Great Roads: Ebnisee, Germany
This Great Road, written by Kieron Fennelly, was featured in issue 58 of Total 911.
So you’ve flown to Zuffenhausen, but the timetable has gone awry and you have only an hour and a half to try out the latest 911 before your flight back. No question of going to the Nürburgring or the Black Forest and the prospect of blasting down the Autobahn is unedifying. The answer? Take one of Zuffenhausen’s original test routes, a challenging 65-mile loop northeast of Stuttgart.
Leaving Porscheplatz, we’re on the dual carriageway cruising at the 120km limit towards Schwäbisch Gmünd. Ten minutes out of the suburbs we are following a valley through hilly terrain and at Schondorf we turn left onto a well surfaced and wide Landstrasse (A road), again following a valley. Then at Rudersberg, we fork right onto a minor road and are climbing into the wooded hills, following signs for Ebnisee.
This road is altogether rougher and the intermittent concrete barriers were certainly there when Ferry Porsche used to come thrashing round in early 356s, probably wondering whether Zuffenhausen should be fitting antiroll bars to the cars.
Today’s 911 absorbs the potholes effortlessly, encouraging us to increase speed, the drive becoming ever more involving as we race between sharp, blind bends in second and third, braking hard for an oncoming truck unreasonably occupying the middle of the road. Slowing through the village of Althütte, we now reach an escarpment with fine views. Heilbronn is on the distant horizon.
This is the Schwäbische Wald (forest). A superb sweeping Landstrasse takes us through a dip, compressing the suspension before we brake for the tiny village of Ebni and its adjacent lake, which Porsche made use of for testing the wartime amphibious typ 128 and for early publicity shots.
A sharp right takes us northwest on a minor road and we descend rapidly through a couple of Alpine hairpins then a string of bumpy but open bends which have no hedges to interrupt the sight line allowing us to use all the road. There are six kilometres of this and the temptation to turn around and race back up in the opposite direction is irresistible.
It is striking how the same road can feel completely different in the reverse direction and you always feel braver throwing a car into an uphill rather than a downhill hairpin. Descending once again, we think of Helmuth Bott or Peter Falk haring down here in the prototype 901s, never certain whether the front or the back was going to break away first.
After this we slow down for the village of Weissach (no, not that Weissach which is 40 miles away) where we rejoin the Landstrasse and follow signs to the town of Backnang which we bypass. Several sets of traffic lights demand patience, but then we are on the main road to the A81 Autobahn. Nine miles of broad open blacktop through rolling countryside enable us to build a satisfying rhythm.
In no time, it seems, we are at the junction for the A81 and we join the southbound carriageway, hopeful of breaks in the traffic to allow us to achieve some real speed in sixth. At junction 17 the signs point to Zuffenhausen and in five minutes we are back in Porscheplatz.
That was 65 miles on as varied a selection of roads as we could hope for and an absorbing time to appreciate, not just the definitive sports car, but also its native heath. From these same roads comes the very DNA of the 911 and we’ve had that satisfying experience of Fahren in seiner schönsten Form.
LOCATION: Baden Württemberg, northeast of Stuttgart, Germany
LENGTH OF DRIVE: 65 miles
POINTS OF INTEREST:
Ebnisee Lake, historic Backnang
FOOD & ACCOMMODATION:
Hotel Bitzer, Backnang
Ascot Hotel, Ditzingen