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Collecting is my life. The rest is waiting.

Inside the attic of an ordinary terraced house, there is a hidden treasure trove of film artefacts: a signed script, props – everything relating to McQueen's "Le Mans". Or, at least, almost everything. This is the story of Frank Wrobel: a collector unlike any other.

But for Frank Wrobel, it was a badge of honour. He had managed to make contact with another contemporary witness, another hero of a film which today enjoys cult status. Frank Wrobel, from the German city of Saarbrücken, has heard these sorts of remarks many times before, since he is not a collector in the classic sense: he is a researcher, a dreamer, a fan. The fact that the word "fan" is derived from the root word "fanatic" is not lost on Frank. He would never have got this far without a touch of obsessiveness: he would never have met Siegfried Rauch, or been given his original script – with a dedication – or a large collection of private photos from the set, or a video cassette of the film signed by Hans Herrmann. "Bullitt" was Frank Wrobel's gateway drug. He can be awkward – and ultimately wins you over with qualities few other people possess: authenticity, passion – combined with a good deal of obstinacy.

Instantaneously in love with McQueens "Le Mans"

Frank fell in love with "Le Mans" just as instantaneously. This was the film that took Steve McQueen years to make and cost him a great deal of money. While not a box-office success at the time of its release, the film has become iconic of the auto racing genre.

The attic of an ordinary terraced house near Saarbrücken is home to what is likely the largest museum of film artefacts from "Le Mans". Johann Ritter, played by Fred Haltiner, drove one of the Porsche 917 KH racing cars in the film as a team mate of Michael Delaney/Steve McQueen. The helmet is missing a racing suit, sadly.

Frank Wrobel has twice come very close to acquiring the original costumes, which were raffled off in 1971 by "Bravo" as part of the film's promotion. Three racing suits worn by Steve McQueen in the shoot came into the hands of new owners and Frank Wrobel managed to track down two of them.

Frank Wrobel right next to Steve McQueen Frank Wrobel is more than just a collector. He is a collector who has taken the story of the film forward, who has tracked down people and their stories with tireless dedication, and who, in doing so, has put together a living jigsaw puzzle from the props and costumes of the cult film. Michael Delaney is not the first to cross the finish line at the end of the film, after 104 minutes. And yet the hero of the film is the true victor, because, with a single gesture, he ultimately wins everything: the respect of Erich Stahler, perhaps even the heart of Lisa Belgetti, the woman he loves – and, what's more, he makes peace with himself. A happy ending is, of course, what you make of it.

Info Text first published in the magazine „Porsche Klassik 17“. Copyright: The image and sound published here is copyright by Dr. Ing. It is not to be reproduced wholly or in part without prior written permission of Dr. Ing.

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Nov 06, 2020 at 02:31

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