Uncle Jürgen started his nephew out on the right track when he presented him with his old Opel Astra 1.6 Caravan a year and a half ago. “This car has been all over Europe. It has culture. So take good care of it.” Marcel Gustke truly took those words to heart. Since then, the 24-year-old has driven the 16-year-old vehicle all over the region for Freigeist, an art association based in Mainz. He transports paint, tools, paintings, and sculptures while his workhorse eats up the kilometers one at a time.
The odometer reads over a million kilometers. Well, actually, it doesn’t exactly – the odometer only goes up to 999,999, so it is currently clocking in at about 60,000 kilometers. But the vehicle looks a little bit old for that. Old but reliable – and how!
THE ASTRA’S STAYING IN THE FAMILY
Jürgen Gustke purchased the vehicle in 1999 for his shipping company, which is based out of Kelsterbach and ships materials from the Frankfurt Airport to all different locations – sometimes along fairly rough roads, as it is easy to see from the various chips in the paint caused by flying gravel. For ten years, the Caravan was a regular fixture in the company’s fleet, and because Gustke’s vehicles are primarily passed down through the family, Uncle Birger was first offered the chance to saddle up the old workhorse. He wasn’t much of an expert when it came to cars though, so when nephew Marcel took it over in 2013, the old Caravan was in need of more than a few repairs.
Luckily he knew what he was doing – he had trained as an industrial mechanic at Opel. Now he works shifts at Böhringer in Ingelheim. As a Freigeist artist, Marcel Gustke specializes in metal sculpture – and even these need to be transported from time to time. Everything seems to fit in the Astra.
SPARE PARTS ON AMAZON AND EBAY
“I work mostly within the region for Freigeist,” says the 24-year-old. “But I’ve taken the car with me to France and Hamburg, too. It ran like a dream.” It only stalled once: “Luckily it happened close to home, in the Lerchenberg district of Mainz.” The hydraulics gave out. However that’s been repaired in the meantime. Next he will be taking care of the oil leaks that are currently being soaked up by cardboard laid out in the parking space reserved for the car.
With a million kilometers on its odometer, there is always work to be done – even if the car’s first engine is still purring under the hood. Marcel Gustke easily finds his spare parts on Amazon or eBay, but the proud owner knows that the car will not run forever. Luckily, he is artist enough not to plan out its future too meticulously. “We’ll see,” he says.