW at the Zoute Grand Prix.

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At the two last editions of the Zoute Grand Prix we saw a BMW 328 Roadster and a year after the 328 Touring Le Mans. This year BMW Belux, with the support of BMW Classic will participate with a BMW 507 from 1957, as this car celebrates its 60th birthday. An exceptional car indeed.

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Elvis Presley was also an admirer of the BMW 507 at its introduction… 

Sven Nys will have Dr. Peter Henrich, President & CEO of BMW Group Belux as a co-driver.  “It is an honour and pleasure to put a car with this historical pedigree at the disposal of an athlete which has marked the history of offroad cycling. I am convinced that Sven Nys, with his talented skills as an offroad champion, will find his way and be well at home behind the wheel of this BMW 507”, according to Peter Henrich…

We will see both men in action around Knokke!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

The Alpine A110 will be at the start of the ZOUTE GT TOUR®

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Alpine A110 in action at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, will also be in full swing on the Knokke boulevards…

Alpine presented its stylish new A110 at the latest Geneva Salon in March this year. Since then, the A110 participated in a row of prestigious events: at the Concours d’Elégance in Apeldoorn in the gardens of the Palace Het Loo and the Supercar Run during the Goodwood Festival of Speed (UK).

Next weekend, on October 8, the A110 will participate at the ZOUTE GT TOUR® in the 8th edition of the ZOUTE GRAND PRIX®

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Alpine A110 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, showing off its characteristic shape, reminiscent of its famous ancestors…

At the wheel of this gleaming A110 will be Michel  van der Sande, Managing Director Alpine.

The A110 will otherwise be on show in the streets of Knokke, amids other prestigious cars and thoroughbreds which will also adorn the ZOUTE GRAND PRIX®

See you there, and we will just show you here some photos of the A110 in action at the Goodwood festival of speed!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

An exclusive four wheeled star will turn heads for charity in Knokke Zoute…

Mercedes-Maybach G 650 Landaulet ;*Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert: 17,0 l/100 km, CO2-Emissionen kombiniert: 397 g/km Mercedes-Maybach G 650 Landaulet; *Fuel consumption combined: 17.0 l/100 km, CO2 emissions combined: 397 g/km
Mercedes-Maybach G 650 Landaulet

The famous auction house Bonhams will offer a new masterpiece of automotive engineering – The Mercedes-Maybach G650 Landaulet, one of only 99 built – at its Zoute auction on October 6th.

Bonhams is waiving its fees and returning proceeds of the sale to Laureus Sport for Good, a charity of which Mercedes-Benz is a global partner. The foundation focuses on helping children and young people overcome violence, discrimination and disadvantage through sport.

In the run up to the events surrounding the ZOUTE GRAND PRIX®, we just tell you here somewhat more about this unique SUV, and let you also enjoy the photos…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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Further motoring pleasures: driving our New Beetle Cabrio through the Alps and Italian Riviera…

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…we attacked the highest alpine route in Europe, the Col de la Bonette –Restefond, reaching an altitude of 2802 meters…

Faithful readers know we are the happy owners, for quite a few years now, of a gleaming black New Beetle Cabrio, as one can read on our previous website www.autoprova.net.

It sits well garaged in our holiday house, and therefore bears a French license plate. It has a supersmooth 1,4 liter 75 HP petrol engine, and offers very refined progress. This year, we decided to take it on an extended alpine tour and drive it also to Ventimiglia for a family visit resulting also in quite a few culinary delights.

Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “Further motoring pleasures: driving our New Beetle Cabrio through the Alps and Italian Riviera…”

Sweet memories, and some very famous signatures…

 

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When moving automobilia to our house in the French Midi, we (re)discovered a large frame with a table napkin in it filled with signatures. My father had kept it carefully, and had commented it. What a unique memory it proved to be. It now has a very special place in our French maison de pierre, where it is displayed on an old stone wall. Indeed, it was a table napkin, which my father carefully lifted from the table at the celebration dinner of the (re)opening of the renovated Nürburgring on May 12, 1984.

“This napkin, my dear son, will make history”, he said with a solemn expression. “Look at the people here. They embody the history of motor sport, and soon, some of them will not be here anymore. So we now pass this napkin around and let them all sign it”. A brilliant idea.  Here it is, and dear readers, I want to share it on my site with you.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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One has to read the napkin clockwise from the right side above. It starts with Rudolf Uhlenhaut, the legendary Mercedes development engineer, responsible for designing the revolutionary pre-war W 25 Mercedes Grand Prix Car,which he further developed into the W 125. He designed and engineered all the post war Mercedes Grand Prix cars of the fifties, and then the 300 SL and SLR, amongst others. Below it, one finds Juan Manuel Fangio, then Alain Prost and Carlos Reutteman.

Then follows Hermann Lang, the legendary pre-war Grand Prix driver, and Niki Lauda, Keke Rosberg and former Mercedes Benz Museum Director Von Pein. Then the former President Director of Mercedes Benz, Dr. Werner Breitschwert, and Eugen Böhringer, the man who won the Monte Carlo Rallye in the Mercedes 220 SE “Heckflossen” limousines, and the 1963 edition of the grueling Luik-Sofia-Luik rallye in the then just launched Mercedes “Pagode” 230 SL.

