By now you’ve probably heard the news that a 4×2 van is about to hit the road, but it might not have been that way in Van Zanda’s day.
Van Zanda was born in 1899 in Wuhan in southern China, where his father worked in a shoe factory.
He was a child of the Industrial Revolution, and by the age of 13 he had earned his first salary as a teenager.
After graduating from high school, he went to work for a shoe company in Shanghai, and was promoted to factory manager by the end of the year.
“I always liked working at factories, and I wanted to make a career out of it,” Van Zandi said.
When he left the factory to join the army in 1919, he was immediately recruited as a field artillery officer.
A short time later, Van Zandan and his two friends were given a chance to experience the joy of freedom, and they found themselves travelling in the middle of nowhere.
The story of Van ZANDT begins in 1926, when the military sent him to work as a truck driver for a small Chinese manufacturer.
The company was located on the outskirts of the city of Wuhang, where a huge Chinese tea plantation was being built, and Van Zandy, like many young people of the time, was fascinated by the sights.
In 1929, the military commissioned him to serve as a driver, and when he was sent to the city’s central area, he soon started to have a taste of the freedom the workers had just enjoyed.
After four months of driving, VanZanda finally got to meet the men who had been tasked with delivering the tea from the plantation.
They were the first Chinese people ever to drive a 4×4 van.
On the night of May 4, 1931, Vanzanda, his friend and a handful of others drove to the nearby city of Hubei, where they discovered that a tea plantation, named Hanjia, was being erected.
They soon found themselves driving through the streets of Wenzhou, a city that was considered the most famous in China.
Over the next several days, the van would go through numerous turns and turns, as it made its way through the city, passing by dozens of businesses, temples and other buildings, until finally reaching a warehouse.
Then it turned around and drove to another warehouse, this time in an abandoned building that had been abandoned for over 100 years.
It was here that Van Zandeys mind would be blown.
For the next seven days, he would go back and forth between the warehouse and the warehouse, taking photos and documenting his experience.
One night, while he was photographing the warehouse’s exterior, he stopped to take a picture of the factory, and the next day he came back with the same photo.
Once he had returned, he started to document the scene, and he soon noticed something was off.
He saw that the factory was covered in mud.
It was clear that the company had been using the mud for fuel.
Within hours, the workers were calling the military and asking for help, and two days later, the soldiers found a van covered in the mud.
There was nothing that could be done, but the soldiers ordered the van towed back to Wuhui.
From there, the truck drove to a nearby village and was taken there, where it was buried under a pile of soil.
That was when Van Zandreys first heard of van culture, and how the village’s residents had developed a taste for the van as a symbol of freedom.
Since then, Van and his friends have built an impressive collection of 4×2 van, which they keep in a museum.
Despite the hardships of the war, the Van Zandersons still have a sense of pride and wonderment about the past, and a love of their culture.
If you’d like to know more about the story behind Van Zands van collection, check out our interview with the van’s original owner, Peter Wirth.