At some point, cars transformed into something more than just carriages with an engine—and began moving the world at a new pace. The early 20thcentury marks the automobile pioneers’ era as Carl Benz invented the modern car in Mannheim in 1886. Enthusiasts at Allgemeiner Schnauferl-Club ASC (‘general snifting club’) preserve automobiles of this period as a part of tech-cultural heritage—and how! When the Baden-Württemberg-Palatinate-Saar division of the Schnauferl Club calls for the annual rally into the Odenwald, a big social event is sure to switch into high gear.
At the meeting point inHeidelberg, the veteran cars’ paint shines, while the brass of the instruments and the wine poured both sparkle. Proud owners of well-kept, pre-war cars are excited about the joint ride in the country.
“We are like a family,” says Lars Kahl, who organizes the tour together with Hans Plewe, ‘maker’ of the ride. “We have known each other for years and sharing such an extraordinary hobby forges a bond between us!” In his everyday life, Lars is head of the Mannheim company for office fittings and furnishings Kahl Büroeinrichtungen GmbH. As soon as he sits in his car, a 1975 Alfa Romeo GT Junior, he can let go of any work-related stress. “When it comes to slowing down, there is nothing quite like a ride in a veteran car,” he goes into raptures. “But I left the Alfa at home, because only pre-war cars are accepted for today’s drive. Our oldest vehicle is 114 years old, made in 1904!”
The 60-kilometre tour starts in Heidelberg and runs along the Neckar river in the Odenwald deep into the hilly Kraichgau region. “We take our time. The cars are not fast,” Lars explains. And off they go—with backfires popping and exhaust pipes releasing clouds of smoke and with a choir composed of many different engine voices.