Visiting some old Friends

German Version here

If you cultivate friendships over long distances and across language barriers, that's kinda challenging and not always easy. So it was overdue that we should finally visit our friend Louis in his garage, "The Bar’n", as he named it after an old Barn. We didn't have to think about it a second about his invitation, it should be two days under petrolheads, with good wine and a real Swiss raclette, flanked by four iconic muscle cars. To have fun, to talk a lot of nonsense and above all to keep the whole time in our heads and our memory cards. But how should we show up at Louis? With our company car? The Daily driver from Stuttgart? No way.


The Shoebox

We had 350 kilometers in front of us, from eastern to western Switzerland. It was absolutely for sure that only one of our V8s could be used for that Road trip. The 66 Dodge Coronet 440, which offers space for our luggage, all my photo junk, a special jerrycan and a full-blown shopping spree at Ikea in its lush trunk. Not a real muscle car, but that 54-year-old Mopar would still be good a sidekick for Ginette, Pierrette, Paulette, Hugette, and Henriette. And, this long coupé with its wide dimensions and this wonderful interior has a lot of glass all around, so we should get to see something of beautiful Switzerland in autumn at a leisurely pace, including the (roughly estimated) sixteen dozen flash boxes, with which the western Swiss highways are peppered. Nevertheless, we decided to take a picture by our self in black and white of the Dodge, which is possibly cheaper than those crappy ones from the police.

Destination - "The Bar'n"

Louis’ garage is not just a place where he stores his muscle cars. It is a wonderful place for all those who want to have a good time in good company, to have extensive gasoline discussions. A place where you love life, wine, and good food among like-minded people. So actually, the perfect place for people with petrol in their blood. But who, apart from the partly long-traveled friends of Louis, are those companions who exuded the pleasant smell of gasoline in this former barn?


This was Louis ’very first pony in the stable. A breathtaking '66 Mustang Shelby GT 350 with an extraordinary history. More of this lady will follow later this year. We look forward to seeing you again and hearing back.


That particular '68 Dodge Charger had brought us and Louis together back then. As part of a resale, it seemed that we were of the same opinion about this car. A gangster car with bad manners, which you want to leave in front of the bank with the engine running so that the passenger can quickly withdraw some cash. That Dodge with its dimensions and shapes represents a milestone in the muscle car era of the late 1960s and today, it still turns a lot of heads. And in our case, sometimes refusing to move in the middle of a level crossing, an adrenaline rush of a different kind. No one really needs it. But hey, after such an action, you are subtly flooded with adrenaline without even driving a meter. Or just because of that.


«Our» GTO. Probably the wildest car in Louis' fleet and one of our, if not the favorite, muscle car we have ever had. This '67 GTO with its 400cui Big Block and the 3x2 carburetor setup had conquered all our hearts, back when we first saw it on a trip through the sunshine state of the USA. The length of this car, it's front and above all this sound, the quality and the love of the restoration, we had to take this car back to Switzerland and turn our miles down within the Bündner Herrschaft and the extensive Eastern Swiss alpine roads, because of the petrol pump in our heart. Louis will agree with us that the car has a distinctive soul.


The '70 Plymouth Roadrunner is a comedy car par excellence. Not just because of the color or the rumble of his 383 V8. Named after a cartoon character, the “Acceleratii incredibus” from the cartoon series “Wile E. Coyote and The Road Runner”, what a crazy idea from the Plymouth marketing department. The horn is just one of the many, funny details that made this full-size coupe one of those iconic cars that had shaped this colorful, crazy time. A muscle car has always been loud, funny and maybe a little awkward. Like that special cousin, who always drank a little too much at family celebrations, but entertained the whole family reliably with its jokes.


The 1957 Ford Thunderbird is Louis’ newest resident in “The Bar’n ”, fresh from the trailer. Something more about that someday. First of all, one of our secret favorites from this era.

Welcome to "The Bar'n"

Louis' private club and a classy Mancave. It smells of gasoline, vinyl, warm engines, old American cars. And, on this special evening, it smelled of excellent Swiss cheese. No business is done here, no politics will be discussed, or some stupid salad will be eaten. Because no good story about cars has ever had anything to do with politics or salad. This is a fun place. The end.

Why Musclecars?

On that weekend not only were culinary delights indulged but of course, we also talked extensively about gasoline topics. Especially about the cars, the muscle car division and at some point, the question came up, why a muscle car at all? Why a car that is wider and louder than any modern sports car, less safe and currently completely uneconomical, at least in terms of consumption technology? And above all, why several of them? Because stupid? For sure, nope.


The revenge

Louis’s story is exceptional when it comes to explaining the motivation behind buying several iconic muscle cars. I try to keep his story behind that simple; The grandmother on the mother's side is "to blame". Tragically, Louis ’mother died early on of a damn, unjust mess of illness, cancer. And as if this wasn't painful enough, Louis’ grandmother was not really nice to his mom during this difficult time. Heartbreaking for someone who is undoubtedly one of those people whom one likes to call full-blooded family people. Louis' dealings with his daughters are, for me as a father, a role model. Not only because he also likes to drive his two girls to school with one of his muscle cars, imagine that picture.


After his mother's death, the relationship with his grandmother was definitely difficult. And, when this bitter old witch (quote L.) died a few years ago, she left him a little something. Not that Louis needed this kind of legacy, he had made his living and paid his bills for many years as a professional and successful sailor, around the world, sometimes up to 210 days a year on the move. Or better, on the world's oceans. This man has seen the world.


