The distant sun

A gentleman-duo from the past

4y ago

This is a story about style - and dignity - and modern times, that overtake some of us. Stay calm, stay yourself. Like this car and his owner. They are located in Hamburg, Germany and the owner seems to have been in some sort of sex- or nightlife-business. If you get to see him, it's obvious that his big business times are over. It must have been somewhere in the late 70ies or early 80ies, shortly before serious crime and gangs took over the nightlife scene... and apparently he wasn't one of them. So he retired and decided to stop the time. Mankind always yearns for stability - he simply did it...

His wardrobe is elegant in a very old-fashioned way - some will want to ask him where he bought this jacket or that trousers if this fashion happens to just be hip (and then all this fashion-victims are desperate about getting the style), but then again some may say his look is a bit "greasy" with this platforms and flares and all the pomade in his hair. No. It's authentic, it's a picture of what a man looked like some 40 years ago - he must have found a secret remaining stock of all this fancy stuff... and wearing it proudly and all naturally he proves the concept of time beeing relative.

But we're here for cars, right? So let's go and see the car - a pre-'65 Mercedes 220 SEb CoupΓ©, about 25-30 years younger than his owner and it's easily possible that he bought the mighty Benz new, back in the days... Take a look now. It still has this aura of sunny roads at the CΓ΄te d'Azur, hanging around with some good wine and a pretty girl etc. But look closer - the times are gone, forever! The CΓ΄te d'Azur is full of half-naked tourists and fear, the girls sue you for calling them "pretty" (and don't want to be pretty at all) and driving a Mercedes is colonialistic and/or a sign of ignorance concerning climate change...

Parked between aerodynamic soaps it glows like a pale, but yet shining sun in creamy color, painfully fallen out of his time. It's low, but not like a lowrider or some kind of childish sports suspension, more like a joyful ride anticipation. It calls you with subtile voice - "let's fly together, reasonably fast, I take care of you and you don't need to put the pedal to the metal". Of course this is a siren call from the past - look around: traffic jam. You look closer and see the shadows on the creamy paint, grey, disturbing, all around the car. They cannot stop it from shining, but are like demon claws from the underworld that try pulling it down, away from this world and back in it's time. Rust. Overpainted rust all around. The paintjob there is far from perfect, it's more like self-defense with the knowledge of life beeing finite.

Sometimes the rust claws break through the paint, horribly showing how near the end has come - and then, some weeks later they're again whitewashed by self-defense, non-perfect paint but at the same time the original creamy sun-tone withdraws more and more. Take a closer approach and the first thing you'll notice at the inside are the seats. From a rational point of view they are... well, dead? Perhaps the picture of their original cover is only in your mind, it must have been black, perforated leather. Now you see duct tape, a lot, the entire seat cover consists of tape, accurately applied stripe by stripe. Your eyes slide over to the dashboard - a beautiful collection of instruments for the gentleman driver, covered by... what was it then? Now it is a grungy brown surface, burned by the sun like the skin of an old mountain farmer and more truthful than any sporty city-senior. The steering wheel however looks new, polished by every handgrip of his owner... and the whole interior is clean, no litter on the floor, no speckles anywhere.

This car does not beg for mercy, it is pure dignity, wearing the signs of life with proud but without giving up on beeing as clean and smart as possible. The completion of its aura are the things you often see on the passenger seat - the only things lying around: an old leather bag, a bottle and a pair of perforated leather gloves. This picture could perfectly be invented by a fancy advertiser - it's not, it's authentic. No wannabe there who scans all flea markets for "vintage" bags and has gloves lying around in his perfectly restorated Porsche to show everyone how sporty and fancy and stylish he is. This man wears the gloves because they give him more grip on the polished steering wheel and hold back the sweat - just what they where made for. Pure sense, true style.

Let's come back on the ground... the rust, the taped and burned interior... what about the mechanics? The owner approaches, unlocks the door with a rich "klack". He's not corpulent, about 80-90 kilograms, and although nearly every stock car wobbles a bit when getting in, the Benz welcomes him with only minimal vertical movement... the suspension seems fairly fit. I watch the scene from the other side of the broad road and the moment the door closes I'm left astonished by the sound of mechanics apparently borrowed from a tank. I look at the door with all its rust and just cannot believe this pure mechanical sound. Also, the windscreen doesn't hop on closing the door - a small remark with great significance... because this car lives. Unlike modern soapish spaceships it's not hermetical, the sunroof stays calm, it breathes. Air comes in, air goes out, the game of life.

The owner takes his time, puts on the gloves, parks his leather bag on the passenger seat, puts in the key... and then: time for the truth. Is this the time travelling gentleman-bundle build up in my imagination or is it just an old man in his coughing old wreck? The straight six starts immediately with a roar - not that aggressive one of a race engine but a determined and strong one that tells you "yes!" and also: "yes, the exhaust has one or two small perforations, but look at me, it perfectly fits my age and that's me!"

It wasn't imagination, it's the real thing - with a fantastic machanical sound the first gear goes in, a small rev-up, away they fly... pretty fast for only 125 bhp... leaving behind a place full of stinky soapish diesels and without emotions. WARP, time-hole closed.

The last sighting was a year ago and I'm afraid the claws of the underworld have pulled them out of the present. One day, by chance, the time-hole will open up again and then I'll take the opportunity to say "hello" - for a walk back in time.

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Comments (13)

  • Wow. That is something so very interesting, and engaging to read. The description rivals The hobbit book. I could almost hear, and feel this car rumble by. Just fantastic. This will separate the car people, and the fakes, and I'm sure one of the only reads that's can. I'll be waiting for the next.

    Everyone should read this.

      3 years ago
    • Thanks very much - I really love cars and other mechanical stuff and I have a lot more storys... unfortunately I normally write in german... But with DriveTribe I'm translating some of them - next one comes in a few days :-)

        3 years ago
    • Please do. I had raised neck hair while reading this.

        3 years ago
  • Great article Joseph! I'm going to promote this out. Cheers

      3 years ago
  • You have a way of painting a picture that puts a person right in the center of it:) I can feel the duct taped seats as I slide in and hear the roar of the engine as it comes to life:) Thanks for posting this on my tribe :)

      3 years ago
    • Karen, thanks - I'm always pleased when my photos or storys reach women, because car stuff is unfortunately and for no reason mostly connected to men :-)

        3 years ago
  • This should give you hope for your many writings.

      3 years ago
  • fabulous story! I would love to have the dashboard and interior pics as a set in my tribe TBD. Do consider posting it there, thanks!

      3 years ago
    • I'll try it! (have to find out how) Great collection there! Tis quick one here is from a hipster-owned Lanca Fulvia. He smokes a lot....

        3 years ago