After a major Alvis event, someone is usually charged with writing a report for The Bulletin. After this year’s Swiss tour, no fewer than four participants sent accounts of their adventures. To be fair to all of them, the Editor has compiled this report from their four despatches….
Brian Lord begins:
When the organisers of the Swiss tour received a spontaneous and genuinely warm standing ovation at the last night gala dinner we knew they had set standards for a club event that would be supremely difficult to match, never mind surpass. For Daniel and Evyonne Fischlin, their family and friends, the hard work was over – they could relax and begin to enjoy with us a splendid evening that would last well into the small hours. It was hard to believe that this tour had begun only six days previously when we had assembled at Chamouille in central France, just south of the walled city of Laon.
Saturday, September 9. Seventeen Alvis cars and their fortunate owners made their own way across France to meet up with old friends and make new ones at the Hotel Mercure (the first of many delightfully located lakeside hotels). We were to be joined over the next few days by club members from Sweden, Holland and England (and of course from Wales – sorry Nick! ) representing 35 years of Alvis manufacturing from a 1932 Speed 20 to one of the last TF21 saloons. A flying visit from three French club members who travelled north from Reims to meet us gave them an opportunity to publicise their own XVIIe Rallye des Vendanges en Champagne the following weekend.
Sunday, September 10. After surviving the hotel’s self-service egg boiling machine (one member didn’t believe it and was last seen cracking confidently into a very raw egg) we set out the following morning on minor roads to cover the 320km (200 miles) to the Chateau de Rigny just outside Gray where we were splendidly accommodated. A day of Alvis motoring on French country roads, an aperitif on the terrace in the warm evening sunshine followed by a good dinner in the 18th century chateau made it very easy to believe that we were enjoying a pre-war tour in the grand style. All we needed now was some sunshine and the hood could be furled back for the first time !
Monday, September 11. Monday morning – and we were to lunch in Switzerland. A well-planned and attractive cross-country route, only requiring us to negotiate the centre of Besancon on market day, offered us a taste of things to come in the steep hairpins of the Col de la Vierge and we crossed the border at Goumois just after 11am. Our first stop was the charming and privately-owned motor museum at Muriaux just a few miles over the border where we were greeted by the first of our Swiss hosts with a mid-morning aperitif and snacks.
The museum, whilst small, had some real treasures with a lovely Hispano-Suiza, half a dozen Ferraris and a very eye-catching pre-war Peugeot with bodywork by Chapron. After a typical Swiss lunch at a nearby farm restaurant our next stop was in Willisau where early evening aperitifs had been organised by our friendly Swiss hosts.
Ian Smith writes:
We were met in Willisau by a gentleman in morning dress, top hat and all, directing us through the medieval town arch into the town’s square: Walter Arnet owner of a Graber (bought new). The square’s parking had been cordoned off for the past two hours awaiting our arrival. More wine, canapes and convivial hospitality followed in this beautiful setting. Navigators and co-pilots were bedecked with garlands of tiny life-saver biscuits: halters made of polo-shaped cinnamon biscuits braided together with coloured ribbons.
The weather had relented, perhaps put to shame by the charm and warmth of our reception, and the temperature soared. Our cars, joined by several magnificent Swiss Grabers, glistened in the sun and bathed in the attention they received from the locals. I shall visit Willisau again. Our first acquaintance was all too brief but sufficient to endear me to this happy mixture of modern shops and medieval architecture.
We arrived at the hotel at Vitznau, on the lake near Luzern, quite late. Brian Lord had the misfortune to break down, but the good fortune to do so only a mile or so from the hotel. It took several hours to find and rectify the electrical problem. Whenever I passed through the car park the following day, Brian, Herman or Paul Furr had their heads under the bonnet or the dashboard. It was to good effect and the problem was overcome. Earlier in that second day Herman had taken a tyre for repair -victim once again to the spate of tyre problems the tour suffered.
Lutz Burchard continues:
Wednesday, September 13. It turned out to be a real horrible day. The weather had turned bad again and we heard that snow and ice was forecast in areas over 2,000 meters. Before leaving the hotel we got a final O.K. to pass the two proposed roads, which were either by ferry across the lake via Interlaken/Jaunpass to reach Montreux or to go around the lake via the Furkapass (2430m) in the direction of Sion to Montreux.
