Schwaben Hill – A Hungarian Hill-Climb Revisited

Between 1920-1930, there was a hillclimb race held for cars and motorcycles on the slopes of the picturesque Schwaben Hill in the Buda part of Budapest.

The start in 1920 and in 1998

Though there were a few pioneering efforts in the early 1900s, motorsport came to Hungary when the international Prinz Heinrich Fahrt, hosted by Henry, the Prussian prince had its finish in Hungary in 1909. Between 1912-1912 the Royal Hungarian Automobile Club (KMAC) hosted a few long-distance touring races.

After the War, the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy ceased to exist, Hungary’s territory shrank dramatically. In these circumstances long-distance touring races were out of the question. So KMAC officials came up with the idea of a hillclimb race. For reasons unknown the Schwaben Hill was chosen as a venue. There were a few villas, but it was sparsely inhabititated so it made sense in a way.

Siegl with a Gräf&Stift going up in 1925.

The first race was held in 1920. By the mid-1920s it became an international spectacle, attended by Austrian, German and sometimes Italian etc. entries. In 1930 it became part of the European Hillclimb Championship. It was the last year for the event as the effects of the 1929 stock crash reached Hungary.

In 1998 the now defunct Hungarian AutoClassic magazine ran a feature article on this race. With the help of photographer Tamás Mike and a 1926 AKD motorcycle, the old route was charted and several then-and-now photographs were created.

The original route…
… and how it looked on Google Maps a few years ago.

The Schwaben Hill race was a perfect opportunity for dealers to show the abilities of their new cars. It was also a place where several well-known racers appeared.

Count Rudolf Kinsky with his Steyr
Hans Stuck with his Austro-Daimler
Viktor Szmick with a Hungarian-made Weiss Manfréd touring car

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