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The Opel Kadett (1975) was the very first car I owned in my life. I didn’t call myself an artist yet (it was 1990), I was just working in an accountancy office and still living in the Netherlands, in Alkmaar.
Somewhere in that period I visited the Maritime Museum ‘Prins Hendrik’ in Rotterdam. They showed a special theme about the camouflage of ships during World War I.
On the way back from the exhibition the idea came up to paint my old (green) car in the same way as the ships.
I tried to make it look unbalanced if you look on the back side of the car, by painting a kind of oblique shape around the license plate, the rear lights and the back window. The wheel openings turned out especially well; they looked like they were cut out in a square form.
It took me 2 weeks in total (after work and in the weekends) and probably 200 meter mask tape to paint the car white and then add the black paint.
In advance I never had thought about people’s reactions, but sometimes there comments were quite amazing.
Most people were just positively surprised. In fact … often I even got unlawfully right of way, so people got a few more seconds to observe this weird thing. I am an introvert person, but safe in my cookie tin I was excited about the funny reaction and thumbs up.
On the other hand, obviously the car sometimes raised some negative feelings to some people. Because I was living in the inner center of the city, I always needed to park my car in the second ring. One day in my favourite parking street, a furious woman came out of her house yelling out that I never may park that nasty, dirty car in her field of vision any more. She screamed that it was a shame! She was under the impression that the black parts where the sooty reminders of a fire.
Another thing I noticed were the empty parking spots beside my car. Even on a busy day the free spaces beside my car stayed empty the longest. Maybe people were afraid that some lunatic would jump out the car and do the same thing with their cars …. 🙂
Here is an illustrated article about the camouflaged ships.
Once in a while I get requests of people to use the images of especially this car, for different projects. The last one was for a book about stripes. And use as material for an exhibition about WW1 ships at ANMM Australian National Maritime Museum.
After a few years of fun, I had to let her go … dying in front of the junk yard, grabbing attention till the last moment.
All in all … having this car was a quite amazing period. Looking back, now I can say; those stripes were the first steps of my change of profession from book-keeper to artist.
After the black & white Opel I didn’t want to drive in a plain car any more. It was too funny to get right of way most of the time, so I made a blue ‘zig-zag’ one.
Then our boxy little Fiat Panda was just the right car for an intricate tartan pattern. It took some careful planning and a couple of days of concentrated painting but in the end all my efforts payed off….. the car looked like a shopping bag on wheels! In 1992 we travelled to Hungary. The car was small enough to park under an abandoned trailer.
This visually distractive pattern is based on the use of opposite colors. Fortunately the Citroen was red to start with so that made painting a bit easier. It still was a lot of work creating the sharp edges needed to maximize the effect. It was hurting the eyes.
And this … this was no joke anymore. My pride and joy till today.
16 Oktober 2006
At 9:30 AM we went to the local picnic grounds for the breakfast/meeting. Pancakes, hmmm !!!
We watched it for a while and then I wanted to start the treasure hunt. To my dismay the trolley/racing car was the first mission of the puzzle questionnaire!!! That meant I would have to drive the vehicle as well!!! In front of the eyes of hundreds of bloodthirsty New Zealanders!!! For a moment I was considering I could better do the push-job because of my opposite rotating brains, but that would be a too big defeat for Frank. And … he should push on his own, a one man’s job for him, because we lacked the relatives and family members like the other participants. I felt sorry for him, but on the other hand … A Real MAN doesn’t need help!
The trail was a bumpy lawn and the tits of all those steering ladies dangerously bounced up and down in the wagon without springs. Which one of us ladies, had expected this when we dressed ourselves this morning! Luckily for me, for this day I had chosen to wear my leather jacket -what is endless cool (read; silly) when it’s 23 degrees- so I was able to zip up all my ‘moving parts’. My fear of the jeering crowd had apparently placed me in a highly concentrated state, because we went awfully fast and flawless. All those locals, who were pushed by 2 men … hah, what a sissies !!!
One of the other missions was to do some skateboarding. You need to know that most of the members of a classic car club are over the 60 years of age. We both never had done this before, but Frank wore his favorite pants and they were bought in Alkmaar in a skate shop! So, it was totally logical he was the one who has to do it.
The ‘brake test’ had to be done on a ramp; a slanted piece of concrete below the water level where you can get your boat into the water. The game was; You had to drive backwards down the ramp within 25 seconds, dip your rear wheels into the water and quickly drive upwards. Many of these showy cars are low builded, so if their rear wheels were dipped in the water, their exhaust pipes dipped in at the same time. A nice side effect!
