Alpine Grantour 2016
Starting in Lake Como, we searched the finest roads that the Alps and Dolomites have to offer.
Every year, our very own Club Mulholland organises a European Grantour that goes in search of the finest roads the Alps have to offer. We've been doing the event every year for around seven years now, and 2017 will be the first year we produce a book that the public can buy so they can plan their own tour and book the same hotels. More of that another day though. This feature is about our most recent trip - Alpine Grantour 2016.
Club Mulholland is not a Porsche-only club, far from it, but for 2016 it did end up being a bit of a Porkfest. We had six Porsches and two Ferraris taking part - from a 1972 Porsche 911ST (with Le Mans provenance) up to a 2016 Porsche 991 GT3 RS. The start of the Grantour was at Villa d'Este on Lake Como. Such a beautiful destination, and the perfect place to begin the tour. The cars were transported from the UK, with other members electing to drive. In terms of who goes on these events - people came from South Africa, UK and China! Cars were brought in from Switzerland, Germany and the UK. Club Mulholland members range from the twenty-something chap that has just bought his first Lotus sportscar, through to high-profile collectors that have staggeringly beautiful collections - but no matter what your background, we all share the same passion. Driving.
Day 1 saw us drive from Lake Como to the Stelvio Pass via some of the finest Swiss roads – San Bernardino Pass, Splügen Pass, Albula Pass, Offenpass and Umbrail Pass - to name drop a few. However, we didn't get to do all of them in reality - because of the Police. They didn't like us. If they weren't holding us up for nearly two hours at the border, they were stopping us for... well, whatever they could make stick. Numberplate size, for example. During the whole day, we lost about 4 hours (and several thousand Euro's) to Police delays, so we ended up cutting out the last few passes to get in to Italy as soon as possible. And when we reached the Italian border, we were met by the Italian Police. Oh no. Surely the delightful Swiss Police hadn't phoned ahead to make sure the neighbouring force would continue the unwelcome reception? Well if they had, the Italian's weren't interested. They were thrilled to see the convoy of cars! "Drive hard, drive fast - I wanna hear that baby sing!" - that was the last thing the Policeman said to me. I was more than happy to oblige a member of the law with his request... What a welcome change to the personality-devoid Swiss Police.
The Stelvio Pass offers some incredible views, but it's not the best of driving roads. We do it most years - because our Members want to tick it off the bucket list - but the road surface isn't great and it's always full of cyclists, motorbikes and recreational vehicles. That said, the views are great, so it's worth doing - just get up early. We re-planned the route to avoid Switzerland completely on the next day, so the new route included Strada Statale, Reschen Pass and the fabulous Hahntennjoch Pass, which we did twice. Our end destination was the Interalpen Tyrol - such an accommodating destination that always reserve us two car places per car - and we get to drive in to the check-in area! That is just too cool.
The following day we were making our way from Austria to the Dolomites. Some great Porsche test routes were on our to-do list, along with Falzarego Pass, Pordoi Pass and Sella Pass. Such great roads. The Dolomites is totally different to the Alps so this day felt like no other - fast, well sighted roads, that would see our final destination being the Alpina Dolomites. What a hotel. The view was astonishing and the champagne welcome was very well received! There's nothing better after a full day driving hard than a friendly welcome with a glass of something fizzy. The pictures show just how fabulous the vista was.
The next day we were starting the route back towards the UK, but not before we had driven through Bolzano and doing the Penser Joch and Timmelsjoch. The latter had to be one of the best drives of the entire trip. The road was quiet. The conditions were perfect. And we were all on it! So, so good. The route avoided Switzerland again, so we went up to the Lake of Constance and through the Black Forest until we reached Strasbourg. A long, long day. We were all shattered when we arrived, but there was a sense of accomplishment. We'd just spent the best part of a week driving the very finest roads, in some stunning cars, with good friends. Life is good.
All members can buy the hard-backed book we produce of the drive. For Christmas 2017 we are creating a new book that is for the public - you'll be able to drive our routes and stay at our hotels... Watch this space!
Our Club Mulholland Grantour in 2017 is of Portugal, with a Portimao trackday thrown in too. For more details on Club Mulholland events for 2017, pop along to the website: clubmulholland.com/index.php?pag=events