Before the driver’s license was got, I had a car already: at 19 years of age the very practical Renault 4 and the evenly unpractical but fine driver Triumph Spitfire. As a student of Business Economics at Erasmus University Rotterdam this red Spitfire was the weekend car and the R4 the week’s car.
So the first convertible came into my life very early! With the Spitfire (cf. picture for such a fine student classic) I did an antislip course at Zandvoort racetrack near Amsterdam in Holland. Big fun due to the Spitfire’s extremely low centre of gravity and the big slip angle of 70 degrees. If this low car was almost gone at 70 degrees in a slip, you could still turn her back on track if you react (very) fast. The instructor David Hart at that time knew that and wanted to try this himself in my Spitfire. And so he did, at 70 degrees and almost turning around but he turned my red lady back on track with a lot of handling ability. Respect! Party time for the pros and sporty car lovers! Almost like a BMW E30, our favourite and specialty at Only Cabrios!
In the meantime I sold the old Spit (with a decent profit without taking into consideration the maintenance costs!), so the next car could be bought: I admit, a little less exciting but indeed very practical VW Golf I. This Wolfsburg diesel beast even dragged my lovely fiancee to northern Portugal. All the way on the passenger seat of course, which is quite handy if you tend to sleep in a car. And I loved driving, so this was definitely a good match and we are married ever since, already for over 25 years now with 3 kids of which 1 is as fanatic about cars as his father…………..Also in the next year the Swiss Gotthard tunnel and the Alps were attacked by the good old Golf diesel, whose motor ran hot high in the mountains of course, but she survived. Unlike the Volkswagen new diesel management in these days, who did not survive. So my motto is: always buy an old car, not a new one!
- After studying, sporting and working hard during University (no, not a classic student life with beer and other alcoholic beverages, all my money went into classic cars!), the cars became more exotic and sporty than the Golf. After the product manager, marketing manager, commercial director and general manager roles I had in my business career after getting my university degree I could afford the more interesting youngtimers and oldtimers that I had loved so much.
- A small fairy tale of the private cars I had in my garage at that time: the Renault 4 was changed for a somewhat more performing Renault: the Alpina A310 V6 in marvellous iceblue metallic. Also a Maserati Biturbo Spyder, a dark brown Ferrari 400 with big 12-cylinder, a Lancia Thema 8.32 in burgundy red with gorgeous alcantara leather interior, a black Citroën DS Pallas (what an innovation that was at that time!), which was surprisingly modern to drive, a yellow Ferrari 308 GTB vertroresina of 1977, a blac Porsche 944 convertible 3.0 S2, a burgundy red Mercedes 190 E 2.5-16, a black Lotus Esprit turbo (one of my favourites), a white Porsche 911 turbo (930) of 1986, etc. etc.
- Not altogether at one time, but all after each other because I only had 3 car parking positions in my old rented farm stable for my small car collection, and the financial possibilities were not unlimited. There were days that the family asked for food so I had to go to the supermarket sometimes, and family feeding was at number one in the end…………..!
- After more than 10 years of private car pleasure besides the business career in several Dutch and international companies I realised that the combination of feeling fort rade and classic sportscars and convertibles was so much fun that I wanted more. But giving up your steady good salary with a family is a big step, which you think of a lot but almost never do as a healthy conservative father.
- So the only logical way was at this time: steadily growing the collection and start trading, only with car lovers as private clients. Sales from car fanatic to car fanatic. I have to feel passion with a car, because only if I like the car myself I can sell her. So I buy what I like so I sell what I like!
- This phase also lasted around 10 years, in which the second bigger barn was hired at the same farm, the private collection grew from 3 to 8 cars, with emphasis on the sporty coupes and convertibles of the seventies, eighties and nineties. You like another list? Here she is, a fraction of what I had: Lancia Delta Integrales 8V en 16V (best driver’s car for the brave!), Ferrari 308 GTS, BMW 325i convertibles E30, Fiat 124 Spiders, Mercedes SL of the 107 and 129 series, Nissan 300 ZX turbos, Alfa Romeo Spiders of alle classic types, VW Golf GTI’s I: all were part of the private collection which turned slowly into a trade collection because of the growing amount of fanatic classic car clients.
