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Ofenwerk Summerfest and South Historic Car Rally

Nürnberg (Nurenberg) is a classic German city in the Franconian region of Bavaria. With a claim of a special bratwurst all it’s own, a host of fascinating museums and historic sites, Nürnberg has enough to fill any traveler’s itinerary. But each summer a special event gives insight not only into German traditions but also English, Italian and even American ones. It’s the Ofenwerk Sommerfest featuring the Süd-Rallye-Historic, or Ofenwerk’s Summerfest and South Historic Rally.

Ofenwerk sells itself as the Center for Classic Cars. Located at Klingenhofstraße 72, Ofenwerk is a classic car restoration shop near downtown Nürnberg. With expertise in classic cars, trucks, motorcycles and other forms of vehicular transportation, the massive shop can house and work on dozens of “oldtimers” at once.

The direct translation of Ofenwerk is “oven plant.” For many years the location now used to tinker with rare cars was, in fact, a factory that produced ovens for the Franconian region. After the building was abandoned, the space sat vacant until it’s interior was massively reinvented as a garage and show room for automobiles of the highest quality. Most of the year the space is closed to the public, as it is a fully functioning shop. But each summer Ofenwerk throws open its doors and invites in automobile enthusiasts from all over southern Germany.

In addition to showing off the process of restoration and various eccentricities of German car brands over time, Ofenwerk serves as the starting and finish line for a rally of many of the operable cars. As dozens of cars cruise through a predetermined course for the length of the morning and early afternoon, the event becomes  an all-day affair for onlookers and car aficionados. Ofenwerk’s restaurant serves food and beer throughout the day and provides cover from the hot, summer sun. By 2:30 pm the gleaming cars begin to arrive back at Ofenwerk, providing local auto enthusiasts a chance to see rare and famous cars driving by at slow speeds. Cameras flash and applause breaks out as each car saunters by the adoring crowd.

By 3:30 the rally cars have returned, and they have been checked-in and parked outside in the wrap-around parking area. Interested viewers are free to mingle amongst the classic cars of all varieties and photography is very much encouraged. Porshes are parked next to Ferraris, Cadillacs and Saabs. There are tiny Austin Healys, sporty Hondas, a Zündapp Janus with a rear-facing back seat and a hard to find Wartburgs, an East German brand. And of course there are more BMW and Mercedes options than previously thought imaginable. For car lovers, or even those just interested in auto aesthetics, the hours spent amid the cars could very well be a highlight of the summer. The variety of European brands and styles exhibited in a single show is unthinkable in the United States, outside of private collections.

As dinnertime approaches the winners of the rally are announced, the drivers slowly make their way back to their respective convertibles and sedans and the crowds disperse after one more beer. Ofenwerk then reverts back to a high-end garage for owners of vintage cars, but the memories of the amazing display of classic cars do not dissipate so quickly.

Written by Michael Orr for

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