Hungarian (Steyr Puch) Adventure

By Sally Scanes

At the beginning of May Rod said we were going on an adventure. We left home on the 18th May to catch the early Ferry from Dover to Calais. Our mission was to collect and bring home a car from Hungary. Rod had seen it on the Internet and insisted it was one he must have in his collection. It was a Steyr Puch 500 D.

Hungary1Rod gets the Steyr on to the trailer ready for the long haul home

He had contacted the owner who fortunately spoke good English and after many emails and telephone calls, agreed a price and said we would go to Hungary to fetch it. I was more than a little apprehensive about this trip or ‘adventure’ as Rod insisted on calling it as it would be more than 2,000 miles there and back through France, Germany, Austria and into Hungary and Holland on the way back.

On the Saturday, two days before we were due to leave, all Rod had booked was the Ferry over. We spent all day Saturday until 10.00 pm trying to work out a timetable dividing the mileage up and ringing numerous hotels near the motorways to see if they had vacancies and could accommodate a very large van and trailer. ” Honestly where’s Paul Anderson when you need him, he would never expect me to sleep in the car ”

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 13.00.35The approximate journey, courtesy of google maps – it’s quite a long way…

Off we went on the Monday. The first nights stop was through France and into Belgium. Seemed quite straight forward, hotel entered into the Sat-Nav what could be simpler. Well nothing that’s simple when you want it to be. We were in the middle of a major motorway in the rush hour, pouring with rain like you wouldn’t believe and the Sat-Nav says ” you have reached your destination”. I can’t remember the exact words I said, well I can but they aren’t for print. We got off the motorway at the next exit, the traffic was so heavy and we were such a long vehicle we couldn’t find a place to pull up and ask directions. We were driving round and round a town we didn’t know and couldn’t speak the language anyway even if we could stop. It was my worst nightmare and I was having serious doubts about the rest of our planning!! Rod just kept saying “don’t worry it’ll be alright, its an adventure” for about the hundredth time. Who did he think he was kidding !!!!  After a fraught one and a half hours we did eventually find the hotel and it was on the motorway next to a service station. Who would have thought that – the Sat-Nav was right after all.

The next stops proved a little easier to find despite the continual rain. We stopped in Reggensburg in Germany, we did 451 miles that day but there was no time to have a look around as it took so long to get there as we could only tow at 60 miles an hour. My next nightmare was if we were caught for speeding and spent most of that day looking at the speedometer.

Next stop Vienna where we did have time to do some sightseeing. Still it was raining so we took the Tour Bus and enjoyed seeing the beautiful city that way.

Next day we travelled to Sopron in Hungary, our destination to pick up the car. We met Krisztina and her brother Daniel at their parents home. They were given the car by their Grandmother before she died and it had stood in their fathers garage for 25 years without moving. The Grandmother had bought it from new in Austria when Hungary was behind the Iron Curtain. We were given all the documents she had needed to go back and forth from Hungary to Austria to buy it, that must have been no mean feat in those days. We were also shown photographs of the Grandmother with her new car and her Grandchildren with it, although they never went in it as it was off the road by the time they were born. Obviously these photos were too precious for them to part with. The car was in a sorry state as you can see from the photo but they were very attached to it for sentimental reasons. They had turned down two potential buyers, one because he wanted to take it for the parts and the other because they just didn’t like the person. Rod assured them that his intentions were to restore it to its former glory.

Hungary5All loaded up and ready to go!

Krisztina and her boyfriend took us on a tour of Sopron which is a beautiful town and we enjoyed a lovely evening with them. We had a meal in a very old quaint restaurant, the food and wine were superb and we were spoiled by the friendly attention of all the staff there. The hotel we stayed in was a magnificent old building, very luxurious and also very cheap. The shame of it all is that the locals like Krisztina and her brother can’t even afford to rent anywhere in their own town and have to divide their parents house so they can try and live independently, such is the state of the economy there.

It was very emotional when we drove away with ‘ Poppy ‘ as the car is now named. We promised to keep in touch and would return one day when it was restored to show them.

On the way home we had an amazing two days in Graz Austria, still raining by the way. It was another beautiful city and we visited the Steyr Puch museum so Rod could take photos of the original cars for reference purposes for when he starts work on Poppy.

Hungary3Steyr Puch Museum in Graz. Definitely worth a trip.

We then continued on the last leg of our journey back through Germany and into Holland to catch the overnight Ferry home.

It had turned into quite an adventure after all and I have to admit I would do it all again, hopefully when we return with Poppy restored and maybe the next time the sun will be shining for us.

Postscript... Rod has not touched the car since we have returned home as it is to be used on the Fiat 500 Club stand at the Manchester Classic Car Show in September. Please come along and join us at the show and Ladies there is a very good shopping centre close by!!