In the latest part of the newsroom series "On the road", Laura Kukuk, appraiser for classic and super sports cars, takes us on a tour through the Dolomites.
Sellaronda, Dolomites, Italy
49 kilometres in one direction
an Alpine tour with dizzying differences in altitude, breathtaking views and the ideal pit stop for an overnight stay halfway along the route.
At the age of only 28, Laura Kukuk has already become a leading appraiser for classic and super sports cars - a truly highly specialised field. She works with her father Klaus and travels the world with him to closely examine rare classic cars as well as modern collector vehicles before a possible purchase. In the process, they check the origin, condition and original fidelity down to the smallest detail.
Road trips in the Southern Alps
Away from this demanding work, she unsurprisingly prefers to spend her time on road trips. The engineer is often drawn to the Southern Alps with a small group of friends. But in 2019, Kukuk decided to go one step further. "There are so many great car events out there, but I can't afford most of them," she explains. "In the summer, I always go on road trips with my friends, so I thought, why don't I just put something together myself? So I just suggested it on social media and people were completely blown away."
Kukuk's proposed route includes the Sellaronda - a high-altitude rollercoaster ride through a region of the Dolomites that is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In winter, this destination is popular with skiers, while in the summer months it attracts many mountain bikers. But if you choose the right time, the surrounding roads offer an unforgettable alpine riding experience.
"I often drove this route with my father when I was five or six years old," Kukuk remembers. "He had a 1966 911 F model at the time, which we also used to travel to go skiing. We simply strapped our skis onto the roof and set off - my father, my brother and me. And then we always drove cool routes like this."
Magnificent view of the Piz Boè
The Sellaronda runs around Piz Boè, one of the highest mountains in the region, so you can enjoy fantastic and varied views everywhere along the route. Kukuk's tip: if time permits, ride the route both clockwise and anticlockwise to get the most out of the great views, but also the possible climbs. One direction takes about three hours, including a coffee break in one of the many cafés and restaurants. Both directions can therefore be comfortably done in one day. However, Kukuk prefers to spend a night at Chalet Gerard, a remote mountain hut on the northern half of the circuit, just past Plan De Gralba.
The road leads around the Sella massif over the four passes: Gardena Pass, Sella Pass, Pordoi Pass and Campolongo. Demanding climbs and long sections with narrow hairpin bends lead up to an altitude of around 2,000 metres. High rock walls line the narrow roads with impressive steep slopes and offer an unobstructed view of the valleys below.
The Sellaronda is very popular in the high season
However, Kukuk recommends planning the ideal time carefully, because this part of South Tyrol is very popular and so the roads can get very crowded in high season. "In summer you can't drive this route during the day, because this is one of the most famous regions of the Dolomites. The roads are simply clogged with caravans of vehicles! So you have to get up early or come here during the week, preferably towards the beginning or end of summer. And maybe even consider a day with not so great weather."
What the Sellaronda does have going for it, however, is its relative remoteness - it's about a three-hour drive northwest of Venice. So it's more of a fixed destination than a spontaneous side trip on a day tour. In Kukuk's case, this means that her hectic work schedule rarely allows for such a diversion on her regular trips to Italy. Nevertheless, this region holds such an attraction for her that she came here twice in 2020, and even six times the year before.
The perfect car for the trip
When asked about the perfect car for this trip, she can give a clear and unquestionable answer thanks to her enviable experience with both old and new Porsche models: "I've driven many different Porsches on this track, but the most fun I had was in a 1977 911 Turbo 3.3. The sound was simply incredible, and you get up to a decent speed in no time! But in a 992 Cabriolet it was also great because it was open and still fast. In general, though, I always tend to go for a classic car. Also because they are so light, but above all I simply enjoy driving an old 911 in the Alps. There's just so much happening, I like that challenge!"