D(r)iving into history: Ostend revisited…

I was reading a marvellous novel by Koen Peeters during my French holiday, called “Kamer in Oostende”, or “Room in Ostend”, which tells about his wanderings with his friend painter through the streets of Ostend, looking for its history, its people, who can still recall the history of this iconic seaside city of the last century. Notably they looked for some remembrances of its famous painters James Ensor and Leon Spillaert. Understandably, as Koen Peeters made this research voyage with his friend painter.

It inspired me to look for motoring history which took place in famous cities, and make this into an interesting series with an original and interesting view on car history. Fortune has it that in my French holiday house I just stumbled on a little booklet – an annuary- of the “Touring Club de Belgique” from as early as 1911. Why not focus on Ostend here first, I thought, and I started to look more closely in the booklet. It lists all the members of the Touring Club de Belgique, many of them being in Brussels and Antwerp, and other major cities like Liège, then the heart of industrial Belgium. In Ostend I found in this booklet only three members, a rather bleak result.

One is the “arrondissement” member of the club, Mr. Pierre Laroye, an industrial, living at n°2, quai du Chantier.

The other local members are Mr. H. Geysen, a joint member of the “Génie”, at the avenue Serruys, and Mr. De Meuninck, a trader/shopkeeper, in the West Street, or Rue de l’Ouest.

All members or “délégués” were offered a special “plaque”, 27 by 10 centimetres, which they were suggested to put at their front door. The T.C.B. even suggested proper maintenance procedures, like polishing the “plaque” vigourously regularly, after having put it on a woollen cloth.

Driving from Brussels to Ostend was not an easy affair. The annuary even describes the road as excellent for cyclists, but horrible for motorists…

Interesting and intriguing is the long list of hotels, amongst others the Hotel Kursaal and “du Beau- Site”, at the promenade or “Digue de Mer”, which was then the most expensive hotel in Ostend, with a bed for 4 Belgian francs, a Dinner for 5 francs, full pension from 12,50 francs onwards. A breakfast would set you back 1,5 francs.

Of course there is parking provided for your car. The guide describes the Kursaal as “the biggest and most sumptuous of its kind” in Europe. It also ranks Ostend as “an important seaside resort” with a beautiful 8 kilometre long promenade, a Wellington horse race track and an 8 hectare park, actually the “Parc Leopold”.

The annuary includes of course street plans of the most important cities, and notably Ostend…

This is what this “annuaire” tells us. In a further report, we will investigate the motor (sport) history of Ostend. In such a posh seaside place, the home of royals and the famous, there must have been much more at hand…

Hans Knol ten Bensel  

Citroën is celebrating its 100th anniversary

Citroën is celebrating its 100th anniversary, and therefore is launching #BornAndré, in tribute to its founder, André Citroën.

Any child born on June 4, bearing the name André(e), will receive a present…

The Brand is putting people at the centre, and this it underlines with its ‘Inspired by you’ signature. And when they are ‘Inspired by you’, why are they not giving their customers a present?

So said, so done: if a child born on 4 June 2019 bears the name of André(e), Citroën will give them an exceptional present: a C3 Origins, the collector’s edition launched for the centenary.

Therefore, Citroën is inviting its community to help it find the baby André(e), by making this appeal, which you can find out more about online: https://youtu.be/PCF1EUIs6MQ.

Promoting the ideal city car, to increase your business appointments per day, using this nimble car, costing three times less than a large one, and being just as useful…

In the meantime, just have a look at some historic material, sent to us by their dynamic PR department…

There are some remarkeable ideas about cars ideal for the city, and how mass production was achieved in those days…

The timid beginnings of a production line, which was not exactly rolling yet, but things were close!

Last but not least, a picture of a proud owner and his mount, so useful in improving urban mobility…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The visit to the Centro Stile of the FCA Group in Turin proved immensely interesting…

We had long and in depth conversations with FCA Group Chief Designer Klaus Busse and his team…

What we saw and heard on our visit to the Torino based Centro Stile was nothing short of absolutely stunning. We had long and in depth conversations with FCA Group head of design Klaus Busse and his team, both from Alfa Romeo and Fiat styling.

The beautiful instrumentation and interior of the Tonale, with Klaus Busse watching in the background…

Needless to say that we are the coming days eager to report on all this extensively, and indeed you can expect to read our findings in several reports…

Alfa DNA styling revived on the drawing boards provides the mould for the new Tonale design…

The next few photos just lift a tip of the veil of the vast material we collected and photographed…

Rewriting democratic mobility and opening many new doors in design: the Centoventi Fiat

We just want to thank here the magnificent efforts of the dynamic PR team of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Belgium, notably Dominique Fontignies, PR & Communication Director and Wim Willems, Press Officer, for sharing the knowledge of these experts and their creations with us.  

