In mid-May I got the chance to visit Germany again, as my last time was in 2011. I was there primarily to attend the Novartis FS Advanced Training session & get trained on the new BMG CLARIOstar reader. I scheduled the weekend before & after the BMG time to visit with my T34 friends.
After the 14 hour flight from San Diego to Chicago & Frankfurt, I grabbed the ICE train north to Wuppertal where Carsten Klein met me at the station with his beautiful Black 1964 Lorenz Cabriolet. There are 12 known Lorenz T34 Cabriolets built between 1980-2000 and only eight survivors known today. At his home we checked-out his display cabinets full of toys & parts. Then I was surprised to see three Belgian T34 owners that had driven three hours east to meet me: Jurgen Magdelyns, Remco de Bruijn, & David Schulpen. We drove over to Carsten's garage and enjoyed a couple cold Belgian Trappist Ales.
Then Carsten & I drove over to JP Henkels garage in nearby Wuppertal. JP has a 13K-mile unrestored original preserved Sea Blue & Blue-White 1963 Coupe which may be the best T34 on the planet. It's never been welded, never been painted, and has all its original parts. It's in like-new condition because that's what it is, a new T34. It's the ultimate reference for anyone restoring a late-1962 through 1963 T34.
The next day was Saturday and Carsten had secretly organized a T34 Meet & Greet BBQ. T34 owners from around southern Germany, Belgium, & the Netherlands drove in for a huge surprise. We had nine T34s cruise together in a 30-mile drive in the rain around Rademvormwald, Wuppertal, and the surrounding villages. I was the passenger in the amazing original Chrome Blue 1969 Automatic owned by Paul Peeters. The T34 was so smooth, easy shifting, and a relaxed driving experience. We ended the cruise back at Carsten's garage and had a huge BBQ with brautwurst, sauerkraut, potato salad, and desserts. We even played some fussball and Klaus Fischer & I made a good team against Jorg Fischer & Tobias Ebner. At the end of the BBQ the rain stopped and a beautiful double-rainbow!
On Sunday morning I took the ICE train south to Offenburg where I was staying at the hotel near BMG. I spent a week at BMG helping to present optimized techniques with our PHERAstar FS HTS reader to our Novartis clients from Switzerland, England, & the USA. We visited Strausburg France one afternoon where I ate snails as appetizers. The next evening we visited a wine tasting room & a German castle high above the vineyards. The view was spectacular. It was white asparagus (Spargel) season (10 weeks) in Germany so it was on every menu. On Wednesday evening I walked into Offenburg and ate a nice steak dinner.
On Thursday afternoon I caught the ICE train north to Kaiserslautern and Heiko Thum met me at the station. His home is in nearby Kindsbach and Heiko & wife Steffi generously hosted me in their home for five days. Heiko has a Pearl White 1964 T34 Coupe & a Diamond Gray 1959 VW Beetle Sedan. We took walks in the rain with their dog Sissi, fed their bunnies, fish, & cats, and generally relaxed. We visited a friend of his Walter who had starting problems with his pristine 1966 T14 Pigalle Coupe, but that was quickly solved (loose starter solenoid wires). I got to drive his T34 to an ancient castle and a scenic wood mill where we took photos of his T34. We participated in the Kaiserslautern VW club rally into the wine country in the rain. And we drove to the Wine Atrium, a popular upper-crust hang-out, to have wine and watch the "show" of older men showing off their expensive cars & Barbie-doll girlfriends. I ate BBQ'd octopus, New Zealand lamb cutlets, and drank a wine/lemonade/water mix that was very tasty. Spending time with Heiko & Steffi was the best way to end my Germany trip.