Heart and soul of the cars.

“You want to take photos with an infrared camera and try to capture a glimpse of the heart and soul of the cars?” Nico Ockhuisen, a passionate Mercedes-Benz enthusiast and certainly one of the biggest collectors in the world, reflects for a moment. The 71-year-old from the small town of Baarn, not far from Amsterdam, is such a big fan of the brand with the three-pointed star that many of his friends and acquaintances simply call him ­“Mister Mercedes” – and he even named his daughter Mercedes. 

Heart and soul: the engine of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL.

The brand with the star: Mercedes-Benz 320 Cabriolet A through an infrared camera.

“Anything you want!”

“I’ve never seen infrared photos of classic cars”, the Dutchman says. “It sounds like a lovely idea. Sure, come round. And of course, you’re free to choose from my cars from nine decades of automotive history. Classics, young classics, classics of the future – anything you want!” Nico Ockhuisen’s vehicle collection (see also the Club Story in our 3.2017 issue) has grown over the past two years.

Gems: 122 Mercedes-Benz.

His gems are parked in a hangar-like hall on three levels; there are 122 Mercedes-Benz vehicles in total. “Nearly all the cabriolets, roadsters, coupés, saloons, estates, off-road vehicles, commercial vehicles and, of course, the super sports cars are road­worthy,” says the operator of several marinas in the Amsterdam area. The photographer and ­editor get to work. They want to transform six dream cars into six glowing dreams. The chosen models are a rare classic (320 Cabriolet A), two elegant beauties (280 SE 3.5 Coupé, 600), two top sports models (SLR McLaren, SLS AMG Coupé) and a wacky exotic specimen (300 SEL with extended wheelbase). Nico Ockhuisen takes the six cars for a warm-up spin directly before the shooting and parks them at different places. 

Treasure trove: a view of Nico Ockhuisen’s Mercedes-Benz collection through the infrared camera.

FLIR T1020 infrared camera: This camera weighs almost two kilograms.

The photographer’s work.

Then the photographer’s work begins. The Dutch collector is present the whole time. He is as excited as he is delighted to see the results on the special camera’s display. Once, for our lead photo for this story with the 320 Cabriolet A, he too is in the image. “Only a couple of dozen units of this dream car were built in the late 1930s,” he says. “Today there are probably only around nine or ten in the world that have stood the test of time.” And do cars have a soul? Nico Ockhuisen smiles and runs his hand through his beard. “Definitely not all of them – but nearly all the Mercedes-Benz. Yes, I would say so. As far as I’m concerned they have a heart and a soul, a face and a character.”

Image gallery.
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Proud owners – Nico Ockhuisen