Archives for the month of: April, 2011

Your average 911 driver is about 15 years from his final rest, seriously overweight and most likely a banker.

At least that was the common preconception in my hometown back in the early 80’s. So when I decided to get one myself, at the tender age of 32, I knew that times had changed. Unless I was going to spend the next decade and a half hitting the McDonald’s drive-through a handful of times a day. Then drop dead from malnutrition before my midlife crisis had a chance to properly get off the ground.

I was living in London at the time and had mentioned to my friend – car fanatic Ernie Logen – that I was interested in getting a classic, low-mileage Carrera. Shortly after, he found me a beautiful white convertible with black Fuchs alloys and only 30,000 original miles on it. So I got on a plane to Frankfurt and he chauffeured me down to Koblenz to check out the 911. It was beautiful but fortunately for me there were a couple of issues with the engine which the seller agreed to have fixed before I picked it up. This gave me time to speak to Mr. and Mrs. Seegers – (back in ’86) she had famously bent her body across the front end of a Ferrari Dino 246 for me so I could enter the saucy photograph into a competition. They were independent Porsche specialists and quickly tore apart my uncurbed enthusiasm. A number of things were not original and therefore the car would have been a bad choice if I wanted its value to appreciate.

So instead of buying the Cabrio, I joined a private members’ club that owned a large number of classics. Over the next two years I enjoyed driving not only a 911 (despite not being a big fan of the 996, that Turbo sure was plenty fast and a lot of fun),

996 Turbo shot in NYC

.

.

.

.

.

I also got my hands on some rare beauties like this 60’s suicide door Lincoln Continental, a number of Ferraris, Bentleys and Rollers, a beautiful Citroen DS and an old Aston Martin.

Citroen DS - on a day trip to Norfolk

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

In ’91 I had met a German who simply bought all those cars for himself. When his father had some kind of issue with the tax man and fled across the border to Switzerland, 24-year old Bernd took over daddy’s business: a chain of sex shops that made such vast amounts of cash, my young friend was able to have a large hangar built. Which he then filled with exclusive sports cars from Italy, Britain and Germany. I had just finished school and enjoyed a few months training under Donato Passarotto at a small workshop servicing Lamborghinis. Bernd would show up every other week with a different car. As designated driver for the coffee run, I was about to take off in the mechanic’s little Fiat when the King of X-rated Toy Sales chucked me the key to his 964 Carrera4. Who knew that the short trip to the shop could turn into an unforgettable half hour of adrenalin overload?

I was hooked.

But not quite prepared for what easily made it into my top 5 of all time personal highlights. For 3 days around my 26th birthday I was actually paid to drive hundreds of miles down some of the most scenic British roads. In a brand new 993 Turbo S (one of only 33 to be delivered to the UK). That yellow dream of a car could out-accelerate (and smoke less than) an F16 and out-brake a bullet hitting a concrete wall. Having just returned from our trip, my friend Dan temporarily forgot that he was now back in his own car. After delivering his favourite line “Watch this!”, he slid his 944 past the flower-encrusted centrepiece of the local roundabout and smashed the back end of his prized possession into the ditch just on the other side. Two hooded thieves – cruising past in a stolen XR3i – shook their heads in utter contempt.

Some years later, on my way to the airport, I had an unfortunate encounter with a postman. Charles Bukowski‘s co-worker had pushed my 7-Series sideways across Edgeware Road. He wasn’t riding a typical delivery bicycle either but was instead driving a 40-ton Royal Mail truck. Upon hearing his lame excuse “Sorry mate, I didn’t see ya!”, I was tempted to suggest that he probably shouldn’t be driving around London in a vehicle bigger than the Buckingham Palace. The silver lining around that cloud appeared when my BMW went in for its repair. The rental car company couldn’t get me the pre-booked 745i, so they dropped off a Jaguar XK8 Convertible on 20 inch rims. The crappy interior made me wonder if I was driving an old Fiesta. So they replaced the Jag with this 997 Carrera S.

Sif Agustsdottir flying past Battersea power station

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Which reminds me of my upcoming project: shooting a one-of-a-kind 997 Turbo for a private collector.

In the meantime I will be thinking of a new approach to convincing my wife of something that might seem like a no-brainer to you: selling her 2-door Accord to replace it with the most reliable sports car on the planet: a 911.

