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FIAT Ritmo 65 CL Strasbourg France | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2016)

FIAT Ritmo 65 CL and beautiful old lady in Strasbourg, France

“A beautiful lady is an accident of nature. A beautiful old lady is a work of art.” – Louis Nizer

Dear readers,

you might be wondering why I choose this quote to accompany todays post. Both the FIAT Ritmo 65 CL and the graffitti snake in the cover picture have a bewildered surprised expression on their faces, as if they are wondering about the same thing.

Would anybody call an old FIAT Ritmo Mk1 a beautiful lady? Rather not, I suppose. Most people think that it is a design accident of the Centro Stile in Torino, headed at the time by Sergio Sartorelli.

FIAT Ritmo 65 CL Strasbourg France | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2016)

However, respect should be paid where respect is due. Signore Sartorelli managed to design a front mask that resembles a surprised face with wide open eyes. So far so good, but mamma mia! On his 30th birthday the little Ritmo looked in the mirror, noticed that the plastic trim had faded due to decades of exposure to UV light… and was wondering ever since why the hell he only has a 3/4 moustache?!

FIAT Ritmo 65 CL Strasbourg France | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2016)

Apart from the faded plastic trim the little fellow is in quite good shape. Not too much visible rust or major damage to the body. But where does the old lady from the quote come into play? Step back…

FIAT Ritmo 65 CL Strasbourg France | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2016)

… and you may spot her hiding in the background.

FIAT Ritmo 65 CL Strasbourg France | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2016)

What a nice little touch the street artist added to the otherwise rather derelict building! And indeed, Louis Nizer was right – the beautiful old lady is a work of art. 🙂

Citroen HY 1964 Carrosserie Le Bastard | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2014)

Citroën HY S.E.V. Marchal | Carrosserie Le Bastard 1964

Flag FranceIn the 1960’s the internet wasn’t invented yet and only a few people had a black and white TV. Apart from advertising in newspapers and cinemas, companies had to come up with different ideas to get the attention of potential customers. In France, many companies ordered special re-bodied vehicles from coach builders to gain attention at events like the Tour de France and the 24 Heures du Mans. These vehicles drove along the circuit before the races began. Concerning the Tour de France, the tradition lives on even today, but unfortunately most vehicles are not purpose-built solely for advertising duty any more.

Citroen HY 1964 Carrosserie Le Bastard | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2014)

In 1964 the French company S.E.V. Marchal, who manufactured many automotive products, commissioned a re-bodied version of the Citroën HY to serve as a promotional vehicle and a showcase for their range of products. Therefore, it was equipped with many lights and horns from the portfolio. The front of the vehicle is impressive and you might wander what kind of generator they used to power all these lamps?

Citroen HY 1964 Carrosserie Le Bastard | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2014)

The sides of the vehicle have been converted to display cases with assymetrical windows and the rear features various stoplights and taillights. It seems fair to say that it lacks a bit when compared to that front-end. Note that most panels of the van are made from flat sheet metal instead of the signiture ribbed metal that makes the HY so easy to identify. The flat panels really change the overall appearance of the HY and makes it look a lot more modern.

Citroen HY 1964 Carrosserie Le Bastard | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2014)

Just for fun, I tried to imagine what it might look like when all the lights are on. Impressive, n’est pas?

Citroen HY 1964 Carrosserie Le Bastard | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2014)

Dodge WC-51 Wrecker with Peugeot 404 Cab Conversion | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2016)

Dodge WC-51 Wrecker with Peugeot 404 Cabin Conversion

“We have had a very severe frost and deep snow this month.
My thermometer was one day fourteen degrees and a half
below the freezing point, within doors.”
Gilbert White

Flag FranceUtilizing surplus WWII machinery with canvas tops for towing wrecked cars in the winter at high altitudes with plenty of snow has certain disadvantages. The canvas covers freeze and eventually break when you move them. Scraping the ice of the plastic windows sratches them permanently and you never get warm and comfortable inside the vehicle, even with the heater on at full blast. To solve these problems and to make his live easier, Monsieur Negre could have bought new tow trucks. But hey! This would have been too easy. Men capable of creative thinking get pencil and paper out instead of the checkbook. Why should you throw away perfectly good vehicles just for the sake of being more comfortable?

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a man who runs a garage and a towing business comes up with the idea of using car bodies for the task at hand. Form follows function, right? Unfortunately the results of this motto often look rather… hmm… questionable.