If you sell more than 5 cars a year in Holland, you are a car trader according to the tax authorities. So afther 20 years of hobbying the next phase arrived: going to the Chamber of Commerce for a VAT number. And for the rest just go on with the same thing: buying and selling youngtimers and oldtimers, still as hobby but now official company, albeit very small and with low sales. I just continued purchasing cars all over Europe and sell them and prepare them according to the client’s wishes. In a way that I would prepare the car for myself, so quality first, and using the best materials.
And keep the client updated during the restoration or perfectioning of his/her car. In fact I still do this now; the purpose is to have fun in your job, to feel passion, and to do your hobby, which sometimes is in a fight with earning money. No problem, we keep on choosing for quality and delivering a car in optimal condition to a client. As long as this costs a little more of our profit to realise perfection for the client: I don’t care, as long as I can eat with my family I am happy. Turning your hobby into your profession is the most beautiful thing there is, and it’s done with pleasure!
The last 10 years I was still active in the classic cars, especially youngtimers, besides my ongoing business career as a director in several companies over the years. From 2006 I was a commercial director at an international car parts importer/wholesaler with a lot of garage clients all over Europe. From this I entered into a lot of European contacts in the automotive industry which turned into a full international network, also useful for my classic car hobby.
In the meantime the amount of sold cars was steadily going up, by far not enough to start a company myself, and not profitable by far, but it was fun to get more and more interested clients who actually bought cars. More and more BMW 325i convertibles E30, a sporty model and pure driver’s car with two faces: fine weekend tour convertible at one side and a fast 170 bhp 6-cylinder and superbly steering sportscar at more than 3500 rpm on the other side. Ideal for the man/woman who wants to drive himself/herself in the weekend on Sunday morning with a little higher speed than with the family to the beach.
In this third period of 10 years I learned to make this long-term hobby into a somewhat more profitable business by enlarging the amount of clients and sold cars per year and better buying and selling which made the margins cover the costs better. The farm barn was still there as a basis, but the amount of barns was going up from 2 to 4. Time for a new decision. Relocation. First to Culemborg and then to Geldermalsen, the current place in an old factory (see picture)
with lots of Space and an ideal place with 3 hydraulic lifts. First lift for preparing a car for a client, second lift for longer big restoration projects, and then the third lift for showing cars to clients who did a test drive and want to view the car underneath…………At the moment the amount of cars in the Only Cabrios collection has risen from the original 2 (around 30 years ago) to around 25 youngtimers/oldtimers of which half is BMW E30 convertibles as a specialty and for the rest we have several tohter sporty brands like Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Lancia, Lotus, and Porsche. Sometimes a Japanese exotic also joins our stables at Only Cabrios.
Since 1st of August, 2016 the newest step was made towards being independent youngtimer car specialist at 52 years of age, after having practiced for over 30 years as a hobby company. The learning curve was not very steep, to say the least, but it is learning by doing, they say! Primarily the art of finding the equilibrium between preparing a car perfectly for a client and still earning a little money for yourself is a challenge. And after 30 years we found out how! So come to us and do the best youngtimer car deal of your life with full passion from us preparing your car!
We finish your car perfectly with quality at number one. That is in your big advantage! We sell several of our youngtimer cars with 6 months guarantee on motor and gearbox to clients with life experience and car experience who know how to treat old cars of 20 to 40 years old. This guarantee is only applicable on cars we selected ourselves for our Only Cabrios collection so quality is high, and if the client pays our asking price. Our specialty: original top quality BMW 325i convertibles of the beloved E30 series, and of course a lot of other youngtimer sportscars and convertibles we like ourselves. We purchase these cars at a high price at an already very high quality level, and we still perfectionise these good cars in detail, so they get even better near perfection! All on a client’s detailed instruction of what he/she wants! These detailed perfectioning lists are the basis for our success. We treat them very thoroughly and report on the progress each week to our clients for their car, with pictures and a lot of details on the perfectioning. Our clients love this way of doing business. And we also do. In fact still a hobby but professionalised.
Call of mail us, we help you with pleasure like we helped hundreds of clients all over Europe in the last 30 years with a beautiful original youngtimer classic car!