Long before I discovered design, I knew about cars. As a kid, I heard my cousin’s Datsun Sunny that would never start and the fat-assed 1970s limos of the village children’s rich dads made my mouth water.
The owner of local builders Bert Teunissen regularly dropped his son Frank, otherwise known as the strongest boy in class, off at school in a green Beemer 735i. He would approach the schoolyard at an impressive speed and accelerate out of there just as quickly once he’d ejected his son. We’re talking The Year of the Child, 1979. Then there was pig farmer Pieter Kuitmans (Klootmans), who’d dash the 100 metres from his house to the church every Sunday in his silver Benz 450 SE. A whole family in a tank that took its nickname from an indestructible war ship . . . that sunk nevertheless: ‘Der Bismarck.’
Kluitmans on the throne, flanked by wife Hannie. In the back grandma Trees and, poor little things, Fanny and Twan. Crochet toilet roll holder on the back shelf and go! Memories, engraved onto my soul, my ambition unleashed! . . . I promised Jesus I’d own a Bismarck one day! Classic car collectors come in various categories: the show-off, the investor, the driver and the nit-picker. The worst are the nit-pickers, looking for the perfect model, the perfect colour, the perfect condition, the perfect provenance. I’m one of those . . .
‘LUCKY BASTARD,’ YOU’D THINK . . . UNTIL I HAD THE BLASTED IDEA TO UNITE WORK AND PLEASURE. WHAT WAS I THINKING, WHEN I DECIDED TO RENAME THE BISMARCK THE ‘STUDIO JOB MOBILE’.
For years now, I’ve been following the serious collection of Alphons Ruyl, who among other things stocks the market with beautiful classic Benzes. A number of models do very well with car collectors. The MB Pagode (type W113) for example is only available for €100,000 and up. Kluitmans’s W116 is a slow starter. Trade, speculation and propaganda in classic cars are in many ways reminiscent to those in the art trade.
One day you’ve got scrap . . . and the next, it’s turned into pure gold. Though the earliest S Class was declared the best quality limo of the decade at the time, it is now difficult to find a ‘hard’ one. That is, though it will drive, the Bismarck is prone to corrosion, costly repairs and bad owners. You rarely come across a mint condition 450SE with less than a few 100,000 km on it. Prices for a top car are around €30,000 and that’s more than it cost originally . . .
A (classic) Porsche fan by nature, I finally redeemed my sacred pledge in 2014 and bought an original 450SE from 1980. Reviving the soul of Kluitmans, I sat at the oversized wheel of the Smooth Operator for the very first time. It even smelt of his fat cigars. A 450SE imported from Japan with a single previous owner. A retired businessman who preferred to be driven . . .
To be continued . . .
London, July 2016
Job is one-half of Studio Job.
For WOTH he writes about cars and
all the rest that's on his mind.