2011 Post04: Pimps, Prostitutes and Panteras

(copied from my original BLOG, first published April 10, 2011)

A recent Cars&Coffee event in Irvine featured a large number of De Tomasos, bringing back childhood memories.

Growing up in Germany – a country where prostitution is legal and the women are covered by private health insurance – I figured at an early age that being a pimp had to be a rather lucrative profession. The local brothel owner drove a custom made Mako Shark Corvette. Cycling past the imposing villa with its red windows on my way to the independent Porsche specialist, I wondered if I’d spot a rare Italian sports car among the 911s.

A shot of my friend Ryan's 71 Stingray - I will try to find a pic of that pimp's Mako Shark

What I found had a big American V8 – just like the Vette – but the engine was mounted right behind the driver. It was a red De Tomaso Pantera GT5S. Twelve years young at the time, I got so excited that I ran an entire roll of film through my little camera.

Half a decade later, my friend Arndt and I drove his Alfa Romea Giulia 1300 Super down to Italy. Racing along the windy mountain roads across the Alps reminded us of an old favourite: the opening scene to the Italian Job. It wasn’t as thrilling as the Miura but the little Alfa had the advantage of rear seats. Which were soon graced by a beautiful, young Italian girl. Missing seat belts meant she sat cross-legged on the back bench, starting to roll a joint while Arndt manoeuvred the tight bends up the hill to Fiesole.

After a beautiful day in Florence, we decided to pitch our tent at a campground near Modena. It turned out to be only a few hundred yards past the De Tomaso/Maserati plant. And right in between the two – on a narrow country road separating a couple of corn fields – about 20 scantily dressed women in high heels offered their services to a growing number of truck drivers. What a great photo opportunity, I thought. The ladies disagreed. Upon spotting the camera in my hands, each of them picked up a couple of pebbles. Improvising a remake of Monty Python’s The Life of Bryan, they started hurling them towards the car.

Only 30 minutes later the roll of film containing the x-rated imagery was taken from me. Not having been scared quite enough by the attempted stoning of our classic Giulia, I had decided to climb the barb-wired fence surrounding the sports car factory. Utilising my imaginary camouflage skills – copied from Crockett and Tubbs of the famed Miami Vice TV series – I snuck up to a building filled with current models and a number of prototypes. Suddenly I felt the warm breath of a fellow countryman on my left knee.

No, not a 2-year old security guard from Berlin-based  Invisible Protection Inc.

A German Shepherd!

Neon-coloured swim shorts were a bad choice.


In hindsight I shouldn’t have been all upset about losing that one roll the dog’s keeper made me hand over; after he had dragged me to the unofficial interrogation office for questioning.  My passport was copied, too – most likely in case they decided later to have me taken out by a sniper.

The following weekend – in Rome – thieves emptied our car of all our belongings; including all the other films I had shot during the trip.


The  next summer – 1991 – I finished school. It was decided that we should produce a flimsy, little softcover journal to celebrate our graduation (Abitur, as it is known in Germany). Along with a large number of anecdotes – yes, we are aware that we don’t have a sense of humour – every student was given half a page to showcase a portrait accompanied by a couple of sentences about him/herself.

I was chosen to photograph the bulk of my fellow students. Considering myself a fashionable dresser, I put on my red LLOYDS slip-ons, carrot fit jeans and a brown leather blouson, complimented by a champagne-coloured fur collar, my long hair parted to one side.

This may sound pretty ridiculous to you. Well, wait for it.

It seemed like a great idea at the time to top off my cool look by posing next to a De Tomaso Pantera.

I have driven a bunch of exciting cars but this Pantera I enjoyed for a few days remains one of my favourites.

Of course the car wasn’t mine and only two months later I was reminded that not a lot of jobs would generate the necessary funds to own one. In walked a high class prostitute sporting a possibly self-inflicted joke of a tattoo on her right foot. Followed by what appeared to be her pimp. They were dropping off their – you guessed it – Pantera  for a tune-up at the small exotics garage I worked at.

My friends Alistair and Sif posing as pimp and hooker. Couldn't get a Pantera for the shoot to make it authentic - went for a Ferrari Dino 308 GT4 instead.