Fortunately this is not the case here. The man who built the Renault 4 bodied Willys MB Jeep featured here previously certainly has an eye for proportions and a set of great fabrication skills. It takes more than just welding a car body onto an existing chassis if you want to avoid driving around in what clearly looks like a botched job. Selecting the right base vehicle is the crucial first step. Monsieur Negre got both proportions and look right on the vehicles he designed and built. The Willys R4 looks like it could have been ordered like that from the factory.

Dodge WC-51 Wrecker with Peugeot 404 Cab Conversion | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2016)

The Dodge WC-52 Wrecker with the Peugeot 404 cabin certainly has a strong presence. Blending the narrow bonnet with the considerably wider cab takes artistic skills and the result reminds me of the Berliet GBH trucks. Stunning.

Dodge WC-51 Wrecker with Peugeot 404 Cab Conversion | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2016)

According to David Negre, son of the builder and now running the family business, the engine starts at the first crank with a new battery. We didn’t try it when shooting these pictures last week, but there is no obvious reason to doubt that claim.

Dodge WC-51 Wrecker with Peugeot 404 Cab Conversion | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2016)

The rather luxurious Peugeot door panels contrast nicely with the military-spec dashboard. This truly is a purpose-built machine with style.

Dodge WC-51 Wrecker with Peugeot 404 Cab Conversion | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2016)

The business end of the truck is original and features the same lovely patina than the other parts of the body. The winch apparently still works, but giving it some freash grease before trying sure wouldn’t hurt.

Dodge WC-51 Wrecker with Peugeot 404 Cab Conversion | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2016)

The license plate indicates that the vehicle has been registered 1963 or later.

Dodge WC-51 Wrecker with Peugeot 404 Cab Conversion | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2016)

I never noticed before, but removing the headlights from a CitroĂ«n 2CV instantly gives it a “cleaned” custom car look. This vehicle actually appeared in the background of the first story about the Willys Renault 4 conversion from 2010.

 

Willys MB Jeep with Renault R4 body conversion | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2016)

Revisited | Willys MB Jeep with Renault R4 body conversion

Flag FranceSix years ago I discovered a Willys MB Jeep with a Renault 4 body conversion and took some pictures.
Two and a half years ago I started to write this blog and decided to kick it off with the story about the converted Jeep.
A week ago, on a roadtrip home from Malaga, we spontaneously decided to cross the Massif Central instead of driving through the RhĂ´ne valley.

While driving through the Gorge du Tarn from Millau, memories kept popping up inside my head. Thoughts about my then-girlfriend, the surfing holidays we came back from, the chambre d’hĂ´te in Millau we stayed at and the car we were traveling with: my 1989 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3. Good old times.

This time around, I was traveling with a good friend in a 1988 Toyota LandCruiser HJ61. The ride was a lot more agricultural compared to the W201 and because of that, I suddenly remembered shooting pictures of the R4-bodied Willys somewhere between Saint Enimie and Le Puy. This instantly sparked my desire to look if the Jeep was still there. And guess what – we arrived at the gas station in Châteauneuf-de-Randon and the field next to it was empty. But hey – asking is free and I never give up just like that.

Willys MB Jeep with Renault R4 body conversion | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2016)

David, the owner of the gas station and Renault dealership Sarl NEGRE is a very friendly fellow and told us that his dad built the little truck decades ago. My guess on the conversion wasn’t too far off back then. It was actually never used by the local fire brigade but did years of reliable duty towing cars in the area. Davids father added the Renault 4 body to keep warm and dry in winter. If you look closely, the old livery is still visible. Gotta love the patina!

Willys MB Jeep with Renault R4 body conversion | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2016)

It surely must be rather quiet in an area with two-digit telephone numbers. This could possibly be the reason why the blue Renault 5 in the background only shows 6.000 km on the odometer! Seems like it didn’t get driven around much.

Willys MB Jeep with Renault R4 body conversion | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2016)

Living in a quiet area does have some advantages, though. It’s amazing that the car has not been vandalized in the decades it has lived outside.

If you look closely the old livery is still visible. Gotta love the patina!

I really hope it will still be there when I visit the next time – whenever that is going to be. Until then: rust in peace.

If you look closely the old livery is still visible. Gotta love the patina!

PS: David kindly showed me the other truck his father build. And let me tell you one thing: it is equally genius and even more impressive. Come back soon to read about it in the Drive-by Snapshots post. Meanwhile, enjoy reading how Guido Kehder (Die Leitplanke) built a 1:24 scale model of this vehicle.

