Armstrong Siddeleys in the Black Forest…

This year’s destination was the Black Forest. The German Armstrong Siddeley Group, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, is assembling on annnual basis for a long weekend. For us it was the fifth “German Armstrong Siddeley Tour (GAST)” – and the first trip to the Black Forest for more than 30 years. Nine representatives of the marque participated this year, representing about a quarter of the German  SIddeley population. Unimaginable at a VW- or Mercedes meeting…

A hotel in the village of Baiersbronn-Schönmünzach was our home base for various tours during the weekend. Its parking lot was soon crowded out with Sphinxes and their Coventry cousins: In addition to three pre-war Siddeleys, four Sapphire 346 and two of the rare Star Sapphires, a Riley RMA and a Jaguar XJ joined the group.

After an early start on Friday we went straight to the Mercedes plant in Rastatt, the birth place of their A- and B-class models. Even though it was impressive to see how these cars are welded and glued together (with only few human beings in the body assembly line) these modern cars are not really my cup of tea, so I rather leave it with a snapshot of our trip through the villages. Photography was banned anyway inside the factory…

A highlight of the weekend was opening its doors for us in the afternoon: The “vehicle museum” in Marxzell. Automobiles, motorcycles, typewriters, ashtrays, shoe polish tins, advertising signs,… even a helicopter, tram waggons and locomotions. Everything collected over 45 years and, prima facie, stored without any discernible structure in a few warehouses.

Some of the exhibts covered themselves with thick dust layers and cobwebs, giving the impression of a just yet discovered barn find…

Even the space under the roof was used to display rare automobile antiques. I was gobsmacked (a word I owe to my former fellow student Nick from Yorkshire) as I would not have expected such a museum in Germany… maybe in England? Absolutely magic and a strong recommendation for a visit! It was extremely hard to leave this place…

On Saturday, the rain that had been forecasted for the entire weekend had eventually reached us, doing its best to make up for the sunny and dry Friday. It was raining cats and dogs when we visited the (certainly) beautiful city of Baden-Baden. Nevertheless, when visiting the SWR television studios, we were graciously greeted by (half) a sphinx. Skilfully crafted from stryrofoam.

Needless to say that the lousy weather did not prevent us to take the scenic route (“Schwarzwaldhochstraße”) for our way back to the hotel. Wonderful landscapes with wafts of mist rising from the forest. After all, who needs sun anyway when driving a British classic car…well, maybe the hydrophobic photographer, hence no pictures.

Sunday was sunny again and led us to the Unimog museum in Gaggenau. Besides a nice exhibition of vintage Unimogs (an abbreviation of the German term “Universalmotorgerät” – universal motor device) of all ages, it was possible to take a rollercoaster ride in a modern sample over a little test range. Quite a test for dental fillings and intervertrebral discs…but fun!

All too soon, the 20th anniversary GAST meeting was over and an armada of Armstrong Siddeleys set sail to their respective homes. A wonderful weekend drew to a close…

…if it had not been for a punctured tyre on our car, just when overtaking a caravan at 80 mph on the motorway. Twenty metres before the sign “Welcome to Rhineland Palatinate” (our home state), from which a happy family was smiling and waving at us in a somehow smirky way. As if they wanted to tell us “See? You’d better have taken one of these A-Class vehicles that you light-heartedly despised on Friday in Rastatt…” Needless to say that it is of utmost importance for drivers and passengers of a British classic saloon to retain countenance and style, even in such a mortifying situation. No matter that the sun was heating the motorway like there’s no tomorrow and the passing high-speed traffic turns the tyre exchange into a trial of courage (which I eventuelly handed over to a daredevil German AA representative).

Anyway, despite the ungentle welcome to Rhineland-Palatinate, we finally made it home.Time (and a new tyre) heels everything, so that we are already looking forward to the 21st year of the German Armstrong Siddeley group and the next meeting in 2014!

Image gallery (to enlarge please click on the thumbnail)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *