Home Automobile Destination: International St. Moritz Automobile Week

Destination: International St. Moritz Automobile Week

Destination: International St. Moritz Automobile Week


It was 5:00am on Monday September 11, when my photographer friend Miklós Tóth and I set off on an adventure many months in the planning. Our destination – the 2023 International St. Moritz Automobile Week – via a couple of special stops in Germany.

Leaving our homes in Hungry early in the morning meant we’d arrive at the Schaltkulisse GmBH showroom in Germany in the early afternoon. From there, we’d be checking out the the Motorworld Munich museum, then checking in at our accommodation for the night. Early the next morning we’d continue the journey towards our main destination, St. Moritz in Switzerland.


Miklós and I reached the small settlement of Taufkirchen in the outskirts of Munich right on schedule. The Schaltkulisse GmbH showroom is home to a variety of classic and modern sports cars, which are either stored here on behalf of their owners or available for purchase. Since it was our first time visiting, we didn’t know what to expect, so we were excited to what we’d find inside. We only reached the entrance when the rear end of a Lamborghini Countach LP400 S Series II in Tahiti Blue greeted us. We knew right away we were in for a treat.


I don’t even need to say that we were in awe; we couldn’t believe our eyes. After speaking with a kind lady about our intentions, we were free to take photos at our leisure. An event in the showroom the previous day meant the cars hadn’t yet been properly repositioned, but that didn’t matter in the slightest.


Among so many amazing cars, it didn’t take long for Miklós and I to spot it – if not everyone’s, then certainly the childhood dream of many: a Ferrari F40. I had been waiting my whole life to see this Maranello gem in person and it did not disappoint.


The showroom had many other interesting vehicles too, including a Ferrari Dino 246 GT, Ferrari Enzo Ferrari in Giallo Modena, a Mercedes-Benz CLK DTM AMG Roadster, Porsche 996 GT3 RS, Porsche 904, Pagani Huayra BC, Pagani Huayra Roadster, Porsche Carrera GT in Fayence Yellow, a Ferrari 400 Superamerica LWB Aerodinamico and more.


We couldn’t have had a better start to our trip than the Schaltkulisse GmbH showroom, but there was still more to see and do before the day was done. After a short 20-minute drive from Taufkirchen, we arrived at Motorworld München.

This is a museum where several car brand showrooms are located under one roof. They include Bugatti, McLaren, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, Fisker, Porsche, as well as tuning companies ABT, Brabus and Manhart.

Miklós and I didn’t have much time to spend here, but the experience was captivating nonetheless. The entire hall was divided by a massive glass wall with a two-story storage area inside. Cars were lined up one above the other several meters high.


The corridors displayed cars – from classics through to modern models – for exhibition and sale.

If you ever find yourself heading to Munich for at least a couple of days, don’t forget about Motorworld München, as it also functions as a hotel. Yes, you can book a room within the museum’s walls.


The next day we made our way into Switzerland, and finally our home for the next few nights. St. Moritz is a small town situated at an elevation of 1,822 meters above sea level. Here, you’re surrounded by mountains, making it a visually stunning place to visit and drive around. Add some high-end automotive events into the mix, and it really is car heaven.

The International St. Moritz Automobile Week has been running since 1929. It now spans 10 days and includes an exclusive car show, multiple driving tours, a hill climb, RM Southby’s auction, drag racing and driver training.

On arrival we picked up our media passes and all the information on the tours and races. At the same time, cars were arriving to be displayed on the front lawn of the Grand Hotel Des Bains Kempinski St. Moritz. We saw a Bugatti Chiron, Porsche 993 GT2, Ferrari 250 GT Lusso and a Lamborghini Diablo SE 30th Anniversary Edition to name a few being unloaded. There were no complaints about the backdrop or the location.


As Miklós and I had arrived before our 4:00pm accomodation check in time, we decided to head out to the Julier Pass (altitude: 2,284 meters) – which one of the driving tours would be heading through a couple of days later – in order to scope out a good shooting spot.


As I mentioned a moment ago, many smaller events make up the International St. Moritz Automobile Week. The first one is the ‘Kilomètre Lancé’, which we unfortunately missed this year. It’s a sprint race at Engadin Airport where registered participants can test their speed over a 1km distance.

The second event should have been the ‘Targa Poschiavo’ for classic cars produced between 1905 and 1926, but it wasn’t held this year for reasons unknown.

The third event goes by the name ‘Super Stick Shift’. This is a two-day, 750km-long tour for 2-door coupés and convertibles manufactured between January 1, 1974 and December 31, 1995. The regulations also dictate that these cars don’t have electronic assistance systems, but must have a manual transmission.


This year, the event was complemented by the ‘Stallion Legends Rallye’ exclusively for specific Ferrari models. There were fewer rules for this tour, but unfortunately there were also only a few participants, which was possibly due to bad weather on the first day.


When we took our positions in the morning it was already cloudy, and it didn’t take long for the rain to start. The rain persisted until late afternoon, so it didn’t make much sense to chase after the participants. On the first day, the tour covered 530km, driving from St. Moritz to the shores of Lake Garda in Italy. From there, the drivers returned to St. Moritz after having dinner in the historic town of Poschiavo and cutting through the Bernina Pass.


Fortunately, the weather was much better on the second day, although participants only had 220km of the tour left to drive.

While they completed the first half of the tour, Miklós and I spent an hour or so outside the Kempinski Hotel taking photos of the cars on display. Because it was a weekday, there weren’t many people around, allowing us to get our shots comfortably. From there, we drove to Albula Hospiz and waited for the tour participants to arrive. There’s a restaurant at the top of the mountain, and this is where the tour stopped for lunch before continuing on towards the Julier Pass.

While the drivers enjoyed their meals, we drove ahead. There was plenty of time to grab scenic photos and get set up on the pass at the spot we had already scouted, ahead of the first car arriving. We watched all the participants come through, before heading back to St. Moritz.


In the late afternoon, there was an RM Sotheby’s auction where a number of vintage and classic cars went under the hammer. The highlight had to be the W201 Mercedes-Benz that Niki Lauda drove in the 1984 Nürburgring Race of Champions. This exhibition race, organized by Mercedes-Benz to celebrate the opening of the GP-Strecke course, featured 20 identically-prepared 190 E 2.3-16s driven by some of the world’s top drivers. Lauda finished 2nd in car #18 behind Ayrton Senna.


In addition to the special Mercedes, other cars also found new homes, including a 1992 Mercedes-Benz 500 E, a 1992 Porsche 911 Carrera RS N/GT, a 2008 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, a 1967 Lamborghini 400 GT 2+2 By Touring, a 1966 Aston Martin DB6 Vantage, and a 1961 Aston Martin DB4 Series III.

For Friday, only a photoshoot in front of the hotel and buying some souvenirs was on our schedule before Miklós and I headed back to Hungary, but we managed to take in the morning practice session for the last event of the week – the Bernina Gran Turismo.


For this race, organizers closed the road between Bernina Pass and La Rösa, allowing the drivers to push their cars to the limit under controlled conditions. The road section was 5.7km long, with more than 50 curves and a 450-meter elevation change, making it a proper hill climb. It was great to see, and especially hear these classic cars shattering the tranquility one last time.


One last time, this time at least. We will definitely return next year, and look to experience the entire International St. Moritz Automobile Week. I must extend a special thanks to my friend Miklós for guiding us through the journey.

Tamás Molnár
Instagram: toomyphoto

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