[Edit: Here is the new link to the above mentioned article.]

1955 Simca Hot Rod Concrete Mixer | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2007)

Nondescript French Concrete Mixer Hot Rod

Flag FranceTodays post is something for classic car fans who love challenges. I found this French hot rod with a mock-up concrete mixer on the back in rural France back in 2007. Ever since then, I’ve been wondering what the hell this is actually based on.

1955 Simca Hot Rod Concrete Mixer | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2007)

The for sale sign in the windshield says 1955 Simca 9, but I wasn’t able to find a picture that even remotely matches the hood and doors. Maybe the sign refers to the chassis? The other vehicles give an indication for the size of the little trucklet.

1955 Simca Hot Rod Concrete Mixer | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2007)

If you have any idea, please let me know and I’ll update this post subsequently.

PS: Did you notice the 2CV tail light upgrade on the Citroën HY panel van?

Station Service Saint Priest de Gimel France | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2009))

Station Service abandonné in St. Priest-de-Gimel

Flag FranceDriving past this abandoned service station in 2007 sparked a memory. A long time ago, when I was a young boy, we used to take the same route between Clermand-Ferrand and Bordeaux. If I remember correctly, this station was still in service back then and we might even have stopped there to fill up.

Station Service Saint Priest de Gimel France | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2007)

The paint might be faded, the pumps gone and the light poles rusty – but it sure has kept this special character only old petrol stations have. I just love the old-school architecture. Does a functional building have to be boring or ugly? No, sir! Back then, they thought about details and didn’t just build as quick and cheap as possible like today. The design is similar to the Station du Haut-Limousin I featured not too long ago.

Station Service Saint Priest de Gimel France | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2007)

The most prominent and accentuating feature of the building is the semicircular office area, which features fully glassed walls. Three matching semicircular steps lead to the central entrance door. Beauty is in the details, in my opinion. Did you note that the rectangular workshop area has symmetric windows left and right of the door? And even though it doesn’t look like in the pictures, the roof covering the pumps is symmetrical to the very same center line of the workshop door.

Station Service Saint Priest de Gimel France | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2007)

The building next door looks like it was also home to a workshop once. For many years, the white Peugeot 204 Break was parked between the building, in front of the owners’ house.

Station Service Saint Priest de Gimel France | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2007)

Every time I drove through St. Priest-de-Gimel and past the service station I dreamed about buying this awesome place (in the middle of nowhere) one day. All I could hope was that nobody would buy it until I could afford to purchase it.

Station Service Saint Priest de Gimel France | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2009))

Two years later in June 2009, roadworks necessitated the removal of the light poles and pump roof. Somehow it looks naked without the roof in front of it, doesn’t it? And hey, where did the trusty Peugeot end up? I looked into the windows, but couldn’t spot it inside.

Station Service Saint Priest de Gimel France | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2009))

The house also looked abandoned. The old man might have passed away. God bless him for holding onto the property long after closing for good. Shedding a little tear, I noticed the for sale signs in the windows of the office. Being a student at the time and having no money to spare made me sad.

Station Service Saint Priest de Gimel France | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2009))

Upon returning once again in September 2009, we found the road finished and the garage door partially open. The house was still boarded up and the for sale signs still in the windows. Albeit finished with my studies I still wasn’t in a position to buy the property – but dreaming about it still didn’t cost anything…

Station Service Saint Priest de Gimel France | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2009))

If you point your browser to google maps and search for St. Priest-de-Gimel you can still find this little gem. The google picture has a 2011 copyright and the workshop next door has been restored and converted. The good old times are gone forever on that side of the property. Let’s hope the little petrol station gets spared and sees a brighter future!

Peugeot 504 Pick-up Strasbourg France | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2015)

Peugeot 504 Pick-up with more patina than rust

Flag FranceWhenever I take a road less traveled, there seems to be something interesting hiding behind a tree just around the corner. En route to the Parc de l’Orangerie in Strasbourg with my girlfriend, we found a somewhat sad looking Peugeot 504 Pick-up.

Peugeot 504 Pick-up Strasbourg France | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2015)

Mind you, this is not somewhere in a rural area, but only a Kilometer or so from the European Parliament.

Peugeot 504 Pick-up Strasbourg France | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2015)

The warm afternoon light painted a nice shine on the neglected body and made it seem like it was parked only weeks ago.

