Sardinia road trip: Two noobs and a Wrangler


Summer 2013, 36 degrees Celsius in Munich and the only thing being planned was my usual trip to Sardinia. It is the second biggest island in the Mediterranean and with a mix of beautiful beaches and mountains, full of nice roads to drive on, it makes for a perfect road trip area amidst awesome landscapes.

So that summer I decided to take the car to Sardinia instead of flying there, so my father gave me his 20 year old Jeep Wrangler and with my brother on board we left Munich heading south.

The only plan we had was to visit  Siena, Bologna, Florence and obviously the Ferrari museum in Maranello. We would spend the nights camping and the days driving.

Soon after leaving Munich we reached the Alps. Now, driving up perfectly paved roads shouldn’t be a problem right? But in a 1993 Wrangler with a 4L engine it actually takes a lot longer than with other cars. At 60 km/h the car starts shaking, at 90 its louder than an airplane and don’t even think about going faster than 120 because you will surely start loosing parts. And apart from the speed issue, there is the fuel level that goes down faster than beer at the Oktoberfest.

So after a 5 h ride we finally reached Bolzano, and after a short lunch brake we headed down to lake Garda. Driving a Wrangler on straight highways is not the most exciting part of life but sometimes you have to suffer to enjoy the time after. We got to the northern part of the lake, where the road divides and you can head down the east or west coast of the lake, from here the view over the lake is incredible and this was where we decided to spend the first night.


Jeep parked and checked twice; you really don’t wont that thing to start rolling downhill in the middle of the night taking groups of German tourists along with it. Tents up and gas cookers out, followed by an after-dinner run along the lake with the sun setting... yes everything was going well.


After leaving the camping site the next morning, we started heading towards Bologna, We took the soft top off the car and tried avoiding the highway as much as possible. It started to feel like a real summer road trip. A few hours later, in a small village while standing at the traffic light, a woman started  waving at us and pointing at the car and at that moment I noticed the smoke coming out of the right wheel arch. We stopped immediately and yeah.... the brakes were on fire so after an hour and a few litres of cold water we started the car again and drove straight to the mechanic's. We found one in that village and after a short inspection, he told us we basically had two options, either wait 4 weeks for the new parts which only God knows where they had to be sent from, or fix it the Italian way with a hammer and oil. As painful as it looked, it actually worked and according to him it was the piston that pushes the brake pads onto the disc which expands when overheated and gets stuck so that it basically keeps braking continuously... so what do you do to avoid this problem to recur?.... Well you don't brake or at least try to brake less. This was actually pretty scary keeping in mind that we still had to cross the Apennines and that a 93 Wrangler is build of mostly steel and not of recycled yogurt cups like modern cars are.  On the other hand gears as short as the arms of a T-Rex allow you to use the engine brake pretty well.

Back on the road with a provisional fix on the brake we continued on our journey, with an initial stop at Bologna, followed by a slight detour to Maranelllo for a few hours. The Ferrari museum is a must-see for every petrolhead who visits Italy! Packed with cars from old to new including crazy prototypes and a room dedicated to the winning Formula 1 cars, it definitely is worth a few hours' visit and for those who want, you can even have a two-hour ride in a California through the nearby mountains.


Next stop: Florence. Yet another of those cities you cant spend enough time in. Chapels and bridges you would already recognize from movies and posters, and don`t forget the food! After refueling the car with petrol and the humans with steak we left Florence and headed for Piombino, the last stop on the mainland from where a ferry was waiting to take us to Sardinia. Piombino to Olbia, a city in the northern part of the island, takes about 5 hours and once we got there, it really felt like the right place to be at with a completely open car, and it was definitely time to hit the beach.


Two petrolhead noobs, an iconic car and a gorgeous set of landscapes to drive through in order to reach this pearl of a Mediterranean island. As for our prep work for the trip - nah, just enjoy the ride and it'll all be fine :)

What ill-prepared but also unforgettable road trip have you taken?


Michi R.