We recently attended the annual hill climb in Vernègues, France, a small town located approximately an hour away from Marseilles. Typically held in the spring, the race takes place on a 1.2-kilometer-long section of a public road called D22 that features a 9% grade.
This year, participants from all over the region showed up at the starting grid with an eclectic selection of cars ranging from home-made racers to purpose-built open-top single-seaters. One of the most impressive machines we saw was the blue BMW 3 Series Compact (e36) pictured below. We have no idea how it was built, what it’s powered by or who drives it but it was one of the fastest cars out there by a country mile. We also really liked the first-gen Renault Twingo and the two Talbot Sambas.
It’s interesting to note that most of the cars that competed in the hill climb are roughly 20-years old. There were exceptions, notably a Peugeot 208, a late-model Renault Clio and a Fiat 500 Abarth, but economy cars from the late 1980s and early 1990s were unquestionably the most common machines at the event. A participant we briefly talked to explained racing with an older economy car is a no-brainer: most of them are light straight from the factory, they’re simple to fix, easy to tune and cheap to purchase.
Simca 1000s were a dime a dozen but, upon closer inspection, most of them were basically rebuilt from the ground up and nearly every component stamped with a Simca parts number was tossed out decades ago. By contrast, the 205s and the Super 5s are stripped and tuned but they’re still relatively close to stock – a few are even street-legal.
We’ve compiled a gallery of pictures we took during the race. Don’t hesitate to shoot us a message if you want more pics of a particular car or high-res shots.