A couple of years ago, the girlfriend and I moved to a new apartment in Regensburg, Germany. The apartment is situated on a rather narrow street, right on the edge of the town’s historic center and close to the main station.
Cars can enter the street legally only from one direction, but it is not a one-way street. The street feels quite cozy and is lined by a single line of Italian alders and old buildings on both sides, primarily from the first half of the 20th century. The top speed is limited to 30 km/h and it was recently rededicated as a bicycle road, where cars are tolerated. Being close to the main station, it’s also somewhat of a hot spot for the local drug addict community.
Right outside of our kitchen window, there are a couple of short-term parking spaces. There are a lot of cars coming and going, and often, there’s something interesting going on. I started documenting these cars a while ago, and I’d like to share some of my personal highlights.
Let’s open this round of pictures with a Toyota Verso, which apparently limped into its parking space in front of our kitchen window with three rotund wheels only.
In Germany, the freedom to express oneself on vanity plates is quite limited. The first one to three letters are fixed and are short hand for the city or municipality the car is registered in. So you only get to play with up to two letters and four numbers that follow afterwards. They are fixed in order and there are even more detailed rules, as to which combinations are possible. Still, this 5th generation VW Polo TSI registered in Annaberg-Buchholz sports an interesting choice.
This fifth generation Renault Espace is of the highest trim available, called Initiale Paris. With the latest generation of Espace, Renault deviated from its usual van formula that they helped establish with the original Espace, and opted to go for the nowadays more popular crossover look. The rear of this Renault of course has nothing on the discontinued spaceship that was the Renault AvanTime.
As I mentioned initially, this street is a bit of a drug hotspot, and we get to see emergency vehicles on a regular basis. Here we’ve got a BMW F30 3-series touring, as employed by the local police force. Green police cars are starting to become more rare nowadays in Germany, since the traditional color is being phased out in favor of the internationally more recognized blue for police vehicles.
Something happened again around the corner. The neighbor’s Ford Focus wagon looks somewhat small compared to the two BMW emergency vehicles. This time around, we’ve got a blue police F30 Touring next to an emergency physician’s F46 2-series.
And while we’re on the topic of emergency vehicles, we’ve still got something red missing. It’s 3 a.m., and several MAN fire engines were stationed outside our apartment. A trash can for paper waste on the property directly opposite of our kitchen window caught on fire, but luckily no one was hurt. Sorry for the bad photo, but I was practically sleep walking.
As a deviation from the formula, this shot was taken in front of our apartment building. The fine Volvo 740 estate belongs to a younger gentleman and is a fixture of the regular CCs in our street. I really like the tasteful hubs. Parked nose to nose to the Volvo is an Opel Omega A Caravan, built from 1986 to 1993. Here we have a later face-lift model, which can be recognized by the extra chrome strips and tinted tail lights. It belongs to a lady in a wheel chair and there’s an electric winch installed in the trunk to haul the wheel chair to the inside.
Ah, the good old Mercedes W123 230 E, seen here in Silberdistel Metallic paint and with the classic Fuchs alloy wheels. If I should ever dare to go on the adventure of classic car ownership, it’s going to be a W123 coupe.
Another Merc, although this one is much more utilitarian. Judging by the red color, the roof-mounted blinkers and the central riveted plate on the roof where the rotating lights would have been, this T1 probably was one of many fire department crew vehicles in its former life. These were built from 1977 to 1995 and very common in Germany for all kinds of commercial applications.
Since we moved here, we haven’t had a lot of snow. Here’s one of these rare occasions, with a fresh thin layer of snow covering the street and the lone Audi A4 B8 parked at the end of the road.
On this January day in 2017 we had one of the most extreme black ice-events in recent years. This Mercedes C-class W202 T-model was built from 1996 to 2001 and they were notorious for being susceptible to rust. Our specimen looks surprisingly clean, from the outside at least. The heavy dose of road salt required to combat all that ice probably isn’t going to help in that regard though.
Let’s stay with the extreme weather conditions: one of the most common cars around here, a 2nd gen Škoda Fabia (which shares its platform with the VW Polo) and a BMW E92 3-series coupe are braving the elements in a heavy hail storm.
Next to a black BMW 5-door 1-series (which is a locally produced car in the BMW factory of Regensburg), some creative parking is going on with this rented Mercedes Sprinter van. This way, you can load your heavy furniture directly from the front porch into the rear of the moving van – convenient!
On another rainy day, a Volvo V50 estate (which was discontinued in 2012) and an Opel Astra F sedan are parked outside our window. The Astra F was the first Opel model to be called Astra in Germany as a replacement for the Kadett. The original Astra models have become quite a rare sight nowadays.
I’m not a fan of custom cars, but seeing any American classic car, especially from the 1950s, is not very common around here. I’m not very firm with my US models, but guessing from the license plate, it could be a ’53 Ford Customline with different tail lights. Help, anyone?
