How to explore exhilarating mountain stretches by your own vehicle.
They live in different cities and sometimes in diverse countries, but they have one thing in common: A passion for classic sports cars and all the nice things that comes with it. The machines don’t have to be expensive or valuable, but they should be some kind of retro rockets. It’s all about putting the arm in the open side windowsill, pushing the pedal to the metal, and taking a break from work and busy city life.
The idea of an annual mountain road trip materialised when Norwegians Bjarne Reistad and Johnny Strand organised a first tour for Alfisti (Alfa Romeo aficionados) around the Geirangerfjord. It inspired them to make a new tradition by inviting classic vehicle owners regardless of car brands, with the only caution that the machines should be Grand Touring-material.
“‘Grand Touring’ is a type of vehicle from the golden age of sports cars. They were built for daily transport and long distance driving”, explains Reistad, who is also one of the people behind Classic Car Show organised each autumn in his home city of Trondheim.
“Norway happens to be the only European country with a spectacular mix of deep fjords and steep mountains. The Norwegian mountain passes are similar to those of Central Europe, although they are shorter and not always as high. The end of May and beginning of June is a good time for driving, as there is still snow in the mountains.”
What equipment is required for such a trip?
“First of all: narrow driving shoes, a road map from the time when the car was new, and binoculars. Some prefer gloves, but I personally like to feel the steering wheel, so I do without them.”
Any spare parts?
“An additional alternator belt, insulator tape, some steel wire, and sufficient Castrol Classic engine oil on a spruce oilcan.”
No tinkering tools?
“Well, the amount of things that go wrong is generally inversely proportional to the amount of tools you have packed in the vintage toolbox in the boot. A lot of tools means little trouble, and the opposite.”
How successful is the combo classic sports cars and Norwegian wilderness?
“Some of the cars have a layout with chassis, engine and gearing that suits this type of topography. The surroundings are occasionally untouched and one get the feel of being transported to the era when the car was built.”
How would you describe the roads?
“A trip over Valdresflya on dry tarmac, with bright sunshine and four metres high snow banks, is an unearthly experience. To drive through the clouds from Geiranger up to Djupvasshytta is likewise magical”, explains Myrene. “Note that modern Norway now generally means perfect, lavish road conditions, and dramatically shortened distances helped by extensive tunnel building programmes. Luckily one can still go for the numerous alternative, classic paths with those wonderful winding roads. The proof of a good match: At the very winding mountain road of Trollstigen a cat-like purr can be heard from the engine compartment.”
What are you talking about in the car?
“As we drive an early 1970s Citroën SM with the sound of the smooth and powerful V6 Maserati engine, we don’t need to talk, but it’s legal to have a conversation about the vessel’s excellences that are intact 45 years after it was built. It has also happened that we discuss the design of the Lamborghini Espada observed in the rear view mirror, the back-swept C-column of the Dino blowing past, or the quality of the panacotta we just ate at Utsikten in Geiranger. And then – we comment upon the wonderful feeling of riding on totally clean roads after weeks of early spring rain. Believe it or not, on our trips the sun is always shining.”
How does such a trip affect friendship and love?
“The cabin of a classic car brings people closer together, and the quality of time spent together makes it easy to agree that it’s worth the money and it motivates planning for next year.”
Where should one stop to eat by the road?
“The renowned bakery in Lom is a must, the same is a double espresso at Herangtunet in Valdres. The famous cake buffet at Hjelle Hotel, the perfectly balanced lunch at Fossheim in Lom, rømmegrøt (sour cream porridge) are all inevitable stops. And there is different kind of delicious goat cheese to taste from local producers along the road”, explains Myrene. “Being a good driver is also about knowing how to park. Relaxing in comfortable and even luxurious surroundings is a natural part of a hectic long weekend. In recent years Norway’s many mountain roads has got several modern additions to traditional pit stops. Keywords are great architecture, food and service.”
Bring your own vehicle – be it a classic or a more modern one – to savour Norway’s mountain landscape at your own pace. It’s all about letting your machine shine. The award-winning National Tourist Routes may be a good start when planning the trip of your life with fellow friends.
With creative use of architecture and art, the tourist routes bring visitors closer to the dramatic views and experiences Norwegian nature has to offer. In addition, there are of course numerous alternate roads, with traditional, as well as modern style hotels to be found along the road. Read more about driving in Norway.