In May 2017, the Mercedes-Benz-Museum sent a rally team to take part on the „Allgäu-Orient-Rally“. The special thing about this rally is, that you will give your car away to charity after reaching the destination. This year, a small school in the desert of Jordan was supported by the rally. The route starts in South Germany and runs through the Balkan to Southern Turkey, from where the cars are shipped to Israel. In the mean time, the drivers fly to Israel, where they pick up their cars for the final leg to Jordan. All in all the route covers a distance of approximately 7.000 km.
Our team consists of two AMG engineers for technical support and route planning, as well as two video-/ photographers. We actually just met before, so for us, it was kind of a get-to-know-rally.
René Scholze, Florian Thum, Jonas Eiden and Christopher Galinari (left to right)#
There is a strict guideline that tells you which car you‘re allowed to take on this adventure, to spice things up a bit. Any competing vehicle has to be at least 20 years old or must have a value of less than 1.280 $. Having said that, the Mercedes-Benz-Museum decided to send their all new young-timer on a birthday trip: The very first A-Class which had its market launch in 1997. Our second car was the S210 E-Class which became a young-timer last year. Some days prior to the start, we modified our vehicles to make them more suited for this kind of adventure. These changes include improved sleeping situation, additional space on the roof for luggage, and a humongous grill on the Station Wagon for our BBQs. Best idea ever!
Kick-off was in a small town in Bavaria. We started with more than 40 teams towards the middle east, most teams consisting of three cars and six drivers, which in the end means there were over a hundred rally cars participating. Before the first meet up in Istanbul, the teams could choose their own routes. The were only a few restrictions in place: No streets with road tolls, no ferries, and no more than three days for the complete leg! We decided to pass through Austria, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. Systematically avoiding road tolls is definitely one of the best ways to explore a country. Driving those back country roads through really small towns and beautiful nature is absolutely worth it. But while that may seem like a piece of cake in Germany and Austria, the roads in Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria are much rougher.
We drove all day and almost everything worked just fine, but we noticed the A-Class just don‘t have any power to keep up with the E-Class on those mountainous streets. At first, we thought: „It’s alright, it‘s just an A-Class…Should be normal“. A few days later we figured out the real problem… After driving more than 10 hours a day, we fired up our BBQ in the back of the E-Class to have a well-deserved dinner. It just made our day. Everyday. We usually searched for nice places to stop, have dinner, sleep, and then wake up with a beautiful view. But it didn’t always work out as planned. After the first night, we woke up somewhere close to Hungary. The night cooled„shower“ on the roof of the E-Class is the best way to wake up instantly. Less than 8 hours later we crossed Hungary but made a stop in Kecskemét at the new Mercedes-Benz plant. If you ever wondered where your CLA-Class comes from: It was made right here!
After crossing the Romanian border, we fired up the grill again, and woke up with a stunning view over Transylvania! Romania has beautiful streets through stunning and untouched nature. There are also very well known alpine roads like the Transfagarasan and the Transalpine. Lot‘s of carmakers like Mercedes-Benz use them for test drives and photo shootings. Unfortunately, the road was closed due to heavy snowfall around the time we were passing through. After one more night in Romania, we made our way to Bulgaria and to the Black Sea. The streets of Bulgaria appeared to be both a nightmare and a blessing. Bulgarian roads have a bad reputation, but it seems they are renewing a lot of them right now. Due to potholes, the A-Class lost its exhaust in Burgas, so we needed to stop in a workshop to fix it. 12 $ and we could move on to Turkey.
With the fixed exhaust, we reached the Turkish border. Until this point, we didn‘t have any trouble crossing borders because of the European Union. The Turkish frontier, however, wasn’t so easy because the E- and A-Class are owned by Daimler, not by us, the drivers. A few calls, emails and some hours later they finally let us cross. Another five hours later, we reached the crazy traffic of Istanbul where we arrived at the meeting point around 00:00 a.m.
First stage completed, two more to go! Stay tuned for part two & three and see how our young-timer handle their way to Israel and Jordan…
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Photos and Text by Jonas Eiden
Special Thanks to Mercedes-Benz Classic for having us!