October 30th, 2008
08:14 PM ET

My silent scream

CNN's Frederick Pleitgen reports on how the credit crunch is hurting the pride of German industry.
CNN's Frederick Pleitgen reports on how the credit crunch is hurting the pride of German industry.

Frederik Pleitgen | BIO
CNN International Correspondent

It was going to be just another report about Germany’s troubles with the financial crisis illustrated through the impact on the auto industry, an essential part of the country’s national identity.

We decided to take a ride with 70 year 'rally car racing' veteran Heide Hetzer in her 1973 Opel GT (That’s a German sports car which looks almost exactly like a 1970’s Corvette). Heidi Hetzer has been racing cars since her teens. Not only is driving her passion, but she also owns one of the largest Opel dealerships in Berlin. Like most German car markers- her company is feeling the pinch. Opel has temporarily halted production in several of its plants.

And what better way to show Heidi's passion for cars then interviewing her as she was driving the streets of Berlin. Little did I know I would get more then I bargained for.

My cameraman took the passenger seat so I had to squeeze into the baggage compartment of the two-seater sports coup. I’m about 6’5” so it was like pressing a whale into a sardine can.

Heidi didn’t seem to care, the nice little old lady turned into a predator as she gripped the wheel. She took off doing wheel spins as I was trying to hold on to anything I could find in the trunk. I could see and hear pedestrians screaming for their lives as Heidi raced the car dangerously close to the passersby, once doing a pirouette around them.

I couldn’t get out a sound myself because I was so cramped up in the trunk, but I could hear Heidi laughing loudly, saying in a German accent: “You vant to drive a little sporty?”

And with that another spin and another, and I felt my breakfast slowly making its way back up to my mouth. Luckily she then stopped. And I could finally begin my interview, hoping to still be alive by the end of it.

“Yes,” she said, “the German car industry is doing fine!”

“No,” she added, “German car makers will not go bust!”

“Yes,” her analysis, “the Germans have a special relationship with their cars.”

The way this woman drives, at this point, I wasn’t going to argue with anything she said.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Economy • Global 360°
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Debbie Dasney

    I am a register Nurse i discover resident in long term care are send absentee ballot via thier family when the resident cognitive status is Dementia , it wrong

    October 31, 2008 at 1:03 pm |
  2. ralph

    Reminds me of my great grandmother Wittman. She always won at Chinese checkers--or else.

    October 31, 2008 at 12:35 pm |
  3. Vegas

    Love old cars...
    My uncle has a 69 Yenko 427 Camero.... amazing car...
    He was told he was stupid for paying 6 grand for a car in 1969... believe me... he's the one laughing now...

    October 31, 2008 at 11:32 am |
  4. Martina Ilstad Germany

    Hey Frederik!
    Oldie but Goldie!!!!
    Wishes from Germany/Bonn(you know where that is!)

    October 31, 2008 at 9:20 am |
  5. Monika

    Wow, what a hot looking car!!! Sounds like you had a lot of fun, Frederik.

    I bought a Dodge last year, and I have a feeling I'm going to live to regret it. Got suckered in by the lifetime warranty.

    October 30, 2008 at 9:04 pm |
  6. Kim

    Sold ! Tags on and over the curb !

    October 30, 2008 at 8:57 pm |
  7. Eugenia-San Francisco, Ca

    Also my grandmother (68 years old) owned a 1970 Charger 383!

    October 30, 2008 at 8:21 pm |
  8. Eugenia-San Francisco, Ca

    Your story made me laugh!

    October 30, 2008 at 8:19 pm |