Barnfinds without a barn

Some stories remain unwritten, or in part at least. That sometimes stings a little, because they are simply too beautiful to not be told. Like this one, in Susteren in the province of Limburg. There you could find this somewhat tragic combination of a car dealership and a car graveyard. Dozens of cars, most of them from the eighties, that obviously had been left to rot outside for many years. Extinct speices everywhere you looked: Rekords, Taunusses, Sierra’s, Astra’s and even an Hyundai Stellar. All of them barnfinds without a barn, cars that no-one wants, but nobody wants to see disappear either.

Math Koenen was the owner of this rare spectacle. Around seven years ago I passed by his dealership fort he first time, and since that moment I was aching to know story behind this peculiar “time machine”. Koenen wanted to hear none of it. “I don’t want publicity, they simply need to come and buy cars”, he said. My attempts to persuade him to tell his story met a wall of stony silence. But little by little bit he revealed bits of his history. That he was old, his wife passed away, his son had problems and he himself was seriously ill. His company was all he had left, and he couldn’t let it go. A sad story. Last year I spoke to him for the final time, on the phone. He told me his health was slightly improving, and he wanted to discuss the feature I wanted to do on him and his cars. Unfortunately, shortly after that I received a message saying Koenen had passed away.

Soon after that his terrains were cleared of the wrecks. A welcome sight to most of Susteren, but a major shame as far as I’m concerned. “Time machines” like this should be allowed to exist, and these “barnfinds” should remain visible. Susteren lost a colorful person, as well as a lot of colorful cars. Luckily the pictures remain, as a memory of an unwritten story, part of which has been told after all. Mister Koenen, godspeed!

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