Peugeot 504 Pick-up Strasbourg France | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2015)

Upon closer inspection, sitting there abandoned for months seemed more realistic. But nonetheless, the condition it was in suggested that it could still be saved by a caring soul.

Peugeot 504 Pick-up Strasbourg France | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2015)

With more patina than structural rust or other damage and in what seemed to be original paint, this isn’t unfeasible at all.

Peugeot 504 Pick-up Strasbourg France | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2015)

The paper note stuck to the windscreen wiper proves that I wasn’t the first to have the idea. Oh well… I sure hope it will find a new home soon.

Peugeot 504 Pick-up Strasbourg France | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2015)

Whoever is going to rescue this little workhorse – please save the little details that make these utility vehicles so authentic! Good luck!

Peugeot 504 Pick-up Strasbourg France | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2015)

 

Station Service Le Rousset France | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2010)

Station Service Le Rousset / France

Flag FranceWhen was the last time you found something not only totally unexpected, but also thought to be extinct by now? Trundling along the Route DĂ©partementale D27 at a leisurely pace on a hot day with no cloud in sight, we had a moment just like that, when we found the cutest rural petrol station and workshop. The icing on the cake most definitely was the color-matched Renault R5, which made the scene even more unreal.

Station Service Le Rousset France | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2010)

The TOTAL pumps have been updated at a certain point, but everything else was like “back in the old days”. The little office, the workshop and the old lady filling the cars. Mind you, this is no self-service station! You pull up to the pumps, which are located right at the curb, and the old lady eventually emerges from the house on the other side of the road. To experience this kind of time travel is nothing short of amazing and well worth the extra time. The mighty W201 still had more than half of a tank to go, but I wanted to stop and buy fuel there in order to #supportlocalbusiness.

Station Service Le Rousset France | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2010)

The choice of payment methods was quite old-school as well: cash only. And as I was fumbling to get those Francs… err… Euros out of my wallet, I suddenly realize that people back then had more of something that is often scarce nowadays: time. Time to drive slow. Time to chat with the fuel pump attendant about the weather and which Boulanger makes the best Baguette. Lovely idea, no?

Station Service Le Rousset France | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2010)

Now, five years later while writing this article, I was wondering if the cute little petrol station is still in business. Well… you can find it on google Streetview, but the images have been also captured in 2010. I guess I need to take the time to go there again and take a look…

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Yellow and Blue | Day seven

While digging through my picture archives, I became aware of having many pictures that have one thing in common: matching color schemes. It really is interesting how some color combinations can be found whichever country you go to. This week I’m going to feature a selection of pictures containing the bright colors Yellow & Blue.

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Yellow and Blue | Day six

While digging through my picture archives, I became aware of having many pictures that have one thing in common: matching color schemes. It really is interesting how some color combinations can be found whichever country you go to. This week I’m going to feature a selection of pictures containing the bright colors Yellow & Blue.

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Yellow and Blue | Day five

While digging through my picture archives, I became aware of having many pictures that have one thing in common: matching color schemes. It really is interesting how some color combinations can be found whichever country you go to. This week I’m going to feature a selection of pictures containing the bright colors Yellow & Blue.

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Yellow and Blue | Day three

While digging through my picture archives, I became aware of having many pictures that have one thing in common: matching color schemes. It really is interesting how some color combinations can be found whichever country you go to. This week I’m going to feature a selection of pictures containing the bright colors Yellow & Blue.

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Yellow and Blue | Day two

While digging through my picture archives, I became aware of having many pictures that have one thing in common: matching color schemes. It really is interesting how some color combinations can be found whichever country you go to. This week I’m going to feature a selection of pictures containing the bright colors Yellow & Blue.

To make it more interesting, the pictures are sorted by age, starting off with the oldest and progressing to more recent shots during the week. Three topics are going to be covered every day: matching backgrounds, race cars and other vehicles.

