Den Haag: Wednesday

Wednesday we did not move the car. We did take the #16 Tram  a couple times (but that’s our neighborhood station), the #9 Tram, the #385 bus, passed through the Central Train Station several times (but that’s the transit hub for everything), and used a ‘tuktuk’ for a grand tour of the city. Tuk Tuks (sometimes it’s one word, sometimes two) are a major mode of transportation in Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia. Our driver here drove in regular traffic lanes, along trolley lines, down bicycle lanes, and an occasional sidewalk, but the laws here are more restrictive than in Thailand.

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This is a six-passenger model; most in Thailand were two.

It was a great way to get a quick overview of the highlights, fantastic if we could have done it without the side curtains and roof. When Michael (pronounced ‘Miss SHELL’) wanted to talk about something at any length, he cut across the bike lane and parked on the sidewalk. One of the things he wanted to talk about was the Eternal Flame of Peace.

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The Eternal Flame of Peace

The border is made up of stones contributed by many countries. The rock from the Netherlands is one of the stones, which come from Belgium, used to build the dikes. (First on the lower left, they used a reject and didn’t take it out of a dike.) The first contribution from Germany (about 1:00 if the circle were a clock) was from a concentration camp that was demolished; the later is from the Berlin Wall, which was demolished. We saw the three from the US (about 9:00) but don’t remember what or why; it didn’t seem to matter. One may have been from Mt Rushmore.

Michael also talked a lot about the International Court of Justice. Which he greatly admires but it has less legal power than a magistrates court. It can’t issue subpoenas; it has no police to enforce them if it did; its decisions aren’t binding; and it has no means to enforce them if they were. Its authority comes from its prestige, which can influence public opinion and provide a legal rationalization for actions of the UN.

At the end of the tour, we were dropped right at the door of the Louwman Museum, which was about a quarter mile (400 meters) closer than the bus stop. Arriving by tuk tuk at a museum on automotive history did not go unnoticed by the receptionists.

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Early London Double Decker, showing the ‘under-slung’ design that put the chassis under the axle, which was a major advance lowering the body significantly, had not arrived at that point.

This is one of Jay Leno’s favorite places. Cars on display ranged from the early 1890’s to a cut-away of a Prius to the bizarre.

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Many Steps in the Evolution of Cars

Lots were powered by steam or electric, which of course lost out to the internal combustion engine for most of the 20th Century. The picture below is a small electric version of the full-size, gasoline-powered ‘Swan Car’, also on display, used by a wealthy Englishman in India.

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Small Electric Car for Getting Around the Estate, called the “Cygnet”

Other than size, one obvious difference is the full size version had dragons for front bumpers rather than swans. The owner wanted something his neighbors would notice. After it was driven once on the road, an ordinance was passed banning it from public thoroughfares because it frightened the horses and ladies.

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I think this was the only reason Doré was willing to go to this Museum

We happened to go through the museum more or less in sync with a couple from Scotland. The man’s grandfather had been a neighbor of the mechanic who built the swan car and knew things about the car’s history that the museum didn’t know. It was built inside the mechanic’s house and one wall had to be removed to get it out. In his later years, the grandfather claimed to have been a passenger for the infamous road test; the grandson had his doubts.

They had race cars from midgets to stock to Le Mans to Indy to Formula One and everything inbetween.

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1952 Ferrari Indycar, 12 Cylinders, 4.5 Liters

Doré had lost steam after a couple dozen race cars.

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I have no idea what they were thinking but the people building cars and airplanes had a lot of overlap

Of course, I have to note one extinct evolutionary branch.

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I know they make things they call ‘jeeps’ but they aren’t the same thing

This is a 1944 model. When did Dad get his? Note how little space there is in the back, even without the backrest.

And before I go, the picture at the top is Sir Winston Churchill’s Humber. Humber started building bicycles in 1868; merged with Hillman in 1930 to form the Rootes Group; acquired by Chrysler in 1964, and the rest is history. During WWII and beyond, they produced military vehicles and armoured cars. The Museum also had some Batmobiles, 007’s Aston-Martin, Elvis’ Custom Cadillac, the fortieth Model A that Ford built, the oldest Toyota still in existence, and a 1954 Studebaker.

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