Bunker mentality: PH Blog

Bilster Berg's original construction was inspired by the British Rhine Army's need to have a large ammunition dump to supply its forces in case of a large-scale conventional war in Western Europe. It was a massive endeavour, scattering reinforced concrete ammo storage bunkers around a huge site in a German forest, linked by miles of access roads and the entire supporting infrastructure. And yet after just a couple of decades in use the situation changed and the British pulled out, handing the site back to the German government.

Yes it's fun, even in this
Yes it's fun, even in this
More recently it was converted (again at huge expense) into one of those 'driver resort' type places, with a track designed by Hermann Tilke. Thankfully in this instance with some help from Walter Rohrl.

Plenty has been said about the 'end of days' vibe after last week's statement of intent by the government to ban sales of internal combustion powered cars by 2040. But with my first visit to Bilster Berg coinciding with the news I did start to wonder if the site's costly rebirth might turn out to be as short-lived as its original purpose. Which would be a shame. Because it's a bloody brilliant track to drive, even in a Smart ForTwo.

Yes, that was my vehicle for my first and long-awaited visit to Bilster Berg, venue for a bit of a bash to celebrate 15 years of the partnership with Brabus. This would seem to have been a successful venture for both parties, giving Brabus access to an area of the market its monstrous tuned Mercedes would never usually tread. And Smart the kudos of association with a premium brand to give the range a little boost, both in performance and exclusivity. It's inspired a few cool cars too, not least the mad V6-engined Smart Roadster for which Brabus built a bespoke twin-turbo V6 engine out of two standard Smart motors. Hell of a thing and present at Bilster Berg, though sadly only as a static exhibit. I'm still a bit of a fan of the production Smart Brabus Roadster but I was lucky enough to have a short go with the Biturbo back in the day and it was a proper little monster.

Tellingly for all his apparent pride in how the partnership had flourished Brabus boss Bodo Buschmann didn't turn up in a ForTwo, preferring a suitably unapologetic GLS63 conversion pumped up to 850hp and displaying epic amounts of uberholprestige. Even when stationary. That and the V6 Smart represent suitably hedonistic ways of burning fuel in my book. And if we are indeed at the beginning of the end of the internal combustion engine Buschmann's bombastic departure from the event suggests he's minded to the make most of it.

Wouldn't be a bad place to dump the last bit of petrol
Wouldn't be a bad place to dump the last bit of petrol
As perhaps we all should, by enjoying tracks like Bilster Berg at any given opportunity. Even driven totally blind, even in a Smart that felt at times it might struggle to make it up some of the gradients. The flow, the 'which way now' factor as you arrive at yet another blind crest and (usually correct) assumption that beyond would be some terrifying combination of huge drop and scarily fast corner more than lived up to my dreams. I'm rather hoping that among that original construction effort the British left behind some huge underground fuel storage tanks that can be brimmed before they ban the stuff and enjoyed properly. It's that or install induction charging beneath Bilster Berg's track surface and get Brabus to repurpose some of those old Smart Roadsters as electric playthings to be enjoyed like some giant Scalextric set. Actually, given how much I enjoyed my recent run in the latest electric ForTwo maybe this isn't such a bad idea after all.

It's that or some sort of Mad Max anarchy as we battle for the last few drops of petrol. How much to rent one of those old bunkers?








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Comments (3) Join the discussion on the forum

  • cramorra 03 Aug 2017

    electroheads- charging matters??????

    Edited by cramorra on Saturday 5th August 00:06

  • Nicodema 07 Aug 2017

    CopperTops - Current Affairs?

  • MrBrightSi 07 Aug 2017

    Nicodema said:
    CopperTops - Current Affairs?
    Tip top.

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