To grow some team spirit there should be a common enemy. To American car lovers the enemies are the Japanese cars. So one of the tasks was shooting Japs. They had visualised this by bolted emblems of Japanese cars on tree trunks. And voila, your shooting game.
21 June 2006
Sometimes people ask me if I’m influenced by animation movies because of the atmosphere in my paintings. That may be true, I love animated films. Yesterday I saw Cars from Pixar.
Cars now was finally a movie that proved that my great sorrow wasn’t so ridiculous when I had to bring my first cars to be junkyard. It’s heartbreaking! According to Frank the ‘actors’ had authentic ‘voices’. That doesn’t mean the list of famous names in the credits, but … the engine noise of a 1953 Hudson was exactly the right sound of a straight-6. Yes, there are people out there who highly appreciate these correct details. Although the engine noise of a low-rider of course can be nothing else than the voice of Cheech …
The film was full of jokes and reflections for the grown-ups too. Everything we thought about cars, they also thought at Pixar. Like that Hummers are sissies. That Porsches are girls. That a wheel clamp hurts. That biodiesel is for hippies. That accidents are very traumatic. That America is beautiful. That tractors always be bullied.
Talking about bullying, I pondered further …
In my childhood days, when one of the classmates secretly had done something bad, it could happen that we all had to stay in the classroom after school hours. “Everyone keeps sitting in their chair until the culprit is announced!” said the teacher, which he unleashed a small psychological war. Possibly he considered this as a lesson in loyalty. Mainly a lesson for the guilty one, because now he or she might feel the undeserved punishment of 29 innocent fellow kids.
If the kid was a brat, it wasn’t bothered at all. In that case, the stay after school was a lesson in betrayal. The only thing the teacher needed to do was waiting, until one of the other kids explodes in impatience and would shout out: “Yes John, say it!!!”
But … 9 times out of 10, it was just a lesson in respect for the teacher … because he only had to look at the faces of all the children, who automatically did stealthy glances on John. It was incomprehensible to us that -after a few minutes of deadly silence- the teacher apparently had found the perpetrator and could sent home the rest of us.
We, in return, could not identify a snitcher.
30 April 2006
Months ago we signed up for the Beach Hop in Coromandel. It is a fifties/sixties themed event during 5 days, with more than 1,000 American classic cars and 60,000 visitors. It’s a yearly returning show and began last Wednesday. “You should have been there and every year it is more awesome than before!” Well, my Lincoln was just old enough to be allowed as VIP visitor, so that could be fun.
Since the first day it started to rain like hell. Even some houses in the area have been washed away! That is not uncommon over here and certainly happens a few times a year. A number of roads got closed because the river has overflowed its banks.
On Saturday we still were waiting in front of the window, ready with our coats on … Shall we go? On the news we saw that in Coromandel 40,000 people were rock&rollin’ in the pouring rain. What an immense optimism!
Well … maybe tomorrow …
So … on Sunday morning at 11 o’clock we left Whakatane. Admitted, it’s a bit late for a 3 hours trip, but we all know that most events are getting on their steaming top after lunch, isn’t it?
We arrived at 2 pm at the Beach Hop and speechless drove around for half an hour! The 1000 cars were diminished to … let’s say … 50?! The day everyone was free and the sun finally shone, we expected would be the busiest day …
What a bummer! At the entrée we even weren’t asked for out tickets. And the signs for directions were already cleared.
29 January 2006
Yesterday we have seen the second attempt of the drag racers (here’s the first).
The starting sound of a jet engine in a race car is not less impressive than the starting sound of a large aircraft. It’s not just a ‘big’ sound, but rather a scary sound of something way too large which is trying to escape from something way too small.
When the motors are getting ‘warmed up’ the underlying whistle doesn’t stop swelling. Every few seconds you think; “Now it is at its worst/hardest/highest … and then it still pumps up!
The complete wide hilly countryside around the circuit slowly got filled with that particularly sound. There was nothing else to exist anymore. The audience was silent and mesmerized staring at the starting point …
The moment such a car is launched, the people who are staying the closest, were literally blown away. The sound gets so into your bones that you automatically start screaming; a natural physically reaction to try to neutralize the threatening sound. And you drop everything of your hands to be able to save your ears; Women threw away their newborns and we threw away our expensive cameras. The collective thunder felt in our sternum creates a close bond between every soul the audience, for a few seconds.
Jet car drivers are heroes.
