Built from passion: 2CV Garage Sander Aalderink
Sander bought his first Citroën 2CV when he was a student because he needed cheap transportation. From that moment he was infected with the 2CV virus. So after he re-evaluated his career, he made a bold move and decided to try and make a living from his hobby!
Owner: Sander Aalderink
Author: Francis Plukker
Photography: Sim van Gysyeghem
In the summer of 2018 Sim and I were invited to join the Dutch Citroën club for their annual meeting, this time at the 2CV garage of Sander Aalderink. When we walked in, our jaws dropped to the floor in wonder. This place was amazing! It was full of dozens of 2CV’s, AZU’s, Dyanes, Mehari’s and even some HY vans and a DS in various stages of restauration. So when Sim and I launched Detour car blog, 2CV Garage Sander Aalderink was very high on our list to visit for a full feature.
It was Wednesday January 23rd when we met with Sander at the showroom of his garage, after a quick getting to know each other Sander and I started to just walk around the place, talking about all the wonderful things we encountered on the way while Sim was off shooting pictures of all the cool stuff that was present.
When I asked Sander how this all came to be, he said we had to go back to 1992… Sander was a student. That meant he didn’t have much money to spare so he needed a car that was as cheap as possible to buy, run and maintain. Sanders mom wanted to give him a small car as a gift but unfortunately the garage where that car was parked just crushed it right before Sander called to inform about it. If they hadn’t, perhaps we’d now be featuring Daihatsu Charade Garage Sander Aalderink! So the search for cheap transportation went on. His uncle, who participated in 2CV racing, suggested he should buy a 2CV. They met Sander's requirements of being cheap and easy to work on and he had tonnes of spare parts, making potential maintenance that much easier and cheaper. Sander's first 2CV was bought and Sander maintained it himself, learning on the way. His neighbour at the time also had a 2CV and it wasn’t long before Sander also had his car in maintenance. And so a small business came to be. After finishing his education as a civil engineer, Sander briefly continued this little 2CV business before he focused on making a career in his field of study.
When Sander’s function in the company he worked at was cancelled, he and his wife decided to change things up. He wanted to make a living out of his long time hobby. They both quit their jobs, sold their house and bought a small building of no more than 120 m2 to start their own 2CV garage. Here Sander started to do maintenance on 2CV’s, and after a bit of a slow start he noticed that the demand for 2CV’s was increasing. Where in the beginning people just wanted to keep the costs as low as possible, Sander noticed that more and more customers wanted their cars to be restored to a high level. They didn’t mind spending a bit of money on their 2CV’s but in return wanted them to work flawlessly, without the niggles that often come with classic cars. This made Sander decide to focus on these higher budget, high quality rebuilds and restorations. His business started to boom and eventually they needed a bigger location.
Fortunately, a building not far from their original garage was available and so the garage moved to this new, much larger building! Here Sanders engineering degree came in handy as he immediately saw the potential of this giant empty warehouse. This is where the 2CV garage could thrive and grow. They now had room for a 500m2 showroom, a 1200m2 workshop/warehouse, another 500m2 dedicated workshop and another 1200m2 storage area! The warehouse is full of giant storage racks. It’s very impressive to see these giant racks, full of body shells and cars in various stages of restauration stacked like matchbox cars in a showcase, reaching almost to the ceiling (which is about 7 metres high)! The warehouse is furthermore stocked with countless engines, transmissions and all other imaginable spare parts in stock. There is a second floor where numerous small parts are stored in a gallery of storage racks as well. With the upscaling of his business, Sander also needed more employees. His staff grew from around three part-timers to 10 full-timers now. This is also around the size he’d like to keep his company to keep the personal touch. All employees are real Citroën aficionados, they form a close team that shares one passion, old Citroëns!
Walking around the building, we came across heaps of very special 2CVs, from entirely original cars, complete with the original patina, to meticulously restored show cars. And from your run of the mill 80’s 2CV to an original 2CV sahara! One of the more unique 2CV’s is a yellow car that was used in the James Bond movie ‘For your eyes only’. There were four 2CV’s used in the movie of which there are only three left. One of these three is preserved at the Conservatoire Citroën, and the other one is in hands of a private collector... a very special car indeed!
Another unique project this garage undertook was “Nouvelle Operation M35”. In 1969 Citroën developed the very rare M35 with a rotary engine. Only 267 of these have been made, and today there are only about 80 left. There was a point in time when 2CV garage Sander Aalderink had 16 of them in stock! They’ve now since sold all but three. The project “Nouvelle Operation M35” was set up to connect the owners and create a community to unite the hobby and share and increase knowledge amongst owners, all in an effort to keep these very rare cars on the road as much as possible.
A very rare M35 being restored! This quirky Citroën actually came with a rotary engine and there are only about 80 left!
Another car that caught my eye was a Citroën DS. I was very surprised to see one here as Sander told me earlier that they mainly focussed on 2CV’s and cars that are technically very similar like the HY, Dyane or Mehari. But this DS wasn’t quite what it seemed, as it had been converted to an EV to provide the ultimate comfortable drive a DS should (instead of the inefficient noisy engines used by Citroën)!
So even though his business is based on cars from the past, Sander also has his eyes on the future. He even showed us a very advanced stage of development of an electric 2CV with all the latest generation tech, but we’ll make a dedicated feature on that when the car has been officially unveiled.
Speaking with Sander and walking around this unique garage, one thing is clear: his company was started because of, and still is driven by the passion for cars. We were welcomed with open arms and Sander loved to talk about his business, 2CV’s and other classic Citroëns. Our interview also regularly just changed into two guys sharing stories and talking about cars. He’s a car-guy in heart and soul, appreciating all aspects of the car hobby, and that is exactly what this garage is all about: doing what you love on a daily base. Sander and his employees are just lucky that they can also make a living out of it!