Note from the author: as my old car photographs are stored in London I was unable to include some relevant pictures in this post. They will be added at a later date. A number of them were unfortunately in the boot (AKA trunk) of the Alfa and stolen right from under Pope John Paul II’s nose – along with my camera lenses, a Lacoste cardigan and a number of other very classy 80s style clothes.


2011 Post03: Cars, Coffee and the F.B.I.

(copied from my original BLOG - first published February 5,2011)


This morning was yet another Cars&Coffee event in Irvine – enthusiasts from all over Southern California get up in the middle of the night to drive their pampered vehicles to a nondescript parking lot in a triangular-shaped industrial area squeezed in between 3 highways.

At last weekend’s meeting – covered by a German TV crew – Mercedes showed off their brand new SLK. The surrounding cars made the little 4-cylinder convertible look like a Toyota Prius at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. Helmut Reiss’ 1957 300SC Einspritzer, a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Roadster brought down from Newport Beach by collector Gerhard Schnuerer and a beautiful, silver 300SL Gullwing were among the classics on display.

Just over a year ago I shot the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren of my friend Oliver.

And not just any SLR: production car number 1.

Lying on the cold concrete floor of a Santa Monica parking structure, I spent 4 hours lighting the McLaren while armed 6′ 5″  bodyguard and driver, Max, kept warm in my car.


Only a few weeks later he would drive his boss’ Phantom Drophead to a run-down diner for another shoot.

Right across the street from the vast BP oil refinery just south of the 405 in Carson.

Little did I know that this would cause 2 FBI agents to drive hundreds of miles tracking down what they assumed could be a terrorist plotting to blow up the plant. I had been out there a few times to get the perfect angle on the refinery. Which was going to be the backdrop for the Rolls Royce photograph. I guess somebody staring at a bunch of CCTV monitors must have become suspicious of the same black BMW showing up on screen between midnight and 5 AM for days. Its driver getting out randomly, carrying a tripod and what probably looked like something other than just a camera.

Having searched all over L.A. county, Special Agent Karin V. and her male sidekick eventually came knocking on the door of our little cottage in Laguna Beach.

Admittedly, I was a little worried. Did they know about my encounter at Edwards Air Force Base ten years ago? I had gone off the road onto what looked like some sort of dry lake. The ideal place to get some action shots with my Nikon mounted high above the headrests of the Mustang Convertible. After a couple of burn-outs that had left a number of pretty circles on the ground, I noticed the sound of sirens. Blue and red lights were flashing through the settling dust.

When he had finished a thorough pat-down, the officer proclaimed that we now had to wait for Intelligence. The midday sun was burning down on my pale skin and after what felt like an eternity 2 men in black wearing mirrored Ray-Bans appeared out of nowhere. They informed me that I had not only ignored a huge sign warning me not to enter a restricted military area. I had also chosen the Space Shuttle landing strip for my little drifting adventure. Needless to say that aside from a nasty sunburn, I almost missed my flight back to London.

Fortunately for me the CIA's log did not pop up when the FBI ran my ID through the system.



2011 Post02: Tosh.O, Thanksgiving and a Lamborghini Countach in Paris

(copied from my original BLOG - first posted January 20, 2011)


It is Wednesday night and I am trying to recover from laughter-inflicted stomach cramps courtesy of Tosh.O.

When I started my blog last week, I never thought I’d have hundreds of hits after only a few days.  Hence, I am wondering which stories I can actually spread over the internet.  So please be advised that I might change the odd name in order to protect the life of my family, shown here at a typical dinner.

The hungry little buggar – according to my mother, eating had always been my favourite pastime too – is my son.  His mum, my wife, has a slight obsession with Thanksgiving dinners and is making an obvious attempt to pass it on to the offspring.  Probably because Papa has made sure the automotive gene was injected at an early age.  From the moment little Thunder – yes, there is a reason for this, his middle name – was born, I have tried to make his first word Lamborghini.  He could say it before he was 3 months old.  That, anyway, is my interpretation of those mumbling sounds coming from his mouth.

