Stefano Pasini


The 2017 edition of the 'Bernina Gran Turismo'
promised to be one of the most wonderfully eccentric (and demanding) events of the year. Great friend Marco Makaus, Rolls-Royce collector and historian and a Cernobbio and Sankt Moritz resident, is one of the moving forces behind BGT and this for us is a perfect reference. So Anna and I decided to take the plunge (upwards) and take our Bristol 403 to the heights of Engadin and the 'Ospizio Bernina' 

Thursday 14 September 2017
Bristol 403 at Bernina Gran Turismo 201

Before departing towards Neuchatel for the 2017 'Concorso d'Eleganza Lamborghini', I drove the 403 to the Gordini garage to have her checked out thoroughly before the Bernina trip. It drives beautifully, but I'm really thankful to have fitted both the overdrive and the remote gear lever kit. Snow chains are in the boot, just in case
With my 1953 Bristol 403 at the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este 2017

The Bristols are loved by the Pasini family, on top of their undisputable engineering qualities and individuality, because both our 409 and 403 can swallow a quantity of luggage that would be very difficult to fit in any other comparable saloon of times, let alone a sporting saloon. So I can take 2 dinner jackets with me, just in case; try this with our Porsche 911!
First stop, the Grand Hotel Villa d'Este in Cernobbio, home of the most important classic-cars Concorso in the world since 1929

Thursday 21 September

Thursday 21 we arrived in Villa d'Este, the perfect intermediate stop for a trip to Sankt Moritz. Our favourite Club Sandwich and a glass of white wine on the shores of the Lake with a ray of sunshine always make us happy....

Just to show the style of this hotel, this is the entrance of the gents' room

The 403, as seen from our room Thursday afternoon. Thus we missed the BGT party at the famous 'Dracula Club' in Sankt Moritz; but, to be honest, nothing compare in our minds to VdE, so we were more than happy to stay there and relax.
The relaxed elegance of Villa d'Este may have inspired Coco Chanel, one of the world's great fashion icons, when she said:

“Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity.”

We had a splendid Martini (Tanqueray 'Ten') and an even better dinner at 'La Veranda' in VdE, with the fireplace in the background and all the relax that you expect here. And take a look at the wine list: you could also order a glass of one of my favorite white wines, Tiefenbrunner's elegant (and very rare) 'Feldmarschall'


"As you probably might know already, on Thursday night the 21st of September, 2017, the world-famous Dracula Club in St. Moritz opens up for us exclusively! The Bernina Kick-Off Party at the coolest club around."
Dracula Logo

"For those who don’t know the Dracula Club: Famed entrepreneur and colourful cosmopolite Gunter Sachs opened the world famous Club in the 1970s and soon it became the epicenter of the St. Moritz Nightlife and the international Jet Set. Today, his son Rolf Sachs, a well-known artist and designer, presides the private club which is only open to members and their friends in winter, as well as for the club’s own “Festival da Jazz” in summer. The Bernina Gran Turismo Kick-Off Party in September is the only possibility for “mere mortals” like us to get into the infamous Dracula Club."

Friday 22 September
Bernina Gran Turismo 2017 with a bristol 403
Friday 22 we departed from Villa d'Este. It was a nice sunny day with a perfect temperature and all the charm and luxury of our favorite hotel
Bernina Gran Turismo 2017 with a bristol 403

The trip from Cernobbio to Sankt Moritz via the Maloja Pass is quite slow and therefore long, but after we did negotiate the hairpins of the infamous Maloja, the panorama became wonderful. Just look at the reflections on the water

The BGT logo is very nice
Bernina Gran Turismo 2017 with a bristol 403

Kempinski in Sankt Moritz-Bad is one of the oldest 5-stars hotels in Engadin. Huge as you would expect, it has been thoroughly renovated and is very elegant indeed
Bernina Gran Turismo 2017 with a bristol 403

Anna along the Bernina pass route. The hood is open as the 403's radiator was leaking some water. It didn't make any harm, as we found out later, but the moment was worrying.
The real mystery is why subsequently the refrigerating liquid simply disappeared from the 403's radiator (I added 4 litres of the stuff while driving at an altitude between 1900-2300 metres just to maintain it barely visible in the rad) even if there was no visible leak after that first episode and the water temperature was always around 65°C-75°C, tested also with an IR thermometer pointed at the top of the radiator. Then, when we got back to 300-400 metres and then almost sea level for the trip back home, no liquid was necessary anymore.
 I must thank J.D. Classics' very kind guys for lending me a can of radiator leak stopper, it was a great help just to have it as a safety measure as I was worried that a leak could develop and force me to stop the 403
 (P.S.: the leak was subsequently found to be due to the radiator tap that however leaked only under pressure so it was not so easy to diagnose...)
Bernina Gran Turismo 2017 with a bristol 403

The road surface was very, very nice....
Bernina Gran Turismo 2017 with a bristol 403
2330 metres is the highest point we reached with the 403 until now

A good handshake in front of the Ospizio with Marco Makaus, one of the organizers of this event. He drove there his venerable Flaminia Coupé Pininfarina
Luca Moiri at Bernina

Luca Moiso worked a lot on the organization of the event, his wake-up call on Saturday was set at 4,30 a.m.! The organizing team of the event included Marco, Ana Engelhorn, Florian Seidl and Claus Muller
Sun is always welcome 

Friday afternoon the BGT entrants were transported to Alp Grum with a vintage Zug of the 'Rhätische Bahn'

A stop at the enticingly old-fashioned 'Ospizio Bernina' railway station

This trip allowed us to enjoy some lovely views of the Swiss alps and lakes

In the Alp Grum stube, waiting for a vintage fondue

Saturday 23 September

Lots of racing cars, single-seaters, sports cars, etc, waiting at the Ospizio Bernina before the 2nd session. A happy sort of lunacy

We had the chance to meet FNCC member Steve Ward, proud owner of the stunning ex-Roy Salvadori 'Le Mans Replica' Frazer Nash. A splendid motor car, and Steve is a very friendly fellow

Frazer Nash Car Club ('FNCC')

'The essence of the Club is happy, striving, motorsport activity. Ask Nashmen and they will tell you that the Frazer Nash Car Club is quite simply the best car club in the world!'

You wouldn't expect to find the legendary 250 GTO 'Breadvan' at the top of the Bernina Pass....but here she was

A really fascinating Matchless 500 was only one of the many beautiful vintage British motorcycles lined up at the Bernina

Driving the 403 is a pleasure even on high Alpine passes, though the b***dy n.2 spark plug did oil again and this somehow spoiled the fun
You wouldn't expect a Grand Prix Maserati here...

Coming back home

This is how we travelled from Sankt Moritz to Bologna, at 60-70 mph the oil/water temperature and oil pressure were always perfect. Or, probably, the water temp was way too low...?

660 miles from start to finish

The temperature of both oil and water remained more than reassuring for the whole trip keeping the 403's natural cruising speed of 70-80 mph. Oil pressure is a healthy 30 lb/sq.ft when idling with the engine oil temperature never going over 75°C (above, left) whilst it rises to 55-60 lb/sq.ft when the 403 cruises at 3.000 rpm. No water was needed after we reached Poschiavo and then Tirano....


The Bologna-Sankt Moritz-Bernina trip was this time a little big longer than usual, something like 660 miles or 1062 kilometers (return trip to/from Bologna). Fuel consumption remained around 10 litres/100 kms; oil consumption was negligible. The 403 drove quite well though the mystery of the disappearing radiator liquid and the fouling of the no.2 spark plug gave me some headache

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