Majorca. Hillclimb heaven

We’re moving into the forest. The serpentine asphalt rises. The Jaguar E-Type, which has a strong V12 under the hood and climbs remarkably well on narrow roads, is marginally faster than our Fiat 500.

After a one-hour run, we arrive at a restaurant where we have a cortado while a warm Spanish sun sets over our cars. We sit down with the Germans, the English and the French at the table. Many people who spend their entire lives searching for their place on earth find safety in Majorca.

All praise goes to Helen

I haven’t encountered a woman as inspirational as Helen in a very long time. This was the first individual from the somewhat closed-off Majorcan automotive community that I encountered on the island. She was the one who let me into a supportive neighborhood. Helen, who worked as an accountant in London, traveled to the island. She eventually sold her condo, purchased a sailing yacht, and embarked on a global tour. When her funds ran out after eight years, she made the decision to relocate to Majorca. Ironically, she went back to her desk job at a company in the maritime business. She has been a long-time participant in the Classic Car Club Mallorca, founded in 1997, with whom I have shared some lovely days. Its major objective is to organize road excursions and Thursday meetings to bring together enthusiasts of all cars.

People are always the focus

We go directly from Frederic Chopin’s home in Valldemossa in the late afternoon to the Blue Nest restaurant in Port Adriano, where the Classic Car Club Mallorca hosts the weekly Thursday meetings of local petrolheads. Aside from fancy boats, Port Adriano is home to actual mega-yachts like the anchored gigantic NAIA. This 74-meter beast, which cost over $100 million to construct, was erected in 2011 for Saudi billionaire Saleh Abdullah Kamel. Yachts, however, are not the reason for our visit. Helen exposes me to the multinational community right away. The parking area outside the restaurant has accumulated a variety of vehicles, from the classic Corvette C1 to the modern Ferrari California. There, I met Max, a Swedish photographer who rides an Abarth 595. The stock vehicle is all but gone, 282 BHP and 394 Nm making it a true monster on the narrow, local roads. Max helps me understand for the first time that Majorca is a true haven for rare automobiles. He tells me about local collections where you can discover historic cars like the Lancia Stratos or Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Passo in addition to the many old Porsches and Mercedes that are there. Furthermore, it is well known that Majorca draws affluent individuals who bring high-end vehicles with them. According to Gaston, who arrived at the meeting in a convertible Golf, the moderate temperature and more than 300 sunny days a year suit the classics. He asks me to join him and a group of amcars fans for Sunday coffee right away since, it turns out, he owns a Corvette C3. Needless to say, we accepted this invitation!

Taking part in Top Gun?

Together, along with Gaston and the American Car Club Mallorca, we spent our Sunday morning. What caught me off guard was that I was scheduled to arrive at the old airport for breakfast. The 1920s saw the construction of Son Bonet Airport, Majorca’s first civil airport. These days, it is mostly utilized by smaller aircraft and flying schools. In 1952, vehicles were delivered to the island using this airport’s Bristol Freighter aircraft, which had a distinctive opening nose. The airport café, which appears to have been lifted from out of the Top Gun movie, is where American auto buffs gather on Sundays for breakfast. The café is decorated with images of aircraft and machine components, has uniformed pilots seated at the tables, and has American vehicles parked in front of it. Everyone would not care if Maverick himself flew his jet fighter down in the parking lot to fetch a beer. Funny, as I consider this, Gaston approaches me and points to the photographs of airplanes hanging over the coffee maker, saying, “If you want to take a flight like this, for a few hundred (euro), we can arrange it!” In Majorca, you may book everything from boats to aircraft for the proper price. Because it can be challenging to drive American cruisers on a congested island, we don’t steer clear of the subject. First and foremost, there are a number of reasons why excursions need to be well planned. The biggest danger is becoming stranded in a medieval town’s winding streets. The restricted supply of parking spaces – many of which are also rather small – is another issue. Winding mountain roads, which are the most enjoyable for one, may be a hassle for Amcars since they require considerably more room. Even though I had a wonderful morning with ACCM, it’s time to move on and meet the next island motorsport face.

Driven by a rallying spirit

Toni Dezcallar, a collector of rally cars, racing enthusiast, and the guy behind Rally Clásico Mallorca, is the man to talk to if you want to learn more about the hillclimb in Majorca. One of the greatest classic car events in all of Spain, the rally is held annually in the middle of March. This event draws crews from South Africa, Canada, Costa Rica, and not just Europe as a whole. Over a hundred teams were on the starting list for the rally this year, which was organized for the first time in 2005. Competition (1931–1981), Youngtimers (1982–94), and Regularity are the three categories in which the competition is held (-1985). Because his garage has only been utilized for rallies throughout the years, Toni also has a very specialized taste in cars. Examples include the Fiat 124 Sport Coupe, BMW 2002 Turbo, Ferrari 308 constructed completely of fiberglass (one of several hundred pieces manufactured), Mitsubishi Lancer Turbo, Toyota Celica ST185, and the Toyota Corolla that is presently ready to leave the workshop is a WRC-specified model. However, what inspired this interest in mountain rallies?

Puig Major has always been a king!

