Who’s Behind Nostalgic
- Who’s Behind Nostalgic
Nostalgic Classic Car travel specializes in giving our guests authentic driving experiences in some of the most iconic cars from the mid-20th-century through beautiful South France, warm and sunny Tuscany, or over the charismatic lakes of Bavaria.
But the real questions are who are the people behind these events? More importantly, why do they deserve your trust to create and guide unique, personalized driving trips for you, your staff or clients, or your group of peers?
Well, our Managing Directors, and the essential brains, behind Nostalgic Classic Car Travel are Gert Pichler and Walter Laimer. Both have experience in management and sales throughout their careers, but in the early 2000s they decided to create Nostalgic. From that point on it took perseverance, sweat, passion, and a great team to help extend that interest to their thousands of guests.
What keeps this business strong is not only the team of committed guides, nor is it just the great condition of our fleet. We think our Nostalgic Classic Car tours are only as enjoyable and varied as they are because of our guests.
Being able to listen to other’s ideas is a strength that we could never do without. We see each trip as a guest putting trust in us to really make their vacation worth something, and we operate with that idea ever present.
To discover more about what we have learned over our almost 2 decades of tours read our “Nostalgic – A Year in Review”
Meet the team
We are always amazed that guests who repeat Nostalgic trips are thrilled in the same fascinating ways as their first experience. Obviously, in the mix of scenery, itineraries, vintage experience and travel time, we always strive to make sure our guests enjoy every moment. We try to take key elements from each trip, regardless of location, because we know it strikes a unique note for every one of the participants. Even with the most careful planning, there are occasional changes in the sequence that manifest in new wonders; e.g. we may occasionally be able to get exclusive access for certain events, or have to shift things around. Our goal though is that we make sure the entire program can be experienced to its fullest extent, even if the order may change. For the future of Nostalgic, I openly welcome and wish for our guests to evaluate and comment on their journeys. We would like to know exactly what our guests want, to help us tackle and improve our prospective trips and current ones. We would like to see it from your view. This can begin with the ideal length of driving days, route changes and shifts, and continue on to the choices of food, when we leave, and where we go in each city.
A classic automobile, no matter what brand, is a piece of history, and history has always fascinated me. At Nostalgic we try to revive and maintain a nice picture of the past. This works independently of whether you drive at the wheel of a Giulietta Spider through a small Italian village and drink at the Piazza Cappuccino, or with the Mercedes-Benz SL “Pagoda” at the Café de La Fontaine in the hinterland of Provence. Believe it or not, even Tegernsee also attracts a certain amount of attention with our perfectly well-maintained VW Beetle Cabriolets. With our travels, we want to create the backdrop for an authentic experience, a framework in which conversations with a couple in a vintage car can be conducted. Our task is to create a closeness, something especially desired with incentive travel. It may sound a little bit backwards, but at Nostalgic you can slow down by gas. After 18 years, we can still feel like founders of a grand company, and the direction is right: upwards.
As a tourist trainee at the ADAC (Germany Automobile Club) I immediately struck gold when Nostalgic was looking for a Junior Event Manager for the office in Munich. I speak Italian and love Italy, moreover I love cars and especially classic cars, and exchanging advice with customers on the phone is a huge spark of fun to me. It has been a great challenge, but always enjoyable. Our guests come from all over the world, but thanks to extensive product training and my experience from the travel agency, we have everything under control by our small, but fine team. From time to time I also have the chance to take part in events myself, where I get to know the service providers personally. The latter makes it easier to avoid many cliffhangers from the daily work in the office.
I have studied Italian beginning with a semester abroad in Turin, but I am equally fluent in English and German. Currently I am studying for a Masters in Event Management at the trilingual University of Bolzano in Italy. So far from my tours the shining highlight has to have been on the Carl-Benz Tour around Stuttgart, the enthusiasm of our guests in the Mercedes-Museum and the awe of the “Holy Halls” in Fellbach – Absolutely sensational. Although I am a big fan of the Alfa Romeo classics, the Brand-with-the-Star in my favorite, I even drive a Mercedes-Benz Youngtimer! Unfortunately, before the 2019 Targa Florio in Sicily I broke my arm while street surfing, so I was not able to attend, but 2020 it is on the top of my list of things to do!
