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The police, Nurburgring officials, and TUV inspectors can carry out checks on vehicles that cause them concern on Touristfahrten days. Cars which, when checked, cannot show that they are legal and safe will not be allowed access.
It is likely that heavily-modified cars will get the most attention: cages, harnesses, stripped interiors, etc. However, my understanding is that checks will be carried out only when they have some concern, not on a random basis.
If you've had a car checked at the Ring please tell us what happened in the Comments box below.
TUV is the testing body responsible for safety testing (for a whole range of products, not just cars and bikes). There are two aspects of interest to us. First, German vehicles must pass a TUV test (like the British MOT, but much tougher). Second, parts sold to be fitted to German cars must themselves be tested and get a TUV certificate.
For German cars, nothing changes other than better enforcement. It is already the case that you your car's TUV papers must show that all modifications were made with TUV-approved parts and that the safety of the installation has been approved by a TUV inspector.
What will be happening in 2008 is that TUV inspectors and police will be making regular checks. You will be required to produce a TUV certificate which lists all the modifications made to the car. If you have unapproved modifications, you will not be allowed access and the police may prosecute.
If you have unapproved parts on a German car, and do not have the correct papers, you should arrange for a TUV inspector to carry out a Einzelabnahme inspection which (if it passes) will then certify that the parts and fitting are safe. If you have parts with ABE (Allgemeine Betriebs Erlaubnis) or Teile Gutachten papers, then the inspector can do a simplified inspection looking purely at the installation.
Foreign cars will not have to produce TUV papers. However, the inspectors will have the right to satisfy themselves that the car is safe. You may thus need to be in a position to demonstrate that modifications use quality approved parts.
Your best bet is to carry the paperwork that came with things like rollcages, aftermarket suspension, brakes, etc, to show that they have some kind of approval: TUV, FIA, EC markings, etc. The ideal paperwork to satisfy German authorities is TUV, ABE (Allgemeine Betriebs Erlaubnis) or Teile Gutachten, but the more paperwork you can produce, the better.
If you have a heavily-modified car and want to be completely safe, you can arrange to have a Vollabnahme - this is equivalent to the UK's SVA (Single Vehicle Approval). It is a very tough TUV inspection (it takes about four hours), but the advantage is they can do it on the chassis number, so you can get a Vollabnahme for a foreign car. (This is the first step in German-registering a foreign car.) Only a limited number of TUV inspectors are licenced to carry out Vollabnahme tests.