Full of revolutionary, practical solutions: the interior of the Centoventi…

Stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

We spoke with Charlie Cooper, the grandson of one of the founding fathers of modern motorsport…

If there is a man who played a pivotal role in the evolvement and development of Formula One and motorsports as we know it, then it is John Cooper, who founded the Cooper Car Company with his father Charles, just after the Second World War.  The company started regular production of rear-engined 500cc cars in 1948.

It was Moss’s victory in the 1958 Argentinean Grand Prix that would really put the company from Surbiton firmly on the map. Moss was contracted to the Vanwall team for that year, but delays in adapting their engines to run on new fuels caused them not enter the race. Moss accepted the offer from Rob Walker to drive his privately entered 2.0-liter Cooper in the event.

In the end, the small Cooper’s good handling and the driving skill of Moss, saw them finish ahead of Luigi Musso’s Ferrari by just 2.7 seconds after 80 laps of racing. The racing world was surprised, Ferrari and Maserati had been defeated!

We spoke with at the celebration of 60 year MINI at the BMW stand on the Brussels Show with Charles Cooper, and you can read here more about this great conversation we both had.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “We spoke with Charlie Cooper, the grandson of one of the founding fathers of modern motorsport…”

MINI celebrates 60 years anniversary at the Brussels Motor Show 2019

The MINI stand at the Brussels Motor Show 2019 is dedicated entirely to an important anniversary. It is the scene of the world premiere of the MINI 60 Years Edition. 60 years on, MINI presents a model program to the Brussels Motor Show visitors from 19 to 27 January that offers a modern interpretation of the brand’s core properties. It ranges from the first MINI to feature an electric motor through to the extremely sporty John Cooper Works models.

Anniversary design model: the MINI 60 Years Edition.

With its exclusive design and equipment features, the MINI 60 Years Edition – to be shown in public for the first time in Brussels – authentically expresses the traditional sporting spirit and British origins of the brand.

A distinctive appearance is ensured by the body colour British Racing Green, a contrasting finish on the roof and exterior mirror caps, bonnet stripes in a specific anniversary design and 17-inch light alloy wheels in the version 60 Years Spoke 2-tone. The anniversary logo also appears on the side scuttles, door sill finishers, front headrests as well as in the LED logo projection on the driver’s side. In addition the exclusive design model has model-specific interior trim finishers.

The standard equipment of the edition vehicles also features a sports leather steering wheel as well as sports seats in the leather trim MINI Yours Leather Lounge 60 Years and the exclusive colour Dark Maroon. The MINI 60 Years Edition will be available from March 2019 onwards as a MINI 3 door and MINI 5 door, each with four engine variants.

But there is more, we also interviewed on the MINI stand in Brussels Charlie Coorper, the grandson of the famous founder of Cooper Car Company. Read further in these columns!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

We participate in the ZOUTE GRAND PRIX® 2018!

Next weekend, we will participate as a co-driver in the ZOUTE GT TOUR®, in a Renault Alpine A110, with  Anja Van Der Borght behind the wheel.  She is  a celebrated lifestyle journalist @naturalbornwriters.be and co-owner of WOWtrendmag.com.   Needless to say, we are looking forward to it!

The ZOUTE GT TOUR® is one the four main events of the 2018 edition of the ZOUTE GRAND PRIX®, taking place from Thursday 4 to Sunday 7 October. The ZOUTE GT TOUR® by EY is the traditional final “rolling” event of the ZOUTE GRAND PRIX® and starts on Sunday from 7 AM onwards on the Albertplein in Knokke. It consists of a tour of some 150 km through the magnificent polders and countryside around Knokke Zoute, and as is reserved for 200 exclusive and modern GT cars (younger than 20 years), where the crisp and beautiful Alpine truly belongs.

On this tour, to which we were kindly invited to participate by Anja Van Der Borght and thanks  to the dynamic PR department of Renault Belgium Luxembourg, four special stages and slalom tests are built in. There is a so-called TRACK 1 in Knokke, TRACK 2 on BRESKENS BEACH, TRACK 3 at BRESKENS PORT and TRACK 4 will be the FASTEST 1/4 MILE® at the Graaf d’Ursellaan in Heist.

Our car will be of more standard livery, and not in this configuration, here seen at Castellet… but it will be breathtaking nonetheless!

We will thus have ample occasion to put this French thoroughbred through its paces, and of course will report on our adventures and the ZOUTE GRAND PRIX® soon in these columns!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

 

Orotempo 2018: what to watch for… us car enthusiasts!

We visited on September 3rd the Horology and Jewelry fair Orotempo at the hall 3 of Brussels Expo, and it proved a very interesting venue, as this show has become the epicenter of everything and everybody that matters in the Belgian watch- and jewelry sector.