When Louis had received his grandmother's heritage, he first asked himself, «How could I still annoy this displeasing old woman in her grave? How could I take revenge for that, what she has done to my mum? » The answer; «Hopefully she rotates in her grave in this small cemetery in the Valais mountains, every time when a big block cranks ». With this, Louis had killed two birds with one stone, he fulfilled a long-cherished childhood dream and revenged successfully. If necessary, with up to 5500 rpm. The man has his principles, without a doubt. And as tragic as the background behind this story is, we laughed pretty hard at Louis' explanation. Sorry, but this is funny af.

The Discussions

That evening in “The Bar’n” we had some very lively conversations and surely laughed one or two portions of cheese right off our ribs. Less about his grandmother, more about the joy he has with his high-displacement treasures and his stories from all around the world. He is definitely not one of those people who hoard their cars in a garage and thus renounce the joie de vivre that these large-volume V8s produce. No, Louis drives these cars as often as possible through the vineyards of Valais, hard, loud and according to their original purpose. And that's not the only reason why Louis is also an absolute petrolhead, enthusiast and car lover. When I confessed that I had burnout his GTO before we bought it, because of the quality control, he rang out to me: «Hopefully you stupid motherf ... !!» , The gasoline level in Louis' blood is definitely quite high. And that's more than personable.


This evening our discussions were very fuel-intensive, about our mobile heroes, films, V8's, his and with it some of our former cars. It was one of those evenings when a few eight-year-olds were in their own circles and petrol-infused worlds and it was never an issue that the other person was allowed to express an opinion about a vehicle outside of their own values ​​without the gasoline jihad being called out and also only the approach of a disagreement became the issue. No hate, no bashing and for us, absolutely coherent. Also because of this, there was this befitting raclette and a good western Swiss white wine, you can't go to the French part of Switzerland and just order pizza. So, the evening was a complete success for everyone involved, we seriously laughed some muscle pain into our six-packs (honestly, one pack). And also briefly compared the sound differences of the Fords, GM's and Mopars using the living example. Resulted in a lot of smiles per gallon.

Drown in a sea of V8 bass

After spending a quiet night in "The Bar'n" annex, the morning should follow. It should start very relaxed. A light haze settled over the damp, picturesque, almost fairytale meadows and with a dark black coffee in our hand, our brain waves also returned to normal. Where we left off, well, early morning. To the cars. It was time for a befitting exit from all of these legends just before they were supposed to go into winter-standby. We fired up all those cylinders and draped them in front of "The Bar'n", babbling, bubbling, wheezing and rumbling. Except for the Shelby GT 350, which didn't feel well at this cool morning and logged off with a problem at the ignition system. Old cars, you know. Because of that, the Shelby then gets a separate appearance, the story behind this Mustang is really very extraordinary.

So we saddled the horses, a lot of horses, all of which were also thirsty, so the first port of call was a gas station. And we had pretty much covered all of the columns and let this high-octane elixir of life run into the tanks in hectoliters. Muscle cars are thirsty fellows and yes, that's not ecological. But we didn't care, we never care about fuel consumption around these kinda cars, it would be just wrong. We just wanted to enjoy life on that Sunday morning in western Switzerland. "I'll pay for the columns three to six. And a parcel of Parisienne super please."

The ride

There are days when you live very intensely, often like to live excessively. We had all decided one of those days that morning and also started loudly with the turning of numerous keys. It was one of those days, which unfortunately is far too rare, a day when everything is right. The sun is shining, the mood is pleasantly funny, the cars sound good and there is a subtle smell of poorly burned fuel. It was refreshing to be so close to driving, without electronics, without comfort technology that dampens away everything that makes driving so exciting. Only we, well-adjusted carburetors, a couple of eight-cylinder engines, the numerous vineyards and this impression of freedom, the inner peace that such a powerful Sunday morning conveys. Without deadline pressure, without emails, without a real goal, apart from a lunch together.


The mood that we all had with each other during the trips, during the photoshoots, while we were discussing the cars and lively exchanging the driver's seats, this mood is unique. Despite language barriers, different professional backgrounds and the different lengths of our beards, we were all in the same world. We all spoke automobile. And it was fine like that. I am convinced that many a brand, concept or quality fanatic would have understood on this day what a "Petrolhead" makes. Because of the fun, the driving, the joy of the historic vehicle and, above all, the joy of surrounded by friends. Many may be able to afford every vehicle imaginable. But this understanding, the shared enthusiasm and, fascination, the fun of a muscle car (or sports car, super sports car, etc. ...) is priceless and not covered by any credit card in the world. Like many things of the heart.


Thanks to Louis and his companions, all of whom were not able to speak our mother tongue (yes, our french is also painful, we know), but still welcomed us with a big smile and their arms wide open in the depths of western Switzerland. What have we learned on these two days, how to talk perfectly with English, French, a few bits of German and with hands and feet about what we all enjoy? The sound of exploding money, adjusted by your right foot.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, a lot. Such a weekend with so many kilometers is nothing without a proper breakdown. And we got caught this time. Shortly before the highway entrance, the accelerator cable from our Coronet decided that it was time to say goodbye, torn off on the pedal, see you guys! Well, the next thing for some "normal" people would be a phone call with the breakdown service, which cannot repair something on site anyway and that would mean, loading the Coronet on a trailer, taking the bus to the next train station and taking the train home. Sucks. But no. A phone call to Louis was sufficient, 10 minutes later he was with us again with his house mechanic Dilan. Another half an hour later, the Coronet reacted again to gas commands, not at least because of a small piece of high-tech-cord, which Louis normally uses in his sport. But above all thanks to Dilan, who really went the extra mile in the parking lot of a petrol station. So here again, thank you Dilan and Louis! This is how you imagine cohesion among petrolheads. Especially on Sundays. We owe you something.

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Text & Pictures: Markus

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