6 January 2006
The regulations to get a licence in New Zealand may be even worse than in the Netherlands. Firstly those demands seems to be a state secret, making it uncontrollable for us. They also seems to be quite dependent on the mood of the owners with the desired stamp.
Everything what needs to be done after the first inspection, is not allowed to do by yourself. You have to show a ‘certificate’ of the installation or the repair.
Over the years Frank collected a lot of these parts already via Ebay, exactly because they are difficult to obtain and because the average young boy mechanic (obligated by the inspectors cough) doesn’t have any experience how to deal with these classic cars (which are not findable in their computer files …) But in a manner of speaking … we had to ‘suck off’ that stamp … a nasty thing to swallow.
Apart from the fact that many of the required jobs have nothing to do with safety. For example, there was some surface rust on the edge of the lid of the trunk what certainly had to removed. Why? Are they afraid we will losing the trunk lid? It looked like a purely cosmetic thing to me.
Anyway, I will not dwell on the larger and totally unreasonable demands, otherwise I spontaneously get heartburn.
But … FROM TODAY WE ARE ALLOWED TO LEGALLY DRIVE AROUND, YAY !!!
Tomorrow we will leave to Auckland for a few days and pick up my father from the airport.
And of course to check if my paintings really are hung at Fisher’s. I don’t count on anything.
3 January 2006
Yesterday there was a drag race in Taupo, which is about two and a half hours drive. We went for the jet cars because we once have seen them in action in Zandvoort in The Netherlands and we found them amazing. Jet cars have exhausts of at least half a meter wide, which spit out equally broad flames of a few meters long, like rockets! If they come by with 448 km per hour you have to cover your ears tightly and feel the sound in your chest. Nice! They are hardly steerable and brakes need extra help of a parachute.
At the event the English influence was clear seeing that neat straight queue for the chips stall. A lot better than that bunch of clumping customers in the Netherlands. If -after intensely trying to make eye contact and making yourself as long as possible- you finally got your fries, you hardly could work your way out of the bumping clumpers without losing half of your portion. But, at the other hand, the fries here are incredibly nasty. Flobby and completely white.
Is the chicken-club already seen with you? It is made of waste meat, with a binder modelled to a golf club, with a handle of thick wooden stick and provided with an artificial crust. I earlier have seen them in America where they have the size of a big forearm. As far as I could judge to the prey of the other event goers today, chicken meat apparently has to stay pink.
The sky was gray all day and the noise was beautiful. By the time the highlight would start, it also started to rain. The jet car run was delayed for 1 hour and we were photographed because we were the only people wearing one of those plastic capes. These things were in our emigrants welcome pack haha, and we happily used them.
The rain kept pouring and the show of the jet cars was postponed to January 28.
3 December 2005
While I’m painting, Frank is busy trying to get the cars on license.
It seems like we are the first people in New Zealand ever, who have imported something this strange. One of our cars never has had a Dutch license. We never started that process in the Netherlands, after we imported the Imperial from USA, because of the expected short time he would drive on the Dutch roads.
In order to obtain a New Zealand license, for example the cars first need an approval document for the LPG (they run on gas), but to get that LPG-document the cars must have a license … that’s a vicious circle of impossibilities.
The Lincoln is owned by me. It’s on my name. But the documents of the import (of both cars) were done on Frank’s name. So actually, Frank has imported a car that is not in his possession! Fortunately, the inspector understood that it would be slightly cumbersome to export the car back to the Netherlands for the proper appellation.
Conveniently, we can screw on the Pajero license plates on the Lincoln hence we don’t need to rent a car ambulance every time she has to be checked and modified. The Imperial however, unfortunately is not drivable because he has no brakes yet.
Btw … did you notice I call the Lincoln a ‘she’ and the Imperial a ‘he’? In the classic-car-community it’s common to use the she-word for the landyachts (another pet name). Initially I found it a weird habit, but after a while I got used to it. However, I can’t do it with the Imperial … that beast is too masculine.
The Imperial has a hole in the floor of the size of a shoe and it needs to be fixed by a company at the bottom of the mountain. Driving the way up to our house is not a problem without brakes, but down is not thinkable.
Frank rented the largest tow truck from the whole Bay area, because earlier this week the Imperial had almost crushed an ‘adult’ trailer by climbing on it.
Also in this hauler the front wheels slowly went up when he was winched in … It was really sensational to see how our enormous giant was crawling on the back of the tow truck. The tow truck almost looked skinny and I felt sorry for it. I was stunned that the driver didn’t stop us and kept his face straight. Sincere applause!
