2600km Road Trip with 280CE in Norway

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I had one week summer holiday, so I had to fully maximize my time, what better way to to it than going on an epic 2600km road trip?!

The car of choice was my W123 280CE, not the most economical car ever, but not the thirstiest either! I recently changed all the injectors and the fuel economy isn’t really that bad, around 0.9L/10km. The car held up good and did’t have any problems during the entire trip. Needed to fill a little engine oil after the trip, but it was expected after driving in mountainous areas. For 3 people the car was more than big enough for everyone and luggage unless you are very long, you can easily fit 4 people if you though bring a little less luggage each. The boot is large and can fit big suit cases.. I wouldn’t recommend the mid back seat for long drives and I think Mercedes realized this and removed it all together in the W124 Coupé.

side view of 280CE in a canyon
The car in a scenic Canyon

The grand tour can be seen in the map above, it’s quite crisscrossing, but for a good reason. Started out in Oslo, went to a cabin to see my family in Trysil, road trip not yet quite started. Then to Kongsvinger to pick up a friend, then to Oslo to pick up another friend, then the “first” real tour of the week could start.

scenic tunnel in hardanger
They know how to make scenic tunnels!

The tour went to Odda over the mountain pass of Hardangervidda, with scenery along the road such  as; a meteorite crater, waterfalls, tunnels that twists like a corkscrew down into the mountain and mighty fjords.

Odda is the place where you can visit the spectacular Trolltunga, a piece of rock sticking out from the mountain wall 700m above a lake, although the the site requires 10-12 hours of quite hard hiking to get there. Also there are lots of scenery and waterfalls in the area.

Trolltunga
Trolltunga

From Odda the the plan was initially to drive to Flåm, but the same day the road got taken out by a rock slide and the road was closed. Due to the Norwegian topography, this is the only road there and a huge detour had to be made across the other side of the mountain, which basically took the whole day, then we ended up in another place instead.

The Hardanger suspension bridge
The Hardanger suspension bridge. The toll was 150kr, so we only went over it once..

The alternatice route required two ferry crossings over Sognefjorden, which is the world’s longest fjord and the deepest, with depths down to 1.3km. Although there are many long tunnels here, the longest one of 25km called Lærdalstunnelen, was missed due to the rock slide.

Crossing sognefjorden with ferry
Crossing Sognefjorden with the car-ferry

Western Norway is famous for having some really old wooden churches called Stave churches, these are from 12-13th century and looks like a crossing between viking architecture and Christian churches.

vikøyri stave church
vikøyri stave church

After a night in Lærdal, the tour went back to Kongsvinger with a stop for BBQ in the quite unknown town of Dokka. Here you can find 4000 year old stone carvings of big game like moose at the river bank.

Roadtrip 1 came to an end. My two friends had to leave their separate ways, but the same day six other friends came to join the second road trip in one week! Two of them I put in the vintage car while the others were driving a dull Audi A3.

I picked them up in Oslo again, and now the tour went north instead of west. The road was going to Jotunheimen, the home of the ice giants, on a quest to climb Norway’s tallest mountain Galdhøpiggen, actually Northern Europe’s tallest mountain. Don’t be fooled by the height of only 2469m, up north like this it is permanent cold and often treacherous weather even in July!

The road went up towards Gudbrandsdalen passing by Norway’s largest lake, Mjøsa, which has an unofficial depth of 600m. This is the quickest road to Jotunheimen from Oslo, but with the most tolls (which are expensive) and the most traffic.

There are two routes to climb Galdhøpiggen, one is from the east side and the other from the north side. The northern route requires passage of a glacier which can be dangerous and requires safety harness and ropes preferably going with a guide.

Galdhøpiggen mountain
Looking towards the top of Galdhøpiggen

The mountain was climbed and while everyone suffered a bit from fatigue, the mood was great. It was even a small hut made on the top. This hut was the fourth iteration since the last three had blown down due to hurricane force winds.

On the road back to Oslo the tour went over Valdresflya another mountain pass which has some of the most spectacular views of the mountains in Jotunheimen, a much cooler road by my opinion than the other one, except the last part before Oslo is a bit desolated.

2600km driven in one week and no issues at all with the car! It just shows how reliable a 32 year old car can be if you keep it well maintained! No need to invest in completely new cars and throw away your money. What can be cooler than having a road trip in a vintage car? You’re going to be surprised how many nice comments people give you about the car.

So go driving out there with your vintage cars, use them and maintain them as long as possible!

Cheers!

Sneak Peak at a muscle car – Pontiac Firebird

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I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to test drive a first generation Pontiac Firebird from the late 60s, thanks to a very good friend of mine. It’s a convertible which makes things more interesting in terms of sound and the feel. I myself prefer coupés, but I really, really enjoyed this car. It is quite heavy for its size though around two tonnes, but who cares when you have 400hp to play around with.

first generation Pontiac firebird
Mega long hood

I don’t have many pictures though since I did not think of doing a review, so it will be a sneak peak instead. I have included a short video clip, mostly for the wonderful engine noise from the V8 muscle.

This particular one has a 4-speed manual, and first gear is outright dangerous if you are not used to the power. The second gear goes all the way up to about 70 miles so the torque here is ridiculous. The engine don’t have a high max rpm, but what it does have is lots torque from nearly 0 rpm.

interior pontiac firebird
Real nostalgia from this interior, not the quality of Mercedes when half of the buttons are not working including heater, but still good looking. The RPM gauge is on the hood. The high-beam light switch is a button on the floor, quite confusing.

So to the question? Is the car fast? It feels quite fast, but the engine noise and wind in your hair tricks you in to believing you are in a rocket. This car was fast in its time, but a modern car with a decent engine probably would beat this car any day. However you will not do burnouts and donuts like with a muscle car.

So to the question, would I own one? Yeah sure would be the initial answer, but then comes all the maintenance (since nothing works in these cars) and not to speak of the fuel consumption, that might not be so important though since this will be a weekend car in 99% of the cases. However I don’t know how fun it would be to spend 10 hours in the garage for every hour of cruising, it’s like owning a private jet fighter in terms of maintenance. One thing is sure though, if you love these cars  because of the looks and the sound of American muscle then go for it! I think I will stick to Mercedes a little longer, at least they work most of the time.

P.S. owning a muscle car would be super cool though!