Day two | Matching backgrounds

The Toyota Hilux Bakkie pictured here might have blue lettering on the door, but I choose the photograph because the sky provides a spectacular background to set off the 4×4, descending a steep hill at Kallies Quarry.

dbs Yellow and Blue Toyota Hilux Kallies Quarry ZA | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2014)

The nicely weathered locomotive is resting near Hartbeesport Dam.

dbs Yellow and Blue train engine ZA | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2014)

Day two | Race cars

Europeans will think they see a SEAT Ibiza with a wrong grille – but this vehicle was indeed branded and sold as a Volkswagen Polo in South Africa! I found it at Zwartkops raceway, just like the Porsche 924 yesterday.

dbs Yellow and Blue VW Polo ZA-spec | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2014)

This FIAT Panda 4×4 lives in the Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim / Germany. The little gem easily won it’s class at the 1983 Rallye in Algeria and competed in the Paris Dakar Rallye. If you are interested in the background story, check out what the builder and driver has to say.

dbs Yellow and Blue FIAT Panda 4x4 Rallye | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2014)

Day two | Other vehicles

For some reason or another, many Italians like to wear mirrored sunglasses. Well, this Italian living in South Africa is no exception – and the blue sky almost make the window tint look blue…

dbs Yellow and Blue FIAT Uno Mk2 | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2014)

Arriving in Durban later that day, we found a matching Toyota Hiace Siyaya Taxi. The window wasn’t tinted, though, but rather wrapped in clear kitchen foil.

dbs Yellow and Blue Toyota Hiace Siyaya Taxi Durban | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2014)

And last but not least, how about a CitroĂ«n 2CV which looked like it was specifically painted in these particular colors, only to be featured here at Drive-by Snapshots Yellow and Blue Color Week…

dbs Yellow and Blue Citroen 2CV Lit-et-Mixe | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2014)

Citroen Dyane Snail StanceRat | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2009)

Citroën Dyane | The ugly sister of the 2CV

Flag FranceWorldwide the CitroĂ«n 2CV unites many enthusiasts. There are plenty of clubs and interest groups. They even organize huge meetings each year, one of which I visited in 2009 in Lit-et-Mixe while being on a surfing holiday nearby. But wait… the 2Cv has a sister even most CitroĂ«n enthusiasts describe as being rather… ugly.

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Renault Dauphine Mezos | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2007)

Like ice in the sunshine

Flag FranceImagine a sizzling hot day early in June, with temperatures well over 30°C and no wind whatsoever. We are cruising through the pine forests between Biarritz and Bordeaux at a leisurely pace with the windows and sunroof wide open. The loudspeakers of the trusty old Mercedes play a tune most Germans immediately associate with childhood memories of family summer vacations.

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Station Service Ouverte France | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2013)

Beheaded bodies, robbed carcasses and zombies

Flag FranceDiscovering a defunct service station displaying a sign saying Station Ouverte was already weird in its’ own right. The place looked like it had been left in a hurry and the proprietors haven’t returned since. Being the kind of person who is always keen to figure out what might have happened, I walked around the building and found… the carcass of a little vehicle the French call La Deuche.

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Station Service Ouverte France | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2013)

Station Service Ouverte

Flag FranceYesterdays’ post featured a small service station that went out of business, but isn’t fenced off or has a sign saying so. The story today is different. You are looking at pictures of a substantially bigger service station that, for lack of a better word, is closed. Nonetheless, it does sport a sign saying: Station Ouverte.

To tell you the honest truth – this place looked like a film set straight out of a zombie movie! The lack of traffic, heavy clouds and a slight drizzle didn’t make it any more friendly or welcoming!

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Station Service Fermée Tuffé France | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2014)

Station Service Fermée

Flag FranceThere are many reasons why I love France. One of them is the fact, that the French do not immediately dismount the pumps after a petrol station goes out of business. Instead they just display the lowest possible price on the signpost, call it a day and wander off to play a game of PĂ©tanque with their friends, enjoying a glass of red wine.

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FIAT Panda Mk1 VĂ©hicule sans permis | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2014)

FIAT Panda Mk1 | The story is often hidden in the details

Flag FranceAll of you have have been in this situation before: a long distance, cross-country journey by car. If you happen to be driving through France, make sure to stay away from the Autoroute and use the Route Nationale instead. I bet you – it will never be boring! Driving home from the 24 Heures du Mans, we stopped at a red traffic light in Sedan (Ardennes), not far from the border to Belgium. The low sun cast an interesting shadow on the wall, in front of which a FIAT Panda was parked on the sidewalk. Not really interesting, you think? Well look closely, and you will see what instantly hit me.

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24h du Mans Starting Grid | Drive-by Snapshots by Sebastian Motsch (2014)

Le Mans 2014 | Starting grid and first lap

Flag FranceEverybody know about the starting procedure of the 24 Heures du Mans race. The cars are lined up in an angle in front of the pit lane wall. But… theoretically knowing about it and seeing it live are two different things entirely. All the buzz on the starting grid is quite interesting…

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