words by Leo Dijkstra photos by Phil Toledano
I met Phil on a mailing list about... yes, cars. Although in this case, they were of the Italian type. Phil was looking for some parts made unobtanium and I had a look in my spares collection. No match. We mailed pictures of our restoration projects. End of mail trail—so much for that.
Then months later I was viewing some of those Petrolicious clips about classic cars and their owners. I like those movies, they clearly show the passion the owners have for that particular car and try to catch the essence of the bond between the car and its owner, like we aim for here at flüssig.
That particular was about an all-time favourite of mine: the Lancia Stratos. When the credits rolled, my eye caught a name that looked familiar and I did a random search in my mail. And surely that mail about the Fiat Dino parts popped up...
'Hi Phil, that's you with the blue Stratos?'...mail sent...
'Yes, I sound a bit like an idiot I think...:-)'...mail sent...
Later, whenever we spotted something special for sale, the Facebook messenger would be beeping till late at night, discussing the next dream car we might one day hope to seriously aspire; or desperately talking the other out of taking a look at the car in question.
"When I climb into a car like the 937, it feels romantic to me; odd choice of words? Perhaps, but I'll explain..."
So, when Phil dropped me a picture of a 937, that's what we agreed: to share the fun with our flüssig fans. Now, Petrolicious may have found another subject for another movie, but you've read it here first, on flüssig! (Tip: you may first want to view one of the the Petrolicious links to then read the interview below with "the idiot's" sound in mind. Sorry Phil...)
To neatly fulfill the cliché, I've always loved cars, since I was a kid. The thing that drew me to them was not competition or power, but design. Of course, that changes as you get older, and realize the enjoyment to be had from the sound and sensation of speed, but design has always been a very important thing. In terms of the wide range of cars, well, I suppose because I look at design first, most of the time, I'm not bound by one marque. Plus, I'm a contrarian, so the idea of only collecting one kind of car makes me slightly crazy!
I suppose one of my earliest memories is admiring the shape of a Ford Capri, on the way to the bus stop, when I was a kid in London. Oh, and then the 928, and the BMW 635 CSi, and...and....and....
Having what I would call a dream garage, what is it that made you lust specifically for a 924 Carrera GT?
I've always liked purpose built cars, you know, cars that were built for a reason, not just to look pretty. When I climb into a car like the 937, it feels romantic to me; odd choice of words? Perhaps, but I'll explain. I'm not a particularly fantastic driver, but sitting in a car that was homologated for Le Mans, I'm a little bit closer to the people who drove those cars, to that entire experience, and for me, it's a wonderful thing. I suppose it's a little like playing cowboy when you're a kid-just slightly more expensive!
Can you describe the 937 as a person and tell us about its character?
I've only had it for a few days, but it seems remarkably grown up and easy to drive, and very nicely balanced. But character? Well that's something you only discover once a relationship deepens. She does have a quiet nature though...
I can think of very few searches that have come to an end! I still really like 928's.
Typically, you dismiss every car in red, but lately the messages we exchange on the internet finds seems to develop a red 'theme'. Is it 'form' that not only supersedes 'function' but also 'colour' now?
Given the choice, I avoid red cars like the plague, because it seems like such a cliché to me. But, having said that, sometimes you don't have a choice-the Lancia 037 was only made in red, and the 937 I bought, well, I would have preferred black or silver, but the car I found was such a good one, that sometimes you have to be a little flexible, especially when it comes to rare cars!
Just for fun, did you ever join in a discussion about contemporary art and express your admiration for the works of Gandini or Giugiaro, just to see if people would nod and concur with you?
Hahaha! I have found very few classic car nuts so far, sadly...
You've been lucky enough to pick some cars that have enjoyed a rather unexpected price hike in the recent classic car boom. If selling the contents of your garage would pay for it, is there any dream car that is currently out of reach that you would sell all the others for?
I've thought about that, but I really like variety so much, it would be sad to only have one car. I know, that sounds pretty awful... A Ferrari LM, or an F40, if they were still affordable, maybe...
Can you tell us how you stumbled upon this particular 937 and share a bit of its history?
I was about to buy one I'd found in France, but in an act of desperation, I'd posted on Pelican Parts that I was looking for a 937. A very nice chap from Oregon contacted me. He'd had his 937 since 1988, had all the records, and it had 42k on the clock. After talking to him, I bought the car sight unseen, which I've never done before. To be honest, one of the things that persuaded me to do such a crazy thing was the condition of his garage, in the photos he sent: it was spotless! When it arrived last week, I was relieved to see I'd made the right choice. The car was as described, VERY clean, and lovely to look at. Oh, and it drove nicely too...
There's no question I would love to own a prototype, but for me, it's about the driving, and the experience that brings. However, I'd love to have a prototype in the living room of my GIANT 4000sqft New York loft (if I had one...)
The museum of modern art houses a Cisitalia 202GT in its collection. Do you think car designers are artists, or can a car somehow become 'a work of art' for a reason other than its designer?
I think that beautiful cars are certainly works of art, and yes, designers are artists, although they have more constraints these days. Although it's interesting to see cars that have been ignored, become suddenly recognized; like the Fiat Dino Spider, or the Dino 246 GT, for example. They were always beautiful, fantastic cars, but conventional wisdom prevented many people from seeing that.
Do you feel rare cars should be preserved in garages and museums, and taken on a trailer to a show? Or should they be driven hard out on the open road?
A little bit. Sometimes I wish they weren't worth so much, but it's not something I think about, when I'm driving...
With the Fiat Dino Spider still in progress of restoration, all the choice you have is between coupés. How do you go about choosing one if you want to go for a drive?
I try and rotate the cars, so whatever I haven't driven is always next.
Not that we dislike 911's, but now that you've joined the 'flüssig' water cooled bunch, has time come to sell the 911?
Then what would I drive around New York City?! It's my daily driver...
I know you and the 937 are still in your honeymoon weeks, but are there little things that can grow into the proverbial 'She always leaves the toothpaste cap off' or worse, the 'Hearing aid beige slip?’
Yes, when you first get a new (old) car, the first few weeks are amazing, because the car hasn't 'betrayed' you yet. And then when it does, it's a question of how often it does, and how that begins to strain the relationship...
Hopefully he'll make people less snotty about 924's and 944's in general. I've never understood why in the car world, people are unable to extricate themselves from the burden of cliché. Look at the car-is it a good car? Does it drive well? All the rest, 6 cylinder, 12 cylinder, front engine, rear engine, etc., etc. is unimportant.
Or what do you hope it will do to him?
Perhaps he'll smile a bit more in his photos and films? I know mine makes me smile ear to ear!
Are there any other Porsches on the wish list?
If by wish list, you really mean WISH, then a 904, or 959...
I've come to know the 'flüssig people' as a truly friendly bunch of people. All 'individuals', but somehow connected. They're also really helpful. Is there anything you would like to ask them or anything they could help you with?
Could they pass the hat around to buy me a 904? But seriously, now I think of something: any ideas of how to make the 937 sound just that little bit LOUDER?
“I am like the Woody Allen of car people, always worried and freaking out about the noises.”
It just proves my point from where I started: it's about the people as much as their cars. And you never know what or whom you're going to find, or who’ll be the next idiot to join the flüssig crowd. And with Phil in, the mix has become ever so much more colourful.
Stay tuned for more…and keep an eye out for those Petrolicious movies and stories here on your very own flüssig.
Leo—the Dutch Shark
below are two links to Phil's incredible work, please pay him a visit for what will truly be a moving experience.