Just a few more days, then 2020 will be ready. It was a year in which the world was in the grip of COVID-19, in all its profoundness, in all its facets. A year too, in which working and living took on a whole new dimension. That was also true for myself. Fortunately, I was spared the necessary suffering. Moreover, in 2020, despite the necessary restrictions, I could still do what I prefer to do: make classic reports, with the people who made that possible. A personal look back at the classic year 2020, which was more special than ever for me.
Back to the last days of 2019. I felt pure freedom under a radiant winter sun, because I drove the Citroën 2CV AZ van Dijkstra Classic Cars & Youngtimers. The new company celebrated its successful official opening in Sexbierum in January 2020. Sicco Dijkstra and I then talked about the future of young timers and classics. Because nitrogen, the environment and measures at home and abroad against the older car moved like a threatening and dark cloud above the scene. During that period I also had contact with Hans Rump. We already knew each other from a report with his Peugeot 304 S, which I made in 2016. Hans emailed, he had something nice. And that nice was a fully converted VW Typ 2 T3 Pick Up. We met in February and had another beautiful day together.
The weekend before the day with Hans and his VW I was in Bremen. The Classic Motor Show 2020 smashed its own visitor record, the fair was great, the atmosphere was delighted. Robert Wagner put away a number of cars in this way, and dealers from Denmark and Germany did not really know what they were experiencing. Nobody expected that much concrete interest in classics. The theme in Bremen was the Rival, and that fitted. The classic won from false environmental sentiment, the visitor record eliminated any doubt. Nothing wrong, this was the harbinger of a smashing classic year. There was no other way.
Wrong. There was already a lot going on in the world. The streets in Wuhan were empty, and the first ominous reports came from Italy. A few weeks after Bremen, the world looked fundamentally different. I put the brakes on and declined the invitation to ski in Austria, partly because of the impending pandemic. I also ignored the fair in Antwerp at the beginning of March. And Brabant was already a risk area, it went very fast.
I had two more appointments for March. To do or not to do, was the question. Photographer Spijker and I did it. Adjusted, but it could. In addition, the reports took place in the Northern Netherlands, where the virus had little chance. A day after the second and very successful March reportage (with Mr Visser's Mercedes-Benz 280 S) it was bingo. The lockdown was announced, the catering industry had to be locked immediately, for the first time since Den Uyl, a Dutch prime minister addressed the people from the Torentje. Within my other profession I suddenly worked a lot from home, the social atmosphere was dominated by medical distress, Front messages and applause for healthcare. And on the other side of the COVID-19 spectrum in the Netherlands, we encountered economic blows and emergency packages. Things that hardly anyone was working on a few weeks earlier.
The transformation of the Netherlands and other countries made a big impression, at the same time I was looking for a mode to be able to continue making reports (in an adapted form). With the knowledge that the world was facing more important things. Yet. The world kept turning, and put very simply: I felt the responsibility to make my contribution now Auto Motor Klassiek, medium that also had to pass for you. But I did struggle with the necessary questions. How? And don't I embarrass people too much? Is it safe to shoot a report day?
Eventually I got over my corona hesitation. I approached people again, after much deliberation. I asked if they were interested in an adapted report. Some cooperated, some waited. In both cases I respected that. The shyness directed to the background paved the way for cool stories, which were given an extra special touch precisely because of the corona restrictions. I liked to make the reports. Together with the people I already knew. And together with the people I got to know. This created new colorful stories about classics. Or about the rally history of a brand, such as the current Toyota diptych. We made that special story with very closely involved people. In Belgium, where the foundation was laid for Toyota's contemporary competitive success. As if you stepped into the past so yourself, so beautiful.
The turn has not yet been taken. But I cherish the hope that 2021 will be a better year. A year in which everyone in happiness and good health can experience freedom again. As I experienced it during the Triumph TR report, when the first lockdown was revealed. A magical feeling, towards freedom, the foundation for better times. I like to take that to the new year. And I guess I'm not alone in that desire.
I wish you a happy New Year. Make something beautiful of it in 2021. See you then!