MG Car Club of Berlin 9th International Rally

9th International MG Meeting Berlin

On Monday 21st August my wife Frances and I set of from Tamworth in our TA to travel to Berlin for the MG Car Club of Berlin 9th International Rally.  This event is held every other year and I first went to it in 2000, I really enjoyed it then and I enjoyed it as much this time.  When I went then, the ferry ran from Harwich to Hamburg and on the overnight ferry it was a doddle getting from Hamburg to Berlin.  Unfortunately there are no ferries from the UK to Germany any longer so it had to be Harwich to the Hook of Holland and a journey, double that of 2000.

We set off Tuesday afternoon and taking our time we arrived at Harwich for the overnight sailing for the Hook, arriving in plenty of time for boarding.  The next morning we arrived at the Hook and drove to Bad Bentheim just over the border in Germany, there we met up with Malcolm and Linda Sayers with their TD.  The next morning we set out for our next stop so that we would have a short run into Berlin the next day to arrive at the hotel for the start of the event.  We were travelling down the autobahn that easily that at one of our stops Malcolm suggested going for broke and drive direct to Berlin.  This we did, and Malcolm was pleasantly surprised that our TA could keep up with him, especially as he has got the 5 speed gear box conversion and a high ratio back axle!  The old TA with the MPJG engine coped very well cruising along the autobahns at speeds of 60-65 m.p.h., this considering that on Sunday the 20th, the day before, it had been Flivver's birthday.

So we arrived in Berlin and found the hotel, that unfortunately had had to be changed at the last moment, this caused a logistical problem insomuch that all of the instructions and directions were from the original hotel we were booked for.  However we booked in and put our cars in the underground car park then unpacked.  We then explored the area around our hotel looking for somewhere to eat and drink, a good way to end our first day in Berlin.

The next day we got ourselves all day tickets for the Berlin transport system and went exploring the German capital.  Back to the hotel at lunchtime for registration and rally plates for the next day.  This done I found myself start number one for the rally, not perhaps the best but certainly the oldest car on the rally.  Hot drinks and cake were available and we met old faces we recognised from our last trip in 2000, Malcolm recognised a lot more as he knew friends from all over Europe that were attending the rally.  That evening we went on the first of the surprise trips that had been organised for us.  We went by coach to one of Berlin's rivers and a cruise boat awaited us we then cruised into and around Berlin.  The evening was beautiful, ideal for a cruise that took us past the Reichstag and most of the sites of the German capital.  Then we went to a restaurant that had been booked for us and we had a wonderful Greek meal.  We then went back to the hotel ready for an early start in the morning.

Start Number 1

From the hotel we drove to the AVUS North curve, this had been a banked racing circuit but is now part of the autobahn and a part used as a truck park.  A section had been cordoned off for us and all of the participating cars lined up waiting for the Berliner Police Motorcycle Team 'White Mice' to escort us through Berlin.  There were about a dozen of them constantly overtaking on both sides of us to stop all the traffic at junctions that we crossed on our tour of Berlin city centre.  We arrived at a museum and were allowed to park for our 'photo shoot' here we placed our 'incontinent' pads under our cars, (they are very concerned about MG's depositing their trademark on the cobbles and we were all issued with them at the start of the event).  We then went to the Meilenwerk which is now a combination garage, showroom, servicing area, and in a way a museum.  It is based in the old tram sheds that served Berlin before trams were phased out in West Berlin.  It is now a very prestigious building that is for garaging only 'interesting' cars as they are in glass cases on the lower deck and a motorised lift moves them as necessary to the upper level.  The owners come in and their car is produced for them.  The owners pay rent for the spaces and the people visiting it get to see many classic and very exquisite cars.

The Meilenwerk

We then went back to our hotel and later to the Marriott Hotel at Kleinmachnow for a dinner buffet and then to the start of the evening rally.  This was extremely interesting, when we started it was dark and rather wet, so up went the hood (only so that Fran could read the 'tulip' rally map without it disintegrating) we then drove around a very picturesque part of Berlin (what we could see of it in the dark) doing one or two tests on the way.  One of them cost me 19 points, I was shown a bottle top and then the instructions in German then in English by the time I had worked out what I had to do the bottle top had been whipped away and I had to guess how many teeth were on it.  I could not look at it again so I had to guess, 40 said I, wrong there were only 21!  That cost me the 19 points, but I still finished amongst the winners.

