I have an obsession with motor vehicles and it’s my father’s fault. He was a mechanic, a cafe racer and still is a die-hard Land Rover enthusiast. He had me turning spanners on real cars before I had my first Meccano set. Looking back it felt like most weekends were spent at car shows, military shows or motorbike racing. I grew up only a few miles from the world-famous Brands Hatch motor racing circuit and spent so much time there. My formative years were spent on South Bank, where I would watch my hero Barry Sheene battle with Kenny Roberts, Randy Mamola and the rest. Saturday nights, dad would drive us over to the Wimbledon Speedworth race track to watch the banger racing. As a young lad, the TV would delight me with James Hunt and Evil Knevil and entertain me with The Professionals, The Dukes of Hazzard and Knight Rider.
While BMX took over my life in the early ’80s there was usually a copy of Street Machine not far away. My influences came in the guise of classic mid-century British and American metal. By the time my mates started to drive I was already a regular at London’s Chelsea Cruise, it was the closest I could get to living the American Graffiti dream.
The December ’85 issue of Street Machine was to have a huge impact on my life. I didn’t realise it at the time, but Colin Burnham’s ’68 Cal-look Beetle kick-started my interest in air-cooled VW’s. This became an obsession which has taken me on countless adventures and created lifelong friendships. It’s not only about Volkswagens though, as my passion encaptures all motor vehicles and all genres of motorsports.
During all these years I always had a camera by my side and tried to capture the various automotive scenes I’ve been involved in. I hope that these stories will give some pleasure to those that spend some time on my site.
Who is Von Dirk?
Dirk was a nickname I’d picked up at work in the mid-’90s, but curiously my car buddies had been calling me Dirk for a while before that. It was a name that I was happy to be known by, as I felt it was more interesting than Dereck. With my passion for German cars and my interest in hot rod culture the ‘Von’ was added at the point I started rekindling my interest in traditional signwriting. Following on the tradition of Von Dutch, Von Franco, Von Leadfoot and others, Von Dirk seemed to work. I created a few logos and then some stickers for a bit of fun and the name stuck. I liked that Von means from in German, which works great when signing off a piece of art ‘from Dirk’.