This was not his first assignment. In fact, he had done gigs like this one a couple of times already. Whenever companies were interested in marketing their newest toys, guys like him were hired.
But this time, it was different. It was not a new toy, this company wanted to present. In fact, this little baby was older than himself. Built in the eighties of the twentieth century, it had seen a lot of miles on roads all over the world.
It was an overnight flight from the states to Germany and he had plenty of time to study the material, the company sent him over. While other guests fell into a quiet sleep the artist read the information sheets again and again. 325bhp, 4291mm length, 1775mm width. This little car needed just a few seconds to break through the 60mph barrier, 120mph was not an issue either. The frame alone was not very representative, though. The pure data sheets could not tell the stories and adventures this car went through.
But the company was helpful enough to list its drivers and their achievements. The beauty he was scheduled to meet in less than twelve hours drove the Twenty-four hours of Le Mans in 1989, the tenty-four hours of the Nürburgring a year later. In 1991, it won the twelve hours of Spa and Sebring. Again, it competed in Le Mans, Le Mans and in the ‘Green Hell’ and put on some serious competetion.
Those kinds of competitions were over. However, this little baby was not put asleep. Even more than twenty years later, it offered some thrill rides for drivers all over the world. Classic races were its home these days and even there, it never forgot how to win races. With Italian drivers, it succeeded in Suzuka, a team of French and Austrian drivers got it round the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in Sao Paolo quickest. And 22 years after its last win at the Nürburgring it went there again to make it to the top spot on the podium.
It wouldn’t be that fast when the night was over. Very much like a model on display it would be there for him. Waiting and presenting itself. He was nervous. Just as nervous as he was before his very first date as a teenager. What, if he wasn’t able to bring it? What, if he didn’t find the connection he needed for his images? There was no going back now, he feared. The company would send a driver to bring him to his date. Everything was planned. Of course, everything would be punctual, on time and precise. He was going to Germany after all. Only, could he be punctual enough?
In the wee hours of morning, the plane touched ground. While the speed of his vehicle decreased, his heart went faster. Usually, he laughed at the amateurs who got up and out from their seats, before the plane actually stopped. Today, he was the first one at the doors, waiting impatiently to have them opened. He was not running down the gate after he left the plane, but oh boy, nearly he actually was.
The Immigration desk wasn’t a big issue. The letter of invitation of the company spoke for itself. Especially in this area of Germany, the manufacturerer’s logo was a piece of authority for everyone. He got through the baggage claim and through customs without any problems. As promised, there was his driver at the exit. Holding a board with his name, he was easy to find.
“Good morning and welcome to Germany”, he said when the artist approached him. “I hope, you had a pleasant flight.”
There was this thing about Germans speaking English. As an American, you have an image of a James Bond villain with a heavy German accent in your head which you can not quite get out. Even though, this gentleman was neatly dressed, perfectly styled and was well-mannered, his eyes were, well, professionally cold. Precision, effectiveness, punctuality. Of course, he was in Germany after all. The car – the newest four-door-saloon of his host company – was just outside the terminal building. There was a water bottle waiting for him in the back seats and his driver went off and into the country side.
He wasn’t much of a talker and must have gotten the feeling that his American guest was a bit too tired to start conversation himself. Tired? No, he was absolutely not tired. He got more nervous as the minutes passed by. When they left the Autobahn for the last kilometres, he felt even more like a little kid. He asked the man at the wheel if his gear made it ok.
“Yes”, it came from the front “Everything on your list is set up as you ordered, sir.”
Of course, precision. He bet, they hired an assistant who was nearly as much of an expert in his field as he was himself, just to make sure. Oh well, this would be a fun time.
When they arrived at the company’s site, it was about Eight o’clock. He was greated by some engineers, by some suit-wearing executives (a three-piece-suit on a Saturday morning? Well, he was in Germany after all) and two art directors. One – Klaus – was the one who took care about his belongings.
“We have set up everything you sent us”, he claimed proudly. He was a man in his forties, short dark hair, slim body. As everyone he seemed to be able to run a marathon for fun and might just have done it before coming out here this morning. “If you have any questions, don’t hesitate. We are here if you need any help”.
“Well”, he thought, “they were also here to make sure, you don’t screw up.”
“Could you give me a few minutes alone with the car?” he asked Klaus. “I would like to get a feeling for it”
“Of course”, the Art Assistant replied. “But one thing. The car is not an ‘It'”. There was a change in the face of the German. “With this age and her history, we don’t think of it as an object anymore. It has a sould, we believe. It definately has a lot of proudness and her own will.” There was also a slight change in Klaus’ expression. Gone was the precision and coldness in his face. When he went on to go through the reasons, they even gave the car a name, his eyes spoke of love and passion. Something he had experienced with car owners in the past quite a lot of times. Something he had not expected to find over here on this cold morning.
“So, after it nearly killed him, he christened the car. After his mother-in-law, though, but it helped their relationship”. Klaus spoke of a dutch driver, who piloted it – no, her – during the 1993 24 hours of Le Mans.
“Ever since then”, he continued, “She was named Andrea. But enough from me now. Shall we say, I will join you in ten minutes?” Klaus’ question was not really up for debate, but more a guideline. He would be at his side in precisely ten minutes from now. He was in Germany after all.
They accompanied him to the garage where the shooting would take place. As promised they opened the door but would not join him.
And there she was. In dimmed light, his gear set up in precise order around her. It did not destroy his first impression of her. Not a tiny bit. What he noticed first were the headlights. Those iconic pieces of engineering. They not only were part of an era, but part of a whole brand. They spread warning and fear to everyone in front of them. ‘Be careful’, they said ‘Here comes something meaner and quicker than you’. The smooth bonnet leading to the windshield. Nothing was beneath it, since the ‘Andrea’ had her engine in the back. The brand’s logo, she wore with proud. So much proud infact, that it had parts of the city’s seal embodied in it. So much proud that every child all over the world recognized it immediately.
He didn’t dare to touch her. His first date came to his mind, where he was simply to shy to touch his girlfriend’s hands. He didn’t want to destroy the moment. Then and now, he felt it would simply wrong. He moved his hands, just inches above the surface of the car. On her roof which was so low to glide through the air with as less resitance as possible, down to the back which was so iconic again. The wide tyres beneath the big rear fenders, sticking out so widely, yet so smoothly designed. The rear wing which fits so nicely to the overall concept. Klaus was right. Even without its – most likely haunting and breathtaking noise – he could feel that this car, that Andrea, was not just a piece of engineering.
He could feel the speed this car must have been capable of. The pressure with which the wing had pressed the rear wheels on the race track. The noise the tyres had made during tight corners. The sheer power the engine had developed. Teasing the driver to stay on the throttle longer, haunting him with adrenaline rushes while overtaking or going through corners. This car, this masterpiece of German engineering, this mere collection of metals, plastics, petroleums and other pieces of chemicals, left the factory as an object.
But as it went on as envisioned of by these precise, effective, professionally cold engineers, it came to life.
“Are you ready”, Klaus came into the garage, silently he walked up behind him.
“Oh yes. Yes, we are ready, indeed”.
Disclaimer: As a German, I might have painted a darker image, writing about my fellow friends in this nation. Especially engineers in the automotive area are passionate about what they do. You can see it in their eyes when you talk to them. I also have taken a few liberties, thinking about photographers and how they get their gear across great distances. I also hope, you don’t mind, that his is not about a mere object in the end.
But mostly, I hope, you enjoyed this little trip down my mind. Tell me what you think! About this piece of writing. About ‘Andrea’ and of course, what I could have done better, if you don’t mind 🙂