The Estoril in Portugal hosted the 39°th International Porsche 356 Meeting, and was held between May 29th and June 1st at Hotel Palácio Estoril.
This spot, well known by cars enthusiasts for the racetrack, is also a lovely holiday location and not too far from the capital Lisbon.
Portugal is Europe’s most-western point, after which you have the Atlantic Ocean, and so its not easy to get there driving your 356 if you don’t have a couple of weeks of holiday. It was for me the first time that I had seen so many trucks carrying precious loads of 356s arriving from different parts of Europe. There were 200 hundred 356’s in total, the biggest group coming from Germany, other countries included France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Great Britain, Sweden, Denmark, USA and one funny team from South Africa (Johannesburg) Clive and Tania and also one from Australia! It can really be said that it was an International meeting!!!
A stunning 1951 Pre A Cabriolet, the well known 1951 Coupé licensed Opel 1, a gorgeous Orange Speedster, a not often seen 2L Carrera C Cabriolet, a rare T1 Speedster Carrera equipped with rare Rudge wheels, a screaming Devin D that stole the attention of the audience were under the spotlight. A mention also should also be made to a fresh restored 1.5 Carrera GT, a Signal Red 2L Carrera B Sunroof and a Slate Grey 2L Carrera ex D. L. Rothschild close the VIP sections but all the other beautiful models shouldn’t be forgotten without the which it would have been difficult to hold a meeting. As usual the gathering started on Thursday May 29th, when we arrived at the Casino Estoril for registration. It was a reunion for old friends after a one year’s interval, and soon the spirit of the meeting was sparkling. By the early afternoon the majority of the participants were ready to test their cars on the Estoril Race Track as was the program.
On Friday morning the 200 cars started from the Casino and were driven to Sintra and it was greatly exciting to ride the 356 on the curvy and narrow roads where in the past the Rally de Portugal was held.
The visit to the beautiful town of Sintra showed us the fantastic Palacio da Pena, Palacio Nacional de Sintra, Mouros Castel and La Quita da Regaleira, although unfortunately there wasn’t enough time to see everything.
The lunch at Adega de Colares in the darkness of the canteen and surrounded by big barrels was particularly striking.It was our goal to reach Lisbon by Saturday and to drive through its old streets and squares. With the 356 getting lost on the way was as easy to do as it was pleasurable. The parking lot in front of Jeronimos Monastery was an unforgettable scene with 200 cars parked in front of the historic building.
The Saturday night gala dinner was at the Casino with a black & white dress code and it took me back to the Las Vegas of the early 1990’s. The Lord of the Voices, a portuguese singer performed songs ranging from Ray Charles to Michael jackson, and was great entertainment. I saw many happy people singing and moving to the rhythm of these greatest hits and just when it all appeared to be over, from a trapdoor under the stage astonishingly a Speedster came into view. The main lights of the room were low and only spotlights were used to focus on the car. The atmosphere was terrific.
This was the first time that Clube 356 Portugal had organized the meeting and the expectations were high. I must say that Josè Correira Guedes, the president of the 356 Club did a great job. The organization was good, the food and wine that were served were of a very high standard and the locations were equally spectacular.
After this trip I can honestly say that Portugal is worth a visit.