Advertisements

A recent Cars&Coffee event in Irvine featured a large number of De Tomasos, bringing back childhood memories.

Growing up in Germany – a country where prostitution is legal and the women are covered by private health insurance – I figured at an early age that being a pimp had to be a rather lucrative profession. The local brothel owner drove a custom made Mako Shark Corvette. Cycling past the imposing villa with its red windows on my way to the independent Porsche specialist, I wondered if I’d spot a rare Italian sports car among the 911s.

A shot of my friend Ryan's 71 Stingray - I will try to find a pic of that pimp's Mako Shark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I found had a big American V8 – just like the Vette – but the engine was mounted right behind the driver. It was a red De Tomaso Pantera GT5S. Twelve years young at the time, I got so excited that I ran an entire roll of film through my little camera.

Half a decade later, my friend Arndt and I drove his Alfa Romeo Giulia 1300 Super (this video shows a 2000) down to Italy. Racing along the windy mountain roads across the Alps reminded us of an old favourite: the opening scene to the Italian Job. It wasn’t as thrilling as the Miura but the little Alfa had the advantage of rear seats. Which were soon graced by a beautiful, young Italian girl. Missing seat belts meant she sat cross-legged on the back bench, starting to roll a joint while Arndt manoeuvred the tight bends up the hill to Fiesole.

After a beautiful day in Florence, we decided to pitch our tent at a campground near Modena. It turned out to be only a few hundred yards past the De Tomaso/Maserati plant. And right in between the two – on a narrow country road separating a couple of corn fields – about 20 scantily dressed women in high heels offered their services to a growing number of truck drivers. What a great photo opportunity, I thought. The ladies disagreed. Upon spotting the camera in my hands, each of them picked up a couple of pebbles. Improvising a remake of Monty Python’s The Life of Bryan, they started hurling them towards the car.

Only 30 minutes later the roll of film containing the x-rated imagery was taken from me. Not having been scared quite enough by the attempted stoning of our classic Giulia, I had decided to climb the barb-wired fence surrounding the sports car factory. Utilising my imaginary camouflage skills – copied from Crockett and Tubbs of the famed Miami Vice TV series – I snuck up to a building filled with current models and a number of prototypes. Suddenly I felt the warm breath of a fellow countryman on my left knee.

No, not a 2-year old security guard from Berlin-based  Invisible Protection Inc.

A German Shepherd!

Neon-coloured swim shorts were a bad choice.

 

In hindsight I shouldn’t have been all upset about losing that one roll the dog’s keeper made me hand over; after he had dragged me to the unofficial interrogation office for questioning.  My passport was copied, too – most likely in case they decided later to have me taken out by a sniper.

The following weekend – in Rome – thieves emptied our car of all our belongings; including all the other films I had shot during the trip.

 

The  next summer – 1991 – I finished school. It was decided that we should produce a flimsy, little softcover journal to celebrate our graduation (Abitur, as it is known in Germany). Along with a large number of anecdotes – yes, we are aware that we don’t have a sense of humour – every student was given half a page to showcase a portrait accompanied by a couple of sentences about him/herself.

I was chosen to photograph the bulk of my fellow students. Considering myself a fashionable dresser, I put on my red LLOYDS slip-ons, carrot fit jeans and a brown leather blouson, complimented by a champagne-coloured fur collar, my long hair parted to one side.

This may sound pretty ridiculous to you. Well, wait for it.

It seemed like a great idea at the time to top off my cool look by posing next to a De Tomaso Pantera.

I have driven a bunch of exciting cars but this Pantera I enjoyed for a few days remains one of my favourites.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course the car wasn’t mine and only two months later I was reminded that not a lot of jobs would generate the necessary funds to own one. In walked a high class prostitute sporting a possibly self-inflicted joke of a tattoo on her right foot. Followed by what appeared to be her pimp. They were dropping off their – you guessed it – Pantera  for a tune-up at the small exotics garage I worked at.

My friends Alistair and Sif posing as pimp and hooker. Couldn't get a Pantera for the shoot to make it authentic - went for this cute Ferrari 308 GT4 instead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note from the author: as my old car photographs are stored in London I was unable to include some relevant pictures in this post. They will be added at a later date. A number of them were unfortunately in the boot (AKA trunk) of the Alfa and stolen right from under Pope John Paul II’s nose – along with my camera lenses, a Lacoste cardigan and a number of other very classy 80s style clothes.