MAHLE: Lina, you have now helped to restore over 100 vehicles. Which was your favorite project to date?
Lina: You know what it’s like—another car’s ready to leave your workshop. And you’ve put lots of time and love into finishing it… and you think now THAT was your favorite project ever—and boom, the next order’s in already, and it’s just as exciting. It’s often like that. I’m currently transforming a Crafter into a mobile research and communication laboratory. I’m finding it a very special challenge that involves a lot of teamwork. I can well imagine that this rebuild could become my new favorite project.
MAHLE: But you’re not just into 4 wheels. You also like 2-wheelers. Which is your greater passion and why?
Lina: In the long run I think it’s the 4 wheels, as I’m actually a relaxed person and like to drive with others sometimes and usually also have a suitcase in tow. But I like driving alone on a motorcycle. And sometimes I enjoy just driving fast—simply letting it all go and allowing myself to be carried along on a great motorcycle.
MAHLE: Talking about speed: you also take part in championships. What’s coming up next?
Lina: The Dutch off-road championship again for sure. And no doubt a few Bajas. It’s high time for a new buggy. A huge challenge, as I’ve got high demands on both materials and myself. So I’m trying to decide whether it would make sense to use the experience and quality of other rally mechanics—”old hands” who work on building race cars all the time. An exciting topic.
MAHLE: It’s clear that you’re passionate about a lot of things. One of them—as you’ve just mentioned—is off-road vehicles. What’s so fascinating about them and how do they differ from other vehicles?
Lina: Vehicles are like a home on wheels for me. Many people on this planet spend a lot of time in their cars, trucks, and campers. Off-roaders let you get away from civilization, where nature becomes a lot more rugged and you meet obstacles you wouldn’t see every day. For me, it’s really exciting to get a vehicle ready for this: moving the engine’s air intake upward (with what’s called a snorkel), fitting a more robust chassis, and installing an underbody panel as well as brackets and trays for essential things like emergency tools (which might be needed to dig yourself out of the sand) and fire extinguishers—it’s a lot of fun. But it doesn’t always have to be extremes. There are also traditional off-road vehicles for safaris and the like. Installing an office on wheels or finding space for a coffee machine and a bed are just as enjoyable.
MAHLE: Talking of classic vehicles—classic cars are another of your passions. What’s so special about them?
Lina: The smell. The design. The stylish details that have given way to practicality in modern vehicles. In many classic cars, you can discover the seeds of forward-looking ideas that we take for granted nowadays. For example, I’m thinking about the cornering light on the DS.
MAHLE: Had you come into contact with MAHLE before? And when was that?
Lina: When I purchased spare parts for my classic car, I was definitely a frequent MAHLE customer. But we also met in Formula E.
MAHLE: Speaking of Formula E, how do you feel about electric cars?
Lina: It’s all about balance. If there were only electric cars, I’d miss the passion. But once you’ve driven a couple of hundred kilometers in an electric car, you soon become a fan of instant acceleration. Especially because, from an ecological perspective, things are going in the right direction.
MAHLE: In your opinion, what does the future of the automotive industry look like? What are the opportunities? What are the risks?
Lina: The vehicle trade will redefine itself. I’m sure that vintage car enthusiasts and car body makers (and vintage now means vehicles manufactured in 1989) will move more and more into their own field. Classic mechatronics engineers will either specialize as service technicians and on components such as brake systems or focus on areas such as power current, computer technology, and sustainable technology. As a fan of gasoline engines, I hope that this technology will be around for a while yet, of course. Unfortunately, e-mobility isn’t quite the finished article in terms of a clean solution. You can see that just from electricity procurement. Nevertheless, we’ve now got a better chance than ever of creating a clean future and clearing up some of the mess we’ve made in the past few decades. However, I think there’s a risk of settling on a solution too quickly without really scrutinizing it properly.
MAHLE: You are not only Germany’s most well-known female car specialist but also an ambassador. What message can you send to our female car enthusiast readers?
Lina: Stay true to your passion! If your goal is to get into the car world, then keep this goal clearly in mind! There are so many great careers in the field of mobility. If your heart beats a little faster when you see a car or motorcycle, you’re on the right path—just follow your heart. I wish you courage, strength, and above all success!
MAHLE: Many thanks for the great interview, Lina van de Mars.