Ladies With Drive – Mare van Oosterhout - Muscle Car

Ladies With Drive – Mare van Oosterhout

Ladies With Drive


Written by Elise

7th August 2020

Ladies With Drive – Mare van Oosterhout
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Ladies With Drive – Mare van Oosterhout

Three things I’ve learnt from female owners of classic cars this week:

  1. Women give their classics a name
  2. When they say ‘find yourself a guy’, they mean a mechanic
  3. Treat your car like a boyfriend (details below)

Ladies With Drive is back!

Mare on her modified 1981 Toyota Landcruiser HJ60. “These types of cars are not known for breaking down.”

This blog series aims to expand the motoring world audience by shining a spotlight on those who don’t feature as much in areas traditionally crawling with car enthusiasts. These include Reddit forums, Facebook car groups, Instagram feeds, and car-related Twitter threads. Comments and debates there are rife with passion and knowledge, but the sheer volume of opinions and weaponised stats can be overwhelming at first.

Despite the thriving forums and increased online activity of car groups worldwide, tough times are ahead for the classic car market. Built primarily on passion and made up of small dealerships, events, shipping companies, restoration shops, magazines and auction houses, small businesses might have to tighten their belts.

However, as always, ‘passion’ remains the key word here, and we have a guest on our blog today with oodles of the stuff.

Mare van Oosterhout (@chickswithclassics)

Registered for the Amsterdam-Dakar challenge in Team Lekker-Trippie (@teamlekkertrippie), Mare is therefore the initiator of not one but several inspiring missions, because her Instagram presence is all about shining a spotlight on women who own and care for classic cars. She gives her featured guests a voice and a presence online, in a place not likely to get overrun by overly zealous or possessive fellow car enthusiasts (*cough*reddit*cough*). This project is particularly fulfilling because most of her guests, she says, tend not to have social media accounts.

So Mare, how did you get into classic cars?

“I really don’t remember. It is just something that has always been there. I remember my mom’s friend drove a Citroën GS and I just thought it was the coolest car ever. The dashboard, the clocks, the hydraulic suspension, it was like magic.

“I remember always having a fascination for the DS. It looked so cool and classy. For some reason, I’ve mainly had a love for old Citroëns. Most of the cars I’ve owned have been Citroëns. AX, BX, Visa, 2CV, Ami8 Break, and I have been driving my DS pick-up for 13 years now. My mom’s first car was a Visa, maybe that has something to do with it.”

Mare and her freshly-painted car, a Citroën DS pickup.

Your mission on Instagram is unique. Tell us more about it and how you had the idea.

“On a sunny Sunday afternoon, I was doing some work on my car and just had a thought that there must be other women doing the same thing. Yet most of the stuff you find on cars are always directed to men. It was just a passing thought, but in the next couple of days I saw three women driving a classic while on the road myself. That’s when that simple idea turned into the Chicks With Classics Instagram account.

I started out putting a message on some car Facebook pages and got a ton of reactions. Later people contacted me directly via Instagram. I actually ended up befriending some of the beautiful ladies I featured on the page.

Funny thing by the way: all women have a name for their car.”

Kirsten, Mare’s first guest on her Instagram account Chicks With Classics.

Tell us more about the Dakar challenge.

“It has always been a dream of mine to drive the Paris-Dakar. But participating in the real one is so expensive, and unfortunately the original route has changed. It was sadly never a real option. Fortunately, there are many alternatives, one being the Amsterdam-Dakar Challenge.

“After years of dreaming about it, I found a friend that was in for a bit of adventure. We ended up buying an ’81 Toyota Landcruiser HJ60, which we modified ourselves to serve as an Overland vehicle. We put a roof tent on top, built a kitchen and engine oven, put in some good seats that were easy on our backs during off-road tracks through the Moroccan mountains and the Sahara. Then between our seats we built a cabinet that would hold snacks, a bottle of wine or two and the most important documents.

“It’s really interesting to drive into West-Africa. Seeing the scenery change so gradually really makes the ‘Africa shock’ [a sense of profound disorientation at the vast change of scenery] a lot more manageable. But it’s so different to anything that we know in the West. We actually drove on after getting to Dakar. I flew home from the Ivory Coast and my friend drove all the way to Namibia.

“For some strange reason, you get used to it pretty quickly. And life is just easy. Do we have enough diesel, water, and food? Is the car okay? Okay, let’s go. You have the comfort and safety of your own ‘home’, which makes it all the more manageable. I almost never felt unsafe during that trip.

“That said, there is no planning in Africa. One day it can take you up to two days to drive 250 km, the next you’ll drive 450 km in half a day.”

Follow Mare’s journey on @teamlekkertrippie.

What remains your most unforgettable moment around classic cars?

“In 2005, the Citroën DS turned fifty. There was a huge event in Paris to celebrate this. People came from all over the world to show their car and talk and celebrate with other DS lovers. On Saturday there was a fair near Versailles. Thousands of cars were on display. The day ended with a big, fancy French dinner in a tent in the middle of a big field. All that, for the birthday of a car!

On Sunday we gathered on the Champs-Élysées for a drive through the centre of Paris. There were literally thousands of cars, way more than the organization had expected, which resulted in a huge traffic jam and complete chaos. Which was hilarious. All these DS’s with the hood open because of overheating engines, my best friend (a DS mechanic) jumping from one car to the other trying to get them running again, and angry Parisiennes cursing at us for disrupting their streets. The drive ended at the Eiffel Tower. I had the trunk full of French cheese, sausages and red wine. We ended up parking straight underneath the tower (which the Gendarmerie was not pleased about, at all), and spent the afternoon enjoying the French goods with friends and like-minded car crazies.”

Caroline, who became one of Mare’s best friends after being interviewed for the account.

What advice would you give other women who are fascinated by the industry?

“Just buy the car. Check it off your bucket list. And when you do, find yourself ‘a guy’. Like a mechanic that knows your type of car inside and out. Build up a relationship with that guy (or garage) and show some interest. You might pick up a thing or two that can come in helpful. Bring them some beers once in a while, that might help. In the case of a French car, I recommend wine!

“Yes, the car will break down, and yes you will have a love/hate relationship with it, and yes you will stand on the side of the road yelling and cursing at it for breaking down (again). But, in the end, it is all so worth it.

“And with a classic you are never done. Remember that. It will always be a work in progress. Which can be seen as a problem, or as the fun part!…

“And there’s another thing. Don’t be afraid to say goodbye to your car. It’s like breaking up with a boyfriend; the longer you stay, the harder it gets. But if there really is no future, just end it already.”

Carlijn and Tante Leen, her 1977 Volkswagen T2. Mare says, “I’ve been watching her and Tante Leen drive around my hometown for years and years.”

Thank you so much, Mare!

At Muscle Car UK and Pilgrim Motorsports we restore classic muscle cars and Ford Mustangs, sometimes for racing rallies as well. Have a look at our range.

Ladies With Drive is a blog series that aims to shine a spotlight on those who don’t feature as much in areas for car enthusiasts.

Is that you? Know someone who would make a great guest? Let us know here, or reach out on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

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