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.

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