Saturday was the big rally, tulip map provided and off we set, again several check points on the way around with various tests to do.  The best one was on a disused airfield, where you needed plenty of room, the test was to get into a 'mini' and weave in and out of 6 cones, every other cone had a tennis ball on top of it.  It was timed naturally and the quickest time would be the optimum one and everybody else was penalised by losing time points, OK so far, but why not do it in your own MG, good question!  The mini had the foot pedals on the left hand side but the steering wheel on the right, not really a problem you may think, the problem was that with the steering box on top of the rack this reversed the direction the car turned!  We watched the fun and games for some time, it was quite hilarious.

Saturday evening was the Gala dinner and prize giving and of course speeches, even I got to give one to explain that it had been 'Flivvers' 70th birthday (or should that be build day?) the previous Sunday.  I had taken a birthday cake with me that was shared out to all of the guests and some of the staff of the 'Waterworks Restaurant' where we had the venue.

Flivver's Cake

Sunday was another run out into the countryside calling in at the Rolls Royce aero engine works situated near Berlin. One of the MG Car Club members worked there so we had a very interesting guided tour of the plant. We then left to go to the hotel settle the bill and pack up ready to start off back to the UK in the morning.

After breakfast we said goodbye to everyone that were still there, loaded up and set out back to the UK.  We had our suitcase on the luggage rack on the rear of the car wrapped in a rather large bin liner to protect the suitcase and contents in case of torrential rain, we never had torrential rain but if we had not put it on no doubt it would have.  The reason I mention this is that as we were cruising down the autobahn at 60 mph the car suddenly checked in its forward motion only temporally but it felt as if the brakes had suddenly been applied.  What had happened was that the bin liner had filled up with air and acted like a parachute.  It pulled the suitcase off the rack, out of the bungee ropes and it had bounced on to the autobahn and ended up on the hard shoulder.  Fortunately it was a polycarbonate case and it survived without any damage and the contents, including two bottles of German beer and a rather delicate glass (part of my prize) also remained intact.  Remarkable is all I have to say.  The moral of this is to use polycarbonate suitcases and do not put an extra large bin liner on to protect it!

We stayed overnight at Melle about half way to the Hook of Holland and having called in at the Airborne Museum at Oosterbeek near Arnhem the next day we arrived at the Hook for our overnight sailing to Harwich.  The total mileage we did for the event was 1,630 miles, apart from the valve in the float chamber getting jammed a couple of times, a sharp tap with a spanner clears this, (a handy tip from Malcolm) we had no problems.  I also had my obligatory puncture, fixed by our efficient German organisers, (every time we go abroad I seem to have punctures).

The cars on the rally ranged from 2 TA's, 1 TB, 1 TC, 5 TD's, 2 TF's, 4 MG A's, 5 MG B's, 2 MGB GT, 2 MG Midgets to 3 MG F's.  The cars had come from Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway and of course the UK.  2 cars had to drop out when on the way to the event, a J2 got 'bent' in a crash and 1 car broke down on the way.

I would like to thank the Organising Committee: Werner Muschack, President, Keith Swinden, Vice President, Alex Lukosch, Jürgen and Waltraud Schmidt, Uschi Rohnke, Heinz and Petra Arndt and Christina Woermann.

The very valuable and necessary Helpers: Andy Page, Angela Bonow, Wolfgang and Karin Fleige, Frank and Kerstin Witte, Günther and Marion Placke, Santer und Margit Woermann, Joachim Woermann, Harry Burkhardt, Singh and Christel Dhanjal, Günther Jäger, Jacqueline Lange and a few others who I've probably forgotten.

The main video man was Rainer Heinze with a number of helpers, whose names I'm afraid I don't know!  We should get our DVD's sometime in the New Year.  All in all an excellent event and the 10th Internationales Treffen in Berlin in 2008 will go in my diary as soon as I get it!