The Serra de Tramuntana mountain range is where the infatuation with hillclimbs originated. There is a road that goes to Puig Major, Majorca’s highest summit (1,436 m above sea level). This road was used as a testing site for automobiles and motorbikes in the 1960s. When the Puig Major Hillclimb was first held in the second part of the 1960s, Toni briefly said, Puig Major has always been a king!” It quickly rose to fame and became incredibly well-known. The booming of racing was aided by the constantly expanding tourism infrastructure. Majorca was under a true tourist siege during the turn of the 1950s and 1960s, and it was at this time that a number of gigantic hotels were constructed. These hotels were then torn down decades later in order to restore the island’s natural beauty. The island also received first-rate road infrastructure as a result of the interest from tourists. It takes less than an hour to go in any direction, whether it’s from east to west or north to south. The rally organizers rapidly became aware of this significant edge Majorca had over the other islands. It just required a short amount of time to prepare the route, drive it over, and then move the rally teams. It takes a few days or maybe a week for much bigger, less connected islands. Majorcan streamers were more and more well-liked throughout the 1970s, reaching their peak in the early 1980s. At that time, Renault began to support regional rallies, expanding its network of regional dealers. I personally discovered that Hillclimb is still a big hit on the island.

You will join us for a portion of the rally!

I was relating to Helen the history of Polish mountain races while I was sitting in Blue Nest, particularly those that took place during the interwar years. She promptly took up the subject and said, “Come join us for this year’s Rally Clásico!” After a few days, we finally convened in the late afternoon at the Puerto Portals marina, where the Rally Clásico always kicks off. There, a number of classics awaited us, including the amazing Maserati BiTurbo Spyder and the stunning MG from 1934 which competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This is a fantastic chance to inquire about the upkeep of this kind of vehicle on the island from the owners. Pascal, a Maserati owner and developer from Paris, reveals to me that having experts in both mechanics and body work is not an issue in Majorca. However, bringing mechanics to the island, for instance from France, is not a problem. It is also as easy as ordering the necessary parts. Helen then provided me a roadbook with the locations of the first two stages of this year’s Rally Clásico. Since we met for an afternoon ride, I questioned why we had a roadbook. I only heard one compassionate question: “What if you fall behind and get lost?” She then jumped in her British racing green Triumph and took off running. The path first followed the freeway in the direction of the Jaime II military post before diverging into Coll Sa Creu, a meandering woodland lane. It is important to keep in mind when taking a narrow trip as it is also a well-known mountain trail frequented by cyclists. I believed that no one was going to save money at this time in the game. I made a good effort to keep up with the Jaguar E-Type, which has been driven by the same owner for 49 years, while driving the leased Fiat 500. As we passed via Calvie and Es Capdellà, we began the second unique stage, which came to a close with the sunset in the Galilea restaurant.

Antonio was obsessed with serpentines

These routes are only two stages of this year rally. However, one may easily locate a stunning curving road in Majorca. They are indeed numerous, and sooner or later, perhaps even subconsciously, you will stumble onto something unique. There are a few famous roads, though. I frequently heard, “You must go to Formentor, it’s the nicest road on the island!” The island’s northernmost point is the cape known as Cap de Formentor. It ends with a lighthouse built in 1863 that is now a café. During the summer, there are roadside limits on traffic (mid-June to mid-September). They deal with the ban on passenger automobile operation between the hours of 10:00 and 22:30. Since the tickets are routed to Poland, it is worthwhile to examine it before traveling there. The name of the cape, which was intended to allude to the sensations of the journey down the most well-known Majorcanroad, is also where Cupra Formentor gets its name. Since it is bordered by mountains on one side and the sea on the other, the path to the lighthouse is actually rather attractive. As you make the corners, this is the ideal location to take in the dawn or sunset. My preferred approach, though, is a different one. Engineer Antonio Parietti from Catalonia created it in 1932, and it is situated in the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range. Anyhow, the same person who paved the path through Formentor. Sa Calobra Bay is reached through the 12.5-kilometer route with the designation MA-2141 that winds over the mountains. There is just one natural route on it since it was constructed without the use of large machinery and was designed to be as environmentally friendly as possible. The 270-degree turn of this route, where the road crosses itself, is its most notable feature. Nudo de la Corbata, which translates to “The Tie’s Knot” is the name given to this location on the map. Interestingly, a special line of watches with engravings depicting this bend on their backs were developed as a result of the collaboration between the Rally Clásico organizers and the Swiss watch company Oris. For lovers of tight twists and winding roads, both of these fantastic routes are ideal options.

Are you kidding me? I’m from Sweden!

However, Majorca is home to more than just hillclimbing. Peter, who has lived on the island for a while, is a really nice guy. He has somewhat withdrawn from his business since suffering his third heart attack and is now content to live a life surrounded by fast car. I ask him why he chose to relocate to Majorca, and he chuckles and says, “Are you kidding?! I’m from Sweden, and it’s always sunny here. It is obvious!” In his garage, where the Gentlemen Driving Club Mallorca is based, I pay him a visit. In order for petrolheads who relocated to the island to swiftly find new acquaintances, the club was established a few years ago. It is exceedingly challenging to locate a parking spot for a vintage automobile in Majorca, but members of the club may fix their cars here and store them safely thanks to the sizable workshop area that the club has hired. Peter’s Club was created in response to the demands of people who want company while driving their automobiles frequently, particularly on circuits. On the island, there is just one Circuit Mallorca Llucmajor track, however it is primarily used by big businesses to introduce new models to potential customers and media. Therefore, the accessibility of mainland Spain, which has up to 14 racetracks, was important for the growth of the club. On the eve of his journey to the Nürburgring, Peter and I meet up.

A serene haven

We covered more than 1000 kilometers over Majorcan roads in a single week. About a dozen fantastic petrolheads from all backgrounds that we met took the time to share their enthusiasm with us and show us the interesting locations on the island. Many of them have spent years looking for this one ideal location on earth, and Majorca is a safe haven and an oasis where they have found serenity. Good weather, a lush, Mediterranean-style setting, cortado in the morning, sangria at night, and tapas in between. The leisurely pace of life is here, but wait till you’re driving your favorite automobile around some curves!

Words by Sławomir Poros
Translated by Andy Zikeev