Spot the differences!
26 October 2005
The past two days were devoted to the car container. Which was of course much more important than the furniture container. Yes, we do miss the washing machine, all my pretty clothes and my art materials, but my nightmare is, that the cars are left unguarded too long and take up too much space in a busy area. Then other people will make decisions to get them through customs. That could mean; driving them!
I know, nightmares are not realistic.
Like true watch dogs we were all day at the port, until the cars were released after thoroughly being investigated by a bio-security inspector for insects, seeds and grains of sand. Thank goodness we only had to do an additional vacuuming on the spot. If the guy had been bad-tempered, he could demand both cars to get steam cleaned and then we still had to hang around another day in a constant stream of passing by dock workers, asking; “What’s the maximum speed? What’s the weight? What’s the year? How much horsepower?”
Wow, that machine is strong!
How is it possible?! My baby back!
Oooooh, completely intact !!! And just as insolent as always.
In the meanwhile we are searching the Yellow Pages to find a transporter that would be available immediately once we get the green light. We found one. For such big cars we get a matching driver. He weighs at least 200 kilo’s, so we had good value for money!
It was so much fun to drive our Pajero behind the float of wobbly cars! Gently rocking, like two fat ladies on the tram …
In the local paper a charity auction is announced. Fifty percent goes to charity and printed is a long list of local businesses who are sponsoring the auction. The items they offer are listed as; CDs, clothing, jewelry, linen, etc. But one of the most intriguing items is that of Osborne Attewell Clews & Law; they offer a free divorce.
We haven’t seen our neighbour for 3 days. The only person we saw was someone who brought a bouquet of flowers and a white envelope.
Was it Osborne?
8 September 2005
After the traffic jam debacle of yesterday, we decided we leave home to drive to the harbor at 6:30 AM. But before that, we had to call the quarantine cattery in Auckland in the middle of the night. The time difference is 12 hours, so we put the alarm clock at 1:00 AM
Unfortunately, they did not pick up the phone.
We put the alarm clock on 2:00 AM … then the number was engaged.
2:15 AM … still engaged.
2:30 AM … Hurray !!! We got somebody at the phone!
It was no problem to receive the cat on Saturday. Of course not! Why did we think that???
We both didn’t fall asleep for the rest of the night. The alarm clock sounded again at 5:00 am
On our way to the Rotterdam harbour, I called the animals transporter at 6:00 AM. He had allowed me to call him that early, but he didn’t sound he was really conscious. I hoped he wouldn’t fall back asleep again, but would run to his office to try to arrange Pini’s departure.
At 7:00 AM we arrived half an hour too early at the office of the harbour and we were invited to wait in the workshop until someone could find some time for us. The workshop for the staff is very enjoyable. Completed with calendars of naked girls.
At 8:00 AM I couldn’t keep control my curiosity and I called the animal transporter again. The officer of the RVV just finished checking Pini and was sealing the travel cage. The last-minute booking had succeeded !!! It made my day.
The sun was quite warm again and we moved our chairs to outside the workshop. We poured in our fourth cup of coffee …
At 13:00 PM (about the same time as the initial appointment, before the endlessly stupid … well, don’t start me) the leashing guys popped in!
6 September 2005
The gal at the desk of the container company, is endlessly stupid.
That’s no problem if you are prepared to such people, but sometimes even we forget to brace ourselves against those potholes on our way.
Everything is arranged to transport our two cars to the harbor on Thursday September 8th (keep that date in mind!). There is no warrant of fitness (APK) and no insurance on the cars anymore, so they are transported on a trailer and Frank will chaperone them.
A 12 meter long container is waiting in the harbor, stewarded by a couple of guys with the knowledge and materials to steadily fix the cars on their ‘feet’.
Everybody is informed and everyone is attentive.
Today the endlessly silly gal decreed that the cars needed to be present at the harbor already on Wednesday September 7th!!! Remember … that was the overloaded day I had to bring Pini to the airport AND the container should be filled with our entire household …
All the things we had planned for 3 days, should be done in 1 day?!
Of course the endlessly silly gal ensured that the guys would be present for the ‘lashing’ of the cars. Definitely! What did we think?! Did we think we were their first customers?
Thank goodness, the driver of the trailer hadn’t a too full agenda and was willing to run for us one day earlier.
So … tomorrow before the traffic jams are starting I bring Pini to the airport. Returning back home to help stuffing the container. Then Frank left at noon to the Rotterdam harbor to escort the cars and I’ll handle the rest …
I hope I can get some sleep tonight.