When Klaus-Joachim "Jochi" Kleint climbed out of his dust-encrusted race car on July 11, 1987 after 12 miles (almost 20 km) at 4,000 m elevation, he could almost have bitten his steering wheel in frustration.
These pictures went around the world. Only 400 meters and the last three of 156 bends separated Kleint and his Golf II, which had been converted by Volkswagen into a high-performance hill climber, from his dream of victory in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.
The world's toughest hill climb
This crazy motorsports event in the US state of Colorado has become the most prestigious hill climb in the world since it was first run in 1916. Each year, 120 vehicles now enter the event in 22 classes, from racing cars via production vehicles and motorcycles to race trucks, to become "King of the Mountain".
1980s: Volkswagen reaches for the stars three times
After taking part in the two previous years, Volkswagen driver Jochi Kleint made his third attempt to win the event in the summer of 1987. He was leading on the basis of an intermediate time and victory was in sight. But a faulty ball joint in the suspension already slowed him down after a few kilometers. What did Kleint do? The driver from northern Germany is a fighter and simply retiring was not an option. He stepped on the gas pedal, engaged the clutch, changed gear and steered over the course. He fought on doggedly as if it were a matter of life and death.
Which it was to a certain extent. The ideal line on the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, which starts at an elevation of 2,800 meters on the Pikes Peak Highway, a public road for the rest of the year, is only centimeters away from an unprotected precipice. With a chassis which was in anything but ideal condition, this was a daring enterprise.