GALLERY: Here’s What A British Invasion Of A Swiss Ski Town Looks Like
Photography by Rosario Liberti
Switzerland is more than a expensive place to buy chocolate, it’s also an expensive place to go skiing. Those who haven’t been before will likely think of discrete bank accounts, the aforementioned sweets, and of course, the Alps. One can certainly find a cheap hostel or some such place to stay, and winter sports aren’t legally required within the borders of this country, so it’s not at Zurich and stern financial-types in ties here. If you’re walking around in the major cities or driving along one of the numerous passes through the steep terrain you’re likely to come across a few fast or at least elegant automobiles. What you won’t find on any given Sunday is a parade of gleaming Rollers and DBs.
The event was called the 25th British Classic Car Meeting St. Moritz, and while the name is descriptively dry, this is not your neighborhood MG gang getting together for a trip down a soggy B-road full of potholes. St. Moritz is best known for its incredible alpine access and the skiing and snowboarding that come with that, but on this particular weekend in the early days of summer the resort town in the mountains hosted nearly 150 classic British sports cars, sedans, roadsters, name it.
The event isn’t a one-day affair, and it’s not really an event either, that should be pluralized. Following registration and some wandering around St. Moritz, the first day was more about settling in than taking on any switchbacks, so on Thursday evening a ’60s-themed party was held for the participants to get acquainted with the group of old and new friends they’d be driving and dining with over the course of the weekend. Friday saw the group taking off into the elevated racetracks they call roads in this part—and most others, I’d imagine—of Switzerland, and though there was no classification for most of the leisurely driving day, there was a hillclimb event tossed in among visits to valley airports, cruising along glacial lakes, and generally enjoying the company of the ranks of Jags and their countrymen alongside.
Above are a few scenes from St. Moritz and some of the stops we made along the way, and though I couldn’t get enough of the natural scenery you’ll see below, I did enjoy these stops that allowed me to get a bit more familiarized with the cars participating.
As a partial aside, I think British cars might get an unfair reputation when it comes to the vintage end of the timeline, and while there are plenty of people who swear by their poorly-maintained MGAs and refuse to entertain the thought of anything else, the world of British cars is much larger than that group of grumps. I like a nicely sorted MG-anything as much as the next guy, but I don’t think an entry list full of them would be that exciting. Thankfully this lot ranged from pre-war open-wheeled behemoths to the stately early post-war Rolls Royce limousines, turquoise Silver Spirits to classic silver DB4s and 5s, and every shape of Jaguar you can think of.
It was a nice treat to take photos on the runway of the airport and all, but the best part of the weekend was the main event: the rally from St. Moritz to Valtellina, Italy, by way of the Bernina Pass. In addition, the main plaza in St. Moritz was filled with the Brits for a concours, the first time they’ve used the central location in the event’s history. It’s funny how a weekend in one of the most homogenous countries in the world for an event featuring only vintage cars built on an island can turn into such a varied mixture of fun; hillclimbing, sightseeing, parties and champagne, espressos at all hours of the day, playing on runways and switchbacks in all types of machinery—not a bad way to spend a few days in Switzerland.