On the Nostalgic driving trips the South is always what calls me, although my home in the Dolomites is known for cold, snow, and skiing. I am fortunate to have always worked in a big car repair shop owned by my uncle during my summers: I have worked on many classics with them and feel comfortable behind the wheel. I think on my past trips the most exhilarating experience I have had was to renew a starter motor during one of our lunch breaks over the Amalfi Coast while overlooking the Azure Sea. If you know about the cars, it can even work without a lift. A funny story is that while we stayed at Sorrento as our base camp for the Alfa Romeo trips to the Amalfi Coast. We flew one of our drones over the hotel in order to get a view of all the vintage cars; a seagull attacked us! Although ending our tours with the guest at an authentic and welcoming dinner in the old port of Sorrento, “Z’Intonio al Mare” is still something truly worth experiencing.
I am happy to say that I’m now the longest-serving tour guide, but my job interview back then was pretty bumpy. I thought it was important to mention that I’m in the Porsche cup – it did not impress my soon-to-be bosses. It was much more important to show that I had what it took to keep discerning guests in good moods and handle tough situations on tours. Gert and Walter, the two founders of Nostalgic, are confidently tough. They manage to inspire their teams and to motivate them in the long term. The most frequent question asked by my guests over the four dozen events was: “Which Nostalgic journey is the best?” I can never give only one answer: Tuscany, full of postcard motifs and Carlas divine tagliatelle al Tartufo in the “Bottega di Volpaia”? Or the Lago Maggiore with its 1950s flair and the pavilion of the Castello Seeschloß in Ascona, where the lunch break cannot be long enough? Maybe it’s Southern France around Saint-Remy-de-Provence, the Abbey of Senanque and Gordes. The decision is never easy. I remember at one point, I had to check the Roadbook many times just over fifty kilometers – in the middle of the night! I had never seen so many foxes, deer, and wild boars before. We made it through without incident though! Between seasons, just so that the winter break doesn’t take too long too, I scout lonely pre-alpine roads in Bavaria for photo shootings with the VW Beetle Cabriolets.
Unfortunately, Nostalgic (still) doesn’t have a Riva boat to use, because the moment it does that would be my area: especially as a sailor with a high-sea boat license. My favorite trip is Piedmont. It is less about the delicious and more affordable wines compared to Tuscany, but more about the original, impeccable landscape. It is an exceptionally unique experience to navigate the open Alfa Romeos on those lonely passage roads south of Alba towards Vicoforte, where you are led at dizzying heights around the dome of the Sanctuary. Then a first-class lunch in the frescoed refectory of the monastery. Do I have a favorite classic car on Nostalgic? My favorite is the Mercedes-Benz R 107, straight with automatic gear Cruiser and sporting ambitions, even for tall drivers it’s extremely comfortable. I have not been on the team for so long, but the international mix of guests, the careful preparation of the trips and the consistently high quality of vintage cars make working as a tour guide at Nostalgic an absolute dream job!
After my apprenticeship as an electrical engineer, I completed high school and am now studying Geography for teaching. Cars have always been a passion of mine though, so I left my job as a bike tour operator immediately when I heard back from Nostalgic. As a tour guide, we take care of that “carefree” feeling we want our guests to have. In the background we are the team that make sure the critical situations are handled masterfully, even in larger groups. On one of my very first trips with Nostalgic we started with almost 60 open-top classics for an afternoon drive. The sky was cloudy, but no rain, but after just a few kilometers of driving, we started feeling the first drops suddenly, and we had to rush to close every single roof… That was fun! You won’t find my favorite restaurant in any guides. The Trattoria “Don Santo” is a special one inconspicuously in the mountains near Sicily. In my opinion the incredible taste alone is reason enough to fly out there! For the 2020 season I want to lead the Alfa trip through the “Terra di Motori”; it will have an exciting program of car museums and collections, the castles of the Duchy of Parma and the producers of Parma ham and Aceto balsamico. I’d recommend the extension in Bologna, where the first ever university in Europe was founded too!
A surfer friend of mine told me about Nostalgic, and a job opening they were having. I did not know anything about vintage cars, but I do have a lot of experience as a craftsman that I honed as a skilled boat builder from my native Chiemsee area. The job is not so easy to combine with my studies in Austria, Portugal and The Netherlands, but for our guests who love travelling, cars, and new people, these tours are right in their elements. The design and appeal of the Alfas from the fifties is fascinating. It is no wonder that according to Walter no radio in the car is needed as the sound is played by the engine. It is clear to see that the founders are absolutely down-to-earth, and even lend a hand. By juggling fluency in several languages between guests and service providers in Italy and France, you can get a sense of why Nostalgic is gaining more and more guests from abroad. One of my favorite trips was the VW Beetle Tour in Wachau. We went to a winery and designer hotel as our base camp, dream stretches along the Danube, huge monasteries with imposing libraries, and the rattling of the colorful Beetle fleet against a bright blue sky – I ask, what more could you want?