Well, I had bad luck, since there was one crazy Alvis driver who had worked out a third route and who insisted on taking his 4.3 to take the Klausenpass (1950m) for a first test run after restoration! Mike Baker nearly missed the top, as he believed that halfway up he had reached 2000m; luckily German pathfinders are better and my Speed 20 led the way to the top!
After coffee we went back to Altdorf, passing Andermath and up we went to Furkapass, where we saw after a while some cars approaching slightly covered with snow and ice. This was not possible – we were only in the middle of September! But an Alvis driver knows no fear so we continued our way to the Furkapass, approaching the top in snowy and icy conditions.
We had really to fight our way through the snow, which covered the road by about 5/10 cm and on the top we met Ted Halliday and Alan Dudley in their Speed 20 SB Tourer, equally frozen. We went into the pub having hot coffee and being served with a hot barley soup, which brought us back to life again and which prepared us for the most difficult way downhill in this horrendous weather!
Via Brig and Sion we approached Lake Leman and toured via Montreux to the Hotel Signal in Chexbres arriving very late that day and very, very tired! We were welcomed by the Fischlin family under the leadership of Dr Daniel Fischlin. A welcome aperitif was offered, followed by a dinner and after this dodgy day everybody went to bed early.
Joan Lowe concludes the story:
Thursday September 14. Dr Fischlin had offered to take over the organisation for the final three nights in Switzerland. He had help from his wife Evyonne, daughter Laurence and her boyfriend Michel, and also his sister-in-law Jacqueline.
We were amazed at the enormous trouble to which he had gone to organise two marvellous, very full days of Alvis events. He had found 48 sponsors from the Veteran Car Club Swiss Romand and the local business community. Each day we had ‘goody bags’ of hats, pens etc.
On the first day 23 cars started at 30 second intervals, waved off with a chequered flag. The route we were to take was so detailed each junction was drawn out in diagram form on our itinerary. The weather had improved and we drove to Gstaad where we were to have lunch at the Gstaad Palace Hotel. This is a sumptuous hotel on the hillside overlooking the town. The sponsors had provided a champagne reception followed by a wonderful lunch. We were bowled over.
In the afternoon we all went to the very pretty village of Gruyere. Cars are not allowed in the cobbled stone village centre normally, but Daniel had arranged for us to drive right in and line up to be admired by the tourists who visit the village.
The second day was to be a tour around Lac Leman which took us back into France for part of the journey. We visited the new motor museum in Geneva and in the afternoon we had a police escort and drove in pro-cession through Montreux to the convention centre. There we had champagne and could look round the Autostorica – a kind of autojumble.
The Swiss tour finished that night with a gala dinner at the hotel. There were guests at the dinner representing local veteran car clubs and companies who had sponsored the events. There were prizes for those who had done well in the quiz which Daniel had set for us each day. First prize went to Pat and Ken Cameron.
The highlight of the evening for me was when I was lucky enough to win the prize draw. The prize was a beautiful (and valuable) gold ring by the Swiss jewellers Piaget, one of the sponsors of the event. I was quite overcome and I’ve worn it ever since. We left for home the following morning and we shall long remember our summer holiday of 1995.
Thank you John and Mike for the 10th anniversary return trip to Switzerland. Alvis cars and Alvis friends, what more could you ask?
This page is dedicated to the memory of Evyonne Fischlin (11th March 1949 – 24th May 2020) who with her husband Daniel made touring in Switzerland a delight for so many Alvis owners from several countries.
Tudor Francis writes: “When I attended the Graber Treffen in 2015 I was very fortunate to seated next to Evyonne for the evening meal. She was the perfect dinner companion: warm, lively and witty with an impish sense of humour. I had been having second thoughts on being at the event as I’m not a sociable animal by nature, but she made me feel at ease. I should quickly add that all the people at that event were very friendly and the atmosphere was wonderful.”
Ron Walton writes: “It is of course some time since I last met Evyonne at an AOC event.She was always a very friendly, charming, warm lady. I remember on one Swiss tour, a drive around Lake Geneva was scheduled, Jane wanted a day off, and when Evyonne discovered I couldn’t go she arranged for her sister or sister in law to come with me. I always enjoyed their company. Best Wishes, Ron”