Mountain passes rock (see what we did there). For die-hard petrolheads there’s no greater sight than a twisting alpine road threaded between snow-covered mountains. It’s the ultimate test of test of man and machine – high-altitude, high-speed and high-risk driving amidst some of the world’s greatest scenery.
Here’s the thing, what car are you going to drive on such a route? Do you opt for something small and light, like a Caterham, for that ultimate driving thrill? Or do you balance between comfort and speed courtesy of an Audi RS6 or subsequent BMW M-car? One car you probably wouldn’t consider taking is an ex-Police Interceptor slammed on Air Lift Performance suspension. So that’s exactly what we did!
Daft, unnecessary, impractical and maybe even a little dangerous. These were all thoughts running through our minds prior to setting off. But never let a bad idea get in the way of a good photo, right? Safe to say there’s no shortage of photo opportunities along the Austrian Grossglockner…
Why even go we hear you cry? Well first things first, driving back to Calais from Austria in one hit is LONG. It’s also immensely boring. Imaging sitting on the M1 for 11-hours and you’re halfway there.
Instead, the wise man’s choice is to split the trip up with several stops along the way. It just so happens the Grossglockner is (nearly) on the way, and a fantastic chance to get a few hundred miles under your belt before taking a much-needed pit stop ahead of Germany. Doesn’t seem so silly now, does it.
Unfortunately, despite the sun and 30 degrees weather from Wörthersee, these mountain passes get quite cold towards the summit. Arriving bright and early at 9am, we were quickly told the road would be closed indefinitely due to snow and minus temperatures some 2500m up the mountain. Bummer.
Factor in the Interceptor with its (slightly work/burnt out) summer tyres and you can understand why they might be skeptical to get it up the mountain.
But patience is a virtue, and after an hour of twiddling thumbs we were eventually allowed up and over the Grossglockner ‘High Alpine Pass’ to take in all the incredible sights and scenes promised by Google Image searches. The images really don’t do this place justice, although they do make it look much warmer than it was. So we’ll take that trade-off.
Aside from the brakes getting a little hot on the way down (the Grossglockner boasts 36 hairpins no less), the big ol’ Interceptor performed faultlessly and what it lacked in outright speed it definitely made up for with comfort. That’s more than what can be said for some of the cars in our convoy, but we’ll save that Alpina-shaped story for another time…