The Orotempo Media Manager Pascal Dewulf walked with us around the show, and commented that they further optimized the layout of the show and the many stands to, put everything more into the spotlight. Orotempo continues to put forward a vertical product mix, which means there is something for every budget. In this edition, the core activity of the jewelry business is put into focus: offer high quality products together with an impeccable service, as well online (webshop) as offline (at the jewelry store).

Indeed, we suggest you get acquainted with the online e-commerce platform Orotempo.be. It is also a welcome asset for the jewelry stores to expand their activity into an omnichannel strategy.

On the show, we ran into some very interesting stands and distributors, such as d-design Denemarken. We were very kindly received on the stand of this Dutch distributor (www.dsigndenemarken.nl) by Mme Annika, who guided us professionally through the range of jewelry brands this well established firm represents: Trollbeads, Rabinovitch, Spirit Icons. All three Danish jewelry firms which have iconic products which appeal to the young at heart. The aim of d-design Denemarken is to work professionally with jewelry stores/sellers and provide an excellent service. Considering the professional approach we enjoyed at our visit we firmly believe they succeed… When Christmas approaches, and you would like to surprise your (female) co-driver, we will present you some interesting items out of their iconic and timeless range…

Bracelets are also very much “en vogue” for the modern man and driver, and therefore a visit on the show to II-Gemini was a must. They offer natural stone bracelets, and we are now proudly wearing one in blue Sodalite. Sodalite is a rather rare mineral, light, relatively hard yet fragile, and is named after its sodium content. Sodalite was first described in 1811 for the occurrence in its type locality in the Ilimaussaq complex, Narsaq, West Greenland. Deposits of fine material are found in Bancroft, Ontario, and Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Quebec, in Canada. Further in Litchfield, Maine, and Magnet Cove, Arkansas, in the US. The Ice River complex, near Golden, British Columbia, also contains sodalite. Wearing the stone enhances your self-esteem and confidence… and would protect you from negative energy in today’s world. We gladly wear it now every day!

II Gemini (website http://www.gemini-bracelets.com) offers bracelets in different ranges and many natural stones. “Modern men are now looking for authenticity, and this is what we offer”, commented regio manager for Belgium and the Netherlands, Michael Lemmens. (See photo above).

As we said, the emphasis on the show is not only on watches, but also on jewelry. We encountered a reputable family firm with a three generation long tradition in the business, Scaldis, which makes (diamond) jewelry of its own design, and which also distributes fine Italian jewelry under the brand name Grace.

We were also attracted by the square design of the David Daper watches, so much that we decided to purchase one for ourselves. We ordered it through the Orotempo.be site, and we are keen to see it delivered soon to our home address.

 

One purely Belgian designed and manufactured brand is KRNS, distributed by Cetronic Benelux & Verbatco, and we liked KRNS very much one of their latest designs, of which we present you here one in gold plated finish.

This firm also distributes amongst others clocks and batteries, and before Christmas, we will certainly come back on this…

Another reputable jewelry firm is the Amsterdam based Buddhatobuddha, and they are about to launch a new range of men’s silver bracelets, of which more in our columns in the month before Christmas, but we were also impressed by the new “Refined” collection, of which we show you here a photo below.

A sporting encounter…

At the stand of Sunrise Watch World we met managing director Giacomo Scudieri, who presented to us a watch brand which will fascinate the sporting driver, named “Scuderia”.

We will tell you more about these watches in a next article, and there you will also read more about this kind man, Giacomo Scudieri, who was… national Italian Rally champion in ’83 and in ’81, on a 3 liter Porsche Group 4 or 3,3 liter Group B respectively. So stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

 

A feast for the senses: we visited BMW Artville in Knokke

BMW’s very first Art Car which also actually raced: the BMW 3.0 CSL created by Alexander Calder… 

Summer is the time to let the creative spirits flow, and enjoy nature and art. An ideal time to regenerate body and mind. Besides enjoying the outdoors, enriching experiences like a visit to exhibitions and art galleries are always firmly on the agenda of your servant. Therefore a visit to the BMW Artville in Knokke (see our previous report in these columns) was a must, and we let you enjoy it here…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Jan Fabre takes centre stage…

An “autoportrait”  sculpture of Jan Fabre himself adorns the BMW Artville beach…

As we announced already in our previous report, artist Jan Fabre showed a very intriguing “performance” film, displayed on five different screens simultaneously, titled “Schande übers ganze Erdenreich”. The performance of priestess Stella Höttler is very gripping indeed. For photos of this performance film we refer to our previous report in these columns. The two turtles she carries in both hands during her ecstatic performances are for Jan Fabre the “oracle stones” because their shields carry the weight and the memory of centuries. Especially the shield is an object of fascination that breathes life into dream images. The shield and its geometric patterns were already used in the Oracle of Delphi…

A landmark on the Knokke beach: BMW Artville 

In this performance, “Schande übers ganze Erdenreich”, the perforer implores the gods to teach mankind to treat the inheritance of the world more kindly.

