far from home with trembling fingers...i pull the trigger and bag big game
There is a primal urge within our souls that comes from our caveman days ... the hunt. With all our daily needs met in the modern world and meat supplied to us in tidy little packages, we need to find other ways to satisfy that urge ... for me that is treasure hunting for old cars. It requires an instinct and a set of skills that not everybody has when it comes to bagging a real big one. The internet has helped feed the car hunter with a bit more ease, but it still requires a fair bit of effort to put that fresh kill in the garage. The machine in these pics represents what of my very best hunts. I will be sharing others as time progresses, each one of them like a trophy mount on the wall of my cabin here at Drivetribe.
You need to always be open and alert when you are a hunter. Acting fast on a rustle in the bushes can mean the difference between starving and feeding the tribe. One day that rustle came to me in the form of a random phone call. The voice on the other side of the line told a tale of an odd machine that had been hibernating for the past 44 years. The tale went on to speak of an interesting history prior to hibernation and as this info tickled my grey matter, my car hunter senses went into overload. This was a big one and I could feel it to my core.
Being located on the West Coast of America in the heart of car culture and good weather the hills are well peppered with suitable game to hunt and normally I can find some tasty beasts within an hour or two of my home, but this rustle in the bushes was from over 3000 miles away. This one smelled so tasty it could have been under miles of ice in the arctic and I still would have gone for it. I gave my ever understanding gal the look, and she knew I had to drop it all and go. She has been with me long enough to know the signs. The flight was booked and helping hands were arranged and in a matter of a few days I stood in front of the dusty barn doors and stared face to face with the most amazing creature I had ever seen. With a quivering hand I took aim, pulled the trigger, handed over the funds and held the keys. As I stood there in front of my prize the excitement level was absolutely beyond measure. Bursting with adrenaline the lack of sleep , long travel and lack of food in my gut meant absolutely nothing ... this was pure joy in its highest form. Every hunters dream come true.
When the excitement level peaked, right behind it came the realization of what had just occurred and the monstrous task at hand of getting this beast home. Fortunately I was not hunting alone and my years of coming home with an empty truck trained me well ... I had back up. We jumped right on getting it back up on its feet by airing the tires and started the process to get her rolling again.
With a well placed cable off the back of our tow rig, the big mama fought us just a bit, but eventually each wheel gave way with a pop and she started to emerge into the daylight. The New York climate with its hot and cold and wet weather is not the best thing for parking a vehicle in for over 40 years, but fortunately the roof over her head was a strong one and she was spared the wrath of the worst that Mother Nature could apply.
Out she came, wide eyed to the world. I expected those peepers to blink in the sunlight but the shocked look on her face said it all ... I think she was excited to see the world that she had been missing. Once she peeked outside she came quite willingly the rest of the way. Her new life had begun and a new adventure was ahead.
Now I am sure by now as you view these images of the hunt that you are trying to figure out just what sort of animal it is that we are dealing with here. I admit that looking at the pic above it may be hard to understand why a hunter like myself would spring from his chair, and sprint wildly across the country some 3000 miles to bag such a beast. While I admit fully that my automotive tastes don't follow the normal burger and fries of most Americans with their 57 Chevys and 32 Fords. The stuff that gets me drooling is the truly bizarre ... and this one certainly fits the bill.
The animal above is one I am certain you have never heard of. In fact, it was one that I had never heard of as well, yet the moment I heard word of it, I knew I wanted it and wanted it bad. This is a 1959 Tempo Matador Mikafa Landyacht.
The factory photo above shows the rare beast shortly after birth in the wilds of Minden Germany in the spring of 1959. A one off coach built aluminum bodied camper built for a Hungarian Count and his wife who was none other than the grand daughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt II, a member of one of the wealthiest families in the history of man. This was built for a family camping trip through Europe and it was a no expense spared build. The cost in 1959 was roughly about $15,000 for the camper and all its trimmings. To put this into perspective the average price of a new house in America was about $12,000. A new Rolls Royce would set you back about $10,000. And all of this was for a family camping trip.
After two three month long trips through Europe the camper was shipped back to the US and was used by the family for local voyages between the "country house" in New York and the family "summer cottage", the 62,000 square foot Breakers Mansion in Newport Rhode Island. It was parked in 1971 for the final time as the father fell ill and it sat there until 2015 when I answered the call. Just 13,000 miles on the odometer, entirely original and unrestored and filled with the family camping gear as if time had just stopped when it was last used. (Well OK ... it was REALLY dirty, stinky and moldy ... Im sure it wasn't like that when parked ... but you get the idea.)
A transport company was wrangled to haul the beast from coast to coast. The exterior mirrors and extra appendages had to be removed for it to fit inside the trailer, but she fit...just barely and arrived to her new home in sunny California where the real work could begin.
In order to get her in the garage here at home it was not an easy task. The garage door measuring a full 6" too short, the wheels have to come off as well as the skylight and roof rack ... but once it was safe inside I was able to get it set up fully complete with the original camping tent as well as attend to the cosmetic and mechanical revival.
Since completion my greatest hunt yet has been on display at a variety of motoring events including the prestigious Quail Motorsports Gathering in Monterey as well as Concours events in Palos Verdes, the Art Center in Pasadena, Modernism Week in Palm Springs and the annual gathering of vintage campers in Buellton California.
The crowning award so far being the fantastical and fabulous "Concours de Lemons" in Carmel California where she pulled in the highly coveted "Der Self Satisfied Krautten Wagen" award and a standing ovation from the crowd (they had no place to sit ... everybody was standing)
When not on display at the worlds motoring events, she sits in my garage and looks fabulous. I often head out there and just hang out in her luxurious interior and sip a beverage from one of her fancy etched drinking glasses. As I ponder the etched wildlife as I sip ... I wander off in my mind back to the day when I heard that rustle in the bushes and set off on the hunt. I bagged a big one that day. It was a hunt that I will always remember.