Metaphors around the topic steel could have been tried on this Sunday many. Can speak of the steel gray sky, which had settled over the Saarland and large parts of the Palatinate. Or of the dreams of steel, sheet metal and leather, pushed through the city center of Völklingen, the former steel city in the Saarland push.
And of course Swedish steel, for years a core element of the Swedish car maker SAAB and Volvo and Sicherheitsgarant. Old Swedes stood in the center of the Oldtimerkorsos, which is celebrated as every year for the open Sunday in the fall, now in the 16. Edition. With the Swedish steel, the circle then closes to steel city without large bows.
When I heard about this choice of subject from the newspaper, it was only a quick tap of the keyboard to write an e-mail to Heinz Rupp, one of the organizers, describing my concerns, about the Corso in general, and the up-and-coming Swedes in particular - and SAAB in a very special - to report. My request did not fall on deaf ears, already one day later, Arno Harth, co-organizer, phone me. The details and support are quickly agreed, the spatially and proverbially short distances in the Saarland show their effect, a good stand near the track spokesman is assured me, as well as a look behind the scenes and in the vehicle messages.
In spite of the appointment in mid-October, there was always autumnal sunshine in recent years. Not so this year. Drizzle and a windy ten degrees water down the anticipation for drivers and spectators, as usual - and with his humorous moderation an attraction in itself - track spokesman Michael Maisch sends the drivers punctually to 13 30 on the track. Probably because of the weather, there are fewer starters registered with 160 vehicles this time than in previous years. In particular, convertible drivers seems to have deterred the autumn weather, only a few open cars found in the column, and even less of them with the top down.
The motorcycles are the start, and the Rathausstraße is soon filled with a smell of engines that are not familiar with particulate matter filters, exhaust gas purification and environmental zones, but which are the salt in the soup soup that otherwise spills our streets. The tractors follow, then the 1967 BMW 2000CS of Heinrich Zimmer opens the parade of passenger vehicles. The BMW, which carries the start number 1, will later receive a special prize, for sixteen (16) consecutive participations.
The response in the community of Swedish drivers is unfortunately low this year, no ten Swedish vehicles can be found. This is not surprising on the one hand, the Saarland is dominated by the imported cars but rather by the French, by Renault, Peugeot and Citroen. The Ford factories based here have also ensured a strong and long-lasting customer base and an active vintage car scene. Opel anyway, there are also some Americans, the proximity to the American military bases in Rhineland-Palatinate speaks for itself. Swedes are exotic here, so the low number of Swedish registrations, disappointing as it is, is not unexpected.
Despite the circumstances, the Swedish driver's field impresses with its exclusivity and motorsport prominence. The round of the Swedes opens with a Volvo P1800E by Robert Pallien, whose sleek lines make it look more Italian than Swedish, and which lays the bar high for the following vehicles. It is anticipated that this time, contrary to the saying at the end, the first will be the first.
At the start also, albeit out of competition, a Volvo P210 duet, driven by the Swede Ingmar Persson, veteran of the German Touring Car Championship. Until the beginning of the 80er himself active as a racing driver, he was then as a mechanic and team boss one of the faces of the DTM, from mechanics in the named after him team for which, among others, celebrities like Per Stureson, Olaf Manthey or Uwe Alzen took the wheel and the Championship 1985 should win, and later could celebrate a series of race victories.
Flexibility was demonstrated by the jury at the sight of the Volvo C202, which instead of the other Swedes, had joined the commercial vehicles - according to its shape. Since he stood out here quite unique and was initially held for a Steyr Pinzgauer with Volvo camouflage, this misconception was corrected with the spontaneous establishment of the special category "Old Swede: commercial vehicles", the owner Sebastian Heckmann also promptly won the race.
SAAB made within the already small group of Swedes its reputation as a brand of individualists all honor: just two SAAB are registered, of the same type 96, both real eye-catcher. The one, piloted by Peter Diller, shines in the colors of the Swedish rally winner 1976 and may at least adorn himself with the title of German champion in the historic rally sport 2011.
As a true individualist, however, shows the second SAAB: The driver must have reported late, at least one hour before the start of the Corso was not yet in the paddock. Also, the vehicle does not carry the usual sign with the car number, so the driver must remain anonymous, the registration card seems to have gone down in the crowd. In a dark green Saab 96 he drives the field of the big Americans, the BMW, Opel and Ford in front of him, pursuing only one Opel and some commercial vehicles - more SAAB hardly goes.
After one and a half hours, everything is over, as last roll the trucks and fire trucks on the track. The prizes will be presented, and once again this year the jury can be congratulated on their election. Even though the winner's trophy would have gone to another car in one case or another, in the end there were deserved first places in all categories. That the price in the category of the old Swedes not SAAB, but the Volvo P1800E won is to get over.
My heartfelt thanks again to the organizers, Heinz Rupp, Achim Schmitt and Arno Harth, as well as to moderator Michael Maisch for the support.
And my call to the SAAB community for the coming year: Even if we want to be individualists, it can not hurt to show off the flag from time to time. The longest journey this year was via 130 km from northern Luxembourg. That would have to top it ... special price or not.