Curbside Travel Outtakes: Seldom Seen Sightings In Southeast Germany

Competing at Masters Level (anyone over 30) cross country skiing, I’ve met skiers living in and around Ruhpolding, a picturesque town of 7,000 in southeast Bavaria. They’ve traveled to North America several times, so it was time to visit them. Ruhpolding is the national training center for biathlon, the sport which combines marksmanship with skiing, so I was not surprised to find an official team car, the BMW G31 generation 5 series wagon above. Shot this one when Barbara and I visited October 2022, saw it again in town May 2023. In Europe they are available with a wide range of engines, I believe this one is a 530d, 6 cylinder diesel.

Wandering through the town center, I discovered 6 of these roadsters I had heard of, but never seen before. Turns out the Wiesman owners’ club drove into town for the weekend. The brothers Wiesmann founded their company in 1988, showed their first car in 1991, built a factory in Dűlmen, and started production in 1993. The retro style roadsters and coupes feature a steel and aluminum chassis clad in a fiberglass composite body. Mechanical parts are all BMW. Models MF30 and MF3 were powered by inline 6s, MF4s by V8s, and the MF5 first by the V10, and finally by a twin turbo V8. Relatively light, the cars are quite fast, especially the V8 and V10 models. I spoke briefly with one owner, who said the cars are well made. There were plans for export to the US, but the high cost of certification and the company’s deteriorating financial situation canceled them. One source reported that about 1600 cars were made by 2012. In 2013 the company filed for insolvency. In 2015 London-based investors bought rights to the company and announced plans for new cars, but nothing came of it. Researching for this post, I was surprised to learn of the imminent production of a high power all electric sports car, “Project Thunderball”. Prototypes have been demonstrated, production for 2024 delivery is supposedly sold out… at the price of 3 million Euros !

Info board in town center of Ruhpolding.

Next, a slightly less powerful and smaller roadster, the Smart One ! It was thoroughly reviewed by William Stopford previously (link HERE). The car it was developed from has been covered several times, including here: COAL (COJL) – 2005 Smart ForTwo Passion – A Friend Till the End

Found the Smart on a bike ride from Ruhpolding to Amerang, a 100 km round trip to a … car museum ! Stay tuned for the museum tour in a few days. But first, another drop top not seen in North America.

This is the second generation (1984-1986) Renault 5, sometimes known as the SuperCinq. Jim Klein compared it to the Peugeot 205 here: The previous generation was sold in North America as the “LeCar”. Wiki says Belgian company EBS produced 1400 convertible versions of the SuperCinq, so this is a rare car indeed.

Moving to the small town of Bermbach, about 40 km northwest of Frankfurt, I found this Opel Tigra Twin Top. It’s based on the third generation Opel Corsa. About 91,000 were produced 2004-2009 by French coachbuilder Heuliez, the same company that had produced the much better known Opel GT decades ago. Engines are 1.4 and 1.8 L Ecotechs, or a Fiat 1.3 L Multijet diesel.