Living legend

Eberhard Mahle

Born into the MAHLE family in 1933, Eberhard Mahle is one of the most renowned and successful racing drivers of his generation. He celebrated his greatest successes between 1954 and 1968 when he participated in national and international races, mountain races, and rallies, and sat behind the wheel of all kinds of race cars made by Abarth, Mercedes, Porsche, Volvo, and other manufacturers. During his active racing career he participated in 210 races and achieved 150 class and overall victories.

MPULSE:

Mr. Mahle, when did you catch the motorsports bug?

Eberhard Mahle:

My father was an engineer and was responsible for the technology at MAHLE. When I was 15 or 16 years old, he let me accompany him to races. I then took part in a race for the first time in 1954—at the Rallye Solitude. I had DEM 3,000 and invested DEM 2,500 in a used DKW touring car. The result of my first race: first place in my category (displacement of up to 1,000 cc) and fourth in the overall classification.

MPULSE:

What was the highlight of your motorsports career?

Eberhard Mahle:

The very first European Hill Climb Championship category for Gran Turismo vehicles was introduced in 1966—without a displacement limit. That was the perfect competition for me—in a Porsche 911. Out of seven races, I only lost the first one against a Ford and a Ferrari with twice as much horsepower, but won all of the rest—and, in doing so, the European Championship. All the experts thought it was impossible to win with only 130 HP. But I tried… and succeeded

MPULSE:

There is one race that you remember particularly well…

Eberhard Mahle:

The first Balkan Rally in Yugoslavia. There weren’t any asphalt roads so we constantly had to patch tyres—nails from the horse-drawn carts were lying everywhere. No petrol stations! The petrol was delivered right to the track in barrels. In the end, we won—a nice sum in dinars. Only we couldn’t change it into German marks. So we had to make do once again and bought hundreds of bottles of slivovitz fruit brandy. We then sold these in Austria and changed the schillings into marks.

MPULSE:

And your passion for motorsports lives on?

Eberhard Mahle:

I still follow Formula 1 and the German Touring Masters (DTM). And I still drive historical vehicles on a regular basis. The Porsche Museum lends me a vintage car now and again and invites me to events—which is really great fun.

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