Introduced in 1955, the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia (designed in Germany by coach builder Karmann) looked like a squashed Beetle. The Ghia’s smooth lines and curves were constructed from hand-shaped alloys (English pewter) and fancy welds to give it a distinct look and subsequently a heftier price tag. It was Volkswagen’s flagship model at the time and made the bolt-on Beetle look even more utilitarian. The Bug did get the Karmann design treatment though with the Convertible/ Cabriolet line.
There is a wonderful French film by Jacques Tati called Trafic (Criterion DVD out-of-print!) that is filled with colorful cars and characters. It’s the story about a car designer (Tati resuming his M. Hulot role) trying to get his latest vehicle to an Amsterdam car show. If you’ve seen any of Tati’s films starring his alter-ego Monsieur Hulot, you’ll know that they have numerous sight gags, precision comic-timing and very little dialogue. I highly recommend all of them especially this one and Playtime. Here’s the trailer for Trafic.
Jacques Tati stated in an interview on French television that his films sometimes tell a story through hundreds of details: “I try to bring a smile to familiar everyday situations. In Trafic, it’s automobiles.” I hear you Monsieur.
For my car series I don’t like streets with even the slightest bit of a grade to them but I made an exception here. I couldn’t pass up this late 60′s VW Beetle against that yellow background. Note the optional mudflaps and fender splash guards for protecting the finish from the harsh winter rain and snow. I noticed that the Finns like to paint their buildings in warm tones to remind them of the sun. It’s a nice touch that you immediately notice walking around the city. I visited Helsinki during their warmer months and loved it but I can’t imagine what its like during the winter with extreme temperature drops and a handful of daylight hours. No wonder bears hibernate. For a look at what Helsinki looks like during the winter (of 1966-67) check out the Michael Caine film Billion Dollar Brain. Helsinki is also used as the location for many films set during the Cold War-era and doubled for Moscow in Gorky Park.
Finnish Lesson #1: The street signs in Helsinki (and most other signage) can get quite confusing because they display the names in both Finnish and Swedish. One street was marked Johanneksenrinne/Johanneksentie/Johannesvägen. Quite amusing. I’m sure Johann (John) is happy though.
This setting has everything I could possibly want in my photographs. There is absolutely nothing missing except for maybe a piece or two of plywood.
It’s not hard to see what I’m talking about: the color of the car, the wood background, and the two-tone asphalt. And you thought I was just about old, cool cars. This Volkswagen Jetta works just fine.
If you peek just over the top of the car and above the ant, the text of the graffiti on the wall seems a bit confusing. But if you’ve read The Manufacture Of Non-Bleeding Maraschino Cherries by Jillian Ciaccia then you’ll know that it’s a part of the sentence, “The fruit, mostly neutral in color, plump and limbless is easily harvested with an extended reach.”
*If you know the name of the “ant” street artist please contact me.