“No problem at all.”
After a right-hand bend, we see a steep incline ahead of us. The engine is labouring but this becomes a reassuringly powerful hum as the automatic transmission kicks in – and on we go. “I’ve even driven my Pagoda over the Grossglockner,” boasts Karlheinz Preiss. With an altitude of 3,789 metres in the eastern Alps, the Grossglockner is Austria’s highest mountain. “Thanks to the automatic transmission and powerful engine cooling system, it was no problem at all,” explains the native Franconian with a dismissive gesture. By comparison, the Sauerland region and its elevations are virtually flat country – but the landscape is breathtaking. We drive past lush cornfields and golden yellow fields of wheat, passing lakes, grazing cattle and plantations bursting with early Christmas trees. We’re surprised by the smell of fertilised fields, followed by fresh forest air as we pass through dense coniferous woodland.