Since 2006, the Classic Days at Schloss Dyck in the Rhine district of Neuss near Düsseldorf have been held annually. Due to the colorful programme including driving racecars, motorcycles and vintage cars on an own circuit, this event has long been regarded as the ‘German Goodwood’ among car fans. It’s not without reason that on the way to the entrance to the event you pass a specially erected town sign welcoming you to the Classic Days and telling you that the ‘Real World’ ends here. On the extensive areas of the moated castle there is at least one suitable car for almost every interest group. In addition, numerous manufacturers are exhibiting vehicles from their classic departments. One of the first representatives from day one was the Volkswagen Group, which has by now completely bundled its exhibition stands on the so called ‘Pflaumenwiese’ (plum meadow). There, visitors this time found record cars, represented by the Volkswagen W12 Nardo, the theme of ‘Volkswagen do Brasil’ at the stand of the AutoStadt with three VWs from Brazilian production as well as the Gurgel Xavante X-12 TR based on a Beetle chassis and besides various classics of the other companies of VW Group up to a hardly driven Bugatti Chiron offered already as a used car.
Just a few steps away, Jaguar Land Rover showed a few copies of the now 60-year-old Mark II as well as various representatives of the Land Rover Discovery, which has been in production for 30 years, including one converted into a mobile kitchen for TV chef Jamie Oliver including a barbeque spit at the front. Mercedes-Benz concentrated on 125 years of motorsport history and presented a 190 SLR, a 500 SL from the World Rally Championship and a 190 E Evo II touring car next to a CLK GTR from FIA GT Championship 1998. On the central area of the ‘Apfelwiese’ (apple meadow), historical transporters with hand painted advertisements and classic racing transporters were highlighted. In addition, the edges of ‘Pflaumenwiese’ and ‘Apfelwiese’ as well as the opposite outside area of ‘Cherry Lane’ serve as a picnic area for private classic car owners. All kinds of delicacies are eaten on the camping chairs, blankets or bales of straw distributed by the organiser while you can watch the hustle and bustle.
A specially built pedestrian bridge allows spectators to cross the circuit and reach the aforementioned ‘Cherry Lane’ in the infield. In recent years, Ford in particular has found a good place there to show their numerous vehicles with which journalists can drive from the factory in Cologne to the Classic Days on Saturday and Sunday. This year, the focus was on the fiftieth anniversary of the legendary Capri and it was shown in an unusual variety together with the corresponding model club. From the basic engine up to the RS or the May-Turbo, everything was available – even two cars retrofitted into convertibles. In addition, the ‘Cherry Lane’ served as the basis for the Blues Brothers, the SLS Club, the German Maserati Club, the Aston Martin Owner’s Club from Great Britain and the auction house Coys of Kensington. Coys is holding a major auction as part of the Classic Days every year. This time, various everyday classics came under the hammer. But also special exotics such as the project Beradino by Johannes P. Paulussen or a Maserati Quattroporte with conversion to a fire engine were auctioned off. At the upper end of the price scale were vehicles such as a Ferrari converted by Sbarro, an Isdera Imperator 108i converted by Sbarro and two Jaguar XJ220s. Results had not yet been determined at the time of our article.
Back on the outside of the circuit, you can walk to the ‘Neues Fahrerlager’ (new paddock) to take a closer look at the various racing cars and motorcycles that are taking the course at regular intervals according to the schedule. The participants park in large tents before and after their rides. In addition to classic touring cars and two copies of the now 50-year-old Porsche 917, the AutoStadt from Wolfsburg was the main source of crowds. Under the motto ‘Past, Present & Future’ the Bugatti Chiron Sport (allegedly part of the pas with its combustion engine), Porsche 918 Spyder (hybrid = present) and the Volkswagen ID.R (electric drive = future?) driven by Dieter Depping were on the move. It remains to be seen in the years to come whether this presentation has really done them a favor. Pleasant engine music also came from the V12 of the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 TT12 or the Škoda 130 RS artfully driven by seven-time German rally champion Matthias Kahle on the circuit.
