May 30 (Corpus Christi) SHOWROOM OPEN - Sunday June 2 CARS & COFFEE and SHOWROOM EXTRA OPEN (10:00-14:00)

Ernest Praag

My name is Ernest Praag, owner and director of E&R Classics. After my studies at the HEAO in Breda, I started working as a marketing manager at a mail order company. After 10 years I bought shares in the company and progressed to the position of general manager. In 2006 I decided to sell my shares and I turned my classic car hobby into my job.

The growth of ERClassics over the years
I founded ERClassics in 2008, which we started with in a small building in Kaatsheuvel. In the initial phase, we had 3 segments: wedding rental of classic cars, sale of classic cars and the associated classic car workshop. In 2010 we moved to Dongen, where we have gone from 1 building to 6 buildings over the years due to growth. Due to the crowds, we decided in 2011 to stop the wedding rental and to focus completely on the sale of classic cars and our workshop.

500 classic cars and youngtimers in stock
At the beginning of 2014, this beautiful property in Waalwijk became available and I bought it. We have moved everything and here the beautiful classics come into their own even better. In the meantime, we have 3 buildings in Waalwijk, because otherwise there is too little capacity for the amount of cars. We currently have 500 classic cars and youngtimers in stock.

Ron (workshop manager) and I have been working together since the start of E&R Classics in 2008. After all these years, it's still going great. We can be proud of that. In addition, I am proud that we are a pleasant, hard-working team who all share the same passion for classic cars.

My very first car was a bright yellow Honda Civic 1st type from 1973. It cost 750 guilders at the time, which is now converted to about 330 euros. I was very happy with this car and drove it a lot, but after a while it started to use oil. Not just a little oil, but about as much as it used to use gasoline. I therefore had the canisters of oil in the back of the trunk to top it up when necessary. I found a fully restored example in Belgium in 2018 and gave it a nice place in my own collection.

My dream car is a 1930 Bentley Speed Six
My absolute dream car is a 1930 Bentley Speed Six in British Racing Green. In addition, I also think a Jaguar E-type series 1 flatfloor outside bonnet lock from 1961 is a fantastically beautiful classic. I like the Jaguar best in gunmetal grey with a blue interior.

Suppose you had to give someone a lift. Who would that be and why?
There are a lot of people I would like to give a lift to, for that we would have to rent a classic bus…

Because of my love for music I would choose Bruce Springsteen. When I was 18 years old (a long time ago), my first concert was Bruce Springsteen's Tunnel of Love tour. Till today it is the best concert I have ever experienced. In addition to the boundless energy and musical qualities, over the years I have come to appreciate the song lyrics (all written by him) and the way life issues are interpreted in music and lyrics even more.

Because of my love for sports I would (posthumously) choose Johan Cruijff. I think this needs no further explanation.

What is your best car related memory?
I bought my first classic car when I was 18 years old. I actually wanted to buy a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air but as a student I couldn't afford it. So I bought an Opel Olympia Rekord P1, which was the most similar in model and I could afford it. I completely restored that classic with the help of a friend and we even went on holiday with it to Belgium, Germany and France. We had a lot of fun with that, both while working on the car and on vacation. I thought the best detail was the (original) roller blind that you could pull up in front of the radiator by pulling a chain in the dashboard. This was intended to warm up the engine of the Opel faster in the winter.

What makes a working day at ERClassics so much fun for you?
When I open the doors of the ERClassics showroom in the morning, I am met by a light smell of oil and petrol. A scent that you sniff as a car enthusiast. Then I switch on the light and hundreds of classic cars and young-timers, each of its own unparalleled beauty in colour, chrome, rubber and design, shine towards me. What a lovely welcome every day. Then we drink a cup of coffee with the group, we laugh at nice stories and then we work on our hobby and we do our utmost to ensure satisfied customers. I have been able to turn my hobby into my work, how beautiful is that!

Oldtimers have a special meaning for me
Vintage cars have always had a special meaning for me. I still enjoy every day the classic beauty that these cars each have to offer us, the technology with which they are put together and of course the beautiful unique sound they produce.