Then comes Karl Kling, member of the famous pre-war Mercedes GP team, followed by Alan Jones, Formula 1 World Champion in 1980, and the second Australian to do so following triple World Champion Sir Jack Brabham.  Alan competed in a total of 117 Grand Prix, winning 12 and achieving 24 podium finishes. In 1978 Jones won the Can-Am championship driving a Lola. Then follows John Watson, third in the F1 championship in 1982, now a commentator in the Blancpain GT series. Last but not least James Hunt, F1 World Champion in 1976, who then became a famous F 1 commentator at the BBC and unfortunately died from a heart attack aged 45. He was inducted into the Motor Sport Hall of Fame on 29 January 2014.

Then there is Ewy Rosqvist-von Korff, the legendary female driver who won the East African Safari in a Mercedes 220 SE, Jack Brabham, twice F1 World Champion, John Surtees, F1 Word Champion in 1964 and Jodi Scheckter, F1 World Champion with Ferrari in 1964.

Needless to say, I cherish this napkin, and hope it will last generations…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Holiday delights: we drove our Volvo to the French Midi…

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Driving through the scenic valley of the Doubs, home region of the famous painter Gustave Courbet, here parked in front of an old brick manufactory. 

Our faithful Volvo 850 has some busy times lately. After the Swedish trip, it was time to take it to France, enjoying it driving through historic towns and mountain passes. The Volvo needed little preparation. Oil consumption is nil, so no topping up was necessary. We just had the rear windscreen wiper changed, and that was it. We already mentioned we had the car cleaned, with some more thorough valeting of the interior. Of course we were careful to check the tire pressures before the trip. Here follows our (travel) story…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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Inside beautiful Besançon, cars are prevented from reaching the city centre…

With our faithful TomTom set up, we headed south, and decided to have a first stop at Besançon. We were so fortunate to have the good idea to avoid Luxembourg completely and drive from Brussels via Longwy, immediately entering France. Driving leisurely at the legal speed limits, which were mostly set at 110 km/h, consumption hovered between 7 and 8 liters of 95 octane fuel. Of course it runs sweetly on the new formulated “Euro” 95 fuel, Volvo’s can do this since…1977! Being totally in the holiday mood, we decided to stay on the Routes Nationales after Nancy. It proved to be quite a relaxing drive indeed, appreciating the good quality of the RN’s, well maintained and usually in excellent condition.

We had booked a fine hotel in the historic centre of Besançon, which is a stunning renaissance town with Vauban defense walls around it.

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Unfortunately, a “braderie” or flea market was going on in the centre at the moment of our arrival, and the hotel proved that day totally inaccessible by car. In our modest opinion, European and National politicians are eager to make city centre’s car free, but then fail to provide adequate provisions for tourists who happen to have luggage and are not 19 year old athletes. So gentlemen politicians, why not provide for the unfortunate few hotel owners who are the victims of these draconic,  albeit temporary measures, a couple of nice electric golf cars with the city logo on it, which can be used as luggage shuttles? Or some healthy young students? Now the poor hotel owner, manifestly going literally a (very) long way to satisfy his clients, came personally to haul our luggage on his shoulders and carry it a few hundred meters to his fine hotel. We suggested he should have a good conversation with his mayor. The local politicians should provide solutions for their hotel businesses for these special days when the city centre is locked off for a special event. “C’est l’Europe”,  the hotel owner answered. Well, it is not. Europe issues a directive with aims to alleviate the city centre’s from car traffic, but it leaves the national authorities and local politicians the free choice on the ways and means to implement it.

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It must be said that the overnight tariffs for the parking house in the city centre are very low indeed, and that the next morning the hotel was totally accessible by car, once the flea market was over. Here you see our Volvo parked in front of the Hotel Vauban the next morning. Loading the luggage proved a breeze…

We had the same problem in the historic centre of Ventimiglia, but that is another story, of which more later…

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The fortified city of Besançon offers some stunning perspectives…

The next day, we set our sails to Ornans, the birthplace of Gustave Courbet. A smaller characteristic town, dubbed “Venice of the North” as it has the Loue running through it. He painted with love the region around this town, in the valley of the Doubs, and indeed it is beautiful.

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Our Volvo was in very good company on the market square of Ornans, with an Alpine Berlinette parked next to it, which was taking part in a local “Rally des Doubs”.

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We drove through the impressive “Forêt de la Joux” or the forest of the Joux via Champagnole to Les Rousses,

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and then went on to Gex via the magnificent Col de la Faucille, which offers truly stunning views on the Lac Léman.

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Of course, Geneva and the magnificent view from the Col de la Faucille was tempting us, see the photo below,

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but we stopped short of it and visited Ferney Voltaire, where the château of the famous French philosopher Voltaire offered us a grand view over its gardens, with Geneva in the background. Certainly a magnificent backdrop for all the philosophical thoughts one might have…

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From there on, it was heading further to our holiday house, via Grenoble and Valence.

There our Volvo was happy to meet its brothers, amongst others the shining black New Beetle Cabrio, which was taking us further around during our holiday in the French Midi, and driving us through the Alps to the Italian Riviera and back, but that is another story. Stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Driving a youngtimer on long holiday trips…an undisturbed joy!

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Our Volvo standing proudly before the Cathedral in Danish Roskilde…

Many people looked at us with some amazement: driving your 22 year old car for thousands of kilometers, all the way to Scandinavia and back? With no further preparation than just ordinary maintenance? Just step in and go?  We were also anxiously asked about fuel consumption, and the need to take on spare parts. Well, as you guessed form our previous reports, this trip proved to be actually great fun, and was a very relaxing and comfortable experience too.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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