Jan Fabre is fascinated by the relations man-animal and animal-man and by the analogy in their nomadic nature. As an artist, he wants to put into language the mystery of the cycle of death, decay, birth and renaissance. In this quest, he uses as his inner compass the synergy between his personal instinct, intelligence and intuition. He constantly searches the changing face of existence.

This is also seen in his series of fourteen new skulls, clad in ballpoint ink, which hold the skeletons of a bird or animal in their mouth. It evokes the “Blue Hour” of Jean-Henri Fabre, where at daybreak the blue night is chased away. Just as the night is eternally changed into day, life is also a constant stream of (re)birth and death.

‘BMW Artville – Jan Fabre curated by BOZAR’ announces two future projects of the artist in BOZAR. “Schande übers Ganze Erdenreich!” takes place in the framework of the Theodoor van Loon exhibition (December 2018-January 2019). The art works from the cycle “The Hour Blue” are the harbinger of Fabre’s solo exhibition “The years of the Hour Blue” (May-September 2021).

The BMW Art Car Collection

On BMW Artville, BMW Belux presents two cars from the BMW ART CAR Collection. We stood admiringly eye to eye with the BMW 3.0 CSL created by Alexander Calder (1975).

Alexander Calder’s design was executed by car painting specialist W. Maurer…

Using the creativity of an artist on a (racing) car was the brainchild of racing driver, art lover and auctioneer Hervé Poulain, who actually raced this car in Le Mans, together with the American Sam Posey and Jean Guichet. After 7 hours, the car had to give up due to a defective prop shaft. The car was never raced again and has been on diplay since then.

The unique collection of BMW Art Cars consists today of 19 cars, designed by the following artists: Alexander Calder (1975), Roy Lichtenstein (1976), Frank Stella (1977), Andy Warhol (1979), Ernst Fuchs (1982), Robert Rauschenberg (1986), Ken Done (1989), Michael Jagamara Nelson (1989), Matazo Kayama (1990), César Manrique (1990), A.R. Penck (1991), Esther Mahlangu (1991), Sandro Chia (1992), David Hockney (1995), Jenny Holzer (1999), Olafur Eliasson (2007), Jeff Koons (2010), John Baldessari (2016) en Cao Fei with her BMW M6 GT3.(2017). Artists for the BMW Art Car Project are chosen by a panel of international judges.

According to Thomas Girst, who has been in charge of the BMW Art Cars project since 2004, the purpose of the project has changed over time: “In the beginning the cars were raced. There wasn’t much of a public relations effort around them… Since then, some of the Art Cars have been used in advertisements to show that BMW is a player in the arts.”

Besides the stunning i8 roadster, BMW Belux Corporate Communications Officer Saschia De Rudder kindly showed us two forthcoming BMW models in preview, which formed also a highlight of this artful experience on the sunny Knokke beach and stylish BMW Artville premises… We just let you enjoy the photos here!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

 

 

120 years of Renault is celebrated this summer at Brussels Autoworld.

If you visit Brussels this summer, know that Europe’s capital has something in store for car lovers. Indeed, the Brussels Museum Autoworld has opened its doors every day of the week until September 2 to show you the magnificent history of Renault.

Pre-war glory: A 1937 4,1 litre 6 cylinder Vivasport… just dream away behind this sporting version of the Renault Vivastella sedan

We were present at the opening reception, and show you here some photos of the formidable and iconic cars which are on display, and we lift a brief veil on their history…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “120 years of Renault is celebrated this summer at Brussels Autoworld.”

A cutting-edge (art)experience in Knokke: BMW Artville

 

The city of Knokke-Heist, BOZAR and BMW strongly believe in the importance of beauty, the power of technology and the impact of art. Together they had the desire to create a place where all of this comes together. In an exceptional location and in a special setting, they invite thousands of people each year to be inspired by the work of a renowned artist, unique and much-discussed. It is the ambition to create an intriguing edition every year that warmly enchants and surprises the visitor and grows into a reference and fixed appointment in your summer agenda. In this unique and exclusive setting, visitors can also enjoy delicious tapas and a glass of wine or soft drink in addition to art.

This first edition BOZAR takes up its curatorship by putting none less than Jan Fabre at the heart of BMW ARTVILLE, the most versatile and surprising living artist in Belgium. BMW ARTVILLE immediately fulfills its central promise: ‘a cutting-edge experience’.

Just come and see it all, at BMW Artville, at the beach just in front of the casino of Knokke-Heist, from July 13 until August 26.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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