Some of you may remember an article in the August 2015 magazine titled “Hungarian Adventure “.
In it Rod and I drove to Sopron in Hungary to buy a Steyr Puch 500 which our nephew had seen for sale on the internet. The car was in a pretty poor condition but we had driven over 1000 miles to see it and so we purchased it. The car had belonged to the Grandmother of Krisztina and Daniel who were selling it and although the car had always been in their life it had not been road worthy so they had never been in it, only their father and mother had used it when they were young. It had been in their garage for over 30 years not used.
During the time that we spent with the family we came to realise how much the car and its history meant to them and Rod promised that we would return one day to show them the car when he had restored it. We named the car Poppy because the old name of Sopron was on the documents, but spelt Popy with one p, and being red it seemed only natural to call the car Poppy. Sopron is a beautiful town full of history and ruins dating back to the Roman times but never in all my wildest dreams did I think we would return.
In September 2015 the car was shown at the Manchester Car Show in the same condition that we had brought it home in. It caused a lot of interest and Rod was even offered a considerable amount of money for it but he intended to keep his promise so would not sell it.
After the Manchester Car Show Rod started on the restoration stripping everything off it. Weenie Fiats did a magnificent job of straightening the body work; apparently, they discovered it had been in an accident where it had been rolled. They put new panels where required, which was nearly everywhere, and sprayed the car its original colour, coral red.
This year, three years later, with hours of work and planning from Paul Anderson the “Poppy Returns Home Tour” plan was ready to put into action. We contacted the family with whom we had kept in touch and were able to organise a reunion. We knew from the beginning that this was going to be an emotional tour and on the 14th of June five cars left the UK, destination Sopron Hungary. We were joined by our Dutch friends Tom and Lidwina in Holland and headed to Dusseldorf where we put the cars on a train and boarded it for the overnight journey to Innsbruck.
Arriving early morning we drove to Stadl-Paura mainly on the autobahn. The next day we drove to Wang to a Steyr Puch meeting which was arranged by the Austrian club. It was here that the rest of our party joined us.
The younger members had flown out as they were only able to tour with us for a week due to work commitments but wanted to be with us for Poppy’s reunion.
The Austrian club made us very welcome and had arranged a ride out with afternoon tea at a beautiful venue and on our return to Wang presented us all with certificates and trophies for making the journey from the UK. From here we drove to Vienna for an overnight stop and were able to do some sightseeing the next day.
On the 18th of June we drove to Sopron to meet up with Poppy’s original family and, as expected, it was a very emotional reunion. I’m sure they were delighted to see what had been done to Poppy and that she had been given a new lease of life but at the same time it was sad for them knowing how many years it had been in their family. Lots of photos were taken and they even recreated a photo they had with their father as a young boy sitting in the car. We had a lovely evening meal with them all and the Father got to ride in Poppy. I am sure it was a very emotional time for him but it was a real party atmosphere during the evening and was over all too soon. We said our goodbyes to the family but not to Krisztina and her husband, Barnabas who had arranged to spend a couple of days with us and take us to some beautiful parts of Hungary.
The next morning, we spent enjoying the old town of Sopron before driving to a vineyard at Kreinbacher. The vineyard had its own magnificent hotel which was to be our home for the next two nights. The food was superb and added to that was the wine tasting experience, so we all had a very merry and unforgettable evening, all arranged for us by Krisztina and Barnabas.
The next day they took us to an area around Lake Balaton, we had a walk around part of the lake it was beautiful and to finish off the day we had a meal up in the mountains overlooking the lake. Life doesn’t get any better than this. On our return to the vineyard that evening we had to say goodbye to Krisztina and Barnabas but not before they had a chance to drive Poppy around the car park, in fact we weren’t sure Krisztina was going to give her back, she seemed very at home in it. We were sad to say goodbye, it had been an emotional roller coaster ride but we were so glad we had achieved what Rod had set out to do three years ago.
The next few days took us to some amazing towns and cities. Graz where we visited the Steyr Puch Museum and had the next day sightseeing there before saying goodbye to our younger members who were flying home that evening.
The next day we drove through superb countryside to Salzburg, followed by Ingolstadt, Ludwigsburg, Rudesheim and then onto Venlo in Holland. I could write a page on each of these places but I fear you may have fallen asleep by now but take it from me every one of these is worth a visit.
Before I go one small incident (well not so small) befell Poppy before we got to Holland. Our Dutch friends happened to be following us on the busiest autobahn I think we have ever been on with huge lorries bearing down on us and overtaking us, and something no one wants to hear was a call on the walkie talkie asking Paul to “get off at the next possible exit as something is wrong with Poppy”. Thank goodness Lidwina knowing something about our cars realised she could see more of the engine below our car than previously. The Fiat fiddlers were soon on the case and it was established that one of the gear box rubber mountings had in fact sheared off and caused the engine to drop on one side. Many people stopped to see what had happened but mainly to take pictures of the cars. Two German men, one we now know as Josef, stopped to help, they themselves were in a classic Volvo car but by this time Paul and Rod were under the car, wheel off and dealing with it. With no luck from any local garages that Paul had rung and Rod realising he had brought the old gear box mounting with him they decided that they could do a road side repair.
Josef gave us his telephone number in case we needed any help and then left. It took us two hours to repair the car and just as they were finishing Josef and his wife Christel arrived with cakes, coffee and soft drinks for us all which were much appreciated. It just goes to show that in whatever country you are in, the classic car enthusiasts share a unique friendship.
After this we continued on our way home. We said goodbye to Tom and Lidwina in Holland and headed for the Ferry and then it was plain sailing, as they say, the rest of the way home. What a memorable tour it had been, we saw so many beautiful places, towns, cities, rivers, mountains but the one that I will mostly remember with affection is Sopron in Hungary where Poppy had come from.
A very big thank you to Paul and Christine, without them this tour wouldn’t have been possible:
To Krisztina and Barnabas, for organising our outings around Hungary and helping to plan the reunion with their family. To Robert, Matthias and Philip Prokschi for their help in supplying parts and entertaining the younger members when they arrived and organising our trip to Wang. To Michael Repka, his wife and father, for arranging a lovely meal in the wine region and leading us safely into Vienna in the dark. To Josef and Christel for being so kind to us in their country and last but not least to everyone that came on the tour with us and made it such a unique and memorable time. Thank you all.