On my 12th birthday, I told my parents that I  had made plans for the next 30 years of my life.  ”Really?”, they asked, “So what exactly are you going to do?”.  ”Finish school, find a job paying about $1,200 a month, buy a tent and live in it until I’m 42, eating nothing but oatmeal with milk and sugar.  Then buy a Lamborghini Countach, a small piece of land and a double garage for the car and my bed.”  I was always good at maths, so my plan made perfect sense.


 I still have 4 years.

 Having wished my whole life that my father had kept just one of his cars from the 60′s or 70′s, I now have the chance to do just that for my boy .

A ’99 8-Series I bought a couple of years ago is sitting in storage in Germany – much to my parents’ disapproval.  ”Are you going to pay for the next 2 decades for something you don’t even know your son will be interested in?”. Well, yes. Maybe because I didn’t really get to drive it myself as I decided to move from London/England to Venice Beach/California within weeks of having it brought back to its former glory.  Not to mention that my best friend Al got it up to 170 mph – while yours truly was asleep in the passenger seat.

In Belgium.

You guessed it, they DO NOT have the Autobahn. What they DO have is a speed limit.

Easily forgotten when you are driving something just asking to be pushed to the limit.  Which is what my friend Hoehnes must have thought back in ’91 when I told him he could not scare me.  Five minutes later I was transformed into a human backpack hanging on for dear life on the back of his Fireblade.  Forced to brake the bike down from way over twice the allowed speed on a narrow country road in Northern Germany, he was balancing the Honda skilfully on its front wheel.  All because of some dozy driver’s attempt to overtake another car coming towards us.

My friend had only just recovered from 3 months in hospital after a nasty motorcycle crash.  Surprised? Neither was I…


***(I took this picture of a blue Countach 5000 S quattrovalvole in front of the GEORGE V hotel in Paris - shortly after breaking my neck in an unsuccessful attempt to somersault backwards off of my grandmother’s couch – stupid, brass-rimmed table)


Post 01 - There's a first time for everything

(copied from my original BLOG - first published January 6, 2011)


So here it is – thanks to my agent Jennifur: my first ever post on my very own blog. I never thought the name I picked could possibly still be available. Which encouraged me enough to actually give this a try.


I am a photographer, that much is true. Do I consider myself an automotive photographer?

Not just.

Despite having shot pretty much every car brand on the planet, from a Kia (back in the 90′s when they were made from paper maché and looked like a 2-year old had designed them) to a McLaren F1 (racing around the Goodwood track in the South of England with designer and creator of this amazing 3-seater, Gordon  Murray, behind the wheel) I am simply too interested in also shooting a million other things.

So after working and travelling (I hope the Americans among you won’t be too annoyed by my British spelling) around the globe with my boss and car photography genius Chris Bailey, I decided to leave the security of being a full-time employee and started my quest for the perfect picture…



Which all goes back to the early Seventies, sitting on the backseat of my dad’s old Mercedes 280 SE 3.5. My mum had cried bitterly when he came home one night in what was considered to be the biggest gas guzzler in the whole village.

Dad had simply bought it on his way back from work. The fact that he was in his early twenties, his wife a primary school teacher – yes, unfortunately for me, I went to that very school which was only 50 yards up the street – and in the midst of the oil crisis. “What are the neighbours going to think”, she uttered, clearly embarrassed by my father’s spontaneity.

Even though I could not even pronounce the word Mercedes at my tender age of 2, I made up for my mother’s disappointment with an extra portion of enthusiasm.

Clinging on to one of the headrests in the back whilst my father was flying down the Autobahn at 140 mph I stared at the cars we shot past. The real excitement came – though very rarely – when we were actually passed by a faster car. Like a white Ferrari 308 GTSi I caught with my dad’s Mamiya on our way back from Hamburg to Porta Westfalica, our small hometown nestled between the mountains of the Weserbergland.

My love for cars, immediately followed by my love for photography, was born…


The image of the Porsche 911 (above) was shot standing right next to the Autobahn - I was about 12. How many times did I have to run and hide whenever a police car approached only to return shortly after, hoping to catch another exotic.



I was invited to a Halloween party at a neighbour's house. There were a few hundred guests so the live band was moved to the street in front of the property to create some extra space in the garden. I thought this would be a great opportunity to get some good shots.

So I pulled up my 1973 Ford LTD Brougham 460 Police Interceptor and parked it right by the entrance.

This is what I got:








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