Fomula racing cars and classic motorcycles also thrilled the fans along the track. In the various cars there were also some very famous drivers. So Alfa Romeo again brought Arturo Merzario to Schloss Dyck, the racing driver who once pulled Niki Lauda out of his burning Ferrari at the Nürburgring and who today stands out with his huge hat. Hans-Joachim Stuck was not to be missed as he took the wheel of the Bugatti Chiron Sport. Colorful, but only in one sense of the word was the special run ’72Stagpower’, in which classic racing cars in the sponsoring color orange of spiritous brand Jägermeister were concealed.
In the area of the ‘Japan Garten’ (Japan garden) and the ‘Gartenpraxis’ (garden practice) of Schloss Dyck, historic camping vehicles have been feeling at home for some years now as part of the Classic Days. It doesn’t matter whether they are old caravans or commercial vehicles converted into campers. Just a few meters away, there were other classic commercial vehicles with hand painted advertisements for different companies. Aston Martin also exhibited some sports cars in this area, especially the DBS Superleggera in the OHMSS Edition (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service). With this special edition, they remind of the DBS that the secret agent James Bond drove in 1969 in the blockbuster with the same name.
Meanwhile the ‘Orangerie Halbinsel’ (orangerie peninsula) was, as always, the focus of the highest quality cars shown at this event. Under the title ‘Masterpieces’ a Concours d’Elegance of the FIVA took place at this place in earlier years. In the meantime, it has become an independent event that takes place a few weeks before the Classic Days. Instead, together with the watch brand A. Lange & Söhne, various other classics from many decades are shown. These included this time a Mercedes-Benz 320 with Wendler bodywork, the unique Alfa Romeo 6C 2300 Aerospider with mid-engine and central driver seat or two very early Porsche 356 from the Pre-A series.
A Fiat 2300 S with Coupé bodywork from Michelotti caused further sensation. This unique piece was created for the 1966 Geneva Motor Show in order to check for production chances. Finally there wasn’t any and Michelotti sold the car to a collector. Further interesting vehicles of Ferrari, Facel Vega, Lancia, Aston Martin, Lamborghini, Lea Francis and Maserati filled the meadows of the peninsula in the best possible way. In addition there were rare Alfa Romeo with bodies by Pinin Farina and Zagato.
The neighbouring castle with its two inner courtyards served, as always, as an paddock for the old cars, mainly, but not exclusively for pre-war cars. Here, the black Amilcar CGGS, which due to its big painted number 6 on the sides also received the 6 as start number at the Classic Days, a dark green Mercedes-Benz 290 Cabriolet B or the huge Protos Type from 1920 could be found. As a special item on the programme, the organisers invited the ‘Mystery Motion Steam Punk’ troupe, which aroused enthusiasm with specially constructed high vehicles in the style of classic 19th century and correspondingly imaginative outfits.
There is still the area for clubs and private visitors with their vintage cars, the so-called ‘Dycker Feld’ (Dycker field). Here the Classic Days offer enough parking spaces for up to 7,500 vintage and exotic cars, which are well used year after year. From brand and model clubs for vehicles from Austin, Jaguar, Fiat, Mercedes-Benz, Morgan, Porsche, Wiesmann, Ford, Lotus, BMW, MG, Volkswagen, Alpina, Bentley or Corvette to various rarely seen rarities. On Saturday, for example, two Lancia Stratos, two Alfa Romeo RZ or a Lamborghini Espada were found on the ‘Dycker Feld’. Less valued but not less rare is the Toyota Crown from the S60 series from 1971 to 1974. As already described, for every car fan there was at least one vehicle of desire, which could be seen in detail and with a little luck be discussed together with the proud owner. So it was all the more difficult to return to the ‘Real World’ on the way back to our own car. But we are already looking forward to the next Classic Days in 2020.
Images: Katrin Pitsch, Matthias Kierse