If I am not traveling with Nostalgic on the most beautiful stretches of Provence or Tuscany, then I like to go kiteboarding or spear fishing on the Atlantic or Holland in my self-made VW Bulli. If I had to give an inside tip: In Siena, around the corner of the famous Piazza Il Campo, a “Caffé Shakerato” at Nannini – the best for a hot day! Also another exciting aspect are the exclusive tours for our US customers who typically wish to drive almost 1000 km through Germany over the span of a week. Meeting them and showing them around is a personal highlight. I’ve even become so familiar that a night watchman in Dinkelsbühl knows me by name! I think I’m probably the only Nostalgic guide who’s had to fix a flat tire too – during rush hour traffic on the “Promenade des Anglais” in Nizza. Then there is always that much-praised benevolence from the other motorists when compared to the vintage drivers on the road. The best thing about Nostalgic is not the destinations and not the cars – definitely essential, no question – but the team and the cohesion itself is the best in my view. I’m curious to see if this is what I will experience in the future when I devote myself to city planning and have to say a sad farewell to Nostalgic.
In addition to my work as a tour guide for Nostalgic, I work as a driver for a Mercedes-Benz dealership and engage in student representation. So far, I’ve only been to Tuscany and Lake Maggiore, but hopefully that will change in the coming season. It is exciting for me to get to know regions that I know only by hearsay. By driving down routes and creating roadbooks, I also get into the farthest corners of areas that I am just discovering. This is one of Nostalgic’s specialties: to choose routes in much-visited regions such as Tuscany, where at best a few locals set-off, but otherwise there is no traffic. Best conditions for driving in an open classic car!
My name is Khari Henderson, I’m 24 years old from Albuquerque, New Mexico in the U.S. I’ve been learning German for about 10 years now, and I was fortunate to be an exchange student in Germany in 2012. I studied in Texas near Dallas at University of North Texas and after graduating, moved here to Munich in 2018 to get my Masters in English Studies from Ludwig-Maximilian University. Naturally I love cars, and have worked with my grandfather on his baby blue ‘69 Ford Bronco for many years of my life. In his memory, I am happy to have the opportunity to work with classics from around the world and put the knowledge he gave me to good use. Nostalgic has been a fantastic student job for me with all the right responsibilities. I speak in German while gradually trying to improve daily. I also feel valued as a native speaker in that I can help our ever-growing guests from the U.S.A. So as a fellow speaker, though all of the team speaks fantastic English, I am always happy to give an additional bit of confidence for the Nostalgic team.
Ever since a Friday afternoon when I had to rummage through a series of workshops around Draguignan for a fuel hose, I know what the French mean when they say “durit”, (pronounced “dew-it”) The installation only took a matter of minutes, fortunately, we did not even have to lift the car off of the transporter. I recall too, we had a guest from South America, who absolutely wanted to close the hood of his Pagoda on his own, while he had the roof bow slipped into the top compartment, and it would not move an inch more. In general though, our workshops wait for the vintage cars with such anticipation, but with the exception of a broken light bulb or a spark plug, there is little to fix. For the most part, in my opinion, the South of France: the tours in Provence and the Côte d’Azur are something of a type of automotive gourmet. The variety between sophisticated marinas and picturesque mountain villages, the azure Mediterranean Sea and the turquoise Verdon in the gorge of the same name has something about it. My favorite place is Arles, which was wrongly ranked alongside more well-known cities like Avignon, but it is one of the most important cities in Gaul during Roman times – and you can see that in many monuments. An absolute must for dinner is Joel Toullier’s “Auberge du Vieux Village” in Mallemort, best is from the terrace under the wisteria!
I am one of the youngest tour leader newcomers on the team, but I have been involved in numerous events during my first season. Although I come from Hamburg, I work in winter as a ski instructor at my university Innsbruck. From here I set-out to my assignments in Italy and France for Nostalgic. I do not have a favorite restaurant just yet, but I do have a preferred destination: Tuscany, whether in Alfa Romeo or Mercedes-Benz, is simply the perfect setting for Nostalgic’s travels. Both in the Spring and in the Fall, the environment makes for a good mood. Although we travel less often in classic cars, and often in the escort vehicles, the job is all-round fun. Before I started my studies, I did a lot of job security jobs, so you learn a lot, which definitely helps as a tour guide!
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