FRITUUR ZORRO – A Second Life for Army Vehicles – Volume 4 – Review by Mark Barnes


FRITUUR ZORRO Volume 4 – A Second Life for Army Vehicles

By Theo Barten and Maarten Swarts
Published by Narwal
ISBN: 978 90 817110 2 9

Review by Mark Barnes for War History Online

It’s an obsession and it stays with you all your life. You find yourself pleading with friends to stop their cars in the most inconvenient places to leap out and take snaps of some forlorn looking thing enduring a slow roadside death. You need to record them before they go. The wise and prolific Neil Young reminded us that rust never sleeps.  You can picture this, can’t you? In point of fact they aren’t all terminal cases for it might be a motor in a healthier mode eking out a useful life; or a diamond in the rough – something rare that has escaped the lust of razor blade manufacturers and those makers of throwaway non-essentials soon forgotten. Unlike so much else motor vehicles elicit warmth, love, in the hearts of many and nostalgia for them is enormous. In your mind will be a car, the first you owned, or maybe your Dad’s or one of your mates or that one belonging to a special person from that summer. You know the one. Close your eyes and you can see it. It stays with you. I have mates who can reel off lists of registration numbers of familiar motors going way back. I’m sure you know people who can do this – perhaps you can. Motors do this.

These things have a habit of progressing, or regressing, depending if you’re happy with it or whether someone is making you recline on a couch and explain yourself to some miserable sod with letters after their name. I like to think of it as a solid advancement whereby you always find you are looking in yards and peering back over your shoulder at quickly blurring driveways. The photography is another matter altogether, and there I have been lucky, because, as I tell my kids from time to time – it’s the only thing I’m good at.  Archive photography is my profession of over thirty years and I revel in it. So a book like this one really hits all the high notes for me. It brings out the smiles and careful scrutiny for all those details. There is an awful lot to look at in this book. Make yourself a cuppa, pour a cold one, choose your tipple. Sit back, relax and dive in, the water is lovely.

So what I’m leading to is my heartfelt admiration for Theo Barten and Maarten Swarts, because they have cracked it. They have turned an obsession into a pukka enterprise. Here we are with the fourth instalment, no less, of their wonderful series of books showing the late lives of army and sometimes the occasional civvy motors. We have eased from purely World War II into a smattering of the glories of the NATO era in this volume, but the impact of the images and the abundance of knowledge and enthusiasm is unrelenting. The result is a joy – but I suspect you knew that. The tried and tested A-Z format works as well as ever. The warm, fuzzy familiarity of it all is as welcome as a cup of hot chocolate on a cold afternoon.

So, do I have favourites? Well, yes – I do. There is the Leyland Comet, a civvy truck I have loved since first sight and the Maltese example here brings out a smile. A snap of a Pacific is always worth a look and there are several here facing a variety of fates. A Greyhound armoured car is as incongruous as it is forlorn. I have to be honest there are several continental types shown here I did not know a thing about at all. What did I say about knowledge?

So, you get great snaps, knowledge and much more from these Dutch enthusiasts who seem to have no end to their archive or their energies to produce wonderful books like this. I talked about inspiration and if it doesn’t rub off on you then I would be very disappointed.

This book, like its three predecessors has an abundance of soul. If anything propels the world of classic motors it is this. The love story continues.

Frituur Zorro website and shop

By Mark Barnes, visit his excellent “For Your Tomorrow” facebook page

Mark Barnes

Mark Barnes is a longstanding friend of WHO, providing features, photography and reviews. He has contributed to The Times of London and other publications. He is the author of The Liberation of Europe (pub 2016) and If War Should Come due later in 2020.