My step-dad used to own a W201. It was a 190 diesel model with the 4-speed automatic gearbox and a whopping 75 PS. What it lacked in its glacial acceleration, it made up with terrible handling in icy conditions. But seriously, it was very comfortable and reliable, and ultimately it sparked my interest in Mercedes. This copy at least has the looks of going a bit faster than that, with ugly large rims, smoked head- and taillights and the modified dual exhaust. Not my cup of tea – as mentioned above, I like my cars stock, please.
While we’re at it, this slammed monstrosity previously lead an innocent life as a VW Passat B6 wagon. It was captured by my girlfriend who seems to share my interest in CCs in front of our window.
This is the largest Merc so far in this article – an Arocs 1833 (18 tons and 326 PS). They are being sold since 2013 and are specifically geared towards companies working in the construction business. It features a loading crane with a bucket, and on its trailer, it carried the small Takeuchi excavator that can be seen on the opposite side walk.
A 1st gen Opel Zafira, another Audi A4 B8 Avant and a 2nd gen Smart Forfour are braving a heavy thunderstorm. I’m staying inside behind my closed kitchen window, thank you.
An Opel Insignia A (which we briefly inspected as a candidate for our new car) and a Mercedes-Benz R-class are parked outside. Since the R-class was primarily sold in the US, we don’t see a lot of them here in Germany.
In this shot, we’ve got a first gen BMW X3 (E83), a VW Golf IV Variant (the “up-market” version of which was called Bora Variant, which in turn was sold as the Jetta Wagon in the US), and a nice Porsche 944 with its prominent wheel arches.
Christmas time is the worst time for traffic in town. The multitude of christmas markets as well as christmas shopping lists regularly attract a lot of people towards the city center. Combined with rush hour traffic this leads to unusual congestion in our little street.
In contrast, this picture is notable for its absence of cars and any human activity in our usually very busy street – it was taken on the first day of lock-down due to the Corona pandemic in March 2020.
The most expensive body style of the Mercedes W123 on the classic car market is the wagon in Germany – but only with the engines at the upper end of the spectrum. Here we’ve got a very clean looking specimen with the smallest gasoline engine that was available (2 liter). Love the color on this one.
Another Mercedes wagon: we haven’t had any W124s yet. Here’s a 300 turbo diesel, with French plates to boot! They really seem to be indestructible.
If you fancy something a bit newer, how about a nice E63 wagon? I’m not the biggest fan of the design of the pre-facelift W212, the split head lights always seemed a bit cluttered to me. I much prefer the later models with the integrated star in the grille.
Yet another Mercedes wagon, but this time, it’s my own car. I bought this 2018 S205 220d used about a year ago as my very first car. We used to own a 2002 Mazda 6 previously, which we got from my girlfriend’s dad. Before that, I never really felt the need to own a car, especially since I always preferred looking at cars and photographing them versus actually driving them. And living in a smallish city with acceptable public transport, you don’t really need a car most of the time anyway. The C-class is usually parked in our apartment’s underground car park, but the electric gate that leads to the inner courtyard was broken again. So we and our neighbor’s Nissan Micra were converted for a night to what is called “Laternenparker” in German (literally “person who parks under the street lamps”).
There’s construction work going on in our courtyard, and materials need to be delivered through the relatively narrow drive. This truck driver thought it would be easiest to unload on the street, and block it entirely in the process. He’s using a small truck-mounted forklift to unload his Volvo FH 500 truck.
In front of the Alfa Romeo Mito, we’ve got a Mercedes AMG GT R PRO (C 190) which is apparently limited to 750 vehicles. I much prefer the regular models, the body kit really ruins the clean lines of the original design for me.
Here’s something unusual that was parked out in front of our apartment. The E at the end of the licence plate already hints to what’s going on: it’s a Beetle with an electric conversion. I checked it and, yup, no exhaust pipes sticking out the rear.
Let’s keep it electric: this was our town’s first (and still only) Tesla Model S taxi. I think it might also have been the first electric taxi of any make in town. It sports an ad for the local public services’ electricity branch.
Usually, we don’t get any public transport in our street. But since a couple of roads were blocked off temporarily, we’re getting this MAN Lion’s City bus stuck in the diverted traffic. It’s in our city’s public transport default yellow livery.
And while we’re on the topic of municipal services, let’s take a look at something for our truck friends again: this is one of our city’s MAN TGS 26.320 garbage truck with an exposed rotating drum.
I started this article with a broken car, so it’s only fitting that I end it with another bang: one January morning, I encountered this 3-series BMW E36. It’s quite smashed on the front left corner. And if you look closely, there’s a rock sitting under the front axle. I don’t think that came as standard on these. Following the marks the rock made on the road, it became apparent what had happened: the driver missed a corner, and smashed into a tree. In the process, the BMW also managed to pick up a rock lying next to the tree, that was subsequently jammed under the car. The driver was apparently able to reverse, and drive the car a further 120 meters down the road to its final resting place in front of our kitchen window, stuck rock and all.
To this effect, drive safely!