“The problem is, there’s not that much petroliana in Greece,” explains Angelos Trakadas from one of his Athens lock-ups, “so I’ve travelled all over Europe collecting things, especially Britain and Germany.”
A self-confessed Anglophile, Trakadas says: “The British stuff better fits my character; I’ve always loved The Beatles and British fashion.
“I don’t like Italian style, for example. I’ve always admired Britain”.
Trakadas made the decision to focus his collection on automotive-related objects three years ago, to complement a fleet of classic cars that includes two Morris Minors, a Fiat 600D, an E12 BMW 518, a Renault 4 and a Peugeot 205 CT that his father owned from new.
“British cars sold well in Greece in the 1960s, and the Minor in particular was popular here,” he explains.
“My yellow pick-up has always been in Greece and was working as a delivery truck until 1988, when the owner retired.”
Athens native Trakadas has been collecting since he was 10, starting with LPs and quickly moving to a 200cc Vespa he restored himself.
He prefers items from before 1970, although there are a few exceptions – such as a ’70s Shell fuel pump bought from the nearby service station that his parents frequented when he was a child.
All of Trakadas’ collection is older than he is, at 32, which he attributes both to a love of aged things and a passion for rejuvinating objects with his own hands.
“I restored the Castrol oil cabinet three years ago,” he says. “I found it online and imported it. Castrol is my favourite brand, and the collection is really made by the ‘pin-up’ painting I have.
“I saw Tony Upson’s work in Classic & Sports Car and emailed him saying how much I loved his paintings, although I couldn’t afford to buy anything.
“We kept in touch anyway, and a few years later I told him about a load of stuff I had bought from Castrol Classic Oils, and he sent me this as a gift. I am so grateful for it, this is the only opportunity I would have to own something like this.”
Trakadas’ fondness for British automobilia has led him to drive to Britain multiple times and has yielded a large Matchbox collection – “they were bought seven years ago before the prices went crazy” – and 220 two-gallon petrol cans.
“They are just a few pounds in Britain, but they don’t exist in Greece,” he says.
With native Greek items so rare, however, many of Trakadas’ favourite pieces are those from the Balkans, including two Shell adverts from Limnos.
Reading ‘petrol’ and ‘motor oil’ in Greek, the Shell signs were found in the back of a grocery store by Trakadas.
“The shop used to sell petrol, so it was used by the Germans as a service station during the war and the signs were taken down,” he explains.
“When I found them, they had been in storage for seven decades.”
A Moskvich pedal car from Bulgaria is also in the collection, a present for Trakadas’ daughter on her first birthday that is her transport at classic shows.
His daughter has affected Trakadas’ collection in one other way: he has given up riding the 1954 BMW motorcycle that he restored and rode every day for six years, along with all other two-wheeled transport.
“They were everywhere in the 1960s and 1970s, the two-wheeled equivalent to the Volkswagen Beetle,” says Trakadas.
“My favourite item of all, however, is a 1918 book on the use and maintenance of automobiles in the Greek language. It is very rare to find something that